Wildwood Daze – Spring of 1980 – New Beginnings

“Who’s this new gunslinger in town?”

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Having Jesse the lead guitarist quit the band and literally taking all of the songs and solos with him, we were in a spot.

I walked home from school the next day and went up to Jim’s house where he lived with his 11 other siblings. (Yea. You read that correctly) I knock on his door and his hot sister Anita says he’s upstairs.

I go up and there’s Jim just lying on his bed. Not doing anything. Like he’s just depressed.

“Sup, man.”

“How are you?”

“I’m alright. How’s the band.”

“That’s what I came to see you about.”

“What?”

“Fuckin’ Jesse quit. Said he’d rather watch television.”

“No shit. Television?”

“Yea. I don’t know. But listen…I know I abandoned you and Chris a few months ago, and I’m glad that we’ve remained friends through that. I guess I’m just driven to make it.”

“No problem. We’re cool.”

“So the reason I’m here today is to ask you if you’d like to audition to be in my band. We need another guitarist.”

A familiar wry smile appears on Jim’s face. “Sure. Yea. Aren’t they a bunch of older dudes?

“Brian’s 21. Mark’s a year behind me at school.”

“Okay.”

“Alright. I’ll set it up.”

“Thanks, man.”

“We’re getting our band back together!”

 

______________________________________________________

 

I talk to the guys and tell them about Jim. The next night I have him meet us at our practice space. (The seasonal restaurant that Mark’s parents own at 19th and New York Aves. It’s closed for the winter.)

He comes in carrying his ’75 post CBS Fender Stratocaster in its respective flight case.

I introduce him to the guys and we discuss what needs to be done. Jim plays some songs. We all start to jam. We all know The Stones, Beatles, Cream, Clapton, Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Zeppelin, The Who, Tom Petty, etc.

I’ve been writing a bunch of material for the last year. I bring my song ‘Bombshell’ over from Renegade. So based on what we four know as musicians we’ll develop a set list. We all start to write down stuff we know, stuff we want to play as a band, what’s on the radio right now, and workout a practice schedule. The space is perfect for us to develop our sound in the next few months.

 

__________________________________________________________

 

By April, the weather’s getting warmer and we’re pretty tight as a band. Everybody gets along and there’s good energy. I hang out with Jim mostly because we were friends first. Sometimes I hang out with Mark and we just cruise around in his giant station wagon and smoke cigarettes and talk about life listening to music. Other time’s I’ll grab lunch with Brian or we’ll all hang out together as a band.

We set up a gig to play at Margaret Mace primary school. First grade through ninth grade. My sister will see me rock! I don’t think we’re playing for the whole school, but it’ll be just the middle school kids. Seventh, Eight, and Ninth graders. (Gotta start somewhere!)

“Guys. We gotta come up with a name for our band.”

“We seriously do.”

“Anybody got any ideas?”

Mark speaks: “How about Thunderbuck Jam?”

All: “How about NO!”

“Alright let’s all go home tonight after practice and come up with some names.”

 

So we’ve come full circle. I fucked up, but got in a good band. Now half of that band is me and Jim.  This is good. I feel like I’ve righted the wrongs of my past and now the band will be better than ever.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Duncan – Touchdown – Part 1

“Whenever his plane lands he always texts me the signal: “Touchdown.” I know he’s landed in Philly and the fun is about to begin. But in that moment I didn’t realize how his phrase would ring true this fateful weekend.”

Duncan had planned on coming into town to visit me. It had been a while since we’d hung out. But this was a very special weekend. He was turning 50 and the Philadelphia Eagles were playing in the Super Bowl.

Whenever his plane lands he always texts me the signal: “Touchdown.” I know he’s landed in Philly and the fun is about to begin. But in that moment I didn’t realize how his phrase would ring true this fateful weekend.

My schedule has changed since he last was up here in Philly. I work every day and only get every other Saturday off. I don’t mind because I love to work and stay busy. We’ve got two businesses to run and this blog’s not going to write itself.

