Kenny, The Super Rock Singer
A ROCKER'S LIFE IS THE LIFE FOR ME
Okay. I concede that I was a tad off base when I penned my story "I Wish I Had Been a Bear," and for that, I am loathing myself right now. There is no way that God, in His infinite wisdom, would allow me or anyone, to pass from this life, then go in reverse and come back to planet Earth as (my favorite animal), a bear or any other person, animal, or reptile
This time I'm spot-on with this another true dream I've always had of being in a rock and roll band and living out the dream of a real, hard-rocker--on the road most everyday playing sold-out arenas, coliseums, and state fairs in Kansas. Yes, that's the life for this old rural hayseed from Hamilton, Alabama, which, for your information, is a REAL town in a REAL county, Marion, in a REAL state, Alabama.
The Beatles, were my idols and heroes from 1964 until the tragic day that they dibanded. And to really use a bona fide understatement, these four guys from Liverpool, England, made such a mark on the music world that there has not been anyone since who has measured up to their level of greatness or success. And that, rock fans, is the truth.
We didn't have that many rock bands in Hamilton, Alabama, my hometown still to this day. Oh, now we did, in 1968, have a really-fine rock band named The Sounds of Time consisting of (my buds), George and his little brother, Randy Pearce. George played lead guitar; Randy was on drums accompanied by Loyd Wiginton on rhythm guitar and the late, Jerry Roby, on bass. George wrote most of the band's material and he went on to write many hit songs for the amazing Country group, Alabama and many more performers. George still lives in Hamilton and Randy lives near Jasper, Alabama, home of George "Goober" Lindsey. No need to go into detail explaining who "Goober" is. Loyd Wiginton, at last account, lives in Birmingham and Jerry Roby is deceased--being shot one night in a disagreement that went terribly wrong.
Even with that possibility, of being shot or knifed, I was still determined to be a rock star. And my reasons are very legitimate. Don't sit there and tell me that somewhere in YOUR life that you didn't dream of becoming something outside of your normal self? You wouldn't be human if you didn't.
Here are my reasons for wanting (so bad), to be a rock star: Rock stars, my my day, were cool guys. They smoked Winston and Marlboro (red pack) Marlboro cigarettes in defiance of school authority and public views of decency. These guys made prototype-rebel, James Dean, look like a missionary for the wild things these buddies of mine, The Sounds of Time, did while we were in high school at, of course, Hamilton High School and yes, it's in Hamilton, Alabama.
Rock stars, like the Sounds of Time, had long hair and it was so cool to see them hanging out in the hallway of our high school being wooed by would-be girlfriends, guys who wanted to be like them, and teachers who wished they would actually be on time for one of their classes.
Rock stars are always interesting people. Even when they aren't trying to be interesting, they are interesting. Even when they are depressed, this only adds to their "darkness" that makes them more attractive to gorgeous girls. And no, getting gorgeous girls to tear my clothes off all the time, was NOT my primary reason to be a rock star. So let's just clear that myty up right now.
Did you ever see Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison or John Lennon without girlfriends? No. And these guys didn't even have a dark side like Kurt Cobain, of Nirvana. Cobain, was in my opinion, much darker than Jim Morrison of The Doors, another guy whom I idolized. Morrison never wore a shirt all that much and that trait amazed me. I never got that familiar with Nirvana's music so, Cobain wasn't that amazing to me--except for his glazed-over look and dark lyrics when he was performing.
Rock stars, including my good friends, The Sounds of Time, never followed fashion trends of that day, but set fashion trends for the rest of us--such as open shirts exposing tee shirts with near-vulgar and mostly anti-establishment sayings like, "Down With The Man," and "We Hate The System." These were sayings and fashions that were definitely against the grain and were a small part of a much-bigger picture and wider-horizon called the "Turbulent Sixties," that I loved. From the music to the rebellion, I loved it all. And was very depressed when this era faded from sight and from the lips of Americans who talked our way ofl life down and were scared of "us" as well. We loved it. "Ohhh, there goes one of them hippy-guys, who hates 'Merika," an old geezer sitting on a bench outside our local Foodway store would snarl and then spit his Red Man chewing tobacco on the sidewalk--watching us walk by not harming man or beast.
But that was the risk I was willing to take. Being a social outcast. Who cared? I had my rocker friends, all 13 who lived in Hamilton, but honestly, the guys and gals in my rock circle were for the most part, closet rockers--kids who did love rock musicians, but had to be willing to obey our parents because we had no other place to live, but we found a way to form our own brand of rebellion by plastering the walls of our rooms with posters from: Jimi Hendrix (my main rock idol); The Cream (with Eric Clapton); Jefferson Airplane (with the very sexy Gracie Slick) and of course, the Beach Boys and Beatles. When friends would come into our rooms, they would stand in awe of how rebellious we were and we only soaked in their admiration and smiled. When our mom's would enter our rooms, she would squawk and fume, but knew in her heart that in "her day" it was the same thing for young people who were trying to find their own road in life. Seemingly, mom's were graced with more sensitivity and understanding than dad's who swore that we were of the Devil and had human sacrifices on the weekends in Chalie Grubb's,(a neighbor next door), garage.
