Feature: Wednesday, August 27, 2003
‘I lived in fear that something would happen to keep him from his music.’
The Ghost Of Frankie Teardrop

By Dan McGraw

The first thing Nathan Brown noticed about Doug Ferguson that day was that this time it was physical. It was Valentine’s Day 2002, and Doug was having a hard time speaking, walking, dressing himself, as if his brain had somehow disconnected from his body. In the past, when Doug had his episodes — he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at the age of 15 — he was always very vocal. He’d become delusional, those mean little fingers of paranoia poking around in his head, making sure everyone around him knew who and what were out to get him. There was lots of talk about government conspiracies, the FBI was usually after him, and during one episode, Doug had even insisted that his parents turn off all the computers and the televisions in the house because the feds were listening.

Ferguson had moved in with Nathan and a third roommate in the fall of 2001, another attempt to leave the safe cocoon of his parents’ house on Wonder Drive in Fort Worth’s Wedgwood neighborhood. Ferguson was a keyboard whiz in various local bands — Yeti, Ohm, Vas Deferens Organization — and solo projects like Frankie Teardrop and Tonefloat, all of it stuff that the music critics called progressive rock or space rock, lots of repetitive synth loops and soaring melodies. Brown had played drums and bass in Ohm, a strange band whose odd improvisations using Ferguson’s old analogue synthesizers and Mellotrons — and strangely, a clarinet — had gotten them kicked out of some bars they had played. It seems some bar owners thought their noise was driving away the beer-drinking customers.

No doubt about it, Doug Ferguson’s music was way out there. It was never really melodic, more like patterns interwoven, at times a little creepy and dark, but other times the whimsical stuff you might hear as the campy soundtrack of a 50s B-grade sci-fi/horror movie.

It was odd for Brown to see Doug this way, so unresponsive. Brown was used to arguing playfully with Ferguson, about their obscure musical tastes and Doug’s insistence that Ohm needed more structure, or at least some structure. Let’s just show up and play, Nathan used to tell him, no writing, no arrangements, just playing off each other. It was one of the odd things about Ferguson. Where most people heard his music as having little structure, he heard his music as being very structured and he wanted it to be more so.

It was also troubling to Brown that Doug seemed to be in the throes of another episode. For about four months, Ferguson had been on a new medication for his mental illness, an anti-psychotic called Zyprexa, and he seemed to be doing better than usual. He had quit smoking, and went on what, for him, was a health kick. He hadn’t exactly sworn off frozen pizzas, fast food and convenience-store burritos, and he still usually had a Dr. Pepper in his hand, but he was eating and drinking less of that stuff. In a shock to many of his friends, Ferguson had developed a taste for orange juice.

Unfortunately, anti-psychotics have some powerful side effects. For Ferguson, the first effect of the Zyprexa was weight gain, another 50 pounds, despite his attempt at dieting. But another, more subtle change had also come over him in the previous months. He seemed listless. Ferguson was getting ready to go into the studio with Yeti, a band he had joined in 1998 with some young guys who kind of looked up to him as a wise old rocker. It was an exciting time for Ferguson and Yeti. Their first c.d., Things to Come, had bridged the prog rock and hardcore divide and had received critical acclaim as music that could be heavy and dark, yet melodic and spacey at the same time.

“He had told me that he felt he had done everything he could do musically,” Brown said last week in an interview. “He wasn’t sure exactly why he felt that way, but he kept talking about how he had nothing more to say, inspirationally and artistically. But the weird thing was that he said it didn’t bother him at all. He was comfortable with it. It was almost like he was summing up his life.”

Brown saw a vacant look in his friend’s eyes, the jerky movements, and called Doug’s parents to pick him up. Ferguson stumbled to the kitchen and tried to pour himself a glass of milk, but spilled it all over the stove. Brown and the other roommate helped Doug get dressed; he was shaking so bad he couldn’t put on his pants or a shirt. By the time Gary Ferguson, a TCU biology professor, came to get his son, Doug was almost in a catatonic state. On his way out the door, Doug looked back at Brown and whispered in a soft voice, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

Gary Ferguson took him to the emergency room at John Peter Smith Hospital, and thought his son would be taken to the Trinity Springs mental facility within JPS. But the doctors found Doug to be in severe diabetic distress, although the musician had never been diagnosed with diabetes. His blood sugar was at twice the normal level, and his pancreas was inflamed. Within a few hours, Doug fell into a coma, never to regain consciousness. He died on Feb. 23, 2002. The cause of death was diabetic ketoacidosis, meaning his body had stopped producing insulin. He was 31.

