Renegade – 1978 to 1979 – Chapter 6 – Creative Forces and Lies

The picture above was taken in a photo booth at the Roosevelt Mall in Northeast Philly on a Saturday. I don’t know why we took that photo. A sober band of guys just getting pizza and stopping at Sam Goody’s record store to pick up the Rolling Stone’s latest, Some Girls. (Which is brilliant!) I’m in the background looking stoned, Jerry looks like he has no teeth and Larry looks like a zit faced mutant with barbie doll hair (As cruel Jerry used to say)

I don’t know what the dollar bill signified. But it was a day in the life of Renegade. We were walking the mall as a band and we had swagger. We had a set list and really wanted to play somewhere. We wanted to start to gig because we were tight and ready.  I was overjoyed just to be a pert of this journey, and the guitar was coming along quickly. (natural musical ability from my mom’s side of the family and my daughter Lorelei has gotten the best of both worlds and has already eclipsed everyone with her talent.)

We got records and pizza and sodas and it was a lovely afternoon for the boys in renegade. i don’t know where Mike was. He didn’t really hang with us. I don’t remember why. Nothing bad, just different Charlie Watts life I guess.

We’re walking and we run in to my ex girlfriend Claire and some of her friends.  I’m praying I’ve had the foresight to write about Claire so you know who she is before this series comes out. But based on my track record I’ll get that done even though as I write this series. (See: Claire – 1978 – Loop Line Girl)

We run into these babes and no one has a clue. Claire and her St. Hubert Catholic school girl friends.

“Hey Claire.”

“Hey Chaz. How are you?” (She looks cute. We’re both 16 now)

“I’m good. This is my band, Renegade. Jerry and Larry this is Claire.”

“Sup?”

“So you’re really in a band now?”

Jerry and Larry look at me incredulously

“Yea. This is a real band and we play rock.”

“I knew you weren’t in a band when we were going out.”

“You did?”

“Yea, cause you were always makin out with me and never had to go to practice so i know you were full of shit the whole time.”

“Oh… sorry about that, but this is a real band. I’m making music now.”

“Yea, whatever. maybe I’ll see you in Wildwood this summer. You broke my heart.”

Jerry and Larry shuffling uncomfortably. Their singer in a tight spot. They say nothing to defend the loser.

“Well it’s real now and I’m sorry and it’s nice to see you.”

“Later”

There is an easy recovery from a moment like this when you’re 16 years old. You can make your whole life a lie to try to be something you’re not when you’re young. No one could check anything back then there was no internet. Your word was everything I knew loser dudes that built there whole lives on lies back then. I had low self-esteem and was happy this pretty girl liked me and lied to her about a dream I wished about so hard for a long time. I wanted to be a rock star so bad i lied to everyone in my early teens i was a musician and I was just a loser piece of shit.

But when it became real it felt good. I actually didn’t need claire anymore because ia had sort of arrived as an srtist , a singer and a shitty guitar player.

It didn’t matter anymore. I was eating pizza at the mall with my band. We were a real entity. It was so beautiful, nothing else mattered. The women would come.  I was changing.

The boys would leave at dusk. I would have dinner with mom and the sisters and then dry the dishes with mom over the current hits on the radio. I loved that. Me and my mom singing Fame by David Bowie.

I would return to the cellar and plug my shitty Sears guitar into Jerry’s Stage amp and Univox Super Fuzz pedal and attempt to jam by myself and write a song.

I would listen to my records relentlessly and study chord and music books nad took all of my sisters piano books that had chord formations for guitar in all of the music.

I would play for hours and decided to write some songs. Punk was big then and we used to play Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones and I figured if these idiots could make a record using three chords so could i.

I wrote a three chord song about a local girl named Jill who was really cute but a dick tease and called the song Get Lost.

It was a punk song and I am proud of that work because it had a thudding verse and a bright chorus like most Ramones songs. You have to understand this is a a kid who finally picked up the guitar a month ago and was now composing. He started basic.

