The early days of my playing and performing life were very innocent, and the first few times I actually got paid for making music were really a shock to me! I mean, after all, I was so used to thinking I was playing just for the pure need of it, and the joy…..making money was just weird! The first time I ever got paid at all for a gig was when I was only 11 years old, and was asked along with my band at the time, The Mad Hatters, to play at a children’s mental ward in a hospital in the Bronx!
I know it sounds like a weird gig, and it sure was, but I was asked by one of my school teachers to do this, so I figured even thought this was certainly an auspicious beginning to a musical career, it was for a good cause, and gave my band a chance to play “somewhere”! I can still remember walking in, and setting up (at that time the entire band went through one amp, even the microphone for our lead singer!), and one of the ladies there said “whatever you do, don’t play the Batman theme” because there’s a little boy here who is obsessed with Batman, and he may do something wild! Batman was a very popular show at the time, and it contained an easily-copied guitar part, similar to “Secret Agent”.
Not realizing the gravity of what she said, we got into our set, which went well enough. But I couldn’t leave well enough alone, and being a wise-guy, I suddenly launched into the “Batman” lick, literally ignited this kid, who came out of nowhere, wearing a batman cape, who then tried to FLY out of the window of the hospital!!! So, that lady was certainly serious about not playing the Batman theme, but I wish she had told me what the actual outcome of playing that song might be! That was certainly one incident that always stayed with me……also the fact that I actually was paid ten dollars for my troubles!
Another of our early paying gigs was much more of a “legit” gig, where my band played for my cousin’s Sweet 16 at a restaurant, I believe somewhere in the wilds of Long Island. It went over great, and we were loving all our new guitars and amps which we had upgraded, and were debuting at this gig. But when it came time to leave, and we all helped each other with our equipment, I remember lifting my rhythm guitarist’s amp, which was the same as mine, and almost breaking my back! I also heard many thing rattling and shaking in the back of his amp, and lo and behold, there was almost all the SILVERWARE from the party, which he was attempting to steal!! Man, was this a shock to me, and he came off so stupid. Even worse was his explanation for what he did, saying his “family asked him to do that”! Needless to say, all the silverware was put back, but we had to deal with the incredible embarrassment of what just took place!
In those early days, you just never knew what would happen, and does that ever really change? The truth is, I don’t think so, and the countless crazy occurrences that have happened throughout my career and life just continue to boggle the mind! Lots more on this ongoing tale coming up in future blogs!