It all started with Michael. No, not that Michael. Michael Brand. We were good friends from grade school on. He's the first person I got drunk with - we snuck wine or something at his bar mitzvah.
Mike and I were big Kiss fans. My first Kiss album was Destroyer. I thought Ace was a funny name for a girl - LOL. We started getting into music pretty seriously at that point. Well, whatever serious means to a 5th or 6th grader.
We both wanted to be Peter Criss. But, I had bongos so more often than not I got to be Peter Criss. I used to tape nails to the edge so that when you hit the bongo it would make the nails pop and rattle like a snare drum. Clever, eh? I wonder what happened to them.
Mike's dad is a photographer and managed to wrangle some tickets for us to go see Kiss at the Capital Center in Landover, MD. It was our first concert and we were blown away. Hell yeah, that's what we want to do!!! That concert is a fun story all by itself - I'll save that for another entry.
We used to get Hit Parader and all those other magazines back then and cut out the Kiss pictures and stick them on the wall with other Kiss posters and stuff. After all, he who had the most pictures was the biggest fan.
I don't remember the exact order of things at this point but we both ended up with acoustic guitars. My grandparents bought me a small bodied classical guitar which I still have. I don't play it much anymore but it is my most cherished instrument. I used to stick the microphone from a cassette recorder into the sound hole to make it an electric guitar.
The first song we learned was "More Than A Feeling" by Boston. I knew how to read music, albeit really slowly, so I figured it out from some sheet music. The sheet music we got had the wrong chord at one spot - it said Eb when it should have been Em - that part of the song never sounded too good when we played it :)
Next, my mom got me the sheet music to "Stairway to Heaven" because it was supposedly a popular tune. Well, I'd never heard the song and this was arranged for piano so needless to say I was very surprised when I actually heard the song for the first time.
By this time we had moved to another neighborhood and this kid named Al Quinlan had an electric guitar that he would let me play. It was Global. It ruled. Well, probably not but what did I know. I borrowed it all the time.
Sometime after that Mike's dad scored him a brand new Fender Musicmaster from Manny's in New York and then a brand new Fender Champ from Chuck Levin's in Wheaton, MD. He had a real electric guitar!!! I was pretty jealous.
My mom got me an electric guitar with a little amp at a yard sale. I think it was a Global like Al's. Now I too had an electric guitar. My parents got me a second hand Acoustic 134 4x10 combo amp for Christmas that year. That thing was freakin' LOUD. Even by today's standards that thing is loud.
My dad took me to Giant Music in Falls Church, VA one day and they let me plug in a nice Les Paul copy. Man, that was soooo much better than "the Global". My dad quickly realized the difference in quality between my guitar and the ones in the store. I'm not sure how this all unfolded exactly but my recollection of the day is that after we left the store my dad flipped through the classified ads in the Washington Post, made some phone calls, and the next thing you know we're in the car going to someone's house to check out a guitar. I was fairly oblivious to what was really happening at the time for some reason - I daydreamed a lot. But before you know it my dad paid the dude $175 for a Fender Telecaster. This was a fantastic freakin' guitar. I mean it was *really* good. So now I had a real good electric guitar and the loudest amp in the neighborhood. Hell yes. It's gettin' good now! As it turns out the finish on that Tele was called Antigua and was extremely rare - particularly on a Tele. We'll revisit that in a later topic.
So now Mike and I both had Fender guitars and nice amplifiers. What else could we need? Veneman Music in Springfield, VA had the answer! An Electro Harmonix Big Muff distortion/fuzz box. Much fun was had with that pedal. I wanted the MXR Distortion+ or the Boss DS-1 but those were both like 40 or 50 bucks and the Big Muff was 19.99.
Next we'll be getting our ya-ya's out...