I wanted to write a song about a waitress I was in love with in Wildwood, named Therese, so I wrote  song about her too. i loved Farrah Fawcett, so she was next. I composed a song called Bombshell for Farrah. I don’t think anybody knew what my songs were about until my next band but things were definitely evolving in Renegade. I was happy that the band was open to creativity and writing our own songs.

I presented Get Lost and the band loved its punky Ramones simplicity, and my friends loved it because they knew Jill was a sweet kissing dick teaser. I actually remembering hearing Walk this Way by Aerssmith for the very first time when I was making out with this sweet 14 year old on the steps of my friend’s house and loving the song more than her.

Larry was inspired and wrote a theme song for the band. Renegade was a punk classic. It was angry and vicious. I loved what he did even though I eventually wanted to play heavy metal not this nonsense.  I knew I wanted to make very heavy and furious music that would match with my current music tastes.

Jerry wrote a song called Running Wild. It was a plodding rock song and I really liked it. I remember my mom could hear every song we did come up through the floor boards in the kitchen. I remember she would ask me at dinner why Jerry repeated the words Running Wild so many times at the end of the song. I told her I didn’t know and that’s just how the song faded out.

The next day I expressed my mother’s question and he just shrugged it off. But later that afternoon when we played it he said it over thirty times just to drive my mom nuts. We all had a good laugh over it and I’m surprised my mother didn’t just march downstairs and yank the guitar from his hands.

I had a friend named George who would come over my house and teach me riffs on guitar. He was really good and showed me the fundamentals of basic 12 bar blues and boogie woogie chords. I really liked George. He was a good friend. In exchange for the lessons I wrote a song for him to play for a girl he’d been dating. Her name was Meghan. He was totally in love with her. He liked the song I composed and you know what? It got his V Card punched!

Rock n Roll!!!

Judas Priest was coming up. Iron Maiden was on deck. I didn’t even know about these bands but I wanted to make hard rock and heavy metal. I had a lot of frustration and sadness in my existence and if you’re not going to hurt people you make heavy music to cull your frustration and disappointment that you live with everyday.

You’re band mates disappoint you with their conservatism and how they are trapped in traditional songs and norm. You want to go forward and make furious hard music that is angry and  sounds like your frustration of your whole life. I was happy in this band but I knew I had to eventually go harder.

But at least we had a band and created something. Now to get a gig somewhere!

 

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Tales of Rock – Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper (born Vincent Damon Furnier; February 4, 1948)[1] is an American singer, songwriter, and actor whose career spans over five decades. With his distinctive raspy voice and a stage show that features guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, deadly snakes, baby dolls, and dueling swords, Cooper is considered by music journalists and peers alike to be “The Godfather of Shock Rock“. He has drawn equally from horror films, vaudeville, and garage rock to pioneer a macabre and theatrical brand of rock designed to shock people.[2]

Originating in Phoenix, Arizona, in the late 1960s after he moved from Detroit, Michigan, “Alice Cooper” was originally a band consisting of Furnier on vocals and harmonica, lead guitarist Glen Buxton, Michael Bruce on rhythm guitar, Dennis Dunaway on bass guitar, and drummer Neal Smith. The original Alice Cooper band released its first album in 1969 but broke into the international music mainstream with the 1971 hit “I’m Eighteen” from their third studio album Love It to Death, which was followed by the even bigger single “School’s Out” in 1972. The band reached their commercial peak with the 1973 album Billion Dollar Babies.

Furnier adopted the band’s name as his own name in the 1970s and began a solo career with the 1975 concept album Welcome to My Nightmare. In 2011, he released Welcome 2 My Nightmare, his 19th album as a solo artist and 26th album in total. In 2011, the original Alice Cooper band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[3] Expanding from his Detroit rock roots, Cooper has experimented with a number of musical styles, including art rock, hard rock, heavy metal, new wave, glam metal,[4][5] pop rock, experimental rock, and industrial rock.

