Much of my 20-something world revolved around two things -- writing and music -- and basically the two intercepted. While I made a living working at a newspaper, the off-hours were spent with a variety of musicians and bands and traveling all around New England drinking way too much black coffee and sleeping on floors and trying to help my talented friends reach new heights. I met so many interesting characters I'd have to write a book as big as a Kindle hard drive to tell you about them all.
I will tell you about one of those friends from the past: Doug Lloyd, Jr., a photographer who I first met while writing for a freebie magazine called The Hartford Planet. He had really, really long jet-black hair, which was always in a ponytail. He was fun, witty and somewhat flirty, but always a friend -- not the often sleazy guy whom a girl would encounter in the nocturnal local music scene. Just a nice, generous guy. We always worked well together, and teamed up for many interviews with bands and performers who passed through the state. We met many a mediocre music celebrity together, on tour buses and backstage and survived mosh pits and visited venues all over the state together.
A candid shot of me, in CBGBs in the '90s,
shot by Doug Lloyd, Jr.
Eventually, The Hartford Planet folded, and Doug moved to New York to pursue bigger and better opportunities. He worked as another photographer's assistant in the fashion industry, but still took many photos at night, and even took some music shots for magazines like Spin. Like many of my talented friends, he always seemed on the cusp of just "making it." And despite his busy schedule, anytime I headed to the Big Apple with my musician friends, Doug met us or even offered us a place to sleep in his tiny Greenwich Village studio apartment, which was on the same street as great music venues like The Bitter End and Kenny's Castaways. Every time I made the trip to NYC for a weekday show at CBGBs or Brownie's, Doug showed up.
Liner notes featuring photos shot by Doug Lloyd Jr.
Over the years, I met my husband, got married, had kids, and lost touch with my big city photographer friend. Of course, Facebook has rekindled my relationships with many of my old music friends, so occasionally I would think about Doug and wonder what had become of him. I assumed he was doing great things in the city, meeting fabulous people and still taking pictures. Every now and then I would Google his name or search on Facebook, but there were so many people with his common name, including several photographers, so after clicking on numerous links and coming up with nothing, I would give up.
A really bad point-and-shoot photo I took
of Hartford Planet covers by Doug Lloyd, Jr.
A few weeks ago, I searched his name again... And again... Like any journalist would do, I was trying to uncover the mystery of where Doug was and what he doing now. And I finally found some news about my friend.
And it wasn't good.
My friend Doug had died.
I found his obituary, and realized he passed away years ago -- YEARS -- and somehow I had never realized it or found this news in a previous online search. I didn't know his family and never met a relative, so of course I never knew. It was such a sad twist to search for a friend and find a death notice. The obit was short, very short, and didn't do justice to the talent he had behind the lens or his pleasant, generous personality. He was young -- 34 years old -- at the time of his death. I don't know how he died. I don't know where he is buried or if he was cremated. I feel, in many ways, that this friend from my past was suddenly swept off the earth and nothing is left of him here. Did my old music friends remember him? Are his photographs preserved somewhere? Will he leave a legacy on this earth of something he had accomplished in life? Or will it be like he never existed?
We all want to make a mark on this world. Most of us want to make a difference. Leave a stain, a footprint, a blip on the radar. We want to be remembered. Many of us have families, with children, who will carry on a memory of what we did and who we were. But some, like Doug, did not have kids to carry on his legacy. I'm sure his family remembers him often. And I hope my old music clique does too.
We all need to remember, to share stories and memories and old photos and past times. Because if we don't take time to reflect on those with whom we shared great moments, we aren't honoring their life.
Or our own, for that matter.