For my dad's 40th birthday, my grandmother gave him a framed poem that proudly hung in their bathroom (above the toilet, no less). I don't remember much of the poem, but the last line always stuck out: "Oh, what do you buy a musician who beats the drums slower these days? I found myself in an awkward position, so I ordered this poem for the aged!"
We're coming up on my dad's 78th birthday this week. He is, sadly, beating the drums way slower these days. So I thought it would be a good time to start digging through some photos to remember those salad days...
The Early Years
My dad loves fishing. Growing up, we'd pack up the car and drive out to Montauk State Park or Maramec Springs State Park in Missouri and spend all day on the banks of a river fishing for rainbow trout.
Here's a photo of the two of us in the kitchen practicing my technique.
I'll have to keep digging for more early photos of the two of us – I have a lot of photo prints that I still need to scan (and will subsequently add to these kind of "remember when?" posts).
Just know that my dad and I went fishing. A lot.
Another neat fact about my dad is that he wrote a book called "In The Groove" - a beginner's guide to playing the drums. My dad bought a Mac Quadra 660AV to work on the book using Finale and he trusted me enough to do the typesetting, layout, and book cover artwork in Aldus PageMaker. Looking back now, this is what I've been destined to do and I believe I owe my entire design career to my dad's encouragement and thoughtful risk-taking.
A big part of his writing the book was attending the Percussive Arts Society International Convention and setting up as an exhibitor. Here's a photo of the whole family in our tragic early-90's get-ups in Anaheim, CA:
I can still rock a fanny pack.
I'm not sure if we sold more than 10-15 books in total, but it was a big tax write-off for my dad (and JB Publications) and it got us out of our Southern Illinois town for a week.
(As a quick aside: I was a senior in High School in 1998 and I brought my yearbook with me for "famous" drummers to sign. I had Pearl Jam's Dave Abbruzzese sign, as well as the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Chad Smith. Chad wrote "Stephen, it was great sitting next to you all semester in science class. - Chad". I still have that yearbook in my parent's basement somewhere.)
Grandpa - or "Tappy"
My dad is a tremendous grandfather to my kids, sharing his love of fishing and music. He loved to bring the kids down to the orchestra pit at The Muny, where he was the principal percussionist for 45 years.
It's hard for me to pick my favorite photos of him just being a great grandfather, but here's a start:
Happy Father's Day, Dad
I love you.