My friend Jon Clee died last week. He was hit by a car on Saturday night whilst walking home, and the head injuries from the accident proved to be fatal. He died on Monday afternoon.
The phonecall I took on Sunday from his girlfriend, Laura, completely shook me up. I'd known Jon for about eleven or twelve years, and over that time we'd become good friends. I just hadn't realised how good a friend he had become until that call came.
He wasn't a social animal, though in the past few years he'd been out a lot more. Mostly that was because of meeting Laura - who began to show him a good time. Partly is was because my friend Carl began putting on live music shows in Cardiff that Jon actually wanted to come too. Recently we'd seen him out three or four times in one week. I think that was unheard of.
His reclusiveness disguised the reach of his friendship. He wouldn't be out every night, but he'd be on email to people almost daily - talking about music mostly - and in that way he made a lot of friends. I'd be swapping emails with him about work - Jon worked as a graphic designer, but being the hermit he liked people to imagine he was, he chose to work from home. He always said it was so he could make lots of tea. When it came to design jobs for our company, he was always my first choice, and if someone else was looking, I'd always recommend Jon. He did pretty much everything that came our way. He was a great designer.
There's a lot I will miss about him. I've realised since he died I've been out bidding for a lot of Rolling Stones records on Ebay. They're a band I've never really got into, but they were one of Jon's favourites. I feel like I should play catch up. He loved lots of obscure music - mostly West Coast psych - but conversely his favourite acts were some of the biggest names around - Neil Young, The Beach Boys, Elvis and The Rolling Stones. It was Jon who got me into the Beach Boys. About seven years ago I was working in a magazine, and when the designer left I bought Jon in to take over. Jon would come in a few days a week to do the layout. I remember one particular day he strolled in around midday (he used to say 'I Don't Do Mornings'), and before he'd done anything, even say hello, he went up to the stereo, looked at it, shook his head, said something like 'I think not, eh?', pressed stop on whatever was playing, and put in a tape of his own. It was 'Smiley Smile' . I had no idea who it was, and had to ask. I'd pretty much never heard any Beach Boys apart from Pet Sounds and I was blown away. I left work early to go to HMV and buy up the 2-for-1 Beach Boys compilations that were doing the rounds at the time. I was hooked.
I'll miss Jon immensely.