Wednesday, September 28, 2011

1956 -- A Very Good Year

It started May 17th, 55 years ago in 1956. The year I fell in love with Rock and Roll.

The week after my brother Allan died, I stayed with my Aunt Evy and her friend Jane. Aunt Evy used to take me to the haunts, bars really, that she and her girlfriends frequented. She would be telling the barkeep about Allan's death while keeping me busy playing the jukebox with nickels she gave me.

I found such joy and freedom that week; it never left me. I could get a 'play' for 5 cents, 3 for a dime and 5 for a quarter. It may have been something like 12 for a 50-cent piece. Rock Island Line (by Bobby Darin, I think), Tutti Frutti (Little Richard), Boney Marone, Hound Dog, Rock Around the Clock and many others quickly became my favorites. For only 9 years old, I was quite the Rock 'n' Roll fan.

Very soon, I began playing Dion songs on the piano and two years later, when my brother Stevie gave me a plastic ukulele for Christmas, I was off and running; playing songs by Eddie Cochran, like Summertime Blues and C'mon Everybody.

The following year's summer, when I went to camp, I heard a big, country style guitar around the campfire. I can still remember the brilliance of the strings and the richness of the tones. It must have been a quality guitar with new strings, as I look back. But that was the beginning of my non-stop love affair with guitars. I had spent my childhood playing the piano, which I felt was the most beautiful instrument, until that night around the campfire.