A Veteran’s journey from music to healing – VA News
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Navy Veteran to be inducted into New England Music Hall of Fame
September 17, 2023
By Patrick Kirby
Public Affairs Officer, Bedford VA
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In the Veterans’ Bedford Green apartments on the Bedford VA campus lives a Navy Veteran whose life story captures the strength of the human spirit and the healing power of music.
Ray Fernandes, once the drummer and background vocalist for the Boston rock band “The Atlantics,” will soon be inducted into the New England Music Hall of Fame on Sept. 30th.
Fernandes’ connection to music was nurtured from an early age thanks to his father. “My dad was a pretty decent singer. My connection to music came from his influence and his playing records every weekend,” he said.
In 1977, Fernandes joined The Atlantics just as they were becoming part of Boston’s emerging punk scene. The Atlantics shared stages with bands like The Cars, The Ramones and Cheap Trick. After departing from The Atlantics in 1979, Fernandes embarked on a new musical journey, forming the synthpop band Primary Colors.
Despite his musical successes, life took a challenging turn, leading him into a homeless situation during a period of personal turmoil. “What’s really hard is I’ve lived most of my adult life with somebody else. Then I was on my own. It’s devastating and scary. I still wake up every morning with fear. When you’re alone you have too much time to think of bad things,” he said.
During this trying time, VA played a pivotal role in his life. “VA has treated me well. If it wasn’t for VA I’d be dead,” he said. VA provided him with not only a physical space but also the support he needed to rebuild his life. He served two years in the Navy as a boatswain’s mate and receives health care treatment at Bedford VA.
Fernandes’ journey comes full circle as he prepares for induction into the New England Music Hall of Fame. His recognition acknowledges not only his musical contributions but also his resilience through life’s challenges. “After everything I’ve been through, in a homeless situation and to this now. I really needed this,” he added.
A resident at Bedford Green, Fernandes continues to draw strength from his memories and the community he helped shape. He firmly believes in the role of music in connecting Veterans. “I think these things that I did. They play a big part in keeping me alive,” he said.
On Sept. 30, along with Lizzie Borden & The Axes, Mach Bell and others, Fernandes will stand tall, celebrated not only for his career, but for his unwavering spirit and the inspiration he offers fellow Veterans who might be facing their own struggles. His is a story of the healing power of music and the support systems that can help individuals rebuild their lives, no matter how daunting the journey.
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