the lazy likes of you have your way, I’ll be unable to reach for nauseous when writing a song and need a two–syllable/first-accented word for sickening. Do not remove arrows from my quiver. Do not dare.
I’m wondering now if maybe we had the wrong guy. All eyes were, in descending order, on Brian Jones, Keith Richards, and Mick Jagger, but when I watch the Rolling Stones’ famous TAMI show performance, it looks like Bill Wyman’s the coolest of those standing. More than any of the other three, he had a style very much his own. Those buttoned–up round-collared white dress shirts worn tieless under black leather waistcoats, as he’d have described them, or vest, as Americans would!
In playing bass at about 24 degrees from the vertical, he might be seen in retrospect as Townshendesque. Both musicians played their instruments in intentionally difficult ways, all in the name of style. Playing an electric bass at this angle is approximately like trying to play a keyboard while seated at a 166-degree angle to it. And then he had the wonderful idea of chewing gum and looking as though he couldn’t have been less impressed with the screaming his band was inspiring though we know now that he could hardly have been more interested, in the sense of his having acquired carnal knowledge of more fans than the rest of the band combined. Crafty, priapic Bill!
History records that, if I’d had my wits about me, I’d have witnessed this performance, as it took place at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, around 500 yards nearer the Pacific than Santa Monica High School, at which I was at the time busy being a lonely, miserable, scholastically diligent 11th grader.
Forrest Piques (or maybe it was P. K. Forrest (I was never positive)), one of the whitest of the school’s not-terribly-many black kids, didn’t make that mistake. He is seen, with his straightened hair and surfer-chic short-sleeved sportshirt, looking extremely enthusiastic in the first frames of the It’s All Over Now video viewable on YouTube.
A sad tale, Forrest’s. As drummer, he was one of the stars of the Samohi jazz band. After a trumpeter and trombonist from the band ceased being the lead singer and lead guitarist, respectively, in my first group, The Fogmen, they dashed off to form The Inrhodes, who had silver sharkskin suits, actual long hair, a manager with Connections in the Music Business, and a following that dwarfed even Ry Cooder’s Cajuns’. In the summer of 1966, they were the Civic’s de facto house band, opening for, and rubbing shoulders with, Them, The Yardbirds, and comparable gods who walked among men. Their drummer, in a black Beatle wig that I later inherited — and wore, to First Girlfriend’s infinite embarrasment, to an Animals/Herman’s Hermits show at the LA Sports Arena — was none other than Forrest Piques, who was invited to leave the group halfway through the summer because he…didn’t fit in. Wrong color, was the common supposition. The lads' manager apparently hadn't noticed that Joey Dee & The Starliters and the much-nearer-to-home surf group The Pyramids had earlier made the world safe for musical race-mixing. Love, with its 40-percent black membership, hadn't yet emerged.
That September, my second band, The 1930 Four, won the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce’s Battle of the Bands on what is now famous as the 3rd Street Promenade. Piques, apparently pals with Graveyard Shift, over which we prevailed in the competition’s final heat, heckled us quite acrimoniously. One might almost have gotten the impression that he was bitter, though I didn’t see a great many musicians of color in the Shift.
I like to imagine I’m half the drummer in 2015 he was in 1966.