Everybody Wants to Be in a Band (if hey have any sense)
One of our birthrights as Americans is to want to rock. I started at about 13. My Father got me a terrible acoustic guitar, and I got bloody fingers like every other would-be star, sitting on my bed practicing changing from E to D to A. Then I got an Epiphone version of an SG (electric) and a tiny little amp that I’d turn up all the way and put face down on the bed, so it would overdrive horribly but not get too loud to have my Dad come into the bedroom and swat me. I learned to play Beatles and Stones songs. One night, the amp got so hot from being turned face down it caught my bed on fire, while I was oblivious, rocking out to Steppenwolf. Is this the story of the Johnny Rotten?
In Junior High School I was in a short-lived band (my first) with a trio of other acne-spotted rebels. We called ourselves The Shades (we wore sunglasses, black turtlenecks, blue jeans and Beatle boots). I was no doubt selected because I had the longest hair, and wore several rings (like Ringo Starr). We played “High Heeled Sneakers” (Jerry Lee Lewis) and “You Can’t Do That” (a John Lennon favorite) at the Junior High talent show. I sang as loud as I could and faked the chords, backed up by guitar, drums and bass.
Years later, when I was in college and working in a bookstore a girl named Toni I hadn’t seen since Jr. High came in and we talked about Oak Grove (the school). “Remember Barb X? (the school’s hottest blonde bombshell who was doing high school guys even then),” she asked. “I’m not likely to forget her,” I said, “I used to have moist dreams about her.” “Well,” said the Toni matter of factly, “remember you were in that talent show? She wanted to eff you in the worst way all through school because she you were like a little Jagger or something.” I was thunderstruck. There it was, the second reason that guys wanted to play in a band, besides trying to be cool. Well, I was like 13 and I was terrified of Barb X. Is that any excuse for never getting to first base with her?
I’ve been playing guitar on an off ever since. The goal, if you don’t play in a rock band, is to keep that feeling you had when you were a teenager and your amp caught your bed on fire. And, I guess if you want to, you can have a drink with Barb X on the breaks.
My current band is Tommy Kathy, named after the nuttiest guy I ever went to school with. Here are some sloppy videos of us jamming and making asses of ourselves in public (another rock essential).