Cooper is known for his social and witty persona offstage, with The Rolling Stone Album Guide calling him the world’s most “beloved heavy metal entertainer”.[6] He is credited with helping to shape the sound and look of heavy metal, and has been described as the artist who “first introduced horror imagery to rock’n’roll, and whose stagecraft and showmanship have permanently transformed the genre”.[7] Away from music, Cooper is a film actor, a golfing celebrity, a restaurateur, and, since 2004, a popular radio DJ with his classic rock show Nights with Alice Cooper.

Random Facts

Vincent Furnier and his band the Nazz adopted the name Alice Cooper after attending a seance in which a preson identifying herself as Alice Cooper talked to the members via a Ouija board.

In 1986, Megadeth opened for Cooper on his US Constrictor tour. After noticing the abuse of alcohol and other drugs in the band, Cooper personally approached the band members to try to help them control their abuse, and he has stayed close to front man Dave Mustaine, who considers Cooper to be his “godfather”.Since overcoming his own addiction to alcohol in the mid-1980s, Cooper has continued to help and counsel other rock musicians with addiction problems. “I’ve made myself very available to friends of mine – they’re people who would call me late at night and say, ‘Between you and me, I’ve got a problem.'” In recognition of the work he has done in helping other addicts in the recovery process, Cooper received in 2008 the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award at the fourth annual MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert in Los Angeles.

Alice Cooper filmed and Exedrin television commercial which was never shown.

Alice was once elected Homecoming Queen for the University of Houston.

I once read a book back in the seventies about his life, entitled, Me Alice. If you can find a copy of it check it out. It is hilarious and heartwarming, about how a bunch of no talent idiots rose to the top of rock stardom.

In the book, Alice said he used to masturbate so much into his pillow that it started to crunch.

He also said as a teenager he used to jerk off into his sister’s jelly donuts and she would unknowingly eat them.

I also read that for a few years in the seventies he went on a “Total Budweiser Diet” drinking nothing but bud bottles.

I don’t know if this is true or not but there used to be a Budweiser commercial on TV that showed their logo imprinted at the bottom af a luxury swimming pool. Apparently that pool belonged to Alice Cooper.

 

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Renegade – 1978 to 1979 – Chapter 5 – The Sears Silvertone

Jerry arrives the next day with the Sears Silvertone and the amplifier that came with it. It’s a cheap red and black small solid body guitar that is cheaply made with its solid state transistor amp with the little 8 inch speaker in the amp.

I absolutely love it.

I strap it on and Jerry proceeds to show me the three note thing I need to do during his solo on the song Draw the Line.

I am ecstatic.

He’s such a great guitar player and I’m nothing but a teenager that got the chance to sing with these real musicians and have a band, I’m just so happy. Things are really progressing. We’re building our repertoire and now I’m learning guitar.

He teaches me how to hold my fingers and do the notes to carry the rhythm. The guitar feels so good in my hands. A slender light electric starter guitar I can handle. It’s full of mystery and promise. This is what I’ve wanted my entire life. Why couldn’t my parents see this? Why did they waste two years of piano lessons on my sister Janice when I was the child who loved and craved music?

Maybe I needed to go hunt it down like the Keith Richards, Jimmy Pages, and the Paul McCartney’s before me. I want to walk in their footsteps. I’ll find my way like they did.  Rock and roll isn’t born from sitting day after day taking piano lessons to please your father. Rock and roll is a little bastard sprung from anger and frustration and the blues. The blues rose out of slavery, rape, kidnapping, murder, hatred, oppression and a people who had rhythm in their souls long before there were white people. We just took it and made it our own.  The Rolling Stones, Elvis, The Beatles, all listened to black artists that really lived and breathed music and got it.

I was a weak, anxiety ridden mess that was always a victim. Picked on at school, and at home. Just a pimple faced, braces wearing, greasy haired loser that couldn’t throw a ball or even do well in school. School bored my creative mind. I hated it. School was a place I had to go by law that was nothing but torture for my mind in my formative years.

