Sadly, on July 2nd the world lost another one of those special people who make Gainesville Gainesville – my dear friend, Charlie Scales.
For most folks, he was the familiar presence at Hyde & Zeke’s Records and Video (“Real people in a plastic world”). But to Gainesville’s music community, he was a living treasure. For the better part of 40 years, he was the go-to guy when a band needed an upgrade on lead guitar. That’s not a slight on anyone; he was widely acknowledged as Gainesville’s premier lead guitarist, even by the artists he replaced.
A long-time friend of his recalled the first time he heard Charlie play. “It was in Lake City. I was 14, standing in front of the stage, and I was about to be taken apart by a gang of rednecks. Charlie stopped playing in the middle of the song, stood on the edge of the stage, pointed his finger, and said, ‘Leave that guy alone.’ He saved some of my teeth and probably more that night.”
All of 5-foot-8 and 130 pounds, it’s safe to say he didn’t physically intimidate the would-be tough guys. No, his ability to soothe the savage beasts was a dramatic measure of the respect his playing commanded. That he cared more about the safety of a stranger in the crowd than finishing the song was a greater measure of his humanity. While those few seconds spoke volumes about the power of his musicianship, they reveal even more about Charlie Scales the person.
His passing leaves a void that can’t be filled. We all miss our friend more than words can say.
Together with music, the loves of his life were his immediate family – wife Jan, daughter Becca, and son Josh; brother-in-spirit Bill Perry; camping on the banks of the Suwannee River for the annual music festivals, reading and talking about politics, vintage Marshall amps, and sipping single-malt scotch.
Here’s to you, ol’ friend. As always, you ended your solo on a high note.
Peace, love, and rock’n’roll!