We Mourn The Loss Of Shoes' Skip Meyer and The Outfield's John Spinks!

Over the past couple days, I've mourned the news of the passing of Skip Meyer, original drummer for Zion power pop institution Shoes, and John Spinks, guitarist for The Outfield.  While I saw some mention of Meyer's passing on social media, I was literally dumbfounded by the "radio silence" regarding Spinks' death.  After all, at least two Outfield songs are still in heavy rotation on most '80s stations.

As a big fan of Shoes, I was always perplexed by Meyer's disappearance prior to Stolen Wishes.  As a kid, the idea of someone I'd come to regard as a "hero" leaving a rock band seemed unimaginable to me and, to date, I don't know that I've ever read what led to his departure.  Of course, I'm sure it's covered in Boys Don't Lie: A History of Shoes (http://www.amazon.com/Boys-Dont-Lie-History-Shoes/dp/0615403948/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405051859&sr=1-1&keywords=shoes+zion), but his leaving most definitely changed the band the same way Bill Berry's retirement altered R.E.M.'s trajectory.

One can presume that the surviving members will no doubt pay tribute to their fallen brother during their July 19 show at Evanston's SPACE, for which General Admission tickets are still available!

In the case of The Outfield, a British band taking their name from America's favorite pastime was admittedly hokey.  At first, I feared this was the All Sports Band all over again (whose appearance on American Bandstand is still scorched into my retinas), but with great songs like "Say It Isn't So", "Every Time You Cry", and the U.S. #1 smash "Your Love",  it didn't matter whether they wore baseball outfits or not (they didn't).  Of course, their next album, Bangin', had "big budget follow-up" written all over it as the band aimed for the fences and ended up having to settle for a ground rule double of sorts.  It wasn't a flop, per se, but so began the band's era of diminishing returns.

After third album, Voices Of Babylon, failed to dent the Top 40, Tommy Mottola's move to MCA prompted the band to follow him rather than stay with Columbia (huge mistake).  The cover of their first album for the label, Diamond Days, featured the remaining duo of singer Tony Lewis and guitarist John Spinks standing in front of what appeared to be a bombed-out industrial complex.  Critics had a "field day" comparing the wreckage to the band's commercial fortunes, as the musical tide had begun turning toward grunge and alt. rock, leaving bands like The Outfield with little opportunity to compete.

The band carried on valiantly, releasing Rockeye in 1992.  Second single "Winning It All" seemed tailor-made for sports highlight reels, gaining use during TV coverage of the NBA Finals, but failed to chart, thus ending the band's tenure at MCA.

The band took a year off before reforming to play local pubs in England, where commercial success had eluded them during their Stateside success.

In 2009, Spinks and Lewis reunited with original drummer Alan Jackman and released Replay in 2011, during which time Spinks recorded his guitar parts despite being in a great deal of pain as he fought the liver cancer that would take his life on July 9 at the age of 60.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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