But music… Oh my love. You always please me. You sound like my soul. You know me. I feel your fury. I will learn how to harness this instrument and feel better. I want this guitar so bad. When I hold her she’s like a sweet extension of myself. I can for the first time express myself with sound. I love music. I’ve drawn pictures, I’ve sculpted things out of clay.

But now I may have a chance to have a voice. A voice I’ve never had in this life. A weak frightened loser. I don’t fit into school or the neighborhood. I have few friends, and sadly they all look like me with our sad faces. Broken by our teachers, bullies and worst of all our fathers.

But now I have this lovely instrument in my hand.  She has finally come to me. I will learn how to caress her and love her, and I know I won’t be the fastest gun in the West like Jerry, or Page, or Hendrix, or Eddie Van Halen. I just want to learn how to make her sing in my arms.

I just want to dance with her.

Most of all I want to write songs with her. That’s my 2nd goal. Learn how to play a bit, then create. That’s it. That’s my mission.

 

When we play Draw the Line, I love to put her on and do my part. It’s feels better than a black and white milkshake on a hot day to just riff with the band. To be a guitarist in a band. It’s so little but it’s so big to me to play with this band. This is me emerging from a pit of shit was my life in puberty. I’m coming out. There is a solution. Things can get better. Your life isn’t just a series of fear and failure.

“Hey, Chaz, you like the guitar?”

“I love it Jerry. I’ve been listening to my records and I got my sisters piano books and I’m studying chords and I think I’m coming along.”

“I see that, and that’s good. But here’s the thing.”

“Oh fuck. What?”

“I have to buy a Valentine’s present for my girlfriend and I don’t have any money.”

“Go on…”

“You can have the Silvertone if you give me $15 so I can get Rachel something.”

“Can you throw in the amp?”

“Yea. No problem the guitar and the amp are yours. I have to get her something and I don’t need that piece of shit anymore.”

I didn’t even check with my mom, I just went up to my room and go the money from my little safe stash. I worked as a busboy at the shore so I had a little bit of cash lying around and also in my savings account.

“Thank you! Rachel will be happy, thanks to you.”

“Thanks Jerry. This guitar IS my Valentine this year.”

“Well it’s yours now.”

 

This little Sears Silvertone would be my axe for the next year as I practiced relentlessly to learn how to play guitar. My friends would want me to come out of the house to hang and I would stay alone in my room, practicing the guitar and listening to my records, learning songs and getting better.

I even went to a little music store down on Rising Sun Avenue and bought a better amplifier. It was badass little amp that had a 10″ speaker in it and it had some cool effects on it like tremelo and reverb. It was made by a company called Marlboro. I look back on it now and I’m sure it was a shit amp but it was only $100 bucks back then (A fortune for a teenage boy in 1978) but it did the job. I even bought a pre-am box for it to make it louder and more distorted. (Love it!)

I even eventually bought a Univox superfuzz pedal just like Jerry’s. I wanted that heavy distorted sound he had. I didn’t know it at the time but I was writing songs and shaping a sound that would later be adapted by bands like Metallica. But I missed that boat… (More about that later when I go to L.A.)

This was a watershed moment in my life and would shape who I was in the years to come in Jersey and L.A.

 

We used to play this song from Aerosmith’s second record and I loved it so much. I liked it because it was by my favorite hard rock band, but it was sad and gentle.

Just like me.

 

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Tales of Rock – Chicago

The original band membership consisted of saxophonist Walter Parazaider, guitarist Terry Kath, drummer Danny Seraphine, trombonist James Pankow, trumpet player Lee Loughnane, and keyboardist/singer Robert Lamm. Parazaider, Kath, Seraphine, Pankow and Loughnane met in 1967 while students at DePaul University. Lamm was recruited from Roosevelt University. The group of six called themselves “The Big Thing”, and continued playing top 40 hits. Realizing the need for both a tenor to complement baritones Lamm and Kath, and a bass player because Lamm’s use of organ bass pedals did not provide “adequate bass sound,” they added local tenor and bassist Peter Cetera.

