Fifty years ago, in 1972, a friend of mine at work invited me to Fresh Pond Park on a beautiful Saturday morning to show me how to play guitar. It was a red, semi-hollow Gibson rip off without a case.
When he launched into “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye” the hook was set.
We jumped onto a bus headed for the North End and picked up a cheap acoustic guitar at a pawn shop on Hanover Street.
Little did I know how my life would change that day. I remember the goodhearted ridicule from my family at the unboxing in the kitchen that afternoon.
The only one who wasn’t laughing was my music loving mother. That lady thought I could do anything. She was my wind.
Like anything I do, and over do, it became my life’s passion. At 25, I had no time to lose.
In less than a year, I was auditioning with local bands and failing miserably.
If they didn’t want me on guitar, I tried vocals, and when that didn’t work, I asked to be a roadie…for free.
I sucked and I knew it.
Then, I had a brainstorm. I went into Wurlitzer Music on Newbury Street and bought a public address, or, P.A. System.
Then, the phone started ringing. They were taking the bait.
I knew why they wanted me and I didn’t care. Nobody had a P.A. system in those days, so if they wanted a P.A., they had to take me. Ha!
I started gigging way above my pay grade. It was terrifying. They used to turn my amp down so I couldn’t be heard, but I didn’t care. I was progressing.
Very long story, extremely short, I became a journeyman.
I went to Berklee College of Music on the GI Bill, learned harmony, arranging, and picked up piano along the way.
I had no idea how those skills would benefit my later professional career in Dupont and Bristol Myers Squibb.
But they did.
I took the lead in “Radio Daze”, an on site recycling production, and wrote safety music for the sales force that was distributed to the whole company on CDs.
I wrote and performed music all over the country. I played original material at national sales meetings and trade shows.
I played for customers and anyone who would listen. When I traveled for business, my Martin was always in the overhead.
Later, I wrote jingles, commercials, and catchy openers for corporations and small businesses.
In Dupont, I had a corporate web site (nobody had one of those), wrote newsletters and started an e-mail marketing program.
When I got into video production, it was a marriage made in heaven.
But music was the catalyst. It got me noticed and allowed me a creative voice in corporate America.
I still play and practice every day. My guitar has gently weeped through heart break, loss, drug addiction and destitution.
I developed my skills through tenacity and veracity, (being honest with myself), but without the audacity, or nerve, it wouldn’t have happened.
As my mother used to say. “No balls, no blue chips.”
It was worth the bet.
Roll ’em. 🙂