Sunday, December 28, 2014

Johnny Is the Drummer In a Band, At Least in Theory

In October 2013, my friend’s high school class reunited, and my friend put together a band to provide music to which they might dance the frug, watusi, mashied potatoes, Lindy hop, and other favorites of their era. He was unable to find a drummer, but remembered that many years ago I had been the drummer in an embryonic version of the band with which we would go on to become the idols of a generation, albeit one not our own. As we drove together in his chick-magnet car to rehearse with the guitarist and keyboardist he’d lined up for the night, I trembled with terror, as I hadn’t actually played drums with anyone in approximately a million years, and could imagine the guitarist and keyboardist reacting to me as had those two grizzled musos in The Embers nightclub in Santa Monica that afternoon in the 1960s when, to get me out of their hair, the sibling proprietors of Ace Music had arranged for me to audition for them. One of the grizzled musos rolled his eyes. The other mumbled, “What the fuck!” Together they proclaimed, “We so don’t think so,” or whatever people said in those circumstances in those days.

The problem, you see, had been that I’d imagined, after A Hard Day’s Night, that my experience as a percussionist in the Orville Wright Junior High School senior orchestra would translate into my being able to play rock and roll. It had not. I had no idea what I was doing. I knew only that I wanted young girls to scream at me as I played, and for their older sisters to offer themselves to me at performances' end.

In any event, back in 2014, the guitarist, the back seat of whose car was a botanical wonder such as I had never before glimpsed, and the keyboardist, who had seemingly never heard a rock and roll record, didn’t snicker at my playing, as they had their own problems. The band performed, and my friend’s former classmates were too preoccupied ascertaining which of their number had remained sexually desirable to care.  I breathed a deep sigh of relief.

Heartened, or at least not completely demoralized, I suggested to my friend, a bass player, that we put a little band together. A guy whose job it was to hold up Jimmy Fallon’s cue cards came over with his guitar, but we didn’t mesh very well on a personal level. I think we couldn’t stand each other.

















I met a wonderful singer and rhythm guitarist, possibly an Apache, at a party, and invited him to join us. He suggested that a pal of his be brought in to play lead guitar. His pal was terrific, and sweet-natured, but skittish. We brought in a guy who’d starred in LA’s foremost chicano New Wave group. He too was very nice, and capable of fiery playing, but proved unreliable too. A good player who knew a lot of jazz chords came over and expressed a desire to perform Yes and CSN&Y songs. Over our dead bodies. We brought in a guy who’d auditioned for my friend’s own New Wave band circa 1979. He was sensational at our first rehearsal, and then very much less sensational at subsequent ones, and preoccupied with multiple other projects, and, in my view, a little dickhead whom I wanted to strangle with my bare hands after he spent half a hour at our second rehearsal together talking on his phone about someone else’s project.

I implored a brilliant player who’d had the glorious good taste to praise some of the solo stuff I’d recorded while living in the UK to join us, but he calculated that, by virtue of his residing in San Diego, it would be madness. My friend invited a one-time New Wave star he’d later played with in a harmony-oriented pop band. Said personage seemed to like the idea and said he’d get back to us. Months later, we’re still waiting. We invited a guy who, against all odds, had been an avid fan of our long-ago group. He hesitated because he’s primarily a bass player, and a very busy health care professional. It looked as though he might be the guy for whom we’d been looking, but then the fucking Festive Holiday Season reared its ugly head, and we haven't rehearsed for weeks and weeks and weeks, so who knows where we stand now?  



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