While gaining some success as a cover band, the group began working on original songs. In June 1968, at manager James William Guercio‘s request, The Big Thing moved to Los Angeles, California, and signed with Columbia Records. The band changed its name to “Chicago Transit Authority”. It was while performing on a regular basis at the Whisky a Go Go nightclub in West Hollywood that the band got exposure to more famous musical artists of the time. Subsequently, they were the opening act for Janis Joplin and Jimi HendrixAs related to William James Ruhlmann by Walt Parazaider, Jimi Hendrix once told Parazaider, ” ‘ “Jeez, your horn players are like one set of lungs and your guitar player is better than me.” 

Their first record (April 1969), the eponymous Chicago Transit Authority, is a double album, which is rare for a band’s first release. It sold over one million copies by 1970, and was awarded a platinum discThe album included a number of pop-rock songs – “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?“, “Beginnings“, “Questions 67 and 68“, and “I’m a Man” – which were later released as singles.

Random Facts:

The members of Chicago made and appearance in the 1973 TV movie Electra Glide in Blue, starring Robert Blake.

The band Chicago were sued by The Chicago Transit Authority because that is exactly what the group originally called themselves prior to shortening their name to Chicago.

Chicago is the only band to make their record debut with a double album. Titled Chicago Transit Authority, it was released in 1969.

In April 1971 Chicago became the first rock group ever to play at New York City’s Carnegie Hall.

Chicago saw their first four record albums on the record charts at the same time in 1971. Unbelievable!

On a sad note, on January 23 of 1978, guitarist Terry Kath (known for his phenomenal solo on 25 or six to four) died of an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound from a gun he thought was unloaded.

He actually put the gun to his head and said, “It’s not loaded.” and pulled the trigger.

Sounds like suicide to me. Why did he have a gun on him anyway?

 

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Renegade – 1978 to 1979 – Chapter 4 – Draw the Line

“Me? But I don’t know how to play guitar.”

“Yet. You don’t know how to play guitar… yet.”

(That is not a Sears Silvertone guitar. That is a semi hollow body Kay guitar borrowed from a friend. But that is a me at around 16 years old.)

One day we were in the basement working on some new tracks. One of the songs we really wanted to do was Draw The Line from Aerosmith’s latest self titled album. I was a huge fan of Aerosmith and had gotten that album for Christmas.

We started working on the song, which wasn’t that hard. The only difficulty I faced was the last verse. The lyrics aren’t written down anywhere and it’s mostly just Steven Tyler screaming a bunch of nonsensical rhyming phrases. It’s incredibly hard to decipher what he’s saying, so I had to keep playing it over and over and listening very carefully to Mr. Tyler scream the final lyrics.

But eventually me and a couple of my friends figured it out. The lyrics are here:

Checkmate, don’t be late
Take another pull
That’s right, impossible
When you got to be yourself
You’re the boss, the toss
The price, the dice
Grab yourself a slice
Know where to draw the line

You can hear the whole mess at the 3:16 point of the video below.

So that problem was solved. Now trying to sing it. I could sing, but I’m no Steven Tyler. Not by any stretch.

As we continued to work out the song, we came upon another problem. There is a point in the song where they do a musical break before that final onslaught of lyrics. While guitarist Brad Whitford keeps the rhythm going along with bassist Tom Hamilton, Joe Perry does a solo using a slide.

Jerry addresses the problem with me and Larry.

“Larry can carry the riff on bass, but I can’t play the rhythm guitar part and play the solo.”

“So what do we do?”

“I need another guitarist to play those three notes over and over until the solo is done and then I can pick it back up again. That’s when you sing that last bit.”

“Well we can’t bring in another guy to play three notes in one song!”

“We already have the guy.”

“Who?”

“You.”

“Me? But I don’t know how to play guitar.”

“Yet. You don’t know how to play guitar… yet.

(Smiling from ear to ear) Okay, Jer. I’m down. How do we do this?”

I still have my first electric guitar before I bought the Strat. It’s a Sears Silvertone. You can use that and I’ll show you how to play it. I’ll bring it with me tomorrow.”

