1971 was a life changing event for me and my musical journey. The ride from Wurtsboro, New York to Kenneth City, Florida was a long one with the memory of an 8-track tape of the musical “Oklahoma” burning into my mind. I believe we had other 8-track tapes, but that one was prevalent. When we got to Florida, music was kind of like on the back burner for a while. The transition from the northern quick paced attitude to the slower paced southern lifestyle only took a few months. We had a Telefunken stereo system in the house and a lot of music, but this was Florida and plenty of sunshine and things to do.
We moved to Pinellas Park, Florida as I was entering Jr. High, and that is when I got back into music. This time I was studying from the “Mel Bay” guitar book, and listening to a lot of Pop & Country music. Of course I met other musicians that opened doors to other genres including the Rock of the early 70’s. During the early 70’s there were two musicians that had a major impact on my early musical development. The first one was actually my cousin Mike.
My cousin Ellen and her husband Mike thumbed their way to Florida (You could really do that back then) and stayed with us for a visit. During that time Mike had played a song he had written titled “Susan Loves the Lord” (I think). I just could not get enough of that song and I think I pestered him with play it again…play it again…play it again, until he was probably tired of it. There was something about the use of the word “pious” within the lyric that tied the story of this song together. That one simple song made me realize that there was so much more to a song than just the music and words. As the years go by I find myself continuing to search for the magic that makes the lyrics of a song a cohesive story. I want to send a shout out and special thanks to Mike and Ellen for those memories.
In 1974 we moved from Pinellas Park, Florida up to Old Town, Florida right on the great Suwanee river. We built a campground, and State Muzzle Loading Rifle range. Being that we were out of town (in the backwoods), we had chickens, turkeys, hogs, horses, pets of all manner of species, gardens, crops, and all the hunting and fishing a junior in High School could stand. But after all of the chores and homework were done; I had a lot of time to play my guitar, learn an arsenal of traditional country music, and even write my own songs.
The second musician that made a major impact on my music in the early 70’s was a guitar player named, Comer “Moon” Mullins. He showed me the basic blues boogie-woogie rhythm, and I have used that in my guitar playing since then and on to the present day.
My first public performance was at one of the State Competition matches at the rifle range. I performed on the flooring that would become the gun shop. I sang my first original song “Moon Shine & White Corn Liquor”. I got a taste of performing in front of people at the ripe old age of 16. The next time I played in front of people was in a bar, in Chiefland, Florida (yes I was still 16 and under-aged).
When I graduated H.S. in 1975, I joined the United States Air Force and left for basic training on August 11, 1975. After basic training was complete, the first thing I bought was a guitar. While waiting for orders to my first duty station, I played a lot of guitar in the off duty hours. Then came my assignment to Mac Dill AFB, Tampa, Florida. My first responsibility was to the Air Force, so music became more of a relaxing hobby.
Next blog: Classic Rock was just Rock back then…