While I was walking into work today, I realized that even though we don’t see each other very often, Duncan is my very best friend. We’ve known each other for 20 years.

He later rolls into the salon on Friday afternoon. It’s great to see him. He walks up to me and practically jumps into my arms.

I give him the tour of the gym and salon. It’s been over a year since he’s seen it. The last time he was here the space was an empty husk of a fallen restaurant. Now it’s a busy tanning salon with a personal training fitness center up front. We’ve come a long way since then. He’s impressed.

We takes a seat in the waiting area and we chit-chat. This time together gives us a chance to catch up on what’s happening in each other’s lives. It’s been slow at the salon so we can talk. Duncan also likes all of the young attractive women that come in to tan. It’s like an endless pageant of beauty.

I get a couple of cheese steaks and sodas delivered and we happily munch them, while bringing each other up to date. We discuss current events, business, work, the women in our lives, and most of all Super Bowl LII.

When I finish we decide to go to Duncan’s favorite bar at the Ritz Carlton. He stayed there last year and we loved it. I got him a more modern and less expensive room at the Hotel Palomar at 17th and Sansom. But there’s no bar that looks like what’s at the Ritz Carlton. It’s a vast space with high ceilings surrounded by pillars. It’s like you’re having a drink at a beautiful white marble bar in ancient Rome. (But with all the modern amenities) If you ever get to Philly, check it out.

We park it at the bar and Duncan goes for his favorite: Rum, Bailey’s and Cream. It’s like a White Russian but more like a milkshake for adults. I like my drinks with a touch of evil so I go for the Manhattan, Bulliet Rye, Sweet Vermouth and brandied cherries. A lethal and elegant classic cocktail.

We get into it. We’ve been friends for 20 years. We know basically everything about each other. But there’s always new material. Stuff you know, but we go for the deeper dive. We both have issues with our parents. Who doesn’t our age? Especially boys.

We agree that the only way we could have moved forward in our lives was to forgive them and embrace all of the great things they did. Not dwell on the horrific things they did to us growing up.

We used to just listen to heavy metal and go to concerts and eat and party in the old days.

We relive those days of simple joy. Building our time together around concerts, meals, drinks, drugs and fun. But now we’re both men in middle age that have held our friendship through truth and our common interests. But mostly growing up in the same era and loving all of the same things.

The pain we suffered growing up has always been there, but tonight in middle age we let loose and agree to forgive. My gentle friend’s childhood was way worse than mine. Our parents were so good to us and they did the best they could, but why the violence against us?

Nothing good came from any of that. It was all just an emotional and physical release for them to escape from their own pain and frustration. None of our sisters knew this, but the sons did. The humiliation. The beatings. It was awful.

How could you do that to a child. By today’s standards, it is a 911 call.

I know my best friend’s life was worse than mine. There is always someone who’s had it worse than you.

I Love Duncan and treasure him as my distant best friend. We are always connected even though there are miles between us.

Our cylinders run an engine of friendship that transcends time and space. Business, values, marriage, relationships, philosophy, politics. comedy, film, Star Wars, comics, music. Everything. I just adore him.

20 years. You can’t build that without your ups and downs but there’s love there. It’s something we both have wanted our entire lives. I met my very best friend 20 years ago through the banking industry.

You never know when you’re going to meet a best friend. Sometimes you don’t even know who they are when you have them. But you open your eyes one day in this fleeting life and there they are 20 years later and you are just as you were when you first started.

You love all of the same stuff. There’s a little bit of new stuff, but the vein runs through it and it is pure. That’s your guy. He gets you. He knows your secrets and all of your fuck ups and weaknesses and he hangs in there anyway.

You can tell him anything and he won’t ever judge you. That’s a friend. He has all of his shit, and you have yours. You have both taught each other to forgive those that have hurt you. They only were doing the best they could with what they had.

They’re lives were so much harder than ours. Their parents came from a harder place and were even more ignorant than we are. But we’re the next generation and we love them. They did so many great things and that outweighs most of the awful mistakes that they made with us.

