On July 2, 2013, long-time contributor to the vibrancy of Gainesville music Charlie “Chaz” Scales passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at the far-too-early age of 59.
Known to many as the owner of Hyde and Zeke Records, Chaz devoted his life to performing and appreciating music in many forms. His passion for and knowledge of music were a gift to many friends and customers of Hyde and Zeke’s, Gainesville’s longest-lived music store now destined to be shuttered. His recommendations helped shape the music tastes of two generations.
Chaz came from a military family, with a high ranking career officer for a father and a brother, Robert Scales, who is a retired army major general and frequent television military analyst. Chaz took a dramatically different route, devoting his considerable talents to music, following the destiny implied in his surname Scales.
“I could never understand how he thought about guitar,” notes his long time friend, former Hyde and Zeke cohort, and one time Gainesville mayor Gary Gordon. “It’s like he started in the middle of a solo and worked his way to the end and the beginning at the same time. Totally unpredictable, but always brilliant.”
Chaz succeeded Gary as the lead guitarist of the popular late 1970s group, the Archer Road Band. When Gary became manager of Hyde and Zeke’s (which I founded with my friend Ric Kaestner way back in 1977), Chaz’s encyclopedic knowledge of multiple genres and his amiable enthusiasm made him a natural hire. He was hands down the premier guitarist on a staff full of guitar players, some quite accomplished musicians (one employee, J.D. Foster, later played with Dwight Yoakam for years).
Chaz stepped in to rescue Hyde and Zeke’s from the ruins left by the store’s second owner, who locked the doors and took all the records home one day without a word to the staff. Chaz nurtured the business back to health, keeping the store going as the Internet, Napster, and iTunes ravaged the music business. He found time to play in an astonishing list of bands and to make a great family with his wife Jan and two kids (now grown).
There are more bands who benefitted from Chaz’s glorious playing than I can remember, but a short list includes the Jane Yii Band, Legal Tender, Ten Feet Tall, Gonzo Gators, Root Doctors, Young Republicans, dblWide, The Band That Never Was, and Couch Messiahs. Messiah bandmate Mick Marino marveled at Chaz’s facility with all styles, but particularly loved his slide playing, adding “He loved music and was always up for playing, on time, prepared, with a sweet spirit. He was inspiring to me. It’s a devastating shock that he’s gone so soon.”
Bill Perry, also a Hyde and Zeke hire from the early 1980s, continued to work part time at Hyde and Zeke’s as the store moved from University Avenue to its current 10th Avenue location. He knew the side of Chaz that few others outside his immediate family glimpsed. “He was so smart he could do anything, from growing vegetables to fixing cars. He also loved wildflowers— he’d take a walk away from work and come back with a handful that he’d put in a vase in the store.”
Only a few knew that that big heart beating inside Chaz’s chest was a source of concern. Following doctor’s recommendations faithfully, Chaz ate an exceptionally healthy, vegetarian diet, stayed rail thin, and exercised religiously.
His discipline may have kept him here with us longer than neglect would have… but that just means his passing leaves an even bigger void: a missing husband, father, friend, mentor, supporter, astute observer of current affairs and history, and scion of a store that has been part of Gainesville for over 36 years. For Bill Perry, the hardest loss is “his smile. That ‘I’m having the most fun in the world’ smile.”
So long, Chaz, we won’t forget you. Ric Kaestner says to tell Jimi “hi.” I’m sure you’ve got a few tricks to teach him.