There will doubtless be many people far better qualified to pay tribute to Jon Eydmann. But that's not going to stop me devoting a little 'Letter from Claptonia' to his memory.
Jon was born four years and two days behind me, and I first came across him some 28 or 29 years into my life. By then, he had already managed Suede and Spitfire and had moved into a life of A&R-ing at Fire records in London.
I was in Wales and I had my rather grim day job as a journo to occupy me, as well as my shadowy second life as a fanzine writer. I had to keep the two apart - as much as I could, anyway. The paper I worked for was not keen on its staff engaging in forms of expression that it could not profit from. But, looking at it from the other side, the office did have a photocopier, a stapler and a telephone. I was able to make my little desk a base for some pretty effective fanzine operations. The photocopier took a right hammering.
Into my life came Jon, with record upon record of great stuff for me to review. There was some seriously dodgy stuff too, of course. The funny old mid-90s. In there somewhere would have been the occasional call to interview some of Fire's roster. Gigolo Aunts got a cover piece in my zine (it was called 'Frug!' by the way), and there must have been more that I can't quite remember. I do remember Jon badgering me to interview a band called Supermodel. I did it - but I can't remember if I ran it or not.
Then local band Novocaine signed to Fire, and things started to get more interesting. Their guitarist, Richard Jackson, shared my house with me and the 'phone calls and contact with Jon hotted up a fair bit. I remember him coming to Newport a few times on Novocaine business, or perhaps to check out other bands in the (hey) New Seattle, and somewhere in my fading memory is an image of Jon walking down the street with a ridiculously over-sized parka on - hood up, an' all. I also remember sharing many beers with him at a number of gigs and festivals. He was one of those people who would always be around. And he'd always be fun to be with.
One time, Jon suggested that my fanzine and his label should hook up on a joint release. A 7" single that could be given away with the 'zine. Great idea! The deal was that I would chip in £100 towards the mastering and pressing, Fire would take care of the business and pay for the rest. It was a good deal for me. I got to choose the tracks...
"Play the CD and just pick your favourites and we'll go with that," said Jon at the time. And so 'Frug on Fire' was born - a shiny black piece of 7" wide circular plastic with Everclear on one side, Fitz Of Depression on the other. It went down well and that particular issue of Frug! in 1994 or 1995 or something, with 60ft Dolls on the cover, sold quicker than my pirated work photocopier could bash it out.
The day the singles arrived in a big box at my house, I called Jon to say thanks and to confirm delivery. "Had a good look at it have you?" he asked. "Yep. Looks great. Just playing it now. Sounds good, Jon!"
"Have a good look at it," he said. And was gone.
When the record had finished playing, I plucked it from the turntable and examined the run-out grooves. In the window light I picked out the words, etched onto each side of the 500 singles. It was a message from Jon. "To The Bard", it said on one side. And on the other: "Don't forget the hundred quid mate!"
I notice from his Facebook page that Jon was planning on seeing The Joy Formidable at the Garage in London in a couple of weeks. If he hadn't died in an accident on holiday in Italy this week, I would have seen him there and, doubtless, we would have clinked glasses at some point. We might not have remembered much about each other, but that Everclear/Fitz of Depression single would surely have come up in conversation. Ironically, I've got one on eBay at the moment. A little piece of Jon that will somehow fling itself to some afficionado or other of mid-90s alternative rock music. Hopefully it will find a good home, somewhere in the world.
I've got a copy for myself still, Jon. And you got my hundred quid eventually, didn't you?