Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rock School

George and Jimmy were a few years older than us, already in their early teens when my brother and I were nine and eight. Because they were older they took it upon themselves to elaborate exactly which Deep Purple album was the best one. We would pore over the covers of In Rock, Fireball, Machine Head and Burn. I remember a kind and sympathetic Jimmy pointing to a long haired young man wearing oval glasses on the back cover of one of the albums and saying, gently so I'd never forget, "That's Ian Paice, he's the greatest drummer in the world".
    I don't know what our folks were doing, probably smoking cigarettes in the kitchen, the men talking loudly and drinking wine, the ladies loudly making fun of the men and preparing food. Whatever it was they were doing, somehow they didn't seem to notice that Highway Star was on much louder than they could talk. On so loud in fact that the good china was rattling in the china cabinet a few feet away from the stereo. We were scandalized. Our little ears were blown away. Happy to have such skilled tutors in the way of hard rock. The softer rock we were already little fans of. We knew the fifties stuff and the sixties and the pop music of our day. AM radio was on every night as we went to bed, my brother John acting as DJ, deciding the station, deciding the volume and deciding I suppose when it would get turned off. I fell asleep way before I ever noticed either way. Of course I would whine if it was too loud. And I whined like hell when the inevitable happened and John wanted to finally switch to CKGMs sister station on the FM dial, CHOM 98. CHOM was all about the hard rock and I wasn't ready, despite my training at the hands of George and Jimmy. FM rock radio at nighttime in the late seventies was not the milquetoast affair it is today. Those disc jockeys would put on entire sides of Yes while they presumably smoked another joint or worked on some macrame.
    My whining was futile as John made the switch. He had been ready for the next level awhile now. I was afraid of the unknown, happy with England Dan & John Ford Coley. I never told my brother but it took me maybe ten minutes to be totally on board with the switch to FM though I probably complained for half an hour.