We Got this letter from Jerry Stidham:

Certain Gene Leis recollections have definitely stuck with me all these years when reminiscing about the guitar-times we spent together.  When we met in the early 60's through a family friend, Gene was in the process of developing his game-plan.  He asked me to bring my guitar to his home/studio in the tree section of Manhattan, just off Marine Ave.  As a novice with a strong interest in learning to play the blues, Gene offered to teach me, if I would agree to help him with his project, and act as a 'guinea pig' for his 'Nexus' teaching program.  I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, so I said 'absolutely!'
 
Gene was a chord guy.  He seemed to know them all, and almost make the guitar talk, and each note he played could also be sounded out with a different chord.  I remember he'd close his eyes during his Django Reinhardt-styled solos, and groan behind the melody he was playing.  As a smoker and coffee drinker, I also remember Gene was rarely far from either, and would typically put his half-smoked cigarette on the end of one of his guitar string wires, until his riff was finished . . . followed by a swig of coffee, and a big smile.  Ashtrays just weren't his style, yet he never burned a hole in anything while we were playing . . . which amazed me as much as his guitar sounds.  He played what I call a power-guitar . . . driving the pick in strong cadence with his melody at times, and from quiet to loud, and back again.
 
When we first started playing guitar together, Gene was using the big Gibson hollow-box G5 cutaway model shown on the cover-shot of his Nexus Theory chord book.  A very trusting and generous man, Gene would occasionally let me practice with this guitar, just so I could see if I was able to come anywhere close to making similar sounds, playing identical songs, but I never could.  He was an inspiration though, just watching his driving style, while never missing a beat.  As a perfectionist, he demanded a discipline, attention, and genuine effort whenever he taught, and felt the success of one's accomplishment was directly related to practice-time on the chords, and commitment to each lesson.  We did this almost every week for nearly a year, and his project really began to come together.  Although I'm certain I stretched his patience on occasion, his first chord book always served as my teacher in his absence, as well as in between lessons, and I'm hoping my old ruffled copy is still in storage in my garage.  We'll soon see.
 
Les Paul, in addition to Django, Wes Montgomery, Barney Kessel and a few others, was a definite influence on Gene's preferred style too, and I can recall him laying down a bass guitar-run first, recording it, and, similar to Les Paul, he'd then re-play the recorded base line, and play the melody on top of it.  And we're talking early 60s!  Just like Les, I think Gene was ahead of his time and was very creative with his musical talent.  Also like Frank Sinatra's song, Gene always set his stage, and Did It His Way.  And he truly earned the right to do so.
 
Now in my mid-sixties, I'm able to look back and reflect on the few people in my life who truly made a difference, and who helped contribute positive influences towards the person I became, and Gene was certainly one of them.  In addition to learning guitar chords, Gene indirectly influenced the basics of being a good person . . . honest, loyal, trustworthy and respectful.  Integrity fit in there too, and I was disappointed to have to leave the area for employment in Orange County, and Gene and I were only able to talk on occasion by phone, thereafter.  Yes, he was a unique personality, a caring guy, and I'm grateful to have met him, and to have been given the opportunity to be his occasional 'rhythm guy.'
 
About Jerry Stidham

In addition to being a student of Gene Leis, Jerry was Gene's rhythm guitarist on the two Sounds of Today courses, both released in 1962. Here's what Jerry said on the liner notes of this course:

"Being one of the students who "bugged" Gene to write this specialized guitar course for single string melody lead, it was felt that the Sound of Today required a special guitar technique. This sound played with single string melody, combining the twist, rock and roll, and a blues pattern with a fast moving tempo, can be found on every other station on your radio dial.

Gene, having agreed to develop a special guitar course for this music, devised this course without going into the complicated chord patterns, theory and harmony. It is a method organized from beginning to end through a unique means of record teaching. Not only are there chord diagrams and photos of chord positions, but also comprehensive detailed explanations and guitar demonstrations. Personally speaking, I feel it is the simplest and fastest means of learning to play this type of music.

In writing this course, Gene drew from his vast knowledge gained from the development of his famous NEXUS METHOD of guitar instruction, which took him three years to perfect. Many of the guitar experiments were tested on me through the use or tape recordings and studio sessions. After watching the course grow to its completion, its tremendous success is easily seen in the studio mail room. Letters from highly satisfied students of all ages are coming from all over the world complimenting Gene on a terrific job.

Having learned the complicated chord pattern, solos and accompaniments taught in the NEXUS METHOD I am convinced that through the use of similar teaching methods single string melody with the Sound of Today can be taught to you with this course."

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