 

I’m plowing Manhattan’s and Duncan is destroying his White Russians like he’s John Bonham. Then for the first time in our 20 year relationship we finally dig into the darkness.

The agonizing pain of our childhoods and how ignorant our parents were. I describe what happened to me and with Duncan I feel safe in telling him what my childhood was like.

Then he describes incidents from his childhood and I am horrified and tears come to my eyes because I can’t imagine that happening to my friend.

It’s way worse than any of my punishments and almost seem like a call to child services would have been in order back then.

But as awful as it all is as we laugh and throw our cocktails back we discuss forgiveness and understanding. We both realize where our parents were in their lives back then. Where they came from and how far they came with all of us kids.

It was a different time back then and they didn’t know any better. They really did a lot of great things. Fantastic things for us kids, but there were moments where they made missteps that marked us forever.

They could never have foreseen the long-term effect on how what they gave us would propel us into greatness, but in that same moment, provide a weight, a nearly disabling weight that could destroy us in the same moment.

Some of their children would prevail and soar high and clean. Others would crawl from the wreckage of their upbringing broken and fragile, but would still find their way.

Maybe these birds cast from the nest would find their way and eventually fly back to the nest and rescue their own parents from their on demise.

Simply as an act of kindness.

Because they had become good people.

They were able to take the best of what they learned from their parents, and forgive the worst. Learn from it and be the best people they could be.

That’s my Duncan.

It’s late and we’re elated but wiped out. The bill comes and it’s $200. My God.

Duncan pays it.

I feel a twinge of regret but he insists. The weekend is only getting started and I’m stupid happy to see him.

I love Duncan. Our history is so rich, we could write a phicklphilly book just about our stories. (I probably will)

Our friendship has aged beautifully. Middle age hasn’t been kind to any of us, but we’re still tight as super glue. Our friendship has transcended time and space. We still love and hate all of the same stuff together. Now we’re in our fifties and I would love nothing more than to sit beside my dear friend watching whatever new Star Wars incarnation Disney can create and be happy.

We just want to share a moment, a drink, and a laugh.

We’ll do more than that this weekend, but for now… I’m just happy to have him in my life after all of this time.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Tales of Rock – Sly Stone

He became addicted to cocaine among other substances, and supposedly kept a violin case filled with drugs with him constantly.

Sly and the Family Stone’s first four albums were the work of a man in total control of his talents and craft. By the time of his band’s fourth album, the monumental Stand!, Sly Stone was applying remarkable discipline to his work: writing, performing on, producing and arranging all songs.

But with the massive success of Stand! and the band’s subsequent appearance at Woodstock came a big change in Stone and, as a result, his band. He became addicted to cocaine among other substances, and supposedly kept a violin case filled with drugs with him constantly. Stone’s Bel Air mansion took on a cult-like atmosphere, with Stone dispensing drugs to his fellow band members and assorted hangers-on.

Some of the band’s next album, There’s A Riot Goin’ On, was recorded in a home studio here, with Stone recording much of his vocals lying down. He’d also allow groupies to sing over the album’s tapes as “auditions,” then once he’d had his way with these women, send them on their way and wipe the tape. This eventually diluted the fidelity of the actual recordings themselves, contributing to the album’s murky sound. Given all this chaos, it’s a testament to Stone’s talents that the resulting album is still one of the greatest ever made.

Stone made a half-dozen further albums of varying quality after this; by the end of the ’70s he’d started giving them sad titles like “Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I’m Back and Back On The Right Track” and the songs contained within were largely lame retreads of his earlier material. In the 1980s, Sly basically disappeared. He’d pop up for an occasional live performance, cameo on someone else’s album or arrest for cocaine possession, but beyond that was rarely seen.

In the mid-2000s there were hints of a comeback; he appeared with his old band and other musicians for a tribute to Sly and the Family Stone at the 2006 Grammy awards, but Stone left the stage before the performance was over. In 2011, reports surfaced that Stone was homeless and living in a van in L.A. He was quoted as saying, “I like my small camper. I just do not want to return to a fixed home. I cannot stand being in one place. I must keep moving.”

