In the summer of 1985, I did not own a lot of music. I was 11 going on 12 and my interest in popular music was just budding. I loved Styx, REO Speedwagon, Hall & Oats and I was a huge fan of The Police. My favorite song was King of Pain, I owned Synchronicity and would have identified them as my favorite band at the time. The bulk of my musical taste at the time came from riding in the car with my mom and listening to whatever she had on. Which – as it happens – was mostly Styx and REO Speedwagon.
If their debut album was a masterful and driving piece of pop/rock music, their second album Bangin’ was its moody half-sister. It rocked – don’t misunderstand me – but John Spink’s ethereal minor chord driven writing was a different animal all together. It was another hit in my mind. The first single, Since You’ve Been Gone, was a straight-up radio friendly rock and roll masterpiece that played right into my life at the time. "Didn’t think I’d find a girl that I could not forget, anything we started not so long ago, ain’t over yet, since you’ve been gone, staring at your photograph, and I know that I was wrong and I know our coming back." At that time in my life, not long after the release of the song my first real, serious relationship was coming to an end. And as I sang along to No Surrender and Bangin’ On My Heart my life sailed on into new friendships and new relationships – some mixed in with old relationships. As with any teenager, relationships were never simple.
Unfortunately, instead of a tour we received news that John Spinks was sick. He had cancer. We all took it personally. We felt as though someone close to us had the disease, and followed his progress as closely as we could. John had given us so much over so long, we prayed for him and his family constantly. And then, after a long wait – we got news. John was in remission – and he had a new album in the works! And that wasn’t all – Alan Jackman was back in the band!
When the RePlay dropped in 2011, it was everything we (as fans) had hoped for. For me, the sound – the writing – the structure was reminiscent of Voices of Babylon but with a newer kick to it. The signature groove was back – and the boys had done it again. And again, we as fans, waited for news of a tour. But as we listened to the sparkling new music, we had no idea that John was not well. And although there were rumors, no one really knew that even as he recorded RePlay things were not well. We did not learn until recently that there were days in which he could not even play – but he persevered and finished the record.
He finished it for us.
And we are grateful for that.
John Frederick Spinks has left us here, but he’s left us with a lifetime of memories and music. And that music is intertwined within our lives like no other. I’ve rocked out, fallen in love, had my heart broken, used it as inspiration on the baseball field and even turned it on just to feel a little better about life. I have friends with whom The Outfield is a key part of our good times together. And even some friends that, without The Outfield, we’d have never even met. I remember how I felt around 1995 when I thought that Rockeye was it… when there had been no new music from the boys for years, and no news. I thought that the guys had simply called it quits and there would be no new music from The Outfield. And I am forever grateful that the music post-1992 came out and I am able to enjoy it. But as I write this, I am left with a hole in my heart where The Outfield used to be. I will certainly never stop listening to their music… but I will miss the anticipation of new music from John and the rest of the band. His writing… his guitar playing… and his rock and roll attitude will be missed. Thank you for not only touching my life since 1985, John. But thank you for helping me grow up and make it through those teen age years – I’m glad that it was your music that helped me through those tough times and not some other music that my other friends identified with. John, may your soul forever rest in peace... you will certainly not be forgotten here.
Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs. He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes. Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of Time, Towering Pines Volume One:Room 509, The Star of Christmas, Philadelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel. Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!
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