Bob McPeek was a founding partner (with Ric Kaestner) of Hyde & Zeke Records, founded Mirror Image Recording Studio, and is a founding partner of Heartwood Soundstage. He is a husband, friend, musician, producer, singer, and social scientist. He has written hundreds of songs and has produced and recorded thousands more. These last few years, Bob has gone through a number of serious health issues, and his current prognosis does not give him much time here with us. His friends, in conjunction with Heartwood Soundstage, are producing a tribute and celebration to Bob’s life and music. Many of his friends and musical associates will participate in song or story in this event. Bob requests that if people want to support his art they go to BobMcPeekMusic.com. Below, a few of his friends share some words about Bob as a person and what he means to them.
I’m writing to let you know I love you, Bob, and that I hope to see you some more. Thank you for being my friend, first and foremost, secondly for hiring me at Hyde and Zeke Records and changing my life forever. Thank you for recording my crazy band, Bill Perry Orchestra, and for contributing to songs. Bob McPeek played awesome guitar on “Shape Of Your Nose.” Hoping you can record again, and get new songs. Tell Nancye that I love her too. Your show at the Heartwood Stage was amazing. I have always loved your music, funny, sarcastic, witty lyrics and beautifully constructed music. Your smile is very important to me and many more.
I was running Chapter 3 Records, across from the UF campus. I heard that another record store was opening up, just a block down University Avenue from us. A used record store. Hyde & Zeke. So of course the first day they opened, I visited. And met the guy who would become one of the dearest friends in my life, Bob McPeek. Hyde & Zeke’s was a fantastic place. SO much music. And our stores became two satellites revolving around each other: People would visit Chapter 3, buy a bunch of new albums, take them home and record them, take them back to Hyde & Zeke’s, find other cool used albums there and get some extra cash from selling albums, and bring the cash back into Chapter 3 to start the cycle all over again. So much music, in so many genres, during such life-changing times.
Bob was the maestro behind it all. And over the coming decades I got to see him bloom as a singer-songwriter and a talented guitarist. His career included marketing for Sabine, creating Mirror Image Studios, housed at first in his home (thanks to his patient wife Nancye), then in the Baird Center. Recording so many musicians. So many songs and albums. His sphere of influence grew, as did his many talents, and his incredible positive impact on the music scene. And through it all, our friendship deepened and grew.
Bob’s songs are as brilliant and varied as the man himself. They are reflections on life and of his love of life. And they contain his inimitable sense of humor. Everyone who knows Bob loves Bob, and we are all better people for that.
Bob McPeek is the reason that Heartwood Soundstage was built and changed live music in Gainesville forever.
Bob McPeek is the reason that local groups like Sister Hazel and Less Than Jake were able to make serious recordings in their hometown at Mirror Image.
Bob McPeek is the reason that there was a Woodstock revival that lit the fuse for Free Fridays to become a major player of live music in Gainesville.
Bob McPeek’s songs have enlisted numerous musicians and touched countless souls (and funny bones).
We love you, Bob.
Smart, clever, generous, kind, witty, sincere, dedicated, hardworking, honest, humorous, articulate, talented, inventive, funny, appreciative, creative, thoughtful, reliable—those descriptors come to mind as I think about Bob McPeek, a good friend since I met him when he and Ric Kaestner opened Hyde & Zeke Record & Tapes in early 1977.
I walked into the store and heard “Hello.” I turned and saw no one who said it. Then, again, “Hello.” They were playing a record titled “How To Teach Your Parrot To Talk.” In 1980 Bob and Ric hired me to manage the store. Along the way, we hired Bill Perry, Chaz Scales, and other characters.
In 1986 as I went through one of the worst times in my life, aware of some of my songs, Bob suggested I come into Mirror Image and record a cassette (in the pre-CD era). That project, along with his friendship, helped pull me through.
Bob changed my life, and many others. It’s evident he’s had a positive impact on so many people.
Humble. I left out humble. I don’t know that he’s comfortable with all the praise, but he loves love. And I love him. We love him.
