I’m 52 and I still want to be a pop star when I grow up. Sometimes I feel sorry for people that don’t have a dream to chase. Often the dream is a drug you can never get that first high from, an addiction that can never be satisfied.
When I was a child The Beatles set the bar. This was the almost unattainable height that could be achieved. I’ve never had a self-image problem and was undaunted by all obstacles.
Like most kids I decided a band was necessary before I even learned to play. Fortunately I was surrounded by talented people.
I think I was in 8th grade when my buddy Dominic picked up a beautiful vintage Gibson electric guitar, began to play and was joined on drums by his little brother Benet. Benet was 12.
They were great. Benet had just gotten a real trap kit. Before that he played on trash cans. He still used one for his drum stool.
Dominic had learned a bunch of songs from his older brother Daniel. In fact a couple of years later when Dom picked up flute I think it was because his sister had one he could use.
I don’t think Dominic owned anything he played for years. I’m still pretty sure I got into the band because Dominic could use my amp.
The years went by and our egos wouldn’t allow us to be a cover band so the material improved. We were convinced we could outplay The Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson and Jethro Tull.
The one thing we never got past was our vocals. Dominic did most of the leads because he was the least shy.
We even brought in vocalists. The most notable was our buddy Theo Johnson. Poor Theo! He had absolutely nothing to work with but man; he gave it the old college try. I spent a year with him just getting him into the psychology of the band.
After Theo left, Dominic and I started singing. We got more comfortable and the band started to gel. Punk Rock happened and it made us reevaluate our music. We became less pretentious and even started paying more attention to melody. We started writing songs instead of compositions. It was in no way selling out, we were growing.
We developed a following. At first it was friends and then friends of friends. We got roadies and a large truck we named Zsa Zsa.
We released a few singles and a couple of LPs. We got a lot of college airplay and everything was looking good.
No one could quite figure us out. The punk bands were our friends but couldn’t figure out our music. We were a little older than them.
The KSHE crowd thought we were a punk band. KSHE was the classic rock station but that phrase hadn’t been coined yet. They just weren’t open to anything different.
One of their DJs threw a battle of the bands at a rock club near Hanley and Highway 40 called The Animal House. The bands all sounded like Sammy Hagar. When we went on we brought down the house. It seemed the judges had predetermined the winners but the response to us was so enthusiastic they called it a tie and scheduled us to come back in a week for a showdown.
Our crowd scared the Hell out of them. Punk rockers The Ooze-kicks were fans and they showed up in full mohawk-skin pierced regalia. There were also members of a band that would become The Urge.
All the bands were plastering
Our friends made sure the house was packed the following week and we were even better than before. There was no denying we’d won. The band we were playing against was managed by the KSHE DJ. He announced over the din of the angry crowd that the other band had won because someone had sabotaged their equipment and they won by default.
We weren’t part of the club and it was obvious we were going to have to make it on our own. Now everyone has to. That was the beautiful thing about the Punk movement. The bands took back their industry.