An indie musician who deserves a tribute: Eddie Zomerfeld

 

Left to Right: Robbie Robinson, Eddie Zomerfeld, Skip Davis, Pete Toglio opening for Janis Joplin on Nov. 9, 1969.
Left to Right: Robbie Robinson, Eddie Zomerfeld, Skip Davis, Pete Toglio opening for Janis Joplin on Nov. 9, 1969. (Photo by Larry Clark)

**Please see update at the end of the column.**

My wedding anniversary is approaching again, and naturally, I find myself wondering what happened to some of the people who were so important to me when I was young.

One individual among many deserves a tribute. Eddie Zomerfeld was an indie musician and DJ whose work was well known to many Southern music lovers in the 1970s. I won’t ever forget him because he was right there with us in the chapel at the University of South Carolina when I married my husband. 

We didn’t have a lot of money for a wedding. Nor did my newly widowed mom. I did want a vocalist, though. I couldn’t afford to pay the going rate. Times were very hard then.

Eddie just happened to work at the boutique I worked at part-time while I went to USC. And his generous spirit led him to agree to sing and do music for our ceremony.

Eddie was an amazing talent. I think if the Internet had been in existence when he first started his music career, he’d have seen success on a national level. He was a born performer, and an excellent vocalist. I can still hear the music in my head as I walked down the aisle to the hymn whose tune was made famous by Cat Stevens—“Morning Has Broken.”

I chose that hymn because it took me several years to get my husband to the altar. Yes, we laugh about that all these years later. That day was indeed my “morning.” It still is.

I thought Eddie would still be with us. He was only a few years older than we were. As I researched, though, I learned he had passed away. It made me sad that I’d lost touch with him because his music will remain in my heart for as long as I breathe.

I learned he’d been very active on the beach music scene. That scene was a vibrant one when I was in college, even as icons like Dylan and the Beatles had taken hold. I found a letter written to author Greg Haynes about a book dedicated to beach music–Heeey Baby Days of Beach Music: Stories and Remembrances of a Southern Music Genre**.

I found a wonderful photo online on Facebook, and in this pic, Eddie had cut his long hair. He was a very good looking guy either way.

What I mostly remember about Eddie was his love of music. And his generosity in providing music for our ceremony, a simple affair financed by my husband and me, my mom, and my brother. So many gave generously to us, and it was a good thing because not very long after our wedding, both of us were laid off from our  jobs. Those layoffs were partly because of our economy and partly because the city’s leaders decided to transform the Main Street retail area in Columbia. Ultimately they killed it as we knew it then, and many small businesses went under.

As I wandered around the Web looking for long lost acquaintances and friends, I thought about Eddie and was sad to see there wasn’t a tribute readily at hand. He was a fantastic DJ and vocalist. He was easy on the eyes, and a lot of fun to be around. When I knew him, his life revolved around his music.

Eddie is listed on the In Memoriam page at the Association of Beach and Shag Club DJs.

I hope to contact the gentleman who placed the photo of Eddie at Facebook—I’d love to include it with this tribute.

**Disclosure: The links to the book are not affiliate links. I included them as a convenience to my readers. There is no advertising on this site at present.

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Update/11-29-17
I mentioned in my column about Eddie Zomerfeld that I hoped I’d get permission to run a photo of him here. This morning’s mail delivered that permission to me.

This  photo was taken, according to the caption, when Eddie and the band opened for Janis Joplin on Nov, 9, 1969. Yes, they were that good.

Jimmy Eldridge, who developed the film from photos taken by Larry Clark, said the negatives were stored in his attic for more than 40 years.

I am forever grateful to Mr. Eldridge for letting me feature this unique photo of a person who meant so much to me when I was young.

(Kay B. Day/11-28-17)

One comment

  1. I met EZ when he moved to the Charleston area to work as the night DJ on the Breeze radio station..I worked as a courier delivering lost luggage for the airlines and worked the night shift. We became friends and he even shared Thanksgiving dinner with my family at my parents home that first year. He introduced me to shag and beach music. Taught me what little I know about it. We lost touch after the station closed down .Later I found out he had died and it came as a shock as we were only a few years apart in age. Got to thinking about him tonight as I was listening to the Mojo Blues Band..looked him up on line and found this tribute to him. Eddie was a class act and a really nice guy..still miss talking to him..RIP

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