Hyde & Zeke's Charlie Scales dies


Charlie Scales, far left, owner of Hyde & Zeke Records in Gainesville, appears here with fellow members of the band dblWiDE.

Courtesy of Chuck Martin
Published: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 7:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 7:26 p.m.

Best known as owner of Hyde & Zeke Records, Charles Scales was a pillar of Gainesville’s music community for three decades, playing guitar in his signature style with numerous bands.

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Charlie Scales, far left, owner of Hyde & Zeke Records in Gainesville, appears here with fellow members of the band dblWiDE.

Courtesy of Chuck Martin

Friends and family knew him as Charlie or Chaz, a man with an open heart who was easy to talk to and who showed those around him that he cared.

“I loved him like a brother,” says Bill Perry, a friend and coworker of more than 30 years.

Scales died Tuesday from what is believed to be a heart attack. He was 59.

Scales attended Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia and graduated in 1972.

He then moved to Gainesville, where Perry said Scales had family in the area.

Scales started working at Hyde & Zeke shortly after it opened in January 1977 under original owners Bob McPeek and Ric Kaestner.

“He was one of the primo guitar players,” McPeek said.

McPeek and Kaestner sold the store in 1986, but the store fared poorly under the next owner.

Scales bought Hyde & Zeke in 1990 and brought it back to life, McPeek said.

McPeek said Scales’ passion and determination kept the record store afloat through changes in the record industry and a decreasing demand for vinyl.

“Even when there were record stores in Gainesville ... it was in the top two (longest-lived shops),” McPeek said. “That’s attributable to him, and attributable to his love of music and love of other people who love music.”

The two friends sometimes played music together, although Scales was “a far better guitar player than I ever was or ever will be,” McPeek said.

One of his fondest memories playing music, McPeek said, was when Scales was acting as a stagehand and organizing equipment for a band, which McPeek says was a true act of humility.

“For him to hand me a guitar was like Eric Clapton handing you a guitar, you know? It should’ve been the other way around,” he said.

When Scales picked up a guitar, people took notice.

He played in several bands and with a multitude of local artists, including the Root Doctors, Couch Messiahs, Jane Yii, Gary Gordon and dblWiDE.

Nobody could play a guitar quite like Charlie did, McPeek said.

“I loved his wicked little grin he’d get on his face when he’d rip off some crazy guitar lick,” McPeek said.

Perry said he met Scales in 1980, after seeing him playing in bands around town. Perry started working in another record store, but spent more time at Hyde & Zeke than he did working.

In 1982, he went to work at Hyde & Zeke and never left.

Scales treated him like a brother, Perry said.

“He was a person who appreciated his friends very much, and he let people know that he cared,” Perry said. “He would tell you that he loved you and that he cared.”

Scales was also whip-smart and an avid reader, Perry said.

He was a big military history buff, and an expert on John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories.

But one of the most special things about him was how much he loved his family and his friends, Perry said.

Scales gave generously to the music community. He was always involved in some way, Perry said, whether selling tickets for a show or hosting one in his shop.

“He loved music,” Perry said. “I mean, loved music.”

“Local band activity was always part of the mix at Hyde & Zeke’s,” UF science writer and local music historian Tom Nordlie wrote in an email.

“The entire history of rock ‘n’ roll music, and any other kind of raucous music-of-the-people, owes a huge debt to people like Chaz, who owned record stores and were open-minded and sold locally produced music in their shops,” he wrote. “It doesn’t sound like such a big step to take, but many stores wouldn’t take it.”

Scales’ enthusiasm for local musicians helped validate them, Nordlie wrote. Hyde & Zeke helped show bands — and fans — “that you didn’t have to be in Los Angeles or have a record deal to write and record your own songs,” Nordlie said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Perry said Hyde & Zeke is permanently closed.

He thinks his friend would’ve thanked the community for a great run.

“I love my friend and I’m going to miss him very, very much,” Perry said. “I’ll have days for a good while when I’ll be missing him, and then of course you get back into your life, but it will be hard forever. I’m going to miss my best friend.”

Scales leaves behind his wife of 32 years, Janice Scales; and two adult children, Rebecca and Joshua Scales.

Perry said Scales’ family will hold a memorial that will be open to the community. No date has been set yet.

Perry said there will be “tons and tons of music.”

Contact Erin Jester at 338-3166 or erin.jester@gainesville.com.

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