John E. Regan passed to his next grand adventure peacefully in his sleep on May 29, 2019. He was born January 6, 1948, the fourth of six sons in Miles City, Montana, to Bob and Mary Regan. John attended the Sacred Heart schools, where - while participating in sports and working as a lifeguard - he discovered the passion for music that would sustain him throughout his life. He learned “boogie-woogie” piano from his cousin Jimmy Carr, but the drums were his true calling. John’s drum set, in the middle of the bedroom he shared with one of his brothers, became a metaphor for his life. As early as 1966 his life began to revolve around performing and recording in Montana and the western states, drumming and singing his way through Country Western, Rock and Blues genres with Neil and the Nicetones, Justus, Big Sky Country Band, Buffalo Chips, Goose Creek Symphony, The Players and www.Twang, among other bands. He was welcomed and acknowledged by other musicians wherever he went and was often asked to sit in with bands to which he was listening - most recently in Nashville, Tennessee.
John Regan was no one-trick pony. In the 1960’s he did a stint in the Marine Corps and, at an age thought to be “too old,” became a certified electronics technician, driving back and forth from Livingston to Helena to complete his degree. He put in 10 years with International Gaming and 10 years as a Bio-Medical Technician for Livingston Memorial Hospital, all while continuing to perform for enthusiastic audiences and fellow musicians who were in awe of his “rock-steady” style. John also had a 25-year association with Gamblers Anonymous, both as an active mentor and an integral member of the Montana Counsel on Problem Gambling.
Perhaps the most defining aspect of this man was his vibrant personality. His quick wit, intelligence and openness to engaging with others led to numerous life-long friendships. He was a generous, funny, loving, and gentle man, whose sudden passing has left an empty space in the musical landscape of Montana. He cannot be replaced. We will miss his thoughtful ways and beautiful smiling eyes. John is survived by his significant other, Deb Corbett, his daughter Shelly (Jade) Melby, her mother Carol (John’s highschool sweetheart), and grandchildren Skyler (Darin) Scheetz and Mason Melby. A passel of relatives (Regan cousins, nieces, nephews and others) may fondly remember him as well. John’s five brothers Bob (Mary), Joe (Barb), Michael (Melissa), Pat (Cathy) and Dan will continue their life journeys without their ‘bro’ but will hold him close in their hearts. A Celebration of Life at the Old Saloon complex in Emigrant, Montana is planned for Saturday, June 15th starting at 2 p.m. All are welcome to share their memories of the renegade spirit that was John E. Regan.
Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory has been entrusted with arrangements.