Eighteen months later, Doug Ferguson’s death still haunts the Fort Worth music scene and his family and friends. His mother, Janna, hasn’t been able to work at her job as a TCU librarian. Yeti had to scrap its recording project and has decided not to replace him. His good humor, his ability to connect with different musical styles, his sharing of musical influences with whoever wanted to listen, are particularly missed. He was the older brother to a host of hardcore, punk, jazz, and prog-rock musicians. When Fort Worth musicians from various genres talk about Ferguson, the phrase used most often is a simple one — he was “a great guy.”

But there is also an underlying feeling of anger over Ferguson’s death. Zyprexa has been linked in some medical studies to diabetic complications, the same complications that killed Doug. In fact, Ferguson had made a doctor’s appointment for Feb. 15 — too late, as it turned out — because he was concerned about his symptoms: frequent urination, intense thirst, and abnormal weight gain, all signs of diabetes. Ironically, he had had blood work done in early February, and there was no finding of high blood sugar levels. And despite his bouts with schizophrenia, Doug had never really been physically sick. No one can remember him having the flu or even a cold.

Tommy Adkins, bass player for Yeti, put it succinctly. “The medical community and the pharmaceutical community failed Doug,” he said.

In the cramped rehearsal space in a warehouse on Fort Worth’s South Side, the remaining members of Yeti are practicing some of their new material. The music is dark and angry. Jon Teague’s sinister drumming is a mix of hardcore and jazz. Guitarist Eric Harris is bleeding out hypnotic and repetitive riffs, and Adkins’ dark and fat bass lines are very much in the forefront. Sitting a few yards away, I notice the top page on my notebook is vibrating like a piece of wax paper on a kazoo. The songs are space/rock/jazz operettas, lasting 15-20 minutes each.

After some initial soul-searching, the musicians in Yeti decided to continue as a three-piece. They couldn’t imagine anyone replacing Ferguson, but they knew they couldn’t quit either. It wasn’t a case of “Doug would have wanted us to continue,” nor did they decide to keep on as a tribute to their dead friend. The real reason was simple: The three 28-year-olds are musicians, and music is what they do.

Their new c.d., on Life is Abuse Records, titled Volume, Obliteration, Transcendence, is scheduled to be released in October. Ferguson’s death is all over it, adding an angry tone and a heaviness to their sound that they never really had when he played with them. Teague and Adkins now share the keyboard duties, but much of the light touch Ferguson gave the band is gone. “I guess our music has always been angry,” Teague said. “I guess we’re a little angrier now.”

One of the new songs is called “Black Pills,” Yeti’s outpouring of feelings over the issues of pharmaceuticals and mental illness. The dark and haunting sound — part jazz, part hardcore, part hypnotic synth loops —is like a lot of Yeti’s music, tough to initially get your arms around, but steeped in a combination of despair and anger that plays around with your mind. Thematically, the music is not unlike Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” the British band’s ode to their founder, Syd Barrett, who also suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and left the band just as it was poised for greatness.

Yeti’s music will never be confused with anything commercial; 20-minute songs do not make for commercial radio airplay. But the band’s ability to combine different elements in a sound that has both structure and improvisation makes their music unique on both the local and national level. It was Ferguson’s influence that changed both the music and the young musicians he joined up with.

It was an odd marriage, these three young former punkers with a guy who looked back to the 1970s music of King Crimson and Tangerine Dream and Magma as his primary influences. Jon Teague lived down the street from Ferguson as a kid, and met him through Ferguson’s younger brother Matt. When Doug was 17 and Matt and Jon were 13, he would take Jon and Matt down to the Axis club at South Main and Magnolia to listen to all-ages punk shows. It was about this time that Doug was experimenting with Euro prog keyboard music, and had completed a few demos called “Doug on Moog.”

Teague and Adkins and Harris had known each other as punk mall rats, and used to jam on weekends with guitarist Merk Crandall. Crandall didn’t quite work out (as a side note, Crandall died last year in an auto accident), and in 1998, Doug began sitting in with the younger musicians. It was the ultimate irony, since punk rock — basic, aggressive, and anarchistic — and hardcore, with its heavy-metal screams, were both responses to all the heavily orchestrated, “spacey,” 20-minute progressive stuff Doug liked so much. But Doug was very much an experimenter — he was one of the few prog guys to embrace the punk and hardcore scene.

