An American Band - The America Story: The Book
Excerpts from the book
From... The Heat Was Hot
... The night of our first performance arrived and the four of us, three guitarists and a drummer, gave it all we had. We had no mic's and probably just as well since stage fright hit and it was all we could do to remember how to play in front of the rowdy crowd of G.I.s. Before long a huge fight broke out, chairs, tables, bottles and bodies flying everywhere. The four of us in the band squeezed behind a huge air-conditioning unit and cowered there until the MP's came in and broke it up.
The fight seemed to break the tension for us and we launched into a spirited version of "Pipeline" and the crowd ate it up. One of the airmen scrounged a microphone from a storeroom; we plugged it into one of our borrowed amps and wailed into "Surf City" and the place went wild. I was 12 years old, Tom was 14 and John Hutchinson and Ernie McAllister our drummer were all of 13. The G.I.'s were duly impressed that this bunch of "yard apes" could keep them entertained and we were immediately adopted as the house band, playing four hours a night, Fridays and Saturdays every week. We eventually even got gigs at the NCO club, a major feat for us. But the Airmen's club was our favorite: the G.I.'s, some as young as 17 and 18 liked the same music we liked.
From... Goodbye Greasy Mops - Hello Amer...?
... Dewey is a very charming and warm person and can be disarmingly low-key. He had gotten the nickname "Dumb Bunny" from some of his jock friends as a result of his easygoing style. But Dewey is no dummy. He is a quiet studier of other people and a shrewd calculator who hates to lose at anything. In a way Gerry had challenged Dewey, first in their haggle when Dewey left the DAZE and most recently with rubbing our faces in the greasy cafeteria floor. With Dewey's dark good looks and his desire to be an actor (a path he had been quietly pursuing up until our group took off) I've no doubt he could have succeeded in that field as well. But now the challenge was to succeed over Gerry in music. Dewey had a steely-eyed well-hidden self confidence that was ultimately borne out by later events.
By the same token, Gerry is nobody's fool. He liked to put on the facade of an easy going, naive man-child: in fact he disdained education, school and other people's interest in current events. But Gerry is a very intelligent and crafty person. Yet, he has a hard time concealing his low opinion of the rest of the world. In fairness, he is an extremely talented musician and is light years ahead of most people in his writing, playing and his grasp of harmonies and the technical aspects of music. He also can be extremely charming and knows how to influence people deftly. With his good looks and talent it must be hard to be humble.
... We sat and schmoozed awhile, smoked some hash and played our tunes. Dave was suitably impressed. London was still the center of the Universe as far as music was concerned, but the poles were beginning to shift. The "Allman Brothers Band" first album was wailing from Dave's stereo when we got there and all the talk was of them, CSNY, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and the like. In short, an "American Invasion". And, if you counted "Midnight Rider" into the mix, it was almost exclusively an acoustic invasion. We were in the right place at the right time.
... At one point, we often rehearsed in Dewey's parents' car because we had pretty much driven everyone else demented with the constant repetition of the songs and the vocal parts, note by note, to get the arrangements just right. We worked hard, hour after hour to get it all just right.
I have to give Gerry a lot of credit here. I could sing what's called a third above as natural as breathing. This was serendipitous as I had the highest of the three voices.
... Gerry would take the fifth below and had a great ear for finding that part and weaving it into the whole. And Gerry is very driven to get it just right. Loose or sloppy was not acceptable. We had to be tight.
From... Raw Milk and Cooked Roadies
Fortunately we had wrapped the album, "Homecoming", but we were forced to cancel a tour booked to promote the album. If you're counting, that's the second tour in a row we had had to cancel because of yours' truly.
On the plus side, the tour cancellation built up even more anticipation and mystique about AMERICA. When we finally hit the stage for the first concert tour it had been almost a year after the release of "Horse With No Name" and "I Need You". "Ventura Highway" was smoking up the charts.
The crowds knew the songs well which multiplied everyone's enjoyment, particularly ours. Every show was sold out, often with two shows a night. That extra time had given us a chance to gel in the public's brain. It added a layer of intimacy to the shows that couldn't have been there if we had toured any earlier.
From... In Your Face
At the age of 26 I felt like Alexander. No new worlds to conquer. The only job now; keeping what was ours under subjugation, the hardest task of all. No creativity, no finesse, no stratagems or scheming and plotting. Just the dog-faced grunt work of the daily and nightly circus of PAX AMERICUS.
In the Bi-centennial year of America, we flew around the globe, consolidating our empire, picking up Golden, Silver and Platinum awards and the undiluted love of the throngs of beautiful fans. The feeling of interplanetary travel was strong as we descended from our shining craft to be hailed as gods, gifts and offerings laid at our feet.
We had been warned repeatedly that certain activities would be banned on the overseas part of the World Tour and the mad partying that resulted in a kind of pre-lenten insanity was certainly due in part to the attempt to ingest as much forbidden fruit as possible...
From... Rush Hour
I'm baring my soul in this writing to help someone/anyone out there who is going through life and stumbling over the same or similar rough spots as I've done. If I sound foolish, so be it. I truly pray that what I write will bless all who read it.
Now, the amazing thing looking back is that as my life began to spiral upwards spiritually, the material side began to decline like water down a storm drain. I have an obligation to be truthful here. Not only have I had "honesty" drilled into me my whole life by my earthly father, "honesty" or "truth" is the lynch-pin of Christianity. "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."
"The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away." In my cry for help to the Lord I had essentially challenged Him to test me to see if I was serious about all the "Stuff." Within a very short time I was tested and tested severely. Faith is essential, yet faith that isn't tested doesn't count for much. "Faith without works is dead." The way faith can be proven to work is by testing it.
As a boy of 12 I had been baptised with water: very soon I was to be baptised by fire...
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