 

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Wildwood Daze – Winter of 1980 – These Fucking Guys

Karma’s a real thing.

I’m busting my ass to work with this band with no name. I’m trying to fit in. I don’t know what Brian the drummer’s deal is. He’s a great singer, showman, and tough leader and we need direction. Jesse is a super talented guitarist way beyond my knowledge. I’m just trying to keep up and happy to be here and learn. Mark’s family owns the practice space and they have money. I just know it. This is successful restaurant that only needs to be open three months a year. I’m sure they’re doing well.

Mark has great equipment. Obviously not earned like me and my dear friend Jim. I’m sure his parents hooked him up with good gear because they’re rich. There’s a difference. I don’t care. I’m just happy to be rocking.

I slowly begin to discover that Mark is tone-deaf.

Our fucking bass player is tone-deaf. How is he a musican? I suppose we should all be proud that he’s a musician. Being tone-deaf means you can’t distinguish between notes in music. What the fuck dude? That IS music, motherfucker!

But you own the space and I’m still the Ronnie Wood in this band so I’ll be cool.

But another thing I learned was there was night I called Brian to see if there was practice and he would say no. I started to get suspicious.

I talked to my dad about it and he said the following:

“just go up to the restaurant one night when there’s no practice.”

I did this one night and walked in on them auditioning another guitarist to take my place.

This was a shocking and heartbreaking moment for me. I knew Brian was a controlling fucker, Mark would go with whatever the majority was and super talented Jesse was just a pussy puppet.

That was this dysfunctional family. A distrustful mess.

I walk in and I see some cunt playing through my Marshall and I’m pissed and hurt. I’ve abandoned my dear friend Jim. I betrayed him and now it’s me that’s getting betrayed.

Karma’s a real thing.

“What the fuck Brian?”

I think back in that moment how me, Larry and Jerry ran Jack out of Renegade to make way for Mike Carlin. We’re all little pieces of shit so I need to be cool.

“You just seemed too mouthy and wanted to take over the band with your opinions and songs. ”

“I’ve been always been honored to play with you guys. I left my best friends band to come play with you guys. I’m sorry if I came on to strong. I was just so enthusiastic to jam with you guys and join your band. I can scale it back.”

Brian looks at me with those blue eyes. Gives me the thousand yard stare. The loser guitar packs up and get out of there knowing there is a domestic about to happen.

“You auditioned these dicks behind my back and let them plug into my amp?”

“Sorry about that man. I just thought you came in here and thought you had too much control.”

“Brian, that has never been my intention. I just am so happy to play with you guys.”

This is the moment I learned that a band is like a marriage and a shitty family all in one. You would think I would have learned this valuable lesson and carried it forth into my future married life.

“Okay. I’m sorry.” (Brian was good like that) “You’re in.”

————————————————————————————————————————————-

Things were great after that. We grew as a band and were tighter than a crab’s ass. (That’s water tight!)

We bonded as a band. We made great music. I was happy. I would hang out and get pizza with Brian. He was a tough customer but a great singer and an amazing drummer.  I almost felt like we should get a drummer and he should be the lead singer of the band. I loved my role in the band. I just played rhythm and they let me do my original songs that I would sing. They actually liked when I would write a new piece and introduce it to the band. We were rocking!

There were nights I would hang with Mark. As fat and gross as he was he had a hot girlfriend. We as a band were all amazed by this, but well done, sir.

At a Styx concert when the band played their hit “Lady” Mark punched his girlfriend in the face. He didn’t mean to he simply thrust out his fists in joy that the band was playing the song and caught her in the nose.

Mark had a car. It was an enormous puke green station wagon that was great for hauling our gear. It had th frostiest air condioning I’ve ever felt. I don’t know what make or model that monstrosity was but it was a great car, It had faux wood paneling on the sides of it, that’s how horrible it was. But I will tell you this: It had a great cassette player in it and I was turned onto the lovely Pat Benatar in that car and have enjoyed being transported to shows not sweating my ass off.

