In 1982 I bought my first electric guitar. I was twelve years old. It was a used black Memphis. I bought it from Danny Tramantozzi. It was an absolute piece of shit. That didn't really matter though. I couldn't really play anything at that point anyway. I bought it with the hope that I would someday be able to Rock. On that day I made a promise to myself. I made the ultimate commitment. I pledged my skinny ass, freckled face allegiance to Heavy Metal. I would only worship the Metal Gods. Hard Rock was to be my lover and I was a one woman kind of guy.
I had just started taking guitar lessons from the neighborhood guitar teacher. His name was George Marshall (like the amplifier). He had long brown hair and a beard. He wore a black leather motorcycle jacket and he always reeked of smoke. He definitely lived with his mom. I had no idea what to expect but I was terrified none the less. For about two years George came to my house every week and taught me the intricacies of Heavy Metal Guitar. He relentlessly made me practice the almighty bar chord until my fingers bled. He mocked me until I was able to glide through riffs like Crazy Train by OZZY and Rainbow in the Dark by DIO. He didn't bother to teach me how to read notes or waste time on the finer points of music theory. I didn't need that crap where I was headed. All I needed was my AXE and my mullet and no less than three major bar chords. I was his Ace of Spades and he was the Master of Puppets. No matter the cost, I would pay The Price.
By 1984 I bought my second electric guitar. It was a turquoise blue BC RICH Bitch. It was like a dick with strings. This guitar was far superior to the Memphis but thanks to George, I was still pretty sucky. It didn't matter though. I was now able to play most heavy metal songs and my mullet was pretty well formed. I had my Bar-Mitzvah earlier that year so I was officially a man. I was ready. That year I formed a band with some of my mates from Junior High School. We called ourselves Black Diamond after the lesser known KISS song. We were on a mission. Battle of the bands. We had until the 9th grade talent show to prepare.
I was the rhythm guitarist and the heart of the band. We had Joey Campo on drums. He was a red headed ball of fire with lightening quick hands and feet. He could play Run to the Hills by Iron Maiden and make it look easy. Scotty Barkan on the bass guitar. He was quiet and unassuming and had the steadiest hands in the band. He might have been the only one out of all of us who actually knew how to read music. He liked Rush. That's how you knew he was good. Then there was Mike Butler on lead guitar. He also took lessons from George Marshall but for some reason he was much better than me. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure he was much better than George Marshall. All he ever played was Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen. In reality, they probably didn't even need me in the band at all. Most of the time Mike would play my parts as well as his. I think I actually turned my guitar down half the time and faked it. Last but not least we had Brian Bloom on lead vocals. Brian wasn't really a very good singer and he never really rehearsed with us but he was like the best looking guy in the school and he was on As The World Turns that year. It was a no brainer to have him as our front man. If we wanted to have any chance of scoring chicks, we needed a ringer.
When the talent show came we definitely had our act together. I wore ripped jeans with a turquoise blue and black leopard print bandanna tied around my leg. I donned a black t-shirt with a ripped netted mesh turquoise blue shirt on top. Finally a second blue and black leopard print bandanna around my head, Lover Boy style. We played three songs that night. We opened up with Round and Round by RATT. I remember messing up the first part of the solo because my hands were so sweaty I couldn't grip the strings or my pick. I turned my guitar down to half volume about a quarter way through the song and let Mike handle the bulk of the work load. After that song, Mike went into Eruption by Eddie Van Halen. He was amazing. Chicks and dudes a like went nuts while the rest of the band stood on stage and watched. This was by far my favorite part of the show. I felt totally comfortable standing around in my Metal Costume and doing nothing. I was much better at looking like a Rock Star than actually playing like one. We closed out the show with Rock You Like a Hurricane by The Scorpions. Twenty four years later, I can honestly say this is the only song I can still play on my guitar from start to finish. That night was absolutely glorious. We felt like a real Rock Band playing in front of a real Rock crowd. It didn't matter that the crowd sat at lunch tables and we said the pledge of allegiance before they introduced us. We were kings in the castle of Rock. We were Gods being worshiped in the church (or in my neighborhood the Synagogue) of Metal. That show will forever be etched in my memory.
In many ways Heavy Metal has defined who I am as a man. The core foundations of my character were built on the teachings of Rob Halford, Ozzy Osbourne and Ronnie James Dio. I learned how to give and get respect from Joey DeMaio of Manowar. I learned how to love because of Geoff Tate. Heavy metal will always be dear to me and it will forever hold a place in my soul. There are some things that even time can't change.
This past Tuesday on a whim I bought the new Kelly Clarkson album on itunes. I listened to it at work that day at least five times. I had it on repeat on my ipod for the entire train ride home that evening. I fell asleep listening to it in my bed that night. The next morning I blasted it while running on the treadmill. I think I ran 15 miles before I realized I was late for work. I listened again on the train to work and again all day and again all night. I cannot stop listening to Kelly Clarkson. She is more powerful than DIO, more mystifying than OZZY and not quite as gay as Rob Halford but close. I don't know WTF is happening to me but I'm going through some sort of metamorphosis and I LOVE IT! I have made a new commitment and it is to Kelly. I would trade my turquoise blue BC RICH BITCH to find out what's behind those Hazel Eyes. Because of her I vow to never stray too far from the sidewalk. I am not exactly sure why I'm feeling this way. But I am sure of one thing. My life would suck without her.
Perhaps being Out-Numbered has something to do with it.
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