Early Musical Experiences

I grew up in a family that enjoyed music. My mother played piano. My dad played trumpet until he finally decided to stick to directing plays instead of playing an instrument. He did direct a number of musicals in his career. I guess that is where I learned to like musical theater.

But by the time I was a teenager it was the late sixties. It was the time of rock and roll music. I remember listening to Steppenwolf, Santana, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Jefferson Airplane, Three Dog Night, Chicago, all the rock super groups of that time. I loved the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. I loved Simon and Garfinkle. I shouldn’t use the past tense, I still do.

My dad wanted to encourage me to study classical guitar so he bought me a classical guitar. The only concession to my rock and roll aspirations was that it had a pick up in it so I could run it through an amplifier. The only problem was that the ceramic pickups that they put in classical guitars at that time were subject to generating horrendous feedback if you turned them up at all. I was not well pleased.

Finally, he gave in and bought me a proper electric guitar. It was a Les Paul Junior, a guitar that has sense become a classic. Even though mine is in dire need of refurbishing it is still worth a good bit of money now. At the time it was just the thing I wanted. All of a sudden, I could actually play all of the rock songs that just didn’t pan out on a classical guitar.

My dad taught at the high school I attended my junior and senior year. I rode to school with him in the morning which meant that most mornings we got to school a full hour before classes started. There was a piano at the front of the auditorium where students were allowed to wait inside until school started. I got in the habit of playing the piano every morning while I waited for school to start.

It was simple chords in the left hand, bass line in the right style piano, the kind that many of the rock bands of the era featured. I even composed my own piano music.

When I was a junior, the spring play was a farce entitled Big Rock at Candy’s Mountain. It was a take off on the whole Woodstock musical festival idea with the plot structure being basically a romantic comedy. We had a small high school so we couldn’t dig up three bands so we used the same band to represent the different bands with each of the members of the band taking turns playing the leader of each of the different bands.

The kids loved it and I was hooked on playing for an audience. When I graduated from high school, one of my father’s former students offered me a job as a gunfighter and guitar player in a western theme park. I did that for three summers in a row and had a blast doing it. I miss those days a lot.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.