But I do remember some tender times between Mark and myself. Brian was a gruff motherfucker but I was the sensitive Beatle. There were so many nights Mark and I would hang out in his car and just talk about life.

If he was struggling with something, his girl or whatever, he knew he could come and pick me up and we would listen to Joe Perry’s first solo album and had it out in his car. I knew Mark was sensitive and I think when I joined the band he had somebody he could talk to finally. Brian. Prick. Boss. Jesse. Great guitarist and moron.

Mark loved music and reminded me of Larry from Renegade, Guys that made music  just because they loved it so much. We all had different goals. It’s weird … you’re all in the same band but you all want the different thing. I can imagine a band that all wants the same things. What can that be like? Led Zeppelin? Aerosmith? I want that so bad, but that is hard to find on this little island.

We’ll just have to figure it out and make our way down here on this shitty little town.

We’re really good and I love this crazy band. But I’m worried. I feel there is a fragility to this group that could tear it apart at any moment.

————————————————————————————————————————————

“What?  Jesse is quitting the band? ”

“He wants to watch more TV.”

“Are you fucking kidding me, Brian?”

“No man. He’s out. But I will tell you this.”

“What?”

“You know that hatchback Izuzu he drives?”

“Yea. He’s had that for years.”

You know how the whole back door is a glass window?

“Yea. So what?”

He quit the band today and packed up his shit. He put his amp in the back of his car and slammed the hatchback shut.”

“So?”

“The amp is square and it shattered his whole back window when he left today. It was fucking hilarious! His car’s back window is gone because of his stupidity. I couldn’t stop laughing. Stupid fucker!

I laugh with Brian over this crazy mishap but instantly have anxiety about the future of the band. Jesse had all of our songs and all of the leads.

We’re fucked.

“Hey man. Jesse was a piece of shit anyway. I fuckin’ hated him. Do you know anybody?”

My mind reeled at the loss of the greatest talent of my band suddenly gone. But in a few minutes I realized I did know someone.

“I have a guy, Brian.”

“Well, fucking bring him in for an audition because we’re short a lead guitarist. We’re going to have to start from scratch again.”

“I’ll give him a call.”

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish everyday.

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Tales of Rock – Cynthia Albritton Made Plaster Molds Of Every Rock Star’s Dick

Often, fans want to commemorate seeing their rock gods by buying some merchandise — maybe a T-shirt or some rad collectible dishes. Really big fans hang out by the backstage, hoping they might get their hands on a guitar pick or a towel drained in frontman sweat. But the biggest of all fans won’t go home unless they get a plaster cast of their beloved musician’s penis. Meet Cynthia Albritton, aka Cynthia Plaster Caster, aka the “Super Groupie.” Cynthia spent the ’70s and ’80s making sure future generations would know how endowed the musical legends of the day were. (In the case of composer Clint Mansell: “very.”) She got her start after being given an assignment in art school to plaster cast “something hard,” which she interpreted as her art teacher telling her to go out and ask Jimi Hendrix if she could grab his dick.

After doggedly stalking Hendrix, she found herself invited up to his hotel room, at which point she pulled out her equipment, told him to stick it in, and made sure it stayed hard — a description which covers 99 percent of all rock star / groupie interactions. Being new to the taking-plaster-casts-of-musician-penises game, however, Cynthia made a mistake: She forgot to lube up Hendrix’s pubes, which led to an agonizing 15 minutes of his short and curlies getting yanked out of what must have felt like cooled adamantium. By the looks of it, maybe she didn’t forget to lube the base so much as run out of it by the time she got there.

Over the next few decades, Albritton would go onto plaster-cast members of bands such as MC5, Journey, the Kinks, the Beach Boys, the Lovin’ Spoonful, and the Dead Kennedy’s (Jello Biafra!). Then, in one of the most bizarre heists in history, Frank Zappa’s manager tried to steal her collection. Not because he wanted to protect Zappa’s choir-boy-like reputation, but because he wanted something interesting on his coffee table. And copies of his clients’ dicks definitely count.