Rockers lived on the roads of America. From New York to Dallas, Texas, they rode in style, the rock bands that were successful, in Silver Eagle, air-conditioned busses with color television, wet bar, tinted windows and room for 12. And their logo painted majestically on each side of the bus telling teens everywhere that their band was coming to their town. Most successful rock bands would show up late for their concerts. This only made their fans more crazed to buy their records. I remember in 1973, The Beach Boys were to appear in concert somewhere in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but showed up intoxicated. That was the cover story released by the press. But those of us who were wise in the ways of rock bands, suspected that "weed" was partly to blame for their lack of performance. What cool guys the Beach Boys were to us. Late and didn't even have to work. And still maintained their fame as well as record sales.
(Some) Rock stars with good sense, hired intelligent accounting firms and retired years later very wealthy. For instance, The Beatles or The Eagles. Sure they did their share of tearing-up rooms in a Marriot Townhouse Motel one wild Saturday night after a great concert in Bangor, Maine, but those times were few and far between when it came to what sensible rock stars wanted out of life when their glory days started fading and their popularlty begin growing dim. Some rockers like Vince Neil and Motley Crue, made legendary status with all the Holiday Inn rooms they destroyed and lived to get drunk later and laugh about it. It takes both kinds, the wild and the sensible to make the picture of a rock and roll star complete.
Let me close by sharing a dream I had in 1971. It was a feasible dream. A dream that, with some work and patience, would have been a ticket for me and my would-be rocker buddies to find fame and fortune as a successul rock band, but not in competition with our buddies, The Sounds of Time.
My dream consisted of good, sturdy lumber that some skilled carpenter and a sound engineer could have built (with my designs on my notebook paper I used for my dream instead of Science and Health notes for mid-term exam) to bulild for us, the perfect soundstage that we could haul from town to town--from recreation center to recreation center in our first days of "paying dues" to really make a name for ourseles.
Inside our "perfect soundstage," was a highly-powerful tape system that had all the songs that we loved pre-recorded on the tapes and this tape system was wired to the six or seven VOX amplifiers (excuse, amps, in rock talk), and when the tapes were activated by a secret button on our guitar, the sound would blare through the amps giving the appearnce that it was "us" the amateur rockers who were doing such a great job of "Day Tripper," "Foxy Lady," "Wipe Out," and "Purple Haze" to name a few. We would NOT take requests from our audiences for the mere reason that none of us could play a lick on the Fender Telecaster guitars (like Jimi Henrix played) who we thought that by some clever negotiating, the Fender Guitar Company would be more than glad to donate us the needed "axes" (more rock talk meaning guitars), for our always-successful shows.
Yes, we had also thought of the electrical problems that might face us during shows, so we had that covered with one or two of our band members being willing to take Do-It-Yourself Electronics Courses At Home and we could mow more lawns to pay for this and at least two of our band members could speedily repair most electronic bugs on the spot saving time and our butts in the process. Angry teens who find out that they have been conned, can be a dangerous element and can surpass the protection of most local police officers in numbered power. We sure didn't want that to happen. That's why we even had the idea of getting a good-hearted guitar picker to literally "teach us" the chords on our guitars (when Fender shipped them), so some smart aleck sitting in a certain crowd somewhere in Euoporia, Mississippi, (one of our tour cities), would be wise to our homemade craft of pretending to play and sing like experts.
We had this dream planned on down the road until we had scored tons of money from concerts and banking our funds for our retirement. And the songs we sang, well, we simply would reload the tape system inside the portable sound stage and so a brand new set of popular songs. But what about our own songs, you ask? What about them? Nobody would really want to hear "our" own original songs. Teens in our day wanted what was popula and nothing else. And when the days of touring, concerts, smoking Winston and Marlboro (in the red pack), signing thousands of autographs, posters, and ticket stubs, and maybe some torn-up Motel 6 rooms in Little Rock, Arkansas, we would call it quits and retire to a life of leisure and riches, but still do reunion concerts ever so often like most successful rock bands to such as The Eagles and we would also enjoy the fame and be remembered as the most successful band from Hamilton, Alabama.
Just as long as no one got suspicious and started tampering with our sound stage--tearing off pieces of the lumber for souvenirs.
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