Tim Eyermann RIP


I was very saddened to hear about Tim's passing and just got off the phone with Shannon Ford (the original drummer in East Coast Offering, along with bassist Carl Cable).

We both agreed that Tim had an incredible impact on our lives as a mentor and partner in our early journey in the music business. 

To say: "Tim gave me/us our start" is the ultimate understatement.

I first met Tim Eyermann in 9th grade while I was the pianist in the Bowie H.S. Starliners Stage Band. His enthusiasm and command as a guest clinician was my first glimpse of what it meant to "make it" in Music. It was fun, and we were a better band immediately thanks to his concepts of phrasing and swing. He was the featured alto soloist in The Air Force -Airmen of Note, the TOP big band in the World as far as I was concerned, and through those rehearsals with Tim, Larry Skinner, Rick Whitehead and band director Col. Joe Carley, I learned much about jazz and playing together with others.

Tim lived right down the street from me and I became friends with him after graduation in 1974 (and after he got out of the Air Force). He let me record his great LP collection on cassette. We discovered Weather Report, Chick Corea's Return to Forever, Spyro Gyra and other original fusion groups together. He had heard Tom Scott and the LA Express and wanted to form a similar band…..hence, we came up with the name: East Coast Offering. We started playing parties and weddings and I also met his Air Force Band buddies: Dave Palamar, Lee Robertson, Dave Wundrow, Kenny Smuckal and other great, young players who would all go on to stellar careers.

Together, we took part in our first original recording project in 1974: we drove up to rural PA to a studio to put our own music to the spoken word recordings of Naturalist Euell Gibbons reading Henry David Thoreau. We improvised some and I used some of my song ideas and Minimoog to make a free-form sound tapestry.

Drummer Shannon Ford, bassist Carl Cable and I lived in Tim's former house in Bowie, MD together as a band and spent 4 &1/2 years playing steady gigs, rehearsing, writing and having fun. Our travels were exciting for us, as it was the first time any of us had been on the road. We paid lots of dues traveling up and down the East Coast and to Tim's hometown, Pittsburgh, in Tim's van.

At home, the Fairfax Jolly Ox - Steak and Ale was our most frequent 5 night/week gig. We were lucky to play a mixture of jazz/funk and pop that made us the hot fusion band that was also commercial enough for a lounge. Tim's signature song, Jobim's "Manha de Carnival" was an experience to see; he switched off 8 horns for each section and played everything great; from oboe to piccolo. Every Concert in the Park Series in the Washington area hired us for their free concerts. We packed them in on weekends at Harold's Rogue and Jar, a tiny basement club that was home to Richie Cole, Eddie Jefferson, Marshall Hawkins, Teri Plumeri, Marc Copland and other regional jazz headliners. WGTB, the Georgetown U. radio station supported us, along with our friends Happy the Man and New Jazz Coalition. We opened for many National acts at the famous Cellar Door, Childe Harold, and had our own nights at Blues Alley with our new Jazz/operatic singer Jessica Farrow. Later, Columbia Station was the hot gig, especially in the Summer.

Tim was already a master at "doubling", playing all the woodwinds, from oboe, clarinet, flute to sax, and he was in demand constantly for studio overdubs. Through Tim, we became involved in the studio/jingle scene and were frequently hired as a band to crank out 2-6 jingles in an afternoon at Bias, Track Recorders, Sounds Reasonable or Omega. This was such a big break for young players like ourselves. We recorded a few East Coast Offering projects (2 lp's) and cut our teeth in the studio with Tim. I got another education learning how to produce and engineer from all the great engineers and jingle/film writers at those studios.

I was lucky to be able to develop my compositional skills in that band and I spent my days practicing Hanon and pentatonic scales before driving 1 hour to the Fairfax gig. Tim could play anything I wrote the first time, perfectly and was very tolerant of my stylistic experiments. I was influenced by so many people, but Tim's alto sax and flute became my lead "voice" to the new grooves Shannon and Carl were creating. We also became involved in Modern Dance/Jazz Collaborative Concerts with Carla Perlo and Dance Place with them choreographing to our original songs. Looking back, it was the opportunity to write in so many styles that helped me get to the point of playing less notes (fusion) and developing more of a personal (melodic, soulful) style. Later, once I had moved to Los Angeles, Tim recorded my song 'Walkin' With You" as the title cut of his first MCA LP, and that was my first real album cut, allowing me to establish my publishing company.

Tim was the ultimate OPTIMIST, and anyone who ever met him will agree. He was TYPE A+; practiced all his horns every day, spent hours making his own reeds, drinking coffee, chain smoking…. and always thought the next gig would lead to the "big deal" record contract. Some of the connections were scam artists, and that was an education too. There are so many stories…...for a later time.

After a few years apart, having split to form Natural Bridge with Shannon and Carl, I spent the Summer of 1982 playing with Tim again in DC and Pittsburgh before moving to LA. We played on of the biggest gigs of our life on the DC Mall for 500,000 people opening for the Beach Boys. I met his bassist Jay Dulaney then, and he and I would go on to tour and record together in LA, and we still play gigs on the East Coast after 24 years.

Tim spent time in Atlantic City playing with Clint Holmes and was a mainstay on the MD, DC, VA Jazz scene for over 30 years. Every young player who was any good played with Tim. He was always open to playing the songs of the members of his bands.

Teaching music was another, if not the most important, outlet for Tim. Both in the public schools, and private lessons, many of his students have gone on to excel in music and that is the true testament to Tim's contribution in life.

That is exactly how is all started for me, and I am filled with both immense gratitude and sadness since learning of his passing.

My deepest condolences to his family in Pittsburgh, daughter Angela, and all those whose lives he touched.


Gregg Karukas