"I was hosting an open mic night, and she was there already ... sitting at the table with her ma, and I asked the bartender, the owner, 'Who's that?' Of course, she got up there and played and then sang and ... she was amazing. She was a showstopper then."
-Crystal Bowersox mentor Ron Rasberry, who helped turn the singer/guitarist into this season's "American Idol" frontrunner. Rasberry first met Bowersox when she was only 13 years old, and the two have maintained a musical friendship ever since. She played set breaks for Rasberry, who has been playing music in bars for years, and he helped her with her guitar playing and performance skills (along with friend and fellow local legend Bob May.
Despite their expert tutelage, the men say Bowersox was already an excellent performer when they all first met. "I was impressed by her great voice. And she still has a great voice; it's just that she even uses it better than she did back then," said May. "But it was wonderful even back then. She was creative with her lyrics and the melodies, and now she's even better, a much better guitarist, too." Even then, Bowersox was writing original songs, including a tune called "Grey-Haired Rock Star," which is a tribute to May and Rasberry. "It made me cry the first time I heard ['Grey-Haired Rock Star,']" said Rasberry, who had heard about the tune through the grapevine. "So, she [played] it when I was in here and pretty much pulled the heart out of my chest."