 

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Tales of Rock – David Bowie and the 15-Year-Old Girls

The surprise news of David Bowie passing Sunday night caught everyone off guard, and there has been a massive outpouring of emotion and support for a man whose music and art touched many (New Times has published two such pieces). Those tributes are well-deserved. Bowie leaves behind an incredibly diverse and impressive body of work, and he has inspired millions. David Bowie was many things — rock ‘n’ roll hero, queer icon, fashion superstar, a man unafraid to make daring artistic choices. He was also the type of man who, in his mid-20s, allegedly would sleep with two girls not old enough to drive themselves to his hotel.

Consider the story of Lori Maddox and her friend, Sable Starr.

In her teens, Maddox (often spelled “Mattix”) was known as Lori Lightning, a barely post-pubescent model who became known as a groupie in Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip nightclub scene. Raised by a single working mother with little time to care for Maddox, Maddox befriended a girl her own age, Sable Starr, and the two would eventually go on to party with just about every major rock star that came through LA. Most famously, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page kept Maddox as a hidden girlfriend for two years while she was underage.

But before Page, there was David Bowie.

Maddox has repeatedly said in interviews that she met Bowie as a young teen and he asked her up to his hotel room. She was 14, and Bowie was in his mid-20s. Afraid, she declined. But five months later Bowie again propositioned her, and she and Starr went to his room.

Maddox has since told the story several times, including once for a VH1 documentary that curiously omitted her age at the time, but she most succinctly told it to Thrillist just a few months ago.

Next time Bowie was in town, though, maybe five months later, I got a call at home from his bodyguard, a huge black guy named Stuey. He told me that David wanted to take me to dinner. Obviously, I had no homework that night. Fuck homework. I wasn’t spending a lot of time at school anyway. I said that I would like to go but that I wanted to bring my friend Sable. She was dying to fuck Bowie. I figured that she would sleep with him while I got to hang out and have fun.

So the two girls went to Bowie’s hotel, where, according to Maddox, she had sex with Bowie, which later turned into a threesome with Sable.

We got to the Beverly Hilton and all went up to Bowie’s enormous suite. I found myself more and more fascinated by him. He was beautiful and clever and poised. I was incredibly turned on. Bowie excused himself and left us in this big living room with white shag carpeting and floor-to-ceiling windows. Stuey brought out Champagne and hash. We were getting stoned when, all of a sudden, the bedroom door opens and there is Bowie in this fucking beautiful red and orange and yellow kimono.

He focused his famously two-colored eyes on me and said, “Lori, darling, can you come with me?” Sable looked like she wanted to murder me. He walked me through his bedroom and into the bathroom, where he dropped his kimono. He got into the tub, already filled with water, and asked me to wash him. Of course I did. Then he escorted me into the bedroom, gently took off my clothes, and de-virginized me.
Two hours later, I went to check on Sable. She was all fucked up in the living room, walking around, fogging up windows and writing, “I want to fuck David.” I told him what she was doing and that I felt so bad. Bowie said, “Well, darling, bring her in.” That night I lost my virginity and had my first threesome. The next morning, there was banging on the door and it was fucking [Bowie’s wife] Angie. I was terrified of her. David said not to worry about it. They were already at the point where they had separate rooms. She probably knew he’d be in there with girls… or boys. He was totally bisexual. I saw David many times after that, for the next 10 years, and it was always great.

So far as I could find, Bowie has neither confirmed nor denied Maddox’s account of that night, and there don’t seem to be any pictures of Bowie and Maddox. That said, Maddox’s relationship with Page, which — again — began when she was 15, is universally accepted as fact by now. Rolling Stone even confirmed it. Getty Images has archived photos in which Page drapes an arm around an obviously juvenile Maddox.

And to be fair, Maddox has not once indicated that she found the experience traumatic, though the encounter under today’s laws would be considered statutory rape. Quite the contrary, in interviews in the past few years, Maddox seems joyous retelling the story. Thrillist asked her point-blank if she saw any problem with how Bowie, a powerful older man supplying young teens with drugs and alcohol, slept with her that night.

