I just learned of his passing from a friend and am taking a moment to remember him.
I first met John Chase in the 80s when we both worked for Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center in Wheaton, Maryland. At the time, “Chuck’s” was the largest music instrument store in the world. I had just moved from Memphis, where 4 of us worked the entire store and at Levin’s, there were 5 of us just selling professional keyboards. It was a culture shock and John Chase was the first one to extend a hand to me. At the time, the DX-7 and the Mirage were two of the hottest keyboards on the market. John was the top salesman in the store and an expert on the DX-7.
During our tenure, Stevie Wonder stopped into the store a few times. John was Stevie’s guy at Washington Music. During one of his visits, Stevie bought a bunch of keyboards and asked John to go on the road with him. John took time off and spent a few days working with Stevie in the back of his tour bus. When he returned to the store, he talked about the generosity of Stevie Wonder. It was truly a great experience for him.
We went our separate ways, me to Ensoniq and John moved to Florida to become a sales rep in the music instrument business. He started a rep firm and became very successful in the southeastern part of the country, representing many lines including Korg. After I moved to Sonic Foundry, there was no doubt who was going to be our rep in the southeast. Although we already knew each other quite well, we bonded even further during our tenure at the Foundry.
He lived close to my mother and upon my visits, we made sure to connect and get caught up. One year for Xmas, Santa bought mom a computer. John offered his house to ship it to so we could surprise her with it. We wrapped the presents, laughed and re-lived our days at Washington Music. He also offered to help her get it set up. I declined and explained that my mom was in her mid-seventies and would like to keep him as a friend.
He had one lick that he always used to demonstrate keyboards with and it has stuck in my head since the 80s. Years later, we met up somewhere on the trail for a drink. There was a piano in the place, so I sat down and started playing, including John’s lick and kidding him about it. He said that was still the only one he knows. Somehow I don’t think so.
John Chase was first class. He was always professional and honest. When I arrived at Washington Music, he was the first to offer assistance. He was a straight shooter who was passionate and caring. He will be missed by so many, especially his wife and kids.