Part 4: The rock and roll years (1975-198?)

I spend several enjoyable, tedious, painful, humiliating, ecstatic years in various bands. Of course these were all cover bands, but I gradually found people who were willing to mix in some original songs. I quickly got tired of doing all covers, but in those days it was a rare venue that would pay you to play any original songs at all. So lots of playing “Louie Louie” and the like.

I found myself getting interested in the drums; partly in response to bands all having plenty of bass players but no drummers with their own transportation (!) In chatting with one of his buddies, my father found an old Ludwig kit that was coated with a thick layer of nicotine oil from decades of being played in bars. I bought it, cleaned it up and started working on my rudiments.

Although maybe not musically very satisfying, at least being in bands gave me a way to talk to girls, something I was paralyzed about doing for most of my adolescence.

I did enjoy the playing, the ability to occasionally sneak in an original riff or even song (I was not a lyric writer, but as a serious student of Black Sabbath, ELP, Yes, Led Zeppelin, etc.) I could at least copy their riffs as my own…

At this time, I started getting interested in what’s now called progressive rock; led by the aforementioned Yes and ELP, also including mostly English bands such as Pink Floyd, Genesis, Camel, Caravan and that sort. The US basically only had Kansas, and Rush from Canada. I started craving doing that kind of music (although my abilities were laughably inferior).

I bought a Teac 3340 4 track tape recorder so I could try making complete songs on my own, playing all the parts and overdubbing. This experiment was sort of doomed since:

  • I needed to possess and be able to play all the instruments that would be part of the track

  • I had to engineer it as well as play

  • I had no studio and had to set up everything in the front room of my little house

  • I couldn’t sing and had no lyrics anyway

So basically it was a very frustrating operation.

About this time too, the conflict between late night playing and practicing vs. my need to be at work early and do my job was starting to wear me down. I literally had to decided whether I could continue to be serious about being in a band and still have a paying regular job…

More to come later…


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