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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Drummer's persistence beats on in legacy of music
By JESSICA BRADY, Times Staff Writer
Published September 14, 2007
Jeff Wood, dubbed one of Tampa's best-known drummers, died Wednesday, at age 42, after a long battle with brain cancer.
[Chris Zuppa | Times]
TAMPA - Jeff Wood, known as the premier power hitter in Tampa's music scene, never missed a beat.
When he lost control of his left arm, he pushed harder and managed to get back behind his drum set. When his head started to pound, he took some Advil, then pumped out 1,200 situps a day
Jeff discovered he had an apple-sized tumor on the right side of his brain in 2003. For almost two years, he had ignored the recurring pain that shot through his entire body. It wasn't until he collapsed, in the shipping and receiving room of Saks Fifth Avenue where he worked, that he sought help.
"He didn't have a defeated attitude," said Gary Dizon, a longtime friend. "He was like 'Okay, I'm going to get rid of this.' He just wanted to get out of bed and play the drums."
But persistence and determination weren't enough. Jeff died Wednesday, at age 42, after a long battle with brain cancer.
After an operation to remove his tumor, a series of strokes left Jeff unable to control his left arm. It was a major blow to a man dubbed one of Tampa's best-known drummers. Discouraged at first, Jeff told a Times reporter in 2004 that he would fight through the physical therapy. Eventually, he was able to sit behind his drum set and pound away.
Jeff has played with both local and international bands that included Monday Mornings, Smashmouth, Joe Popp, Barely Pink and Nutrajet. His latest stint was with the Moon Snakes, with whichhe played until his second surgery more than nine months ago.
Jeff was never one to stand in the crowd, even after an operation. When his former band Joe Popp played a benefit for Jobsite Theater in 2005, surgery kept him from the drums. But it didn't keep him from pelting out backing vocals.
"He was one in a million, very intense in a very sweet and loving way. He always looked you straight in the eye," said Scott Imrich, manager at the Hub.
Jeff had three major loves in his life, said former bandmate Mark Warren. Two were his mother, Jan Wood, and fiance, Vicki Yado, who took care of him from the beginning of his illness.
Then there was Bubbles, Jeff's beloved basset hound, whose picture he proudly sported on an airbrushed license plate on the front of his van.
Joe Popp, a former bandmate, posted a tribute to Jeff on his Web site. His favorite quote by Jeff is, "You gotta go back and face your demons." According to Popp, he did.
"Jeff was all about living life full on and didn't believe there was anything you should be afraid of," former bandmate Brian Merill said.
Jeff may be gone, but his music and legacy will blare out of speakers for years to come.
Jeff's friends and family will celebrate his life at 8 p.m. Saturday at the New World Brewery in Ybor City.