“He was open-minded to everything, more so than anyone I’ve ever met,” said Harris. “We carried a lot of weight and heaviness with our music, but Doug taught us how to open up and improvise and come up with some free jams. It wasn’t just sappy type music he brought. He helped us learn how to work off each other, how to experiment with different sounds.”

On stage, with his frizzy Afro hanging down around his face, Ferguson often looked like a mad scientist — but a friendly one. Though his music could sound almost robotic at times, he was anything but that. With a bank of keyboards — piano, Wurlitzer, synthesizers, Mellotrons — surrounding him on three sides like a fortress, he played with a flourish, arms often flailing and a wicked smile on his face.

If Ferguson helped Yeti to change and grow, it’s also true that he in turn was changed and helped by his participation in the band. Yeti fit in well with other things Ferguson was doing. Ohm and another band he was in, Vas Deferens Organization, were more free-form space music. His Tonefloat and Frankie Teardrop projects wandered and noodled around with layers of keyboards, using his massive collection of Mellotrons and Moogs and other analogue keyboards. Where he gave the band lightness and style, the kids gave him some weight and forcefulness. He taught Yeti about freedom, and the band gave him structure. It was something he was always searching for. As with many paranoid schizophrenics, Doug was looking for some order within his sometimes-chaotic mind.

Doug’s parents are a little uncomfortable talking about their son. Not because of any embarrassment about his mental problems, but because things are still a little raw 18 months later. Gary is a herpetologist at TCU, and has fond memories of taking Doug on field trips with his students when Doug was in elementary school. His mother, Janna, tears up when she talks about her son, blaming herself for letting him move out again. “If he would have been home with us, I really think I would have seen the symptoms and got him help,” she lamented. “Since Doug never had much real success on making it on his own, we were always worried about what might happen to him after we died. I would see a homeless man on the street who was mentally ill, and think, ‘That’s how Doug might end up some day.’”

The first psychotic episode happened when Doug was 15, a student at Paschal High School. He became obsessed with the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick’s groundbreaking sci-fi film released in 1969. Doug had always been a sci-fi fan — he and his father like to watch Star Trek together. But the obsession with 2001 centered on Doug’s feelings that he was God. His brother, Matt, says that Doug indicated he understood the “real” meaning of the movie. Doug was up for days at a time, watching the tape of the movie over and over, telling his family he understood the origin of the universe and the conspiracies of the government. Maybe Doug saw himself as the Star-Child, or heard the evil computer, Hal 9000, speaking to him in measured tones, or understood with great clarity why the prehistoric apes were beating each other over the heads with bones. Whatever it was, it fueled his degeneration into delusions and paranoia. There was a history of some mental illness in the family, but nothing prepared the Fergusons for their son flipping out on Wonder Drive. “It was just shocking to us,” Janna said. “He had been a pretty and happy kid up to that point.”

Doug spent a month in JPS’s mental wing that first time. He was given a series of anti-psychotic drugs and did well when he stayed on his medication. But like many with mental illness, the meds made him feel better in the head but wreaked havoc on his body. He had trouble sleeping —it was either too much or too little — and sometimes the medicine made him disoriented, or gave him the sensation that his skin was crawling. Some of the drugs made concentration on any task very difficult — he would have trouble reading at times, seeing the same line of print in his head over and over again. A common side effect with many of the medications was weight gain. And Doug hated being fat.

So, like of lot of people with mental illness, he would drop the meds when he hadn’t had any episodes for a while. And like clockwork, when Doug got off his medication, the delusions and the feelings of conspiracy would creep back into his head, and back to the mental hospital he would go. In 1993, Doug made an attempt to live in Austin, but within a few months he was off the meds, and Gary Ferguson had to drive down to pick him up. During this episode, the mild-mannered musician was more than troubled — he was suicidal and even homicidal. He told his father that voices in his head had told him to kill a friend’s sister and another woman.

Music was the one thing that helped keep Doug “normal.” His parents both sang in the church choir, and Gary had played the trombone. When he was two years old, Doug “could sing a scale at exact pitch,” according to his father. He took violin lessons in elementary school, but abandoned them in middle school because of the “uncool” factor. But at some point in his late teens, in the late eighties, after the first psychotic episode, he became obsessed with keyboard music, the kind of Euro prog rock that had gone out of favor with the punk revolution.

