Photo by Joy Kinzie
There is never a time for news good or bad that is better than another. Time just is, well time… and it is up to us to make the most of it. In my time these days it seems like walking through a room filled with obituaries. Some I care about profoundly and some I pass by with a simple, ‘Oh well…’
I got up this morning at 0545 and I was beginning to get involved in my morning ablutions I noticed that there was a message notification from my friend Joy Kinzie on Oahu. Well I thought it was from my old friend Bob Kinzie who I met at Santa Clara the first couple of weeks I was on campus in 1962. He always used Joy’s email. I don’t even know if he had a personal email.
I opened it and as soon as I saw it was from Joy, I knew the news wasn’t going to be good.
Bob passed away on December 31, 2022 in San Diego. They were visiting their kids and grand kids in San Diego for the holidays I guess.
Photo by Jorma Kaukonen
The sadness of losing friends old or new is so selfish. We say, ‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ but what we really mean is, ‘I’m sorry for my loss.’ That’s got to be OK, perspective being such a personal thing and all.
I remember the first time I met Bob. Those first couple of weeks on a very conservative college campus were weighing heavy on me. I found myself at the University Of Santa Clara and I was starting to think I had made a big mistake and that my student deferment wasn’t worth being confined in such a monochromatic environment. Seems like a petty viewpoint over a half a century down the road but at 21 it made some sort of illogical sense.
I was walking along one day hugging the wall and trying to remain anonymous. Bob was coming the other way. He looked at me. ‘I see you’re a wall walker.’ Bob had longish hair and a beard in an era when this would have been an anomaly on a conservative campus.
I knew I needed to get to know this guy.
We both loved guitar music. He was fonder of slack key stuff from the Islands, but guitar music is guitar music. Within the next couple of days he told me: ‘There’s this guitar who dropped out of Santa Clara this year. He’s a string loving folkie. You need to meet him.’ ‘Take me to him.’ This sounded like a really good and welcoming idea.
Bob was from Santa Cruz and grew up on Monterey Bay. As a surfer in that time his surf wagon was a ’57 Ford Two Door Post with the back seat out so the board could slide in through the trunk and fit behind the driver’s seat.
We left Santa Clara and drove up Highway 17, past Redwood Estates and down the mountain in Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz was still a sparsely populated beach town with an amusement park and a wooden roller coaster which was the first thing I noticed as we drove into town.
Down at the beach (I think it was near Steamer Lane but I’m not sure.) there was a dwelling less than a house and more than a shack and there I met Paul Kantner for the first time. Paul was never a blues cat but he was a folkie of the first water. We became friends immediately.
Since I didn’t have a car in California yet if I needed to get to some music related event in the Bay Area Bob, (good friend and music lover that he was) would drive me.
Life came upon us as life does and without changing who we were our lives took different paths. Bob always loved the sea. He was a skilled sailor and diver. I recall that he often went deeper that caution allowed, but that’s who he was. He wound up being a Big Dog in the Marine Biology Department at the University Of Hawaii. My muse, of course, was music and my path is fairly well documented. We reconnected in Hawaii sometime in the last twenty years and though I infrequently got over to the Islands, when on Oahu I would try to make it a point to see Joy and Bob. As it is with old friends aside from the fact that it became more difficult to put on a pair of long pants standing up, we were still those 20 year olds from Santa Clara.
Without Bob Kinzie, there would have never been a Jefferson Airplane. Bob, meeting you in front of Nobili Hall changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. Thanks for that old friend!
I hope that Mike and Hoku Kinzie’s kids know what a really cool guy Grandpa was.
It has been an honor to share space on the planet with you Bob.
Photo by Jorma Kaukonen