In 2007 Lloyd Dalton stared down the barrel of a killer's gun. He not only lived to tell about it, he went on to lead some of the most fulfilling years of his life, bringing his music and cheer to the sick and the frail, to prisoners and to churchgoers.|
Dalton, a musician who performed in Central Texas for more than 40 years and played country music stages with the likes of Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, died Thursday night at his home in Meadowlakes near Marble Falls after a battle with cancer, said his son, Kyle Dalton. Lloyd Dalton was 78.
Kyle Dalton said his father was successful at everything he tried - he enjoyed a 37-year-career with Southwestern Bell before retiring in 1991 as an area manager. But music was a love intertwined throughout his life.
"He loved to entertain people and put the smile on people's faces," Dalton said. "When I was a kid, whenever we had people over, that was always an excuse for him to pull out the guitar and sing."
People were drawn to Dalton for his friendly demeanor and his laughter, said Dannie Simons of Horseshoe Bay, his friend of more than 40 years. "Sometimes you have to work to be friends with people. Lloyd wasn't that type," Simons said. "He was a pretty open book and just a wonderful guy."
Dalton started playing guitar and singing at the age of 10, said his son. In 1954 he started playing professionally with the Texas Trailblazers in El Paso, where they had their own weekly TV show. Known then as "Big Lloyd" - he was 6 foot 3 and weighed 230 pounds - Dalton had singles that made the Top 40 in the Southwest in the late 1950s and 1960s.
In August 2007, while sitting in for another musician at O'Neill's Sports Tavern in Marble Falls, Dalton's life forever changed. After shooting bartender Michael Allred, Paul Devoe, now on Texas death row, pointed the gun at Dalton, who had crouched underneath a table. Devoe did not pull the trigger before running out the door. Devoe was sentenced to death for killing two teenagers in Jonestown, part of a six-person killing spree, according to officials.
"After that he had a new purpose serving God," singing in churches, nursing homes and prisons, Kyle Dalton said. "It was an amazing turn. These last five years it was such a blessing he's been singing God's praises. That's where we take great comfort."
Lloyd Dalton spoke of his new calling in a 2009 interview with the American-Statesman. Of his new audiences, he said: "Some of them can't even talk, but they know my songs. There's been a couple times where I come home and I shed tears of joy that I can serve folks like that."
Other survivors include his wife of 53 years, Polly, and sons Eddie of Aurora, Colo., and Lloyd Jr. of Austin.
Funeral services are planned for Monday at Bethany United Methodist Church in Austin.
Published in Austin American-Statesman on Oct. 7, 2012