“I was an innocent girl, but the way it happened was so beautiful,” she replied. “I remember him looking like God and having me over a table. Who wouldn’t want to lose their virginity to David Bowie?”

She later added, “I feel like I was very present. I saw the greatest music ever. I got to hang out with some of the most amazing, most beautiful, most charismatic men in the world. I went to concerts in limos with police escorts. Am I going to regret this? No.”

Of course, statutory rape laws are in place for a reason. And it’s up to Maddox to define whether her sexual encounter with Bowie was traumatic. Many have dismissed Page’s and Bowie’s actions as par for the course for famous rock stars, dirty misdeeds overshadowed by their contributions to the pop zeitgeist. Many are crediting Bowie’s being an androgynous role model with saving the lives of queer children worldwide. Statutory rape seems destined to be a footnote in Bowie’s legacy, because maybe that’s how we as a society evaluate our famous people: We don’t let singular acts overwhelm the legacy. We measure people’s value by what they contribute to society, and if a man happens to act unethically on the way to selling millions of records and being an overwhelmingly positive force in the lives of millions, so be it.

 

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Wildwood Daze – Winter of 1979 – Instant Band (with No Name!)

That’s me at age 17 playing my new Ibanez Iceman guitar.

 

I have abandoned my initial effort to start a band with Jim and Chris. I met this clown Ron in art class. He knows of a working band that need a rhythm guitarist. I want that gig.

I meet with them. The bass player Mark’s parent’s own an Italian restaurant up on New York avenue. It’s a good spot in the summer but closed in the

winter like every thing else in this god forsaken town that I now hate.

Mark Piro playing a blonde Fender Precision Bass

I enter the restaurant with my new guitar and meet the guys. They seem cool, and I’m thinking here I go again. Me inserting myself into an already established group. They tell me they just want to fatten their sound.

The furniture and tables in the dining room have been cleared out and there’s a great space for us to jam. There isn’t anything around us neighbor-wise to disturb so we can rock out. We chat and I get to know the guys. Jesse is the lead guitarist. He seems like a sweet, nice kid. Tall with brown hair. Goes to Wildwood Catholic. Mark, the bass player, whose folks own the restaurant and he lives in Wildwood Crest. So he’s from money and attends Wildwood High like me. He’s a year younger so he’s a junior. 11th grade. Brian, the drummer is clearly the leader of this band. He is a little tough Scottish dude. Apparently his mom is a sweet woman who works at the library here in town and my dad knows her. So that’s an in.

They play a few songs for me to show who they are.

I am amazed.

This band is light years ahead of anything I did with Renegade back in Philly. The songs are tight. The playing is spot on and the solos are exact.

I can’t believe I’m standing in the same room with these guys.

Mark                                                                                                       Me                     Brian 

But their stuck. They need something else. I tell them I write songs and they like that. I dig that they are receptive to that because that’s what I want to do.

Mark                                                                             Me with a bad haircut

I jam a little with them and it sounds good. I throw out a few licks from some Zep songs I know that they aren’t currently performing, It makes an impression with them. I knew it would. I have been practicing songs non stop ever since I picked up the Silvertone back in Philly. I’m so hungry. I think Brian takes a shine to me because I’m sweet and nice. I am not a person that threatens his authority. I could sense that was a thing with him. Little man syndrome is rampant in all walks of life. I get it and I’m a good diplomat. He’s a little than the other boys. He’s 21.

Brian Smith

I see a nasty gouge/scratch on Jesse’s Guild guitar.

“Wow sorry man. How’d that happen?”

Brian speaks: “I was trying to talk to someone and Jesse wouldn’t turn his amp down.”

I turn away from Jesse to Brian.

“What happened?”

He wouldn’t turn down his fucking guitar, so I threw a drumstick at him.”

“Okay….”

“He got off easy. I was aiming for his face.”

Jesse said nothing.