Bob has been a close friend and co-creator in the arts for many years. I was hired as a voiceover artist at Mirror Image studios by Bob, and did dozens of voiceovers for both radio and TV spots covering the greater Gainesville/Alachua county area in the ’80s and ’90s here in Gainesville. During the sessions, for which Bob wrote the copy, and often the music underscoring, we would always do several takes to achieve the right tone, rhythm, etc., for the spot we were doing. Bob was very particular about getting it right, but he also allowed me to “play” and encouraged me to do a few improvised out takes at the end of the session. I would often do a gibberish version, or do the same text in various dialects, and we would listen to them and laugh out loud. It made the sessions both enjoyable and productive, because we often accidentally discovered a new way of doing any given spot, and would keep the changes for the final version!
In 2004 Bob brought a script for a new musical he had written to my office at Santa Fe College where I was a theatre professor. We met a few times about the project and decided to mount it in the Fall of 2005. It was the first world premiere of a theatre piece at the college, and we ended up taking the entire cast to do a performance workshop of it at the York theatre, Off-Broadway, in New York. The piece was unique and visionary and included 17 original music numbers written by Bob along with a cast of 10 characters. Bob was totally immersed and attended every rehearsal and every performance of the piece. To this date, it remains at the top of my list of artistic collaborations in theatre that I have been involved with, and it literally launched the careers of several young cast members who are still doing theatre or music or both.
My dear friend Bob McPeek is my mentor for the pursuit of excellence, an inspiration for stretching my creativity, and the perfect example of a real mensch. Our relationship spans so many life chapters, including collaborating on a long list of musical and video endeavors, working together at two different companies, traveling together for work and play, and sharing a mutual love for each other and life on this planet.
In every facet of our intertwined lives, I find myself continually in awe of Bob’s dedication to his art, which encompasses an astonishing depth and breadth of output. This is a guy who can analyze a complex data set that would make your head swim, and follow that up by writing a song that will make you cry.
To think that a life so well lived can be cut short in this way is the most unfair cut. Bob’s good work for all these years touches so many people all over the world. Think of all the musicians whose lives are changed by Bob’s nurturing production and composition talents, and the impact on all the people who listen to that music. And of course the same goes for his deep catalog of witty and emotional music. The ripple effect of all these moments spreads farther than we know.
The moments Bob and I share resonate deeply in my heart. My friend Bob is my hero, and he always will be.
I met Bob McPeek when he first came to Gainesville. He and Ric Kaestner had opened Hyde & Zeke records practically across the street from the record shop where I worked, Strictly Folk, so I went over to say hello. We became fast friends and got involved with many local music endeavors, playing benefits for the Hogtown Granary Co-op and other places. Bob and Ric’s musical duo was also called Hyde & Zeke, and they were great. They wrote many local hits, including the hilarious “Hunting Tigers” and “Pasta Man,” a favorite Reggae singalong. Those were special times in Gainesville, a lot of fun was had, and we were lucky to be part of it!
Bob soon created a recording studio in his house, and I remember doing some sessions and hearing lots of great music there. This begat Mirror Image Studio, which eventually begat Heartwood Soundstage. When Mirror Image first moved to the Baird Center, it was in the building where Heartwood is now, as well as in a little room across the parking lot where they sold cassettes and reel to reel recordings of some of their work. Ray Valle ran this part of the business, but Bob also managed to record some live shows next door at the Acrosstown Theatre, including the first album (a cassette) by my group Patchwork.
Bob continuously came up with creative ways to expand his business for both himself and his customers, but in recent years he’s gotten much more serious about his songwriting, forming his originals band The Erasables, bringing 25 musicians together during the pandemic to create the poignant and powerful video of his original “On the Other Side,” and releasing his primo solo recording “Mixing Metaphors” this past year. The album is a treasure chest of incredible songs. My fervent hope is that one of the greatest of them, “Still Looking (for America)” finds its way to Paul Simon so he could talk with Bob about it.
Bob, I am so grateful that we met when you moved across the street, and for all the things that have grown out of our friendship since then. And, for all the amazing you’ve done for our community. I love you.