So my friend Jeff and I go way back to Junior High. I had moved from South Bend Indiana to Ann Arbor Michigan and didn’t know a soul. I met Jeff at school and I don’t recall exactly how we ended up hanging out, but we have been friends for over 35 years.
We would wander around his apartment complex or mine, just hanging out and doing what Junior High kids did. Jeff and I were fast friends and until he moved to Denver with his family we were largely inseparable. He and I fooling around with a tape recorder one afternoon is what I credit for our eventual exchange of tapes back and forth like letters that we would mail to each other after he moved. They were a constant source of strength for me during years when I needed a friendly voice. His tapes were a balm often.
During our time together we would do all sorts of crazy stuff. We built a raft and floated down the runoff pond between apartment complexes and near the jail, until we got yelled at. We spent weekends riding bikes downtown buying comic books and playing video games, and spent endless hours in each others rooms just listening to music.
I have saved this particular photo for all this time. It is of Jeff and a neighborhood friend Dane jumping off of a bench near the clubhouse at one of our complexes. I had a 110 camera and risked a few shots of this jump hoping to catch them in action.
Booyah! Got it.
If you look closely at the bench you will see the real reason I include the photo here. You can just make out the top of the “portable” tape player/recorder that we used to use. That day we were walking around probably taping ourselves being stupid, or funny, or both. The tape player had an external mic plugged in for recording and was big and bulky. I have no doubt that this was the tape player that Jeff used to make the first tape as he was driving with his mother to Denver. A real piece of history.
His first tape, Jeff Byers On The Road started it all. Here is the cover I made.
That was my cat Elric (yes I was reading Michael Moorcock back in those days) and I am also wearing my Big Bob Believer shirt, which is a story all on its own, though not music related. Jeff knows.
Between us we made close to 175 tapes which cemented our friendship over the years. Despite being almost a whole country away, we remained close and are still friends today.
This one’s for you Jeff.