Ian "Fergie" Ferguson was a guitar-tech legend who had the ears and trust of heavy metal heroes from Ritchie Blackmore to Yngwie Malmsteen to Kirk Hammett of Metallica.
The native of Glasgow, Scotland, played a part, too, in the sad yet enduring story of the band Badfinger.
But to those who knew him in Minnesota, Ferguson was a caring medical technician and relentless practical joker, so humble about his rock-music past that a co-worker once said: "You're telling me that a guy I worked beside for four years did this?"
Ferguson, who left the rigors of the road for what wife Colleen described as "family, love and friendship" in Anoka County, died on July 22. He was 74 and had been battling health issues, including a rare blood disorder, for several years.
Colleen met Fergie at a Metallica concert at Target Center in 1991. Six months later, they married, "and we never looked back," she said.
He had certainly been places, however.
Fergie was the house roadie for Apple Records, ferrying around Paul McCartney in a painter's work van, Colleen said.
But it was his tenure as a roadie for Badfinger, a band signed by Apple, that established his place in music history — a story told most notably by author Dan Matovina in the book "Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger."
Many fans today know of Badfinger from the use of its song "Baby Blue" in the final episode of "Breaking Bad." Sweet success, to be sure, but during its time, Badfinger was a victim of bad breaks and bad luck, "mismanaged and exploited beyond the bounds of human decency," the musician and writer Will Birch was quoted as saying in a 2017 issue of Classic Rock magazine.
It proved a painful time for Ferguson, too.
His then-estranged wife, Anne, became involved romantically with Pete Ham, one of the band's songwriters. The relationship inspired two songs, "Just A Chance" and "Dennis," the latter of which was about Anne and Fergie Ferguson's son, Blair.
On April 24, 1975, Ham hanged himself in his garage, leaving behind a suicide note damning the band's U.S. manager as a "soulless bastard."
In the book "Without You," Fergie said: "Pete Ham was the thoughtful one in the band, the intelligent one, the sensible one. … I have tremendous regrets we hadn't made up before he died. He was like a brother to me."
For the next 20-plus years, Fergie continued on the road, at times giving interviews to guitar magazines filled with dizzying technical details.
His eventual career switch in Minnesota was the product of his friendly, curious nature. Colleen recalled how the couple would visit her ailing mother in the hospital, and how Fergie would disappear and be tracked down later chatting up people in "some random sick guy's room," she said.
He loved his medical technician job so much that he'd say he could have been a brain surgeon if he'd entered the medical field earlier, she added.
After retiring, Fergie stayed busy. Colleen said that it was as if their Coon Rapids house, which included dogs Grace and Kaiser, couldn't contain his energy.
The practical jokes continued, too, and were so plentiful that family and friends gave them a name: "Fergie's shenanigans."
For his memorial service last week, Blair traveled from Scotland, and it was "wonderful," Colleen said, testimony to the bond that father and son had developed.
"There is beauty that comes out of pain," she said.