Developing an early interest in playing drums, Eddy Jones became like many working musicians -- employed at a full-time job while performing with rock bands in the evenings and on the weekends.
Throughout the years, this has provided him with opportunities to play before a variety of crowds and, since becoming the drummer for Head East, has embraced the many chances to meet musicians he idolized in his youth.
A native of St. Joseph, Jones grew up the oldest of his three siblings. When only 3 years old, his parents noticed his rhythmic capabilities while watching him beat on pots and pans. The following year, they purchased him a drum kit, and a new musician was soon born.
"My grandfather was a musician, and I played with him at square dances and local fairs," Jones recalled. "He bought me a guitar, and I understood how to play it, but it never resonated with me."
He added, "Drums are always what I had a passion to play."
While in high school in the late 1970s, he connected with a classmate who played guitar and was a fellow fan of KISS. His friend's brother happened to be a bass player, and they formed a band of sorts and practiced in their homes.
After graduating in 1980, he continued working full-time for the St. Joseph Parks and Recreation Department and rehearsed with his drums in his spare time. In 1983, he played some gigs with a band at small private parties.
"My first legitimate band was probably in 1985, and we played bars and some small venues," he said. "That band was versatile with two guitar players, bass, keyboards and me on the drums ... and we had an amazing lead singer."
Simply named "City," the band had the privilege of opening for Shooting Star at a famine relief concert held on the football field of Missouri Western College in the mid-1980s. Their lead singer then decided to quit the band and joined the group Faze 1 from Kansas City.
Jones was recruited to the band, along with guitarist Glen Bridger, who he would meet up with professionally in Head East several years later.
"Faze 1 later disbanded, and Glen and I teamed up with two current members of Head East -- Darren Walker and Greg Manahan -- to form Toymaker's Dream, and we even recorded a CD," Jones said.
He added, "I did take off a couple of years in the early '90s to spend some time with my family and to have a break from it all."
It was during this time that he was not only employed as a warehouse manager for a label-making company, but taught drum skills to several dozen students each week. Additionally, the band often played gigs about five nights a week, so it was a needed hiatus.
Jones eventually formed the band Backtraks, an '80s tribute band featuring Dean Foltz, that earned a regional following and opened for Blondie. He also performed with bands such as Switch, the latter of which features Rusty Crewse and Dean Foltz, both of whom perform with the class rock group Missouri.
"My career nearly came to an end in 2000 when I was hit head-on by a drunk driver," Jones said. "It severely injured my foot, and I had to adjust the way that I played the bass drum."
The drummer experienced another exciting moment when the band he was with, Saucy Jack, opened for Head East during a concert on Halloween 2005.
"Roger Boyd is a founding member of Head East, and he went through several iterations of the band since the early 1980s," Jones said. "He had reached a point where he wanted to shut it all down, but an entertainment manager told him he should listen to me and some guys I perform with."
At a specific date and time, Jones, vocalist Darren Walker, bassist Greg Manahan and lead guitarist Glen Bridger met with the entertainment manager and Roger Boyd for an audition.
"We played 'Gettin' Lucky' (a 1977 studio release by Head East), and then Roger and the manager went outside," Jones said. "Then they came back inside and said, 'You're hired.'"
Since then, Jones has continued his daytime employment while also performing shows with Head East as a working musician and playing with the local band K-Audic. The original drummer for Head East, Steve Huston, who also wrote many of their iconic songs, symbolically passed the baton (drumsticks) over to Jones at a show in 2015.
"Steve was one of my role models and, unfortunately, he passed away recently," Jones lamented. "And it's a pleasure to be able to perform with musicians like Mark Murtha, our current Head East guitarist."
Some of the former members of Head East, including John Schlitt (who went on to perform with the Christian rock band Petra), have joined the more recent iteration of the band to record the new album, "Full Circle." It will feature newer recordings of original Head East songs along with those more recently written.
"Sometimes I have to pinch myself because I can't believe that this whole thing is happening to me," Jones said of his continuing performances with Head East. "It has allowed me to make friends with some of the musicians who were my idols, like Todd Sucherman from Styx and Kelly Keagy from Night Ranger."
Jones added, "Head East has also been a blessing from the standpoint that I have high expectations for myself and want to play well -- and when you are in a national band, you learn to consistently practice so that you stay on your game."
Jeremy P. Ämick is the author of "Moments on the Moreau."