MANSFIELD — Original musician Jimi Vincent calls himself a true blues man.
“I’ve lived a life of blues to prove it,” he said.
In May, he was plucking his guitar in his home when the chest pains started again. He’d been feeling minor pain for a while, but this time, it wasn’t a drill. Less than an hour later, he was in the hospital fighting for his life.
“The doctor said three minutes longer and I would have been gone,” Vincent said somberly.
Vincent spent the next 12 weeks recovering from a heart attack that got him three surgically-placed stints in his heart valves.
Before the heart problems, the guitar veteran of 50 years lost a 3-year-old child. Two months before that, his Mansfield home burned down.
“But my wife and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary this year,” Vincent said. “She’s stuck with me through thick and thin.”
Vincent started playing shows when he was elementary age, nearly 50 years ago. He remembers his first gig: Hayesville Elementary when he was in kindergarten. Since then, he’s written around 200 songs and played in several bands.
Currently, he plays solo, in a duo called Two Trains Running with bassist Steve Calabria. He also has his band — Jimi Vincent Band — Denzon and the Blues All-Stars and Nasty Habits. He’s working on completing two full-length albums, too.
“Man, if I could, I would play every day of the week — but I can’t,” Vincent.
But it's not because of his heart condition. In fact, just after getting out of the hospital, Vincent played 16 shows in an 11-day span.
“You can’t keep me down,” he said, laughing. “But the diet part of it really blows. I love to eat pasta and fresh bread. Now it’s salad and pills. But I’m alive.”
The heart attack was a wake-up call, he said, but not enough to silence daydreams of retiring and becoming a full-time musician.
For right now, however, he will continue to work as a manager at Graphics Ohio on Lexington Avenue — a job he’s held for around 20 years.