Today I learned that an old friend has died. Eric drowned on Thursday in a tragic accident. He was the first person I “dated.” At the ripe age of 14 and without a driver’s license, this meant an occasional group trip to the movie theater and a lot of online chatting. Eric and I didn’t work out. The logistics of traveling 31 miles to see each other was impractical, but thanks to the internet, we stayed good friends. We talked so often on AIM that our chat logs, had I saved them, would’ve amassed countless pages.
We lost touch after high school as many friends do. Hearing about him today, I was saddened by the news. My sadness deepened as I realized the impact of his life on my own. I wish I could thank him for it today, but instead, I’ll settle with this blog entry.
Eric was there when I started learning to play the guitar. When I began the hunt for my first electric guitar, we debated Fender versus Ibanez. These are the two brands most newbies gravitate towards. Ibanez, Eric argued, was the more versatile guitar. As a thrash metal enthusiast, he urged me to choose a metal-friendly guitar so I could later shred to my heart’s desire. Fender, however, was the choice brand of my favorite bands at the time. I wanted to play like Blink 182, Green Day, and Rancid. Eric Clapton even had a signature Fender model that I saw in the catalogues, and I knew at the time that Eric Clapton was… someone. Eric called me out. He told me I just wanted a Fender because I thought they looked cool! While that was 100% true, I denied it and bought a Schecter instead. That’s how much power the guy had over me!
Eric’s influence didn’t stop there. He opened my eyes to more than the pop punk music I listened to. He pointed out the simplicity of Green Day and Blink 182 songs, that they were just a bunch of power chords with catchy melodies. While I was still allowed to like them (and I do), he showed me the way to greener pastures. He started my music education slowly with Metallica’s Master of Puppets. I listened back through their discography, and eventually learned to play my first guitar solos ever with “Fade To Black.” I learned that Master of Puppets was Metallica’s masterpiece and that it was all downhill afterwards. Eric would later send me in the direction of other musicians I would’ve taken a lot longer to embrace: Jimi Hendrix, Opeth, Black Sabbath, and more.
Although I wouldn’t have consciously thought this before, Eric had a huge impact on the person I am today: my music snobbiness, my random knowledge of metal, even the electric guitar I own. It’s crazy to think about the butterfly effect he created. Eric is gone now, but I won’t forget his influence on me. Thanks a lot, EThrash187. Your friend, jlgpunk182.