“Okay… okay.

Oh my God! It’s a brand new world. I’m the lead singer of a rock and roll band and now I’m going to learn how to play guitar!

All my dreams are coming true!

 

 

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Tales of Rock – David Bowie

David Robert Jones was born on 8 January 1947, in Brixton, south London, England. His mother, Margaret Mary “Peggy” (née Burns; 1913–2001),[3][4] was born in Kent, and had Irish ancestry;[5] she worked as a waitress.[6] His father, Haywood Stenton “John” Jones (1912–1969),[3][4] from Yorkshire,[7] was a promotions officer for the children’s charity Barnardo’s. The family lived at 40 Stansfield Road, near the border of the south London areas of Brixton and Stockwell. Bowie attended Stockwell Infants School until he was six years old, acquiring a reputation as a gifted and single-minded child—and a defiant brawler.[8]

In 1953, Bowie moved with his family to the suburb of Bromley, where, two years later, he started attending Burnt Ash Junior School. His voice was considered “adequate” by the school choir, and he demonstrated above-average abilities in playing the recorder.[9] At the age of nine, his dancing during the newly introduced music and movement classes was strikingly imaginative: teachers called his interpretations “vividly artistic” and his poise “astonishing” for a child.[9] The same year, his interest in music was further stimulated when his father brought home a collection of American 45s by artists including the Teenagers, the Platters, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley and Little Richard.[10][11] Upon listening to Little Richard’s song “Tutti Frutti“, Bowie would later say, “I had heard God”.[12]

Presley’s impact on him was likewise emphatic: “I saw a cousin of mine dance to … ‘Hound Dog‘ and I had never seen her get up and be moved so much by anything. It really impressed me, the power of the music. I started getting records immediately after that.”[11] By the end of the following year he had taken up the ukulele and tea-chest bass, begun to participate in skiffle sessions with friends, and had started to play the piano; meanwhile his stage presentation of numbers by both Presley and Chuck Berry—complete with gyrations in tribute to the original artists—to his local Wolf Cub group was described as “mesmerizing … like someone from another planet.”[11] After taking his eleven-plus exam at the conclusion of his Burnt Ash Junior education, Bowie went to Bromley Technical High School.[13]

It was an unusual technical school, as biographer Christopher Sandford wrote:

Despite its status it was, by the time David arrived in 1958, as rich in arcane ritual as any [English] public school. There were houses, named after eighteenth-century statesmen like Pitt and Wilberforce. There was a uniform, and an elaborate system of rewards and punishments. There was also an accent on languages, science and particularly design, where a collegiate atmosphere flourished under the tutorship of Owen Frampton. In David’s account, Frampton led through force of personality, not intellect; his colleagues at Bromley Tech were famous for neither, and yielded the school’s most gifted pupils to the arts, a regime so liberal that Frampton actively encouraged his own son, Peter, to pursue a musical career with David, a partnership briefly intact thirty years later.[13]

Bowie studied art, music and design, including layout and typesetting. After Terry Burns, his half-brother, introduced him to modern jazz, his enthusiasm for players like Charles Mingus and John Coltrane led his mother to give him a plastic alto saxophone in 1961; he was soon receiving lessons from a local musician.[14] Bowie received a serious injury at school in 1962 when his friend George Underwood punched him in the left eye during a fight over a girl. After a series of operations during a four-month hospitalisation,[15] his doctors determined that the damage could not be fully repaired and Bowie was left with faulty depth perception and a permanently dilated pupil, which gave a false impression of a change in the iris’ colour.[16] Despite their altercation, Underwood and Bowie remained good friends, and Underwood went on to create the artwork for Bowie’s early albums.[17]

