Ernest Macine may have been a man of modest means -- but not when it came to friends.
Nearly 50 people proved that as they gathered at the Tehachapi Christian Store on Dec. 29, celebrating the 57-year old musician's life after he was killed when he stepped into the path of an oncoming vehicle on his way home from the Love's Travel Center on Tehachapi Boulevard on Dec. 17.
Mainly made up of fellow musicians the group played Macine's favorite Beatles' songs and shared memories of the man who they simply knew as "Angel."
Born in El Monte, Macine spent a few years in Seattle and Bakersfield before arriving in Tehachapi more than 10 years ago, and according to friend Brian Drucker, was cheerful and encouraging.
The two met around two years ago and were instantly drawn to each other when Macine wandered into the Drucker's Tehachapi Christian Store, where up until his death, he was often found, playing his guitar and sometimes serenading shoppers as they browsed.
"He came in here looking for spiritual encouragement and we would pray and read the Bible together -- sometimes daily," Drucker said. "When his mind was straight he was a good guy."
Badly burned on his neck, chest and hands from a bonfire accident when he was seven years old, Macine was kept sedated for pain and it was no secret to his friends that as a result he struggled with addiction. But like all battles, there were good days and bad days and Macine was no stranger to when it came to adversity.
His passion for music was unbridled, and despite a severely scarred left hand that stiffened the movement of his fingers, Macine adapted, teaching himself to play the guitar by tuning to the key of "E," wrapping his hand around the neck and changing the sound by sliding his thumb up and down the fret board.
It was his love for playing music that completed Macine and he could be found singing in front of various businesses for tips -- or until he was asked to leave -- said Drucker with a smile.
But something was still missing from Macine's life. And while friends were important to him, so was family. But recent efforts to make contact with his two adult daughters through social media just months before his death were unsuccessful.
Perhaps that is why Macine found family in Tehachapi, drawn towards Mountain Music employee Catherine LaBell's 12-year old son James, teaching the aspiring guitarist to play Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" on guitar.
"He came here a lot," she said. "And my son and he became good friends. We will miss him."
Band mate Lisa Cosgrove, with whom he had been living with since September, was the last person to see Macine just hours before his death.
"He was a fee spirit who loved the Lord," she said. "We jammed a lot, had Bible studies and watched a lot of Christian movies on Netflix."
The pair's last moments together were spent plucking out a couple of tunes on their guitars.
"He was sweet guy and a very good musician," said Deborah Hand owner of Fiddlers Crossing where Macine frequently participated in Open Mic night. "Music was how Angel connected with other people. It was his salvation."