The Time Shifter Chapter 12


It took until February, 1974 before we had our act nailed to mysatisfaction. By that time, Deep Purple came out with its "Burn" LPand II had the band learn the title track and "Mistreated" off ofit. I also found a pyrotechnician to take care of that part of ourstage show. We were still looking for a suitable second guitarist. Iwould have loved to have brought in Randy Rhoads, but Quiet Riot wasabout to get off the ground and he wouldn't want to play in a coverband anyway. We were going to close our shows with "Freebird" and Ireally needed at least one other guitarist to make it sound right. John would be occupied with the piano part, so he couldn't do it. Ohwell, we were just going to have to make the best of it for now.

The first week of March, I wangled permission from Pete and myschool's administration and activities coordinator to play at lunch. So that was our public debut, as the following Monday, the two manroad crew we hired plus our sound guy loaded in all of our gear onto the amphitheater stage, which was fronted by concrete stairs thathad walls on either side of them that were wide enough to stand onfor extra posing goodness. . We placed flashpots at the very frontso that Pete and I could still be standing on the walls a few feetaway and not get burned by the intense heat of the flames thatbelched from them.

Pete and I each were excused from fourth period and so were Dannyand Cliff at their schools in exchange for the band playing there,too. Bonus! So they turned up as me, John and Pete were finishingour soundchecks. The roadies had already checked the drums and vocalmics anyway. Danny warmed up his voice in the little theater behindthe stage and Cliff likewise loosened up.

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   As soon as the bell rangand students began hitting the quad for lunch, our sound man, Randy,announced us on to the stage. I was dressed all in black leather ina mini skirt, halter top, black thigh high stockings, black lacyunderwear, black platform heels and dark sunglasses. We played theintro of "Burn" and then the flash bombs went off as we went intothe main rhythm part. Just as the big solo and interchange with theorgan bit was coming up, I pranced up near the edge of the concretewall just in front of where the flash pot on that side had beenanchored with some duct tape and bowed my body backward as I flew upand down the fretboard. I went back to rejoin the rest of the bandand just before Danny's vocal came back in, the flash pots went offagain and then yet again when we ended the song.

We had fog machines, but they weren't going to be of much use sincethe weather was breezy and bright. Danny said hello to the crowd andthen we crashed into Zep's "Rock and Roll. " "John played rhythmguitar on it and we each posed on the walls while we did the secondverse of the tune, Danny preening in all of his Robert Plant wannabeglory. Next up was Grand Funk's "We're an American Band," which gotan excellent reaction. We only had 40 minutes, so we kept the bs toa minimum. Then it was "Billion Dollar Babies" to slow the tempodown before we mellowed it further with "All the Young Dudes. " Wewere kicking ass and the audience was getting off on it. "This is bya band called ZZ Top," Danny announced, "and this is about a homefor wayward girls," he snarked to the onlookers before I commencedthe intro to the song, John doing his best John Lee Hooker imitationfor the "How how how" and "I heard they have a lot of nice girlsthere" bits. Singing about a whorehouse in front of the entireschool FTW! It was hilarious. Then the flash pots went off again aswe shifted into the first verse.

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"Okay you guys, we have time for one more. It's called "Freebird"and it's by a band you may not have heard of yet called LynyrdSkynyrrd. They're going to be huge, so check this out!" he urged. Wecounted off and I initiated the opening slide guitar sequence whileDanny handled the vocal beautifully and then riffed like a demonduring the last third of the song, which is basically one longguitar solo. The last minute, I heard the bell go off (there was aloudspeaker affixed to the facing of the roof of the stage aboveus), but everybody either ignored it or couldn't hear it. Wefinished the set and entrusted our road crew with breaking theequipment down and taking it over to my house. I gave John a key sohe could get in.

