by Mark Balogh
Date: May 2010
This isn’t something we normally write about here at RockEyez but we felt we needed to take a moment to talk about a special person within the RockEyez family. Although most won’t be familiar with the name, if you are a regular and constant reader of the site you may know and have seen him mentioned here and there. He has contributed a live review or two and supplied a few photos over the years but most importantly he’s been a friend of our site and especially myself. His name is Herb Newman and he’s a guy I have personally known for close to twenty years.
Let me fill you in briefly before I tell you the reason why I wrote this story. Although I don’t remember the exact date we first spoke, I clearly remember that first phone conversation with Herb. See, back in the late 80’s and early 90’s I was part of this, for lack of a better term, small sub-culture known as tape trading. Long before burning CDR’s (or even computers with internet access) were the norm I used to collect and trade live concert cassette tapes with people all over the world. It was a great way to get turned on to new music and hear some of my favorite bands in concert, even if they didn’t come to my area! It turns out a guy I was trading with here in NJ was a mutual acquaintance and had shown Herb a list of my concert tape collection. Herb was not part of this somewhat small tape trading community but he was much more. See Herb was an assistant to a rock photographer at the time named Ron Akiyama. Just a few short years before Herb and I were introduced to each other he was out there in the photo pits of all the major venues in the tri-state area photographing bands such as Ozzy Osbourne, MOTLEY CRUE, WHITE LION, METALLICA, etc. One of those bands Herb and Ron hooked up with in the infancy of their careers was none other than BON JOVI. They both befriended the band at that early stage in their careers and Herb ended up becoming somewhat close to the band. Anyway, it was a BON JOVI tape I had in my collection that spurred the reason Herb reached out to me...
The year was 1985 and BON JOVI played a somewhat landmark show in their young careers at the Great Adventure Amusement Park in Jackson, NJ. They were touring for their second album, 7800 Fahrenheit and it turns out Ron and Herb were there to photograph the show. Several pictures from their shoot made it out to the national mags and if memory serves, one photo even ended up being used for a t-shirt the band subsequently sold on their tour. Through my years of trading I acquired a copy of this show in my collection and when Herb saw that through seeing a copy of my list he decided he’d reach out for me to see if he could get a copy of something that was a nice memory to him. That was the basis of our first phone call and right off the bat he shared some great stories with me of his days hanging with BON JOVI at the video shoot for “Silent Night” in NJ and even time spent at Jon’s family house in Sayreville. As a huge fan of this band those stories were priceless to hear from someone “on the inside” and so a long-standing friendship was forged from that day forward.
Through the years Herb and I went to many concerts together and this guy was (and is) the real deal. He has that great personality, in that he can talk to anyone, even rockstars, like they are best of friends. Can you imagine being a fan of bands and then having the opportunity of hanging with them in their tour bus or even at their hotel? Well my friendship with Herb brought that but it brought so much more too. I could go on for hours with stories and times I have shared with Herb but that is not the reason I wrote this story.
The reason for you allowing me to indulge you here today is because Herb has been battling colon cancer for the past couple years and he’s not doing all that well at the moment. He has his good days and he has his bad. With the sad news of the passing of one of metals legendary figures, Ronnie James Dio, it makes me think seeing how so many appreciated RJD for the person he was and it makes me see how much I appreciate Herb for the person he is.
So whether you know Herb Newman (or as he’s affectionately know, The Herbster or The Magicman) or not maybe you can say a little prayer for him and hope he getsa little daily relief from the pain he’s been dealing with for so long now. He’s a fighter but he can always use the extra power of prayer.
Thank you for taking the time to read this story.
This is Brian of RockEyez; Herb is a special part of our lives who have met him. I have not known Herb long but as Mark mentioned he is family once you meet him. Our prayers go out to him as a true friend to another God has blessed us with a person like you Herb!.