David Robert Jones was an English singer, songwriter and actor. He was a figure in popular music for over five decades, regarded by critics and musicians as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s. His career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, his music and stagecraft significantly influencing popular music. During his lifetime, his record sales, estimated at 140 million worldwide, made him one of the world’s best-selling music artists. In the UK, he was awarded nine platinum album certifications, eleven gold and eight silver, releasing eleven number-one albums. In the US, he received five platinum and seven gold certifications. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Born in Brixton, South London, Bowie developed an interest in music as a child, eventually studying art, music and design before embarking on a professional career as a musician in 1963. “Space Oddity” became his first top-five entry on the UK Singles Chart after its release in July 1969. After a period of experimentation, he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock era with his flamboyant and androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust. The character was spearheaded by the success of his single “Starman” and album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which won him widespread popularity. In 1975, Bowie’s style shifted radically towards a sound he characterised as “plastic soul“, initially alienating many of his UK devotees but garnering him his first major US crossover success with the number-one single “Fame” and the album Young Americans. In 1976, Bowie starred in the cult film The Man Who Fell to Earth and released Station to Station. The following year, he further confounded musical expectations with the electronic-inflected album Low (1977), the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno that would come to be known as the “Berlin Trilogy“. “Heroes” (1977) and Lodger (1979) followed; each album reached the UK top five and received lasting critical praise.

After uneven commercial success in the late 1970s, Bowie had UK number ones with the 1980 single “Ashes to Ashes“, its parent album Scary Monsters and Super Creeps, and “Under Pressure“, a 1981 collaboration with Queen. He then reached his commercial peak in 1983 with Let’s Dance, with its title track topping both UK and US charts. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles, including industrial and jungle. He also continued acting; his roles included Major Celliers in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), the Goblin King Jareth in Labyrinth (1986), Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), and Nikola Tesla in The Prestige (2006), among other film and television appearances and cameos. He stopped concert touring after 2004, and his last live performance was at a charity event in 2006. In 2013, Bowie returned from a decade-long recording hiatus with the release of The Next Day. He remained musically active until he died of liver cancer two days after the release of his final album, Blackstar (2016).

I love this song. That’s Stevie Ray Vaughn on guitar!

 

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Renegade – 1978 to 1979 – Chapter 3 – Dog Food & Drummers

Mike Carlin on the drums!

It was fun to be in a band. I knew it would be. There’s a real comraderyand respect between the band members. You didn’t choose these guys as friends, but sometimes you just hung out with them and went to the mall. It wasn’t just a group of friends strolling to the Orange Julius, it’s the band Renegade.

Sometimes during practice to break the tension of developing a new song, jokes would be fired back and forth between members.

Chaz: “Maybe I should open this shirt another button when the girls stop by again.”

Jerry: “Nobody wants to see that hairless baby chest of yours.”

Chaz: “Oh yea? Well I’ll have you know Gerald, that hair doesn’t grow on steel.”

Jerry: “It doesn’t grow on Jell-O either.”

Shut me down!

Or the time Jerry first met my younger sister April. He would say, “Oh there’s my wife.” It was bizarre and eccentric. She was only 11 years old! We all knew that it was just a funny bit he did, and in no was it meant to be lascivious in any way. It was just weird.

Sometimes Jerry would go into the cupboard in the kitchen when he would first come over and start eating the dry dog food right out of the box. I think he just did it to shock people. It was all very funny and he was a great guitarist.

One time I noticed that one section of the hair on the right side was darker.

“What happened to your hair?”

“I put hydrogen peroxide in that section.”

“Why did you do that, Jerry?”

“Because I wanted to have one little blonde patch in there like Joe Perry. But instead of making it lighter it made it darker.”

“Okay…”

 

The band was coming along. We were working on a few songs by then. But something was off. It was the current drummer, Jack. He just didn’t fit with the band. He also wasn’t very good.

One day somebody brought over this guy Mike. It was just Me, Jerry and Larry hanging out and working on some new material. Jack wasn’t around for whatever reason. Maybe he bailed on practice or something. This other guy Mike gets behind the drum kit and we decide to let him jam with us.

We run through a few numbers and this guy’s tight. He’s also a good-looking guy. I remember my sister Janice coming down the basement and acting a little extra friendly during their greeting.