 

Brian gives me a set list. It’s great. Cool songs, and this band already rocks without me.

“Learn these songs.”

“Okay.”

I remember going home and locking myself in my room with my records and nearly breaking my fingers to learn all of the songs, chord changes, and time signatures. It was the hardest homework I had ever been assigned in my life.

I came back in a couple of days and we started jamming. It was glorious. Better than anything I could have ever imagined. Here I was exiled to this shitty summer resort/ prison and I was now playing with a band that was awesome!

This group was so many steps ahead of Renegade. We were playing songs from the past that were amazing but we were also working on stuff that was on the radio NOW! I loved that. This band was relevant. I was honored to be here.

Only about nine months out from actually picking up a guitar for the first time and here I was jamming with a bunch of pros! I knew I was born to create and make music and now I was finally able to go forward and rock out! I was scared and ecstatic for the first time. I was stressed because I had to learn so many songs to catch up but I wanted it so bad with these guys I worked my ass off to catch up, This baptism by fire made me a better musician almost immediately.

     Mark                                                                                                                       Me

A leap in evolution. That’s how it happens. You have to adapt to survive. I got better on my new axe and I could feel the surge of great energy happening.

Here we go. Now I’ve got something to live for here in the winter of ’79. Thanks guys!

It was tough but so fun. I would go to school all day, and then come home, do my homework, eat dinner and then head out to practice. It was great. I had purpose again in my life. My mom was happy I wasn’t on drugs, drinking or getting into trouble. I was doing well in school and had a hobby. (My dream!) I don’t remember where my father was during this time. He seems invisible to me.

But my father knew what was going on and was probably happy that I had come out of my cage of depression that he couldn’t understand.

So for Christmas that year he got me this:

 

I nearly came in my pants.

Marshall Amplification is an English company that designs and manufactures music amplifiersspeaker cabinets, brands personal headphones and earphones, and, having acquired Natal Drums, drums and bongos. It was founded by drum shop owner and drummer Jim Marshall, and is now based in BletchleyMilton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

Marshall’s guitar amplifiers are among the most recognised in the world. They are known for their Marshall “crunch”. This signature sound was conceived by Marshall after guitarists, such as Pete Townshend, visiting Marshall’s drum shop complained that the guitar amplifiers then on the market didn’t have the right sound or enough volume. 

After gaining a lot of publicity, Marshall guitar amplifiers and loudspeaker cabinets were sought by guitarists for this new sound and increased volume.[3][4] Many of the current and reissue Marshall guitar amplifiers continue to use vacuum tubes, as is common in this market sector. Marshall also manufactures less expensive solid-state, hybrid (valve and solid state) and modelling amplifiers.

Kids had Fenders, an Ampegs and Peavey’s. NOBODY had a MARSHALL amp. Marshall is the premier rock star amplifier in the world. My dad got me one. No matter what I’ve ever said about my father in this blog means anything against this moment.

“I’ve been trying to get you worked about something for years, son.”

“Oh my god, dad. I can’t believe it. Thank you. (crying) This is the greatest amp in the world. This what all of the rock stars use. Thank you!”

It was a 100 watt Marshall combo with twin 12 inch Celstion speakers. It was tube driven. No transistors. I know most of you don’t know what that means, but let me put it in terms we can all understand: This Fucking Amp ROARED. Super scary power. Weight. Clarity. And most of all organic mad distortion. This coupled with my pedal would be a force to be reckoned with on this island. Power chords would be played, walls would crumble.

A Marshall is that powerful.

It changed my life.

I’ve now got a rocking band and the best and coolest equipment in the industry. Stardom can’t be far off!

Thank you dad! I love you!

We played this song spot on! Jesse nailed the solo note for note! Wonderful!

Jesse Dean playing a brown Gibson SG

 

We murdered this song too! Again I was amazed listening to Jesse killing the solo. I loved being in this band with no name! But feeling alive again!

 

 

At least I was making music again and further along musically than I’d ever been. I need to survive this ordeal.

 

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