By Bob Weaver 2004
The Calhoun kid had a knack with his charismatic presence and insane good looks, an early-on talent to grasp the tunes and moves of America's newest pop obsession of the 50s - rock 'n roll.
Few knew what to make of it when young Nicky Furr (pictured left - photo courtesy of Morris Bower), barely a teenager, climbed on the stage at the old Kanawha Theater in Grantsville to strut his stuff.
It was talent night at the packed movie house and Nicky was breaking ground for a generation of rockers before a jaw-dropping audience of older folks and a cheering group of kids, mostly girls. "Woman loved him. Couldn't keep'em away," said a close friend .
Nicky, with his Elvis features, coiffured hair and turned up collar, belted the early Elvis Presley tune "You Ain't Nothin' But A Hound Dog."
Nicky sang, strummed his guitar and shook his pelvis from one end of the stage to the other -
"When they said you was high classed,
Well, that was just a lie.
When they said you was high classed,
Well, that was just a lie.
You ain't never caught a rabbit
And you ain't no friend of mine."
The older folks were stunned, hoping it was a passing fad. Little did they know what was coming with rock 'n roll.
Sometime in the 1960s, while traveling late night around the Mt. Zion Ridge, I spotted car lights down a step embankment. Climbing down in the hole, I helped Nicky, under the influence, out of his crushed vehicle. Offering to take him to the newly opened Calhoun General Hospital, he declined. Offering to take him home, he declined.
I took him home to the Village of Hur and he slept in the cellar house. Coming down to have breakfast, my parents liked him so much, they offered a longer stay. I can't remember if he did, I was already off to work.
Little was I to know, a few years later I too would encounter the Disease of Addiction. Years later I was acquainted with his dad Willard Furr, who had become a recovering alcoholic.
Fingers were pointing at young Nicky in the 1960s, saying he was on drugs, among the first with that distinction in the hills of Sunny Cal.
Nicky's life went down hill from those well-remembered performances inside the old Kanawha, spending most of his adult life in prison.
After several brushes with the law over stealing, Nicky spent years in Moundsville State Penitentiary to eventually be released.
The best laid plans of Nicky's friends to help him start a new life, myself included, failed. He took off for Florida and in short order got in serious trouble.
During a hold-up of a convenience store, he shot and killed the clerk, landing him in prison for the rest of his life.
Nicholas Vance Furr, that Calhoun kid that "had it all," has died in Lake Butler, Florida at the age of 57, following throat cancer.
The son of the late Willard and Vivian Furr, he is was survived by a son Chris, his wife and a grandson.
His cremains were thrown to the Florida winds - long-forgotten his days of promise in Grantsville, West Virginia.