Wildwood Daze – Spring of 1980 – New Beginnings

“Who’s this new gunslinger in town?”

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!”

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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 – America

America is a rock band, formed in England in 1970 by multi-instrumentalists Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek, and Gerry Beckley. The trio first met as sons of U.S. Air Force personnel stationed in London, where they began performing live.

America achieved significant popularity in the 1970s and was famous for the trio’s close vocal harmonies and light acoustic folk rock sound. This popularity was confirmed by a string of hit albums and singles, many of which found airplay on pop/soft rock stations.

The band came together shortly after the members’ graduation from high school, and a record deal with Warner Bros. Records followed. Their debut 1971 self-titled album America, produced the transatlantic hits “A Horse with No Name” and “I Need You“; Homecoming (1972) produced the single “Ventura Highway“; and Hat Trick (1973), a modest success on the charts which fared poorly in sales, produced one minor hit song “Muskrat Love“. 1974’s Holiday featured the hits “Tin Man” and “Lonely People“; and 1975’s Hearts generated the number one single “Sister Golden Hair” alongside “Daisy Jane“. History: America’s Greatest Hits, a compilation of hit singles, was released the same year and was certified multi-platinum in the United States and Australia. Peek left the group in 1977, and their commercial fortunes declined, despite a brief return to the top in 1982 with the single “You Can Do Magic“.

The group continues to record material and tour with regularity. Their 2007 album Here & Now was a collaboration with a new generation of musicians who credited the band as an influence. America won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist at the 15th Annual Grammy Awards. The group has also been inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Cool piece of Trivia: All of their album titles begin with the letter “H” with exception to their first album, America, which is commonly referred to as their Horse With No Name LP, named for the number one hit from that album in 1972. The albums are:

 

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Tales of Rock – Red Hot Chili Peppers Lose Two Guitarists in a Row to Heroin

You can’t stop rock and roll…

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drug story is uniquely repetitive. It basically goes like this: Their guitarist has an adverse reaction to success, gets addicted to heroin and disappears—they’ve been through this twice. First, in 1988, after releasing their third album, the band’s first to hit the Billboard chart, Peppers’ lead singer Anthony Kiedis and guitarist Hillel Slovak had developed serious drug addictions. Slovak died from this in June 1988 and Kiedis was too gone to attend his funeral. RHCP regrouped, but drummer Jack Irons quit, saying he couldn’t handle the level of tragedy surrounding the band.

The band eventually replaced Irons with Chad Smith and Slovak with guitarist John Frusciante, and went on to record and release the most successful albums of its career; Mother’s Milk and Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The latter album spawned four huge singles and launched the band on the charts, radio, MTV, television appearances and stadium tours. Frusciante wasn’t comfortable with this level of success and said so, and began behaving and even playing erratically. He and Kiedis stopped speaking, and he quit the band while touring Japan in 1993.

The Peppers, meanwhile, moved on; the Spinal Tap-esque nature of the band’s guitar slot continued as it played Lollapalooza with one guitarist, fired him and hired another, fired him and finally recruited Jane’s Addiction’s Dave Navarro to play Woodstock ’94 and record an album. Navarro left the band because, as he later joked to Kurt Loder, “I don’t make funny faces.” Surprisingly, Frusciante, newly and firmly sober, returned for three more albums with the band before departing again. As usual, RHCP got a new guitarist and kept at it.

 

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