It is somewhat instructive to look back at Doug’s choice of musical forms. Studies have suggested that schizophrenics respond well to “music therapy,” that either playing music themselves or listening to it soothes the mind. Some of the studies have found that “repetitive” musical forms, endless loops and progressions, have the greatest effect. When you listen to Doug’s music, the commonality among all of his projects is the use of endless loops, soaring flourishes that evoke some cosmic design and always return to previous chord progressions. Author Julian Cope, writing about cosmic rock in his book Krautrocksampler, labels the search for meaning in such music as “Explore-the-god-in-you-by working-the-animal-in-you Gnostic Odyssey.”

Doug admitted as much during an interview with the Dallas Observer in 1997. “Music is a spiritual thing to me,” he said. “It helps keep my sanity. I play music to heal. It is music to escape and think things through. Someone gave a definition of psychedelic music, and I wholeheartedly agree with it. He said psychedelic music takes the negative aspects of life and transcends them.”

Janna Ferguson said her son had a childlike quality to him that was both exasperating and endearing. It was almost as if he had stayed 15 years old his entire life. This is common among schizophrenics, who tend to remain locked psychologically in the age when the mental illness first appeared. There was a bit of a Peter Pan quality to Doug, from his beer can and coin collections to his legendary stubbornness (when people would ask him why he was always right, Doug would say, “Because”) and his nerdy interest in Star Trek and cheesy sci-fi music and movies. His keyboard collection dominated his bedroom, carefully set up in a crisscross pattern that soared to the ceiling, leaving barely room for a path to the foam mattress on the floor where he tried to sleep.

The obvious parallel is the movie that so obsessed him. Doug was always interested in the origins of the universe, the influence of technology on mankind, the role of the Supreme Being in creating order from chaos. And you can’t listen to the musical theme of 2001, Richard Strauss’ famous fanfare from Thus Spake Zarathustra, without hearing a precursor to what Doug composed later in life. In fact, Jon Teague’s drumming in Yeti sometimes has the same pounding quality as Zarathustra.

The sci-fi musical themes stayed with Doug. His favorite band was the experimental French prog band Magma, which sings about a new human civilization on the planet Kobaia. Magma even writes the lyrics to its heavily orchestrated music in an invented language, Kobaian.

But being stuck at age 15 has its benefits, particularly for a guy who plays music with no real commercial possibilities. He worked as a pizza delivery guy and fooled around with all sorts of music, living mostly with his parents and not having to worry about some of the basic essentials of life. It’s also why virtually everyone interviewed for this article said the same thing: He was very friendly, do anything for you, no rock musician pretensions, not the least bit jaded. It was the child in Doug that let him act this way, unconcerned about much more than making music, taking solace and comfort there, hanging out with the guys in the band, trying to keep those mean little fingers from poking around in his brain.

His mother related a funny story about Doug, and how this childlike innocence played out with her son. After he moved in with Nathan Brown in the fall of 2001, Doug asked his mother how much her water bill was. Janna told Doug theirs was about $50 a month. Doug said his was about $75 a month, but they had no dishwasher or washing machine, and he wondered if something was wrong. “I started questioning him about whether there might be a leak someplace,” she said. “And then he volunteered that they were letting the homeless guy across the street use their water. Then he told me they let the family next door use their water because their service had been shut off.

“He didn’t have an inkling that all this might be the reason they had a high water bill,” Janna Ferguson added. “But it also showed how kind he could be. It just never occurred to him that being kind to people wasn’t the way to live his life. He never thought for a minute of telling those people they couldn’t use the water. I was very proud of him for being that kind of son.”

Zyprexa is a star in the stable of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. It is the one of the latest generation of anti-psychotic drugs, called “atypical anti-psychotics.” According to the company, Zyprexa (the generic name is olanzapine) was Eli Lilly’s best seller last year, accounting for one third of the Indiana drug-maker’s $11.1 billion in annual sales. The drug is widely prescribed for schizophrenics, with more than 7 million prescriptions written in the U.S alone last year.

