Every time that April rolls around, I can’t help but think about Tim Yohannan. Tim died on April 3rd 1998 at the way too young age of 53, and it’s hard to believe that it’s been 12 years already. For those of you that don’t know, Tim founded Maximum Rock and Roll in the early 80’s, and was the guy that gave me my break as a journalist. Well, it goes a bit deeper than that even, he was actually the one that put the idea into my head that I could even be a writer. Standing outside of 924 Gilman, the legendary East Bay punk club that he also founded, on a fateful July evening in 1987, Tim told me that I should be a writer. When I told him that I’d never been to college for even five minutes, he simply said, “If you just write the way that you talk, it will be fine” and went on to tell me that if I actually did move to California, he’d put me on the MRR staff. 14 months later when I pulled into San Francisco, he made good on that promise. Writing for MRR lead directly to me writing for Thrasher, which lead to my column in RIP, all of which ultimately lead to me combining my love for car culture and punk rock and creating Gearhead Magazine. It might be a stretch to say that without Tim, there would be no Gearhead, but then again, maybe not. One things for sure, Tim showed me the blueprint for doing my own thing, exactly how I wanted to do it, and without compromise.
I loved that he drove a Volvo station wagon by the way, because it suited him perfectly. He constantly had places to go and things to do, and needed the most practical and reliable vehicle possible for these endless tasks. In the end, that’s really what I admired most about him: in a town that can be flaky beyond belief, if he said he was going to do something, he did it. Starting a legendary fanzine, a syndicated radio show, opening an all-ages club and a volunteer run record store along the way. He never took a dime for himself either, it was all about showing people how to build a truly independent community, working together, and without ego. Never flashy, just hard working and dependable… just like his Volvo.