Wednesday, January 6, 2016

"Gonna Be A Rock-N-Roll Singer! Yes I Are!

All I need to do is find me a Rock-n-Roll band that needs a helping hand….  Elvis! Bon! Rod! David Lee! You have spoken to me for years and I have finally listened! 

Should I have taken voice instruction during my years as a music major back at UT San Antonio? The answer is probably yes but then again “no”!  What these guys possessed was way beyond what any tenor attempting to get “A’s” could ever learn in a required chorus class! 

They were doing the rebel thing right and after all, it’s the rebel soul who won’t be controlled. You can’t teach that. It’s lived and earned. That’s why these guys eventually became MY mentors and heroes!

It didn't seem inevitable though. The excuse of coming from a family where music was the key focus did not exist. The only exposure to any sort of music performances around that I can even vaguely remember are of my Grandpa ever so often plucking his guitar and singing a tune in spanish or the occasional get-togethers at my parent's house where one of my Dad's friends would bring over a guitar or better yet when Dad would loudly sing (after a few cold ones) with Mariachi's as they busked at our table while we tried to peacefully eat our Mexican combo plate. 

Luckily for this principle, AM radio always played an ever so important role in retrospect. Riding in Dad's car meant listening to KKYX classic country and while I hated it then, I can't be thankful enough now for the forced introduction of greats like George Jones, Glen Campbell and Conway Twitty....  Mom dropping us off at school meant KTSA that played everything popular and what I thought was cool. Gems like Redbone's "Come And Get Your Love", Ringo Starr's " You're Sixteen", Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" still stick out as the top numbers on my then pre-6th grade personal wish list. A major influence would be left out if "Quack, Quack, Quack Donald Duck" was not mentioned as it did indeed get worn out on my Mickey Mouse record player. Hopefully many of you reading can admit to that as well.

Graduating from AM gold and Disney records to Rock went rather smoothly and quickly. Being a kid in the 70’s residing in San Antonio, Texas (the “Heavy Metal Capital of the World” as it was known as), meant that my main musical inputs were heavier than the rest of the USA at that time. Back when radio was not the corporate crap it is now, DJ’s could be music programmers and SA had hard rocking and trailblazing Joe Anthony aka "The Godfather of Rock-N-Roll at KMAC-KISS. 


The first Rock album I owned (Tommy by the Who) was given to me as a gift by my Mom one Christmas in the mid-70’s.  However the first album I ever wanted bought for me was Black Sabbath Paranoid. Soon there after, AC/DC, Judas Priest, KISS, Rush, UFO and the likes became my daily 8-track and album regimentIt was the perfect setting. 

The stars were all set in place. It started when the King was unfortunately abducted by aliens on that fateful day in ’77 and the from the resulting floods by the media of everything Elvis was and still is about. I was hooked and reeled in! I can remember visualizing myself performing at school church events as Elvis or something similar. 

You see, Elvis was too cool for school in his rebel early years. He was even cooler than the Fonz and that was hard to do in my eyes in those days! It became apparent why every cool cat wanted to be him. Still though, I didn’t totally pursue it yet because I’m sure that I didn’t realize it’s importance over chasing disco loving girls and playing basketball.

Thankfully Bon and AC/DC entered the picture. Let There Be ROCK! Nothing or no one spoke to me like Bon Scott did during my discovery of angst towards “truths” I wasn’t yet understanding.  Song titles, lyrics, hard bashing guitars coupled with the presentation of a true Rock-N-Roll pirate up front that was Bon got this ball of fire rolling. It was all over!

A catalytic moment one day while in 8th grade validated my decision even more. We were invited to bring our favorite records to class one day so that we could have a listening party. I vividly remember most of the girls bringing one of three albums; “Saturday Night Fever”, “Frampton Comes Alive” and Rod’s newest release “Blondes Have More Fun”. I of course brought AC/DC’s “If You Want Blood, You Got It”. My album was taken away from me and returned at the end of the day. Obviously Ms Ploch had never heard “Dirty Weekend” or “Attractive Female Wanted”. 

I felt like Ralphie must have felt in “A Christmas Story” when he wrote a theme about wanting his Red Rider BB Gun and even more so when teacher took my album away from me. Like Ralphie being reminded that he will shoot his eye out, I was admonished that I was going to eventually end up in a hellish place because I was bringing such wicked music to the class. Ha! 

Meeting Bon the following year was the greatest Rock-n-Roll moment of my life! I was in the presence of the Rock-n-Roll singer himself if only for a brief moment. It made it all real to me. My autographed  “Highway to Hell” album is still stored safely incidentally. I cried on that fateful day in 1980 when he was found lifeless. Another frontman hero gone within 3 years of the other was hard to bear. Still I continued as there was much to soak in and be guided by. 

Everybody wants some and I want some too! It took only a few seconds for someone to drive home the point of the importance of this presence needed to wear that rock-n-roll singer/frontman title well and David Lee Roth did it in 1981. I saw that mere mortal move 14,000 people from just a Van Halen approval cheering rumble to the most deafening of roars with a few charging words and by raising his arms up ever so slowly as Alex thunderously rolled on drums in conjunction with the noise level! It was astounding to witness! What power I thought! The cradle had been fully ROCKED!

It was during this time that a certain Rod Stewart video caught my attention. “Tonight I’m Yours” playing frequently on early Mtv and I always made sure to try to catch it when it aired. To me it had all the elements; catchy cool tune, a lot of crazy adoring girls and a wild frontman who was obviously in charge! I no longer was a Rod hater from that moment on. He knew what was up and how to deliver. All I could remember thinking of was “how and where do I sign up? I'm all ears”..... 


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