Out of the Hospital and going to school:
I didn’t realize till years later that my sister was so jealous of me when I had my operation. When I got out of the hospital, my family was fixed on me getting better, and not to the oldest; the princess of the family. My aunts, uncles and cousins were all asking me how everything went and wanted to sign my casts. They threw me a welcome home party and that was very nice. I was getting a lot of attention, and I think, even to this day, my sister is hurt by that. Yes, I agree, she needs to get over it.
I must confess, that the struggles weren’t over after the operation, in fact, they were just beginning. For one, school was starting and I needed to take the small school bus to school. The one that was handicap accessible. Oh yeah, that went over real well with the kids. That is when the hatred of the R word really started. Kids can be so mean, cruel and really sadistic at times, and I was the brunt of a whole pile of crap that was hand delivered to me on a daily basis. I remember having the casts on for a good 6 weeks, It felt like 60 years to me,
Toward the end of that 6 weeks, something awful happened to me that is one of the most humiliating and down right mean things that could ever happen to anyone, not just me. It was the end of the school day and I was wheeling myself down to the exit of the school. Some punk kid, to this day, I don;t know exactly who it was, ran by and licked up my brakes on both sides of the wheelchair. Well, I went crashing forward and the momentum of the entire event pulled the wheelchair directly over me and I was trapped. This is in front of the whole school mind you. Kids are walking and running by throwing their laughs and insults my way. That was an awful day.
Looking back on days like that at school, it is a wonder I didn’t toss myself off the Tobin Bridge the way Charles Stuart did. Granted he did it for a different reason, but you get the point. Yes, I hated school, I loathed school. I would invent sicknesses to my mom, or just not want to go for a whole list of reasons. It was hard to trick her. Yes, there were days, when I was really suck, but most of the time, I wasn’t. I would put the thermometer on the lamp light to jack up my temp, but she got wise to that very quick. I even tried the clammy hands from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. That was a winner for a while. My mom brought me up to be nice to others. To treat them as you would want to be treated. I was nice. The problem was I was too nice, and I didn’t really have a back bone. My dad beat me so much I was deathly afraid of being hurt.
Finding an outlet with my drums.
I know I have said some bad things about my dad in these blog posts. I probably will continue to do so throughout this journey. To say we didn’t get a long is the understatement of the millennium. He was a raging alcoholic who wasn’t a great father or husband for that matter. I am not going to say he was the worst. Not by a long shot, but he sure wasn’t the best. He did give me one gift that I look to pass on to my children. That is the art of playing drums, and the love of music.
My dad, pictured above, is a self-taught drummer. I come from a long line of really good drummers. He was in a wedding and gigging band call the New Horizons back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. This explains the wardrobe. YUCK!!!! Look at the ruffles. Well anyway it was a great thing to be doing for extra cash when you have a family. I actually inherited the brown Ludwig set shown above when my dad bought the green Pearl Export 5 piece you saw in my video of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”. By the time I got the Ludwig kit it was beat to Hell, but I didn’t care. I actually started playing on our world book encyclopedia set. Remember those kiddy’s? Oh yeah, I didn’t think so. You guys have the internet now. 🙂
I don’t really remember any formal lessons from my dad. This is a good thing because if he went the traditional route, I probably would have given up. He placed one book down were each drum would be on the set. Then he placed one above on the right for the ride cymbal and one on the left for the crash cymbal. Then he placed one to the left of the snare drum book for the high-hat? I hope I haven’t lost you guys yet. Okay I added a photo layout of Neil Peart’s DW drum kit to give you an idea. Picture books where drums and cymbals go, just not as many as Mr. Peart’s. He is one of the top three greatest drummers ever of all time. He is up their with Keith Moon and John Bonham. Please tell me you know these drummers. I know I am a bit of a throw back when it comes to music, for you kids out there listening to Justin Bieber, but these guys are the real deal. So this book set up was all across my bead, and he got ne a chair to sit ay the edge of my bed. He told me where to put my feet for the imaginary pedals for the bass drum and hi-hat.
So off we went. Dad and I on this musical journey. I guess he said I picked it up very quickly. He showed me that all I needed to do in the beginning was to count to four and for a straight rock beat like Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”, or The Beatles “Hey Jude”, you just had to know what part of the kit to it and when. That was the secret. He would give me a straight rock beat to learn, then he would play me a Beatles record, or an Eagles record and say see, this is the beat. I got it. The only thing left to do was to figure out the fills in between the straight beats. So I was hooked. I had all of my dad’s old records of the Beatles. I learned as many songs as I could. Then, when I was a bit older, I would buy tapes and play the drum parts along with my favorite songs.
This was probably a great therapy for me, even though I didn’t know it at the time. I went on to be my dad’s roadie and even had my own middle school rock band. We played the dances and it was really fun. I played in the Ipswich High School pep band, concert band and jazz band too. After high school, I really got away from it. I mean I can still play, and every now and then I sit in on a song with a band if Sarah and I go out. Have two small children makes this tough.
My mother-in-law saw me play a song once when we were visiting them up north in New Hampshire, and she sort of grilled me about how I should get a band like the one I was playing with and make money. I know I probably sounded like a pessimist to her, but I told her that is very hard to do. First, you need to have 4 players who are committed to putting the time in. That is actually the hardest part. Playing once or twice a month is the easy part. Promoting, booking, and practicing 2 to three times a week is a commitment. Also, you need to sound good. I remember a buddy of mine in college whom I am still friends with today were kind of jamming around and we knew a lot of songs. We thought how great it would be to start a band. We tried out so many people who thought they could play, but they really couldn’t. Chris and I would say something like lets play “Cocaine” by Clapton. And the guitarist would fumble through it. See, Chris, the bass play and I were so far along musically that we needed people who could play the song all the way through with very little trouble. Most people can’t do that.
Now here is a question I have always wanted to ask. How can a guy like me play the drums? Not just play the drums, but play them at a very high level. I have recorded with bands before. Okay they were demos of songs we covered and wrote, but still, that is good. How can that be and I have A.C.C.? Thoughts?
I really don’t know where to pick up from here for the next blog. Well, I am sure I will think of something to write about. I want to thank you guys for hitting a thousand looks on this blog over the weekend. I am so happy I can do this for you. My word, 1633 words. I had a lot to say. Until next time.