No one really knows what causes schizophrenia or how the drugs used to treat it actually work. What is known is that schizophrenia affects slightly more than 1 percent of the population worldwide, a figure that has stayed constant over time. It usually emerges in patients during their teens or early twenties, and is characterized by a distorted perception of reality, hallucinations, delusions, and withdrawal. Most schizophrenics are not violent to others, but about 10 percent of them eventually commit suicide. There seems to be a genetic component to the disease, since those with a history of it in their family — like Doug Ferguson — are more likely to suffer from it themselves.

Schizophrenia also seems to be linked somehow to diabetes. Even worse, the evidence is growing that Zyprexa and drugs like it may increase the problem. Schizophrenics are about 10 percent more likely than the general population to have diabetic symptoms. Some researchers have theorized that the higher rates of diabetes are due to the weight gain that seems to accompany many anti-psychotic drugs. But other research suggests that schizophrenics have a higher craving for sweets and soft drinks, which may explain why Doug Ferguson was almost never seen without a Dr. Pepper in his hand.

The findings of a 2002 study by Duke University and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggest that, whether or not Zyprexa helps bring on diabetes, it can make the disease dangerously severe and fast-moving. When Zyprexa users in the study did develop diabetes, almost half the cases involved ketosis, a serious complication, and about 7 percent developed pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas, a life-threatening condition. Among the 289 diabetes sufferers studied, “there were 23 deaths, including that of a 15-year-old adolescent who died of necrotizing pancreatitis,” researchers wrote. “Most cases (71 percent) occurred within six months of starting the drug.”

Zyprexa isn’t the only anti-psychotic drug associated with diabetic symptoms. Last weekend, doctors with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Boston University, reported the results of their study of more than 19,000 patients who took either the newer “atypical” drugs like Zyprexa or older medications like Haldol between 1998 and 2001. During that period, 739 patients developed diabetes. The study, according to news reports, concluded that the risk for diabetes from the newer generation of anti-psychotic drugs such as Risperdal, made by Jannsen Pharmaceutical, clozapine, and Zyprexa, was a much as 50 percent higher than for the older medications.

Although the numbers of new diabetes cases among the users of the new drugs were relatively small (about 2 to 4 percent developed the disease), the study concluded that the biggest risk was for younger patients. Researchers advised doctors to watch for diabetic symptoms in patients taking the new anti-psychotics.

Eli Lilly spokeswoman Marni Lemons told the Indianapolis Star that the study showed Zyprexa was not as much as a problem as the other drugs, and that the company welcomed the study. “This confirms what we have said all along,” she said. “There is no consistent difference between is the risk of diabetes among patients treated with different (drugs).”

But Eli Lilly is doing its own backpedaling now. Lemons had told the Wall Street Journal just last May that there was no causal relationship between Zyprexa and diabetes, and that “one or two anecdotal reports out of 11 million patients can raise fear among patients and drive them off” helpful medication. The FDA is now considering whether to force drug companies to put warning labels on Zyprexa and the other drugs and warn psychiatrists and physicians to closely monitor blood sugar levels in schizophrenics. Japan and England already require the warnings.

Doug Ferguson’s history with various anti-psychotic drugs is fairly typical. He was constantly searching for one that had the least severe side effects. He had done best on perphenazine, but that drug was considered obsolete by psychiatrists and caused many problems with obesity and “spaced-out” effects. Ferguson switched to Risperdal, but found his sleep problems and weight gain were worse. What’s more, reports that Risperdal caused tremors like those associated with Parkinson’s disease made Doug wonder if he might lose the ability to play keyboards at some point in the future. His psychiatrist thought that Zyprexa might have the mildest side effects, but Doug’s parents said the psychiatrist never mentioned the diabetes problems to Doug or to them.

The issue of anti-psychotic drugs and schizophrenia treatment is complex; in many ways it is a “pick your poison” choice. In general, the newer drugs are an improvement over the earlier generations of drugs, certainly better than shock therapy of the 1950s. Many schizophrenics can learn to manage their symptoms and lead independent lives with drug treatment. But there is still very much a “one-size fits all” approach to treatment. Janna Ferguson said Doug’s psychiatrist was convinced the musician had alcohol abuse problems, even though Doug drank a beer only occasionally, and only during the last few years.

The same psychiatrist also wanted Doug to quit playing music in bands, claiming the nocturnal lifestyle was making his sleep problems worse. “I lived in fear that something would happen to keep him from his music,” Doug’s mother said. “I think his music was the most important thing to help him cope.”

