.

The Vicounts Circa 1965: L to R Al Gross, Steve Meador, Scot Robinson, Barry Kopecky, John Hora

 

Scot Robinson and Barry Kopecky at trying out guitars at Park Ridge Music, 1967.

 

 

 

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 Rhodes household. 

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.

Charming 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 met.

 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 types. 

  
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. 

 


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