my meteoric rise from nowhere to the teen canteen

a photo of me rehearsing at antonian auditorium in october, 1966, taken by meemaw.

from: if 666 was 911 ::: 09-11-11

it was september 1966, meemaw called me and told me to come to her house. when i got there, she GAVE me something truly evil that DESTROYED the rest of my life: a farfisa combo compact organ and a fender super reverb amplifier. i couldn't play anything except 4 chords my mom taught me: c major, c minor, c diminished, and c augmented. i couldn't even pronounce "farfisa", i'd never heard of it. i told a guy in my neighborhood, jimmy venverloh, "meemaw bought me an organ", "what kind?", "uh, a paramecium, or something...", "a farfisa?", "yeah", "combo compact?", "yeah, that's it!", "YOU'RE IN THE BAND!!!"

the band was the sashyns, i never heard of them, it was all older guys who went to antonian high school, which i also never heard of. apparently getting an organ in the band was the missing link, because at the first band practice, this important guy named sam kinsey came over to audition the group. i learned a lot that day, which was good, since i couldn't play at all. i learned what "I, IV, and V" was, and how that applied to just about every song, and i learned how to play the single note organ part in the middle of "gloria", which really HURT my hand terribly after 30 seconds. i didn't know combo organ is supposed to be played with ONE FINGER ON EACH ARM, i played it with one hand, and it was excruciatingly painful, but i promised to work on that. (fortunately, a few days later, roger santos taught me how to play "louie louie", the right way, with the d minor in it.)

we started gigging right away, my first gig was at la villita, for a frat party. we had 7 guys in the group, so we charged $21, that way we each got $3, which was great! eventually we were a 6 piece, and our price went up to $54, that's $9 apiece! i'll never ever forget my second gig, also a frat party, it was at the back of terrill plaza in a rented party room. it was fantastic because there was this really pretty mexican girl there with CLEAVAGE! i remember positioning myself when we went on break so i could nonchalantly stare at those beautiful objects. there was no doubt in my mind at all playing in bands, for money, was IT!

because most of the band went to antonian, we idolized the zilches. our goal was two-fold.
A. to be just like the zilches, and
B. to someday play at the teen canteen.
charlie dailey, our lead guitar player had a mosrite, just like bobby galindo. after we saw phil arrroyo wearing a tom jones shirt, we started doing that, too. the only bands i had seen were at antonian gym and the churchill high cafeteria. that was the zilches, the chaynes, and at churchill this band i never heard of called the littleton trolley. i didn't know his name then, but andy salmon had the coolest custom built amp i'd ever seen in my life, it was totally unique looking, and i remember marveling at how cool andy dressed at gigs. he was really mod looking, and with that amp, well, our band looked like dorks compared to him. rob meurer was older than the guys in my band, and i was younger than them, so someone REALLY older, like andy, was beyond my level entirely.

my band, the sashyns, never played antonian gym or the teen canteen. but i kept going and eventually played a battle of the bands at the teen canteen when it was over in olmos park. it was a landmark gig for me because i wore a real german helmet and a real iron cross. top that, andy! :P

what's amazing to me is i eventually got to know most of these legendary OLDER guys we used to idolize, and they're way more cool than i ever dreamed back then.

probably the coolest thing of all was i met sam kinsey on my FIRST DAY in the music business. i was 14 years old.



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