The Ferguson family has decided not to sue Eli Lilly as others have done. Gary Ferguson, as a scientist, is not convinced there’s a direct causal link between Zyprexa and Doug’s death. However, Doug’s parents do believe that the Zyprexa played a part in his death. “Suing wouldn’t be appropriate; it would dredge up all sorts of things for us,” Gary Ferguson said. “But we want to urge the FDA to require warning labels about diabetic complications on Zyprexa and some of the other drugs. We hope that might force the medical community to monitor these patients better. If there is anything good that could come from Doug’s death, that would be it for us.”

A lot of artists and musicians see a correlation between mental illness and art, believing that true artists and avant garde musicians need that little spark of insanity to fire their creativity. Doug Ferguson hated that attitude. In fact, he believed almost the opposite: Insanity didn’t help him with his art; his art helped him control his insanity. He’d told Jon Teague that he despised those local music posers who feigned “craziness” almost as a way to market their bands. Doug knew better. His was a daily battle to balance things out, to keep the delusional feeling from entering his mind, to fight through all the side-effects of the various drugs he was taking. He had concluded early on in his ordeal that playing music was one way to keep a step or two ahead of his illness.

At Doug’s funeral 18 months ago, music from Wüdü Üdü, his favorite album by Magma, was played. About 400 people showed up, packing the First Congregational Church of Fort Worth. While counting mourners is a cynical way to gauge the deceased’s worth as a human being, the numbers indicate just how much of an influence Ferguson had on the local music scene. It was the kind of crowd reserved for a powerful businessman or politician.

Getting a handle on the legacy of Doug Ferguson, however, is tougher than counting noses at a funeral. There is no doubt he greatly influenced a number of local bands, especially the younger punk bands in Fort Worth. “He wasn’t really a mentor, he was more of a bully,” laughed Brian Green, guitarist for the band Garuda. “A nice kind of bully. He made us all think a little more than we were used to. ... He forced me to think more creatively. But he always emphasized that creativity wasn’t for its own sake. It had to be creativity with intelligence. He encouraged me to do what I am doing now.

“His death was devastating for everyone,” Green continued. “He was slowly becoming known as a virtuoso, not just here, but around the world. And I think if he had had more time, he would have become as famous a musician as anyone else who’s playing here right now.”

Green is right in one respect. Ferguson and Yeti were pioneering what some were calling the “punk progressive” sound. Web sites in German, Italian, and Japanese pay tribute to the greatness of the madman keyboard player from Fort Worth’s Wonder Drive. On the other hand, much of what Doug Ferguson did in music was inaccessible to most listeners — he played around with sounds that sometimes worked, sometimes didn’t.

Nathan Brown recalled one conversation in which Doug was going on and on about some Italian prog band he had found, telling Brown about how the Italian guy was the next big thing. “I told Doug that this guy was probably just some pizza delivery guy in Italy, just like he was,” Brown remembered. “And I told him that guy in Italy was probably showing his friends the Ohm c.d. and telling his buddies how great Doug was. He had to laugh at that.”

All of which speaks to the obscure world of prog rock music within which Doug Ferguson worked. Before his death, there were some indications he was changing a bit, maybe growing as a musician. He was working hard at writing for Yeti’s new c.d., not just trying to mail in some improv stuff. He wanted to tour more, feeling that his mental illness had been stabilized enough to allow it again. (Yeti had toured the West Coast for two weeks in 2001.) He had told friends that he wanted to give up the pizza delivery side job, and devote his time more to music, maybe even to session work.

But his death stopped all that work and progress in its tracks, especially for his bandmates in Yeti. They had been scheduled to move into the studio —Echo Labs in Argyle — to work on the c.d. in the fall of 2001. The date had been pushed back repeatedly, first by construction delays in the studio, later by scheduling conflicts. Yeti had finally scheduled four days at the end of February 2002 to record. By then it was too late for Doug.

“That whole thing with the recording with Doug before he died causes me an infinite amount of rage,” said Teague. “I can’t really direct it at anyone. But the fact that some screw-ups by some people prevented us from recording with Doug one final time just makes me so pissed off. We’ll never get that back.”

But Yeti, like so many other struggling music groups in Fort Worth, will persevere. As much as Doug gave to Yeti, band members Adkins, Teague, and Harris gave back to Ferguson. They quite literally helped him keep his sanity, allowing him to search within his mind, find some solace there, create some order out of chaos, and slap those mean little fingers of mental illness out of his head.

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