Chapter 1: "Hi, I'm Chris
Rhodes. I play guitar. Wanna jam?"
That’s pretty much the way it started
for me... It was the Summer of 1967. I was 17 years old.
Chris had just finished his sophomore year at LaGrange Township High School
when his family moved to Vine Street in Hinsdale a few blocks from my home
at 619 West North Street.
He would start his junior year at
Hinsdale Central High School in the Fall. I hadn’t heard of Chris
before he showed up at my door but apparently he had heard about me.
My childhood friend Scot Robinson and I
played in a band called “The Changing Tymes”. We were full of youthful
ambition and took our music seriously. Chris was full of music and
determined to start a band. I was amazed at how well he played and
sang. His talent belied his youth.
Chris is a year younger than me. He
was probably just 16 years old when I met him. Besides his obvious
talent, my first impression was that we shared a passion for the same kinds of
music. He loved Jimi Hendrix. Chris’s boyish manner was
lighthearted though he was serious... no, passionate about his music.
He was also extremely bright, a straight A student, and obviously cultured
from a good and loving family.
You can tell a lot about a family by
the way they treat their dog. Chris’s frequent fond references to the
family dachshund, Jacque, gave me some small insight into the love in the
Chris’s mother taught cello and viola.
Upon visiting the Rhodes home one was quickly whisked off to Chris’s room so
as to not disturb Mrs. Rhodes attending to the private instruction of her
students. Mr. Rhodes had a gentle presence reminiscent of Mr. Rogers.
There was an air of discipline in the
Rhodes home that obviously frustrated the young Chris now blossoming in his
own music. This, quite against the grain of his family’s wishes
preferring he pursue formal education and classical music rather than be
seduced by the rock music of our generation. Chris has three brothers.
I knew his equally if not more talented younger brother Bob, who later and
for unknown reasons, chose to be called Mitch.
There are two older brothers.
Ken Rhodes was already a celebrated classical musician and noted writer of
contemporary symphonies. David Rhodes is an internationally recognized lute
player now also building musical instruments in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Chris had some big shoes to fill but stood confidently tall in
his big brother's shadow's.
and charismatic, Chris enchanted us all. He was deep, easily
poetic, and though certainly misunderstood, very popular relating well to a
surprisingly wide circle of acquaintances.
Within a few
weeks of moving to town,
Chris seemed to know everyone. Chris was new. He was enormously
talented, intelligent, funny, good looking, popular with everyone, and
bridged social gaps bringing together people who might not otherwise have
I doubt he’d acknowledge his
influence in this, but many overlapping friendships formed then that remain
intact to this day because of Chris’s ability to befriend people of all
Chris was also one of the best “lady’s
men” I’ve ever known. It was great fun to pal around with Chris and
all the pretty girls that seemed always to be around him.
Chris would come over to my house every
day after school. He’d play his guitar and sing beautiful songs he’d
written in study hall that day. I’d often record his music on my
reel-to-reel Teac tape recorder. Then we’d go into town for a coke and a
snack or to Walgreen’s for some candy. We were young and carefree. We were
teenagers. Life was good.
Go to 1010 Page