BECAUSE IT'S STILL RIGHT
Boomers will remember this from a time of discord and rancor when it became a kind of anthem. Posted here in two versions as a post election stress syndrome tonic.
Full Hippie Style
Good bye Big John
Photo Courtesy of Sherry Gillis/WIBC
It is fortune in life to know people who are unique, true individualists even delightful eccentrics. John Gillis is on that list.
1969 was a time of transition for the country and for me. Big John was a wrench man in my re-tooling. He was part of a revolution, FM Rock radio. He and a few renegade young men made history by creating something new. I was out of college, waiting for my bride to be to finish student teaching, working at a small market AM station doing the police beat and street news. John had heard me and showed up one day at the studio to evangelize the hip new world of "underground, counter cultural, history making" WNAP FM. The cultural history of that station has been captured in a film detailed in this January post.
On that day, John opened his ever present hard sided brief case, which he organized a couple of times as we sat in our little studio talking, and produced promotional literature, tapes of jingles, air checks and posters. He opened the door to my future.
A few months later, after returning from a spring and summer traveling in Europe, Lana and I settled into our new home and I walked further through the door John had opened. The News Director of the station group that operated both the radical FM and the old line AM news leader offered me a job to live in both worlds. Traditional beat reporting for the AM News giant and the on air voice of those "long haired fucking hippies in the back room." (It's funny, because the only long hair Big John had was his mutton chop side burns, being a prematurely bald man.)
It was the best of both worlds, the beginning of life long friendships, adventure and the launching pad for a career that would send me around the world. Some of that would have happened perhaps, but it certainly did because Big John came calling one day.
He was a radio legend in Indianapolis, the automatic host, toast master, emcee at thousands of events over the years. Colorful, always traveling to the beat of his own private drummer, a loving and lovable guy, John passed from this world yesterday at the young age of 65.
There will be great stories about John's vivid uniqueness-he truly was a character- and they will fill a space in our heart left by a life lived large. Big John, you left Big memories.
Take a moment this weekend to tell a friend how important they are to you.
See you down the trail.