An aspiring filmmaker, John was the original bassist for one of the greatest bands of the 1960s, Love, playing a key part in the what the band would later evolve into. John also told me that it was his idea to speed up Love’s rendition of “Hey Joe”, setting the stage for the way that every band played that song before Jimi Hendrix’s later version. Fleckenstein then returned to film school, only to answer the call of music again when the Standells came knocking.
For the rest of his life, John worked as a cinematographer, and had a hand in many of the best-known music videos of the 1980s. Despite how one might feel now about the early days of MTV, that era completely changed the industry, and got a lot of people involved in music that might never have. And John was a big part of that. Thoughout his career, John never stopped working, or stopping thinking.
John rejoined the Standells in 2012, and seeing John, Larry Tamblyn and the Standells at Tremont Music Hall in 2014 was a downright fun thrill. In talking to John after the show, we talked about the music and film business, and various things that we’d each worked on. "Wow, you’ve done some cool stuff,” John said at one point. "Do you have a card?” The guy that played bass in two of my favorite bands asked me for my card. I’ll always take that with me, long after this week, which saw us lose John from this earthly location. I wish that I had gotten to stay in better touch with John in the intervening years, but I’m really glad that I got to tell John how much his work had meant to me.
Thank you, John. I’ve known of you most of my life, yet I still didn’t know you long enough. Which, in the long run, is one of the best things that you can say about anyone.
Safe travels, John, and tell Arthur, Bryan and Dickie Dodd I said hello.
October 24, 2017