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Lamondo 'Tiny' Watkins, 1977-2013

Local drummer dies after complications from heart surgery

By Chase Hoffberger, 1:35PM, Mon. Jul. 15, 2013

Lamondo
Lamondo "Tiny" Watkins
photo by Priscilla Villegas

Austin hip-hop lost another beloved figure this weekend when Lamondo “Tiny” Watkins died at Saint David’s South Austin Medical Center Saturday due to complications of heart surgery. He was 35.

Watkins, a drummer, first complained of chest pains after a performance July 6.

“He said something felt like a horse kicked him in the chest,” says League of Extraordinary G’z rapper/producer Reggie Coby, who first shared a stage with Watkins in 2010. “He went to a hospital up north, and they gave him some bullshit. So he left and played another gig on Sunday. On Monday, he went to his personal doctor.”

Watkins soon learned that he had a tear in his aortic valve, one that doctors at Saint David’s first operated on Friday morning. Because of his size (six-foot-six and more than 300 pounds), and poor health – Aisha Cyphers, his longtime girlfriend, reports that Watkins had extremely high blood pressure and “wasn’t taking care of his body like he was supposed to” – his medical prognosis was dim. That evening, Cyphers and those close to Watkins learned he had a 20% chance of survival.

“He went in and had his third surgery at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning [Saturday],” reveals Cyphers. “From there, he was pretty much gone. [Life support] machines were doing all the work. He had that last surgery, and that was the end. If they had to go back and do another, he was most likely not going to make it, and of course they had to go back and do another surgery” in order to properly fix the valve.

Doctors took Watkins off life support Saturday at 1pm.

A military veteran who relocated to central Texas from California in 2003, Watkins became the go-to beat keeper in Austin’s hip-hop community, tying in most notably with Riders Against the Storm, Max Frost, and the LOEGZ, in addition to bluesman Malford Milligan and R&B singer Courtney Sanchez.

“It was almost like, ‘Who hasn’t he played with?’” Coby notes. “He played with a lot of people – a lot of people. Anybody who needed a drummer for hip-hop, they’d go to Tiny. Whenever we needed drums, that was the first dude we called.”

A benefit concert to help pay for funeral costs is scheduled for 7pm tonight at Spinners Bar & Grille in Round Rock. A second benefit to help raise money for Watkins’ two kids – he leaves behind a 15-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son – will take place in the next few weeks.

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