In college, I had a friend named Glenn Miller. No, not that Glenn Miller. But Glenn Miller was his name. He was from a wealthy family in central Illinois.
Glenn roomed with his friend Kevin Fowler. I'd met Glenn and Kevin at the same time I'd met my old friend Dobie, living on the 4th floor of Carmen Hall at Eastern Illinois University in 1981.
Eventually Glenn and Kevin moved off campus and into an apartment. Their apartment became the party place. It was a rare month that went by without a party at their apartment on 4th Street in Charleston.
When I get together with friends from that period in my life, we still tell stories about the parties. There was the infamous tequila party-- where we started out the party with a keg of beer and 6 bottles of tequila between about a dozen people-- and had to make a run for more tequila a couple of hours later. There was the party they had on a weeknight in order to celebrate a double episode of "The A-Team." And there was the summer afternoon when Glenn and Kevin walked in to find friends Dobie, Larry and I on their couch watching Animal House-- we'd discovered it was showing on cable and just let ourselves into their apartment. We handed them beers and without a second thought sat down and joined us.
One of the things Glenn and Kevin really liked were my mix tapes (holy Rob Gordon, Batman!). My aunt had given me a treasure trove of old '45's, and so I'd combine those with my large collection of lp's to make kickass mix tapes. They would borrow my tapes and use their tape to tape decks to edit their own mix tapes from mine. These were usually the soundtracks to their parties. What they would usually do is put MTV on the television, but turn the sound down, and instead play the mix tapes they'd made from my music.
On April 1, 1984, we were gathered at Glenn and Kevin's for an impromptu party. We'd all just returned that day from Spring Break. As the party started rolling, and people started arriving, Glenn and Kevin did their usual, turning on MTV, turning down the sound and putting on one of the mix tapes they'd made from my music collection.
At some point, we noticed a news message scrolling across the bottom of the screen. We focused in on it-- this was tornado country and tornado season, and it might be something we needed to know.
It wasn't a weather alert. The partiers fell silent as the news flashed across the screen that Marvin Gaye had been shot to death, allegedly by his own father. As the tape continued playing we all looked at one another, mouths agape as we realized what song had just come up on the tape. I turned to Glenn and Kevin and said "Do you realize who this is, and the name of the song?"
The song playing on the tape at that moment was Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar."