Local musician sings with all his heart

Vern Percival (right) and daughter Emily Percival perform at the Ballinger Summer Festival and Craft Fair. (Photo by David Pan)

Two heart attacks haven’t slowed down local musician Vern Percival.

Despite past health challenges, the 69-year-old has not lost his smile or his positive attitude, and he also sings with popular local band the Huckabillys.

Twelve years ago, the outlook for Percival was not so upbeat. He experienced a massive heart attack when he was living in Nashville, Tenn.

After his heart attack, Percival was taken to the hospital. Tearing up slightly, he recalls being told by hospital staff to call his family. The doctors said he had approximately two-and-a-half years to live.

But this setback did not keep Percival off his feet. A spiritual man, he recalled hearing a voice telling him: “You have the spirit of Christ inside you, you’re not supposed to be feeling like this. Get yourself up, put your smile back on and leave this place.”

After his heart attack, Percival moved with his wife to Washington, so he could be closer to his daughter Emily Percival. He also thought the cooler climate would be better for his health problems.

When Percival arrived in Washington, he collapsed after suffering another heart attack and almost immediately underwent heart surgery. After the procedure, he began to feel stronger and healthier.

“If I had stayed in Tennessee, I’d be dead,” Percival said.

Although his official career was as a construction worker, Percival has always been an avid music lover. In fact, he said he moved to Nashville from his hometown in California in 1970 because he loved country music and wanted to get closer to it. He had multiple bands in Nashville before moving to the area and starting the Huckabillys.

Percival began the band in 1990 when he moved to Washington. He named it after a girl he met when he was young, named Priscilla Huck. She died a few years back, but “the Huckabillys lives on,” Percival said.

“Now I’m too old to work, so I just have to do my music,” he laughed.

Percival, who lives in Edmonds with his wife and daughter, has six children, but only daughter Emily is interested in music as a career.

“Anything I can do to help (Emily) is good, I’m just having fun while she’s serious about it,” he said.

Percival sings with the Huckabillys every Sunday at the Mountlake Terrace Senior Center from 1-3 p.m. Daughter Emily performs with them.

Emily Percival calls her dad “a walking miracle,” adding that “he’s an amazing guy who puts his heart into everything. He does a lot for the community and it’s a blessing to still have him around,” she said.

— By Stephi Smith

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