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 setlist 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 into 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 girlfriends.
“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.”
“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.”
“Yea, cause you were always making 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.”
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 their 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 artist, 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 and took all of my sister’s 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 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 a 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 Aerosmith 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 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 floorboards 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 to 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 every day.
You’re bandmates 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 the 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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