Eddy Lieberman …My Journey to Rockin Jazz…My First Hero

I always ask my students who their heroes are, and if they don’t have any, go find them.   I was in awe of rock stars, and the world they walked in was an unattainable one.

The greatest instrumental band of all time was the Ventures, and they had a huge hit with the song “Walk, Don’t Run”.  They released an album entitled “Play Guitar with the Ventures” where the guitar parts were removed so you could perform the song with the group.  This gave me an idea of how it would be to be part of a band.  There’s only so much time one needs playing to adoring fans in front of the mirror in the bathroom or taking a great solo at the edge of your bed.

The coolest guy in the school was John Enright, and he was a drummer.  Actually, he was the first rock star we all got to know in person.  He dressed like a Beatle like they looked during “Rubber Soul”, & he had bona fide Beatle boots to add to his persona.  He twirled his drum sticks like Eddie Brigatti in the Rascals, and seemingly everyone was in awe of his presence.

Somehow, I found myself playing in my first band with him and John Miksza.  I don’t think anyone played bass either.  It was two guitars and a drummer.

Before DJs, only live band played dances.  I had my Kent guitar and amp, my first foray into the electric world.  As part of the act, my amp picked up police radio, & we would use that as a special effect.  We practiced a lot & had live performances only a handful of times.  Regardless, I felt like I was on my way to the Promised Land.

One night I got a call from another friend who delivered newspapers.  Remember, that was the only way anyone received daily news.  He knew I was friends with John, & we were in a band together.  He told me the paper said John had been killed in a car accident that night.  I was obviously stunned.  He had tried crossing Route 46 to go see his girlfriend.  Virtually no one had a girlfriend at that point, and he lost his life attempting to maneuver a heavily traveled road in the dark.  A rebel to the bitter end.

At the funeral, his open casket had him lying there with his arms crossed holding two drumsticks.  All these years later, all of us who went through that experience still speak of him with reverence.  As an aspiring musician looking for the Answer, I immediately felt lost.  I had lost my hero.