[Several years ago I came upon this story of a married duo on Facebook. It seems that Amy had died from a blood infection and her partner, Derrick, killed himself a few days later. The entire drama of their demise took place in social media.
The story still haunts me. Their Facebook page still exists at https://www.facebook.com/Nowhere-Man-and-a-Whiskey-Girl-32839047843/ -KHF]
It began with a post from Amy Ross on FACEBOOK.
AMY: Hey kids! Bad news! I died this morning and Derrick didn’t know how to tell you. I love you all and hope you go out and be nice to someone. Funerals are a bore so hopefully I don’t have one. Give Derrick some space… He stinks at this stuff so leave him be for now. Thanks for all the kindness… Please spread it around. -Whiskey
Juliya Pogrebinsky Listening to you was one of my absolute favorite things about Bisbee. It’s been a great privilege and a joy to have known you even a little bit. Much love and condolences to Derrick and the family.
October 14 at 7:25pm · 3
- Sorry to bring more bad news but Derrick decided to join me at some point in the night last night. I thought it best you heard it from me. Enjoy every sandwich. We love and will miss you all. Go be nice to someone for us.
- Olivia Herman What!!???? Who’s posting for Amy Ross on FB? There are going to be a lot of VERY relieved but VERY pissed off people, if it comes out that this is a terrible prank.
Nowhere Man and Whiskey Girl had ceased to be. Amy had an ongoing battle with Lupus and had to undergo frequent dialysis. She died from a blood infection. Derrick took his own life later that night. She was 40, he was 39.
Amy Ross, 40, died Monday. According to the Arizona Daily Star, the vocalist and keyboard player, who performed as “Whiskey Girl,” passed away at Tuscon Medical Center from a “blood infection brought on by ongoing dialysis.” She also suffered from Lupus. Derrick Ross, 39, who was “Nowhere Man” in the act and played acoustic guitar, reportedly committed suicide sometime Monday.
News of both of their deaths came via social media, albeit in a peculiar fashion, wherein Amy Ross seemingly announced the couple’s deaths from beyond the grave.
An update to Amy’s Facebook page on Monday evening stated the following:
Hey kids! Bad news! I died this morning and Derrick didn’t know how to tell you. I love you all and hope you go out and be nice to someone. Funerals are a bore so hopefully I don’t have one. Give Derrick some space… He stinks at this stuff so leave him be for now. Thanks for all the kindness… Please spread it around.
Reaction to the post was a combination of shock, surprise, and disbelief from her nearest and dearest. One person claiming to be a family member stated it was a hoax and that she was alive.
Earlier today, a second update was made to Amy Ross’ page that suggested her husband had taken his own life.
Sorry to bring more bad news but Derrick decided to join me at some point in the night last night. I thought it best you heard it from me. Enjoy every sandwich. We love and will miss you all. Go be nice to someone for us.
Stand-up comic Doug Stanhope, who lived next door to the couple in Bisbee and was both their landlord and close friend (as well as featuring them at some of his gigs), confirmed via Twitter within minutes of the second Facebook post that Derrick Ross had taken his own life.
UPDATE: It’s been reported by Tucson media outlets that Stanhope had access to Amy’s page and was the one who made the updates.
World Class Thugs and Psycho Square Dance performed many gigs with “Nowhere Man and Whiskey Girl”. Their guitarist and vocalist, Jim Dustan, posted the following on Facebook:
I remember the early days and the Bisbee days. We shared some treasured moments growing up. I will always cherish the way your music made me smile and how it inspired me. RIP Amy (whiskey girl) and Derrick (nowhere man), may you both find peace. Until we meet again someday.
Without a doubt, they were one of Arizona’s best acts in the Americana vein, offering a sometimes joyful, sometimes poignant pastiche of down-home lonesome, rootsy touches, and indie quirk that was made even more emotional by Amy’s meanderingly dulcet vocals.
The husband-and-wife duo, who were married for more than a decade, were self-described as a “couple of wanderers” who previously resided in Oregon and Tennessee. They formed the act in 2003, drawing its name from the Gillian Welch country song “Whiskey Girl.”
Although based in Bisbee (where they were regulars at the Copper Queen Hotel’s lounge), Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl were musical vagabonds who exhaustively traveled throughout Arizona for performances in Tucson, Flagstaff, and Phoenix. In 2009, they even participated in an episode of our now-defunct Sun Session series.
Singer-songwriter Brodie Foster Hubbard, a former Valley resident who shared the bill with Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl on several occasions, says that he hopes that the couple’s fans will “honor the spirit of what Derrick and Amy shared and the joy they put into their music,” instead of just focusing on the weird circumstances involving their deaths.
“The whole situation is surreal. With Amy, it’s not so shocking, because she has had health issues for a long time. It’s still very saddening, of course. But with Derrick, that’s shocking,” Hubbard says. “You can follow the logic, anyone in a deeply committed relationship would probably say they couldn’t go on without their partner. And other folks who have experienced that loss, I’m sure that option has crossed their mind. So it’s not unthinkable. It’s no less horrible, though.”
He also hopes the couple’s friends and fans will able to cope with their loss.
“The best-case scenario in these situations is that we bond and listen to our favorite songs, and cry and laugh over our memories, and we make pacts to stay in better touch and be there for each other,” Hubbard says. I’d really like to see us all see that through.”
Here’s how the duo’s website, no longer active, describes how the name was derived:
When Derrick and Amy Ross began performing as Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl in early 2003, their intentions were simple enough: Select a name that hinted at their roots in the American West and established their identity as a determinedly two-person operation.
The name also cast them as a couple of wanderers, too intoxicated with the possibilities of someplace else to settle down. In that sense, the name would prove prophetic as it charted the course of the next five years of their lives.
Unable to locate a satisfactory permanent home, they accumulated more than their fair share of temporary addresses. When it wasnt the pony-trail towns of Bisbee, Tucson, and Willcox in the Arizona Territory, it was cooler locales like Corvallis and Nashville. Upon the release of their debut album, they hit the road for weeks at a time, bypassing the metropolitan centers in favor of the oft-neglected smaller towns in between.
Wherever they went, they brought a simple musical proposition: Her piano and voice, his acoustic guitar, a love of lifes little details, and a sense of humor. Although they traversed a landscape of bleached-husk desolation, they arrived none the worse for wear. Their longing for home unfulfilled, they found something of greater value along the way. They found a legion of like-minded hopeful searchers who believed in what they had to say and how they said it…