River Cities Gazette

John Rhodes brings back the nostalgia with performance at Miami Springs Country Club

 

River Cities Gazette

John Rhodes brought the magic of the good ol’ days back to the Miami Springs Country Club on Saturday, May 3. John, the last living member of the Rhodes Brothers, didn’t miss a note with his singing and comedy and the crowd was delighted.

It was the first time Rhodes had presented the show without his multi-talented brother, Eddie Rhodes, who passed away in November 2012. Although Eddie is irreplaceable, Mark Friedman stepped in. A consummate entertainer, Friedman played keyboard, sang and exchanged comedic banter with Rhodes.

A glamorous spark was added when Friedman’s wife, Rodi Alexander, joined the performance. Alexander’s singing and dancing in a red, tasseled dress and high heels took the show to new heights.

Besides providing a generous dose of nostalgia to a full house, proceeds from the dinner and show benefitted First Draft Production’s S.H.I.N.E. Project for domestic violence awareness.

The four Rhodes Brothers – Ruey, John, Tom and Eddie – rode a wave of popularity for more than fifty years, appearing on national TV shows and owning their own nightclub. Oldest brother Ruey left the group in the 1970s to perform on his own and Tom eventually moved on, but John and Eddie continued performing, much to the delight of their fans.

For countless years, the Rhode Brothers were the closing act at the River Cities Festival. Backed by the popular local band Room Service, John and Eddie performed in the Gazebo to a packed crowd.

While straight-man John projected smooth normalcy, Eddie was a wild man, dancing with women from the audience and whipping the crowd into a fun-filled frenzy.

The Rhodes Brothers/Miami Springs connection goes back more than fifty years. At the age of 21, John bought his first house on Raven Avenue. Both John and Eddie lived here at one time and Eddie was a resident when he passed away. His widow Karen still lives here.

The last time John and Eddie performed together was at Eddie’s Riverside Grill (now Crackers) and last Saturday’s show was particularly poignant for John.

“It’s very emotional for all of us,” said Karen Rhodes. “A big part of our hearts is missing.”

John has lived in Daytona Beach for ten years and now works as a hearing aid specialist.

“This is the first show I’ve done since Eddie died,” said John. “Mark is a genius for putting it together.”

John said he would be doing future shows with Friedman, his longtime friend, and they will have an act ready for the next River Cities Festival.

“Coming back to the Springs was amazing,” said John. “I’ve known some of these people for 30, 40, 50 years. They’re like an extended family. It’s like a movie, seeing how they evolved over the years.”

Looking much younger than his years and with support from his lovely wife Kathy, Rhodes is still looking towards his future of entertaining. He’s hoping to get together with members of the Impact of Brass, (another local band that achieved a measure of fame), and Wayne Cochran, who became internationally famous before dropping out to become a minister.

“We did several shows with Wayne,” said John. “He played our nightclub and our show when we were in Vegas. There are a lot of connections from the old days.”

No Rhodes Brother show is complete without a rousing rendition of Y.M.C.A. and the tune brought people to their feet trying to spell out the letters. The old days were resurrected with nostalgic music and banter and remembrance of the late Eddie Rhodes. 

“I was a bit nervous but it felt wonderful doing the show and the audience made me feel at home,” said Rhodes. “I thank them and love them all.”

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