Thursday, January 5, 2012

My First Professional "Gig".

From 1974 until 1978, I was an automatic transmission mechanic, I pulled transmissions in & out of cars, 9 hours a day, 5-1/2 days a week. It was the usual, work myself half to death for the owners, for as little pay as possible, putting up with the constant harassment and bullying, not to mention being broke all the time. So, in the fall of 78, I sold all my tools to one of the bosses – who easily took advantage of me by paying as little as possible for them, and went to San Diego Guitar Center with that money, and some that I managed to save over the last couple of months, and bought a brand new Gibson Les Paul Custom, with the red wine finish, gold hardware - it was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen or heard. I forget the name of the small music store where I bought my amp, but it was a Fender Super Reverb - 60 watts, 4 10" speakers in it. They made a great pair. I also bought a Gibson SG Standard, to give to my uncle, who used to take me to my school dances at Jarrett Intermediate School in Hawaii to play in the little 9th grade band I was in. I’d Iiterally traded in my transmission tools for the guitars, amp, and a plane ticket back to Hawaii. My uncle would also take me to Palolo Housing (the projects) when was 13 and 14, to play for his family's luaus on some weekends. I talked to him on the phone, he couldn't wait to play some music with me. So, back to Hawaii I went. We got a couple other guys to play with us, but I was so new and inexperienced, that I really didn't know how to run a band, and, my singing and guitar playing were not up to par - and that is a huge understatement. So, the band lasted a few months, and that was the end of that. I worked for a tourist souvenir store for a short time, then was a resident manager at a 153 unit apartment complex for about a year.  Out of the blue, my phone rings, and it’s a guy who is in a country band at a little hole in the wall country bar out in Ewa Beach, says they need a lead guitar player.  I tell him I don’t know the first thing about country music, he says it’s no problem, just come to the audition.  Well, to my amazement, they hired me after just a couple of songs.  Looking back, I realized that the reason they hired me is because I was no threat to anybody.  I had no idea of musicians’ egos at the time, so there I was, in this band, barely being able to play, and knowing the words to one country song – Rainy Day Woman, by Waylon Jennings.  It was a five night a week job, and I was still doing the resident manager thing.  I wasn’t crazy about the seedy atmosphere in that bar – it was Ducky’s Silver Spur, but I hung in.  In fact, the night before I started, there had been a shooting – a drummer got into it with one of the locals, who pulled out a gun and shot out the drummers eye – there was still blood all over the big table right in front of the entrance.  Anyway, I played there for about five months, at which time J.T. Cardens came in and offered me a job in his band – J.T. And The Rowdy Band.  The Ducky’s job was torturous, the girl, band leader, had a fairly nasty disposition, and the bass player and drummer took an instant dislike to me.  The guitar player who I replaced will not speak to me to this day – and this was over 30 years ago.  It was mostly military guys who hung out in the place, there were fights there at least a couple times a week.  I did manage to learn a couple of things, and there were some fun moments, but I was happy to be out of what felt like a dungeon full of seedy people.  My Les Paul and Fender amp did me proud – in spite of my limited playing ability.  There was this older guy – Nick Masters, about 25 years before, he played with Bill Haley and the Comets for a few months – after the original guitar player left the band, until the band broke up.  This guy played on that “I used to play with Bill Haley and the Comets” thing to no end.  He would come in, the other guys in the band would get me to hand my guitar over to Nick, where he would play circles around me.  It didn’t bother me at the time, in fact I enjoyed listening to other guys play when they would come in.  Sometime during that five month period, I got fired from the resident manager thing, and that was the last “day job” I had until the late 90s, when I tried to get out of music.  So, Ducky’s my first real, “professional” music “gig”.  I guess I kinda got used to the bar atmosphere, because by the time I left the place, I was starting to get comfortable.  I never did drink or do any kind of drugs, but the dim light, the drunks, the people – they didn’t seem to bother me so much after the first few months – not sure if that was good or bad, but that’s the way it was.

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