We all have people who we have met during our lives who have changed us. For some it’s a teacher, minister, love interest, etc. For me, it was my former-best-friend Mike.
I don’t really recall exactly when or how I met Mike, but my best guess is that we became friends when I was eighteen doing my first stint at Toys ‘R’ Us.
Mike was about my age then, a tad shorter than I was, had sharp sense of humor, a skateboarder, and budding guitarist. Mike had blonde hair which he could make stand on end, and when he would scrunch his face and make it turn red he’d look like the Heat Miser song from A Year Without A Santa Claus.
Mike was the one person to alter my taste in music.
As a youngster I was into the music that my New York friends and our brothers liked. We were into The Beatles, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Kiss, David Bowie, etc.
- first purchased cassette tape: Alice Cooper – “School’s Out”
- first purchased album: Emerson, Lake and Palmer – “Brain Salad Surgery”
- first purchased cd: Pink Floyd – “Dark Side Of The Moon”
As the early eighties rolled around my parents finally introduced cable television into our household, and the world of MTV was brought to my world. While I was still interested in the music that I had grown up listening to, I found that there was a whole new world known as ‘alternative’.
It was this music that solidified the bond between Mike and myself. Mike opened my eyes to Husker Du, Aztec Camera, Devo, Los Lobos, The Minutemen, REM, to name a few.
Mike and I would both read Spin Magazine and The Village Voice wishing that the bands that we liked would come to Clearwater, Tampa, St. Petersburg, anywhere near by so that we could see them. Mike was the reason I went to see Jason and the Scorchers perform at the University of South Florida back in ’86.
The only Spring Break I ever spent in Daytona Beach was the trip I took with Mike, circa 1986. During that Spring Break we drank Shaefer Light ($5 a case!), saw Jay Leno perform for free and went to see the Golden Paliminos and 10,000 Maniacs perform for free at the stage on the beach.
When I moved up to Gainesville to go to the University of Florida I lost touch with Mike. While at Florida I ran into Mike a few times, once when he was working at a used CD store across the street from campus, and once when he was working at the Media Play. We never hung out together again as time had changed us both.
It’s been nearly twenty years now that I’ve seen Mike. I have no need to ever run into Mike again in my life, but if I do I think that I will thank him for helping me get on the music trail that I have been following for so many years.