Everyone who grows up being a musician can remember people who influenced them or was a big part of their childhood. From the first time you plugged in an electric guitar to the first time you got up on a stage with your buddies, there were always those special people who stood out and today, forty-some years later they’re still in your head. Much so was the young man who I have decided to tell the world about via the web. The following short story first appeared this week in another column I produce and I have had so many compliments that I think I should spread the article around a little bit more. Even though you never met my friend Clyde, you did know him. He was every kid you ever knew that played an instrument really well and who learned seemingly faster than anyone else. But it’s not just the music we remember, it’s the laughter and the smiles. Your friend never left you heart, even after all these years.
Clyde with his wonderful smile
We say goodbye this week to a very good friend who, in his early years was just about the best guitar player for a thousand miles in any direction. Clyde Blosl was the first lead guitar player I ever had and one of my best freinds ever back in those days. He inspired all of us budding musicians because he was real good long before the rest of us knew what the hell we were doing.
I remember the first time I saw Clyde take that Red 67 Fender Mustang out of the case and plug it into a bigger amp than I had ever seen outside of a music store. At fourteen years of age, Clyde, Harold, Mike and I started a rock band. I couldn’t even play the guitar yet but the let me be the lead singer. WE started gigging right away at PTA and school ” Fun Night ” parties, wherever they would let us plug in. When Clyde started to play, everyone stopped to listen because he had this Blues-Rock British Invasion thing gong on and it was something none of us in our little town had ever witnessed.
There were times when our band experienced changes in personell like with my brother Bob, who went on to start his own group, but this little garage band even had our own Go-Go Girls, Cindy and Rochelle who were incidently the hottest two girls in our school! And they both loved Clyde. In fact, Clyde was the ladies’ favorite wherever we would go. He was handsome in a boyish sort of way, had a great smile and was funnier than hell! But it was his guitar playing that really made him stand out above the rest.
Then, there was his hair. Clyde started growing his hair long before anyone in our school. By the time we made it to Senior High there was trouble on the horizon, for the ” gang ugly ” didn’t like ” hippies ” so they held Clyde down on the ground and cut his hair with scissors and made a real mess of him. Clyde never held a grudge or sought vengence. He wasn’t that sort of kid. He just got up, brushed himself off in front of a crown of about two hundred spectators- smiled and walked away. Those boys never touched Clyde again. They got what they wanted, then what they didn’t want – hated by the entire school for what they did to such a great kid. His hair grew to be about 18 inches long in just a few short months and that was how he wore it for many years. Long, black and shiney. Girls envied his perfect hair!
As High school rolled by we all evolved in our little group of musicians and Clyde kept playing that guitar until he graduated to a Strat or a Tele or sometimes a Gibson. He played in a number of local bands and had a great reputation as being punctual. I guess that’s because he loved to play music so much he couldn’t wait to get to rehearsals!
Clyde was an extended member of my family so much that he was never required to knock on the back door. He just walked in in the mornings or afternoons and I think it was Clyde who first coined the phrase – ” GOT MILK?” Yeah, he couldn’t get enough of it and he also loved my folks’ cooking! So there was always an extra plate at the table for Clyde, Harold or John or any of the boys in the garage bands. But Clyde, well, he could even sit in my dad’s chair when he wanted!
Over the years we all grew up and started to drift apart. I remember though when Clyde got married and his daughter was first born, Happiest man in the world! I started having a big family and was also on the road a lot playing music. Clyde continued to forge out his own unique Blues-Rock style and played in other bands who for the most part, I didn’t get to see because I was busy playing too. But I heard about Clyde all the time. His reputation grew almost like this stealthy Robin-Hood sort of guy. An entire counter culture of Clyde Blosl music fans were all across Western Washington and speaking his name in the clubs. Quite an acheivement considering the fact there are no known record releases by this amazing gifted musician and I think that is a terrible shame. Fortunately though, we have his memories firmly loaded into our memory banks. Every kid who ever went to Centralia High School in the 68-72 period of time remembers the Blues Rocker who was way ahead of his time. Clyde could make that guitar sing so good it would put chills down your spine. Sometimes that was just before the cops came to the door to tell him to turn it down! Oh yes, you could hear Clyde play but it wasn’t for the joy of unbridled noise, no, Like one of his greatest heroes Jimi Hendrix, Clyde could make these incredible sounds and feedback from his amp into musical tones that were no less as great as the finest violin imaginable. He had tone!
His mom and pop, his brother and sister, daughter and all his extended family were always proud of Clyde, They, as we, knew he had that special gift. The something else that not everyone in the arts ever achieves. Thousands of people in our little section of this big blue marble will always remember Clyde for his amazing guitar magic. I and a few of our friends like the Go-Go Girls who are now Go-Go Grandmas -will never forget a sweet boy who always had a joke to tell, the coolest, fastest 56 Chevy in town and the loudest amp we ever heard. Most of all we will never forget the boy who grew to be a man that loved everyone and loved music as much as he loved life. I will remember my friend and I will see him opening the case to that Red Fender Mustang over and over again in my head.
I think now I will celebrate such memories by pouring myself a big cold glass of milk and, with guitar in hand I will try to remember that “John Lee Hooker” Blues song that Clyde, as a fourteen year old white kid from small town America knew- like the back of his hand.
http://www.damngoodtunes.com/Clyde_Blosl.htmlBruce J Maier