It all started in 1969 when I pestered my mom relentlessly for a guitar. I did get a guitar for Christmas that year as well as a book called “Alfred’s Basic Guitar Method”. That’s where my musical journey began. I remember earlier that year I would pretend playing guitar with a broom, and I thought, I was the next Elvis. Woodstock was happening about 30 miles away that year and I remember one of the radio stations broadcasted that they were selling glasses of water there for $1.00. At twelve I thought that was pretty silly since our water was free. But none the less, the music of the era really influenced my musical interest through the years.
I tried out for the middle school choir that year. Being how my voice was changing at the time, my odds for a favorable audition were fairly non-existent. The choir director did put me in the right direction though, when he asked, “Randy, why don’t you take up the guitar instead?” I guess he was putting it in a nice way that I really wasn’t the greatest vocalist in the auditions. Of course that didn’t stop me, because I really started singing even more. It must have been hard on my family having to listen to my great singing with my great guitar playing. Since they never told me that I was terrible, I kept playing and singing until at one point I was not really so terrible [that story will be in a later blog].
I’ve been a self-taught guitarist pretty much all of my life, but there were two books that were instrumental (pun intended) with giving me the foundation to learn, not only the guitar, but music as well. Those books were Alfred’s Basic Guitar Method, and Mel Bay’s Beginner Guitar Course. After I got through those books, I was off to the races with any and every songbook I could get. I don’t really remember the transition between learning by ear or learning with sheet music. I guess when I didn’t have the sheet music, I would just figure it out by ear.
My mom had a great record collection, which I have inherited since her passing. She had not only country but rock and roll, big band, movie soundtracks, and many other genres that gave me a broad variety of musical influences. Through the years we all have a tendency to gravitate to the music we most identify with. I realize that I would gravitate to the genres that everyone around me was listening to. More specifically the music that other musicians around me were playing or talking about.
My first band didn’t have a name, but we did have two songs in our repertoire; “Ticket to Ride [The Beatles]”, “Sugar, Sugar [The Archies]”. No PA system, no amplifiers, no lights, and no management or booking agents. But make no mistake…..we were a “BAND”!!! But like a lot of bands, it came to an end in 1971 when my family moved from Wurtsboro, New York to Kenneth City, Florida. That band ended but my musical journey was just getting started. And that story will be left for next weeks blog.
Next blog: 1971 was a life changing event…