We decide we want Mike to replace Jack. But we don’t want any drama or Jack losing his shit. I tell the boys I’ll handle it. They’re happy about that because they don’t want to deal with it.

The next day I call up Jack and tell him the bad news. Jerry has quit the band to focus more on school and with no Jerry there is no band. He seems frustrated but accepts the reality of it. Without the lead guitarist who knows all of the songs and all the solos, there’s no Renegade. He says he’ll be by tomorrow to pick up his drums.

I think it was a Saturday because we were all off from school. Jack is packing up his drums. “Tell Jerry, next time he wants to start a band to make sure he’s SURE about it.” I sensed Jack’s frustration. I also felt bad about lying to him. But I had high anxiety back then and didn’t want to face the drama and rejection of it all.

As Jack pulled out of the driveway and drove down the street, I stood on the sidewalk watching him turn the corner. A station wagon down the end of the street started it’s engine. The wagon pulls into my driveway and Mike, Jerry and Larry get out.

“Pretty slick guys.”

“Yea, we wanted to get started as soon as possible.”

“What did you tell Jack?”

“Umm… I just told him his timing was off and he needed to work on that. He agreed, and I said that we’ve auditioned some other players and we’ve decided on a specific candidate to be his successor in Renegade.” (A bold-faced lie. I didn’t have the balls to do that.)

“Wow, man. That took balls. Good job!”

We start unloading Mike’s white Ludwig drum kit. We all carried pieces of it and he gets it all set up.

About a half hour later we’re running through the set list and the band is sounding as tight as a crab’s ass. (That’s water tight)

We’re happy with Mike and I think we’re all set. The usual gaggle of teenage girls wander down the back steps and park in various parts of the basement around the band.

Life is good. Once we were all just targets of bullies. Outcasts. Weirdos. Victims. But now we play rock and roll and everything has changed. The boys that hang up at the corner don’t fuck with us anymore. We are a band. We play songs they like. No longer will they hurt us and especially me. I have created something. It has taken me to the next level. They sit on the corner and play street hockey. I make music with strangers from another school in my basement.

One of the bigger guys one day pulls me aside and tells me that he thinks it’s cool that I’m in a band and the music is good. He thinks it’s cool that his girlfriend and her friends want to hang in my basement and check out my band. He asks that I keep an eye on his girl Patty while he’s at football practice. He knows I’m harmless and it’s a cool place for her and her sisters and friends to be while he’s busy with the boys.

I have become a refuge for the bullies of my neighborhood. I’m happy with my new alliance with these animals. I look at Ray and think about Ryan O’Neil. Dear close friend to Lee Majors in the seventies. Lee was so busy shooting the hit TV series, The Six Million Dollar Man, (A show I worshipped) he asked his buddy Ryan to look after is wife Farrah Fawcett when he was away. Ryan said what I said to Ray that very day.

“I’ll look after like she is my own.”

Ryan O’Neill ended up clipping Farrah and making her his girlfriend and they had a child and he loved her until her untimely death.

I didn’t think of any of this at the time because it hadn’t happened yet, but we were a collection of misfits that suddenly had access to a lot of pretty girls that would show up at our practices for no reason. It was alien to us. But we loved it. None of us were accustomed to being around pretty girls. I think Larry was especially freaked out, and it seemed like Jerry didn’t care. Mike dug the attention, and I just loved that we had an audience.

I was NOTHING before this moment.

Something was happening, and I liked it very much. (Second from the right… Oh my)

The pimple faced, bespectacled, greasy haired loser was emerging as a singer in a tight rock and roll band. Skin cleared. Braces were off and swagger was starting to happen.

The girls liked the songs and we were doing something no one in the neighborhood was doing. The world was opening and for the first time, I really felt alive!

I loved playing the song Cold Gin by Kiss, even though back then I was a closet Kiss fan becuase as great as they were live, a lot of people thoought artistically they sucked. But it’s a great song an I adored playing it with the boys. At that time I had never even tasted hard liquor. I just dug the jam.

 

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