Since the time my sister and I saw the Beatles in America on a black-and-white television screen one Sunday night on the Ed Sullivan Show, more years ago than I will admit, I wanted a guitar. I wanted to play music and I, too, wanted to make those girls in the balcony scream for more.
Something like that couldn't happen overnight to an average, small-town, skinny, B-team student manager ... and it didn't.
Answering my constant prayers for a guitar, my parents bought me an acoustic guitar from the local Western Auto store. I didn't even know that Western Auto, a household department store, sold guitars. I guess they must have sold one.
The guitar they brought home didn't have a bridge for the strings to rest on; and it would not get into tune, no matter how much I twisted the pegs at the top of the neck.
If I had been "smarter than the average bear," I would have gone over to the house a block from the school and would have asked the musicians who lived there what was wrong with my guitar, and if they would help me fix it; but my parents did not want me "hanging around" with "those" kind of people ... you know, the ones who took the bridge covers off of their Fender Telecasters and used them as ashtrays.
So I was banished to playing my clarinet until the day I graduated from high school.
Somewhere along the way, my brother Dave taught me four chords: C, A minor, F and G. With these four chords, he said, I could play just about any popular song on the record charts. The strange thing about it was that it was true ... at the time.
After high school and a semester of college, my life fast forwarded through military basic training, Air Force language school and two tours in Southeast Asia as a North Vietnamese linguist before I had my next guitar.
The day I DOS'ed (that's date of separation from the service) from a place called Nakhon Phanom in Thailand, I bought an acoustic guitar at the base exchange and boarded an airplane back to the United States.
I was a free man with a guitar strapped on my back, with no sergeant majors or officers telling me what I could or couldn't do.
Along the way though, as you make your plans, life throws you curves, and stops and ups and downs. Sometimes, good things come from them, though.
I got married and raised a son. He, of course, not like me, is "smarter than the average bear." He is now following his dreams and making them happen in the movie business.
My music "career," during the time of raising children, was put "on hold," on purpose. There were ball games, school projects, scholastic bowls and Boy Scout events to attend. There were dances and proms and graduations. That is what kids and parents do. Then the kids grow up.
And then one day you get a call from a friend or a co-worker who says he needs a guitar player for a band he is putting together, and you are "on the road" with your music again.
Soon, you are playing four hours once or twice a month at some bar or club, meeting people, planning your future and getting offers to play in Nashville and other exotic places. Finally, you are having some fun again.
My parents introduced me to music when I was in the fourth grade. It was a good thing to do. Music has helped me through the tough times, the hard times and the impossible times, the down times, the unbelievable times and the times when I was alone with no one to turn to.
I may have made it through without music, but it would not have been as much fun.
Be sure to attend "Sam Jam 5" Sunday, Aug. 19, anytime between 1-9:30 p.m. at the Pineda Inn, just north of the Pineda Causeway on U.S. 1, Melbourne/Rockledge.
Sam Jam benefits Brevard Music Aid.
Brevard News Clerk