I went to my car to get a change of clothes because when you'rewearing leather in warm weather and doing a lot of cavorting aroundyou sweat a ton. I went to the gym and showered, washed my hair,changed into a pair of jean shorts and a cropped blouse plus a pairof flip flops and arrived at my fifth period class about half anhour late. "Well, little miss rock star has finally graced us withher presence," my teacher, Mr Wolfe, cracked in jest. "Man, Melody,you guys really cooked!!" a boy at the back of the class admired. "Thanks Chuck," I acknowledged. "Yeah, the pyro was killer, too,"Denny Croft, another classmate, averred.

Here is an illustration of the difference between how things werethen and how they are now: nobody cared about us doing that ZZ Topsong about a Texas brothel. It was the era of sexual liberation, doyour own thing and stay out of my business.

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   But if a band did thattrack on a high school campus now, people would have a shit fitbecause, unfortunately, we take religious nuts seriously these dayswhereas back in the 1970's they were considered what they actuallywere, cranks not worth paying any heed to. God, they suck.

During sixth period, I got called into the activity director'soffice. They wanted us to play at prom. That cracked me up, but I'mguessing that their thinking was if they had hired an outside bandto come in and be the backing track to the event, if that band gotout of hand there would be nothing they could really do about it. But if they hired one in which two of us were still students at theschool then they could punish us if we got a little too outrageousfor our own good. They were further reassured when I said we weredoing the band for fun and not to make any big social statements. But having said that, I also made it clear that we were going todecide what material we were going to do and wouldn't accept anyoutside input, especially from simpleton student government rah rahtypes. They told us they would pay us $500. Nice! That was a nicechunk of cash back then.

Thus, I went home gratified with what we did that day.

When I walked into my first period class Tuesday, Joe Carty saidfrom across the room, "hey Melody, I didn't know you were in aband," he asserted. "Well, now you know," I giggled. "You should letme try out for it if you need another guitar player. " I asked himwhy I should.

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  " For one thing,  I have perfect pitch. For another,I've been playing for five years and can do everything you guys didon stage yesterday. " "First, Joe, everybody in our band has perfectpitch, even our drummer. So that's not a big deal. But I am lookingfor a second guitarist. You'll have to keep in mind, though, that Ipretty much call all the shots in it and if you can't handle thatyou'll have to look elsewhere. " "No prob, Melody. " "How come youhaven't talked to me about this before?" "I hate to say it now afterwhat you guys did yesterday, but before I didn't think a chick couldreally play guitar as well as a guy. " "I guess you've been schooledon that now, huh?" I teased. "No shit," he recognized.

"Okay Joe, see me after class and I'll tell you where we'll do theaudition and I'll have a list of songs for you to learn for it. ""Okay Melody. Thanks,  babe. " "You're welcome sweety. " I wrote outmy address and directions as well as the three songs I wanted him tolearn: "Burn," "Highway Star" and Yes' "Roundabout.

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  " I gave him aweek to  have them nailed. Thus, the audition would be Tuesday ofthe following week.

That Friday, we did a lunch show at Danny's high school and blew theplace apart with the same set we used at my school, although I hadgotten my period the day before. I skipped school entirely that dayto both give myself a long weekend and to help with setting up ourequipment. I had to drive home in my sweaty stage outfit, though. Yuck! Then the same thing happened with our gig at Cliff's schoolthe ensuing Monday, except I went to my first two classes that dayinstead of just giving the entire thing a miss.

The day of the audition came and Joe showed up with a Strat and aMarshall stack as well as a Roland tape echo unit, a Cry Baby wahpedal, a phaser and a chorus pedal just to show he was serious. He didn't need them for the songs I assigned him. He did allthree of his compulsory songs flawlessly and he had good tone, too. That was good enough for all of us and so we decided to have himalong. Then I taught him Queen's "Keep Yourself Alive," where I hadhim do the main lead and then I added harmonies on top of it. "Nowyou guys can see why I wanted a second guitarist so badly," I aimedmostly at John and Danny. Danny was afraid that we had so muchinstrumental firepower that his vocals would get buried in it. Butthat was silly and my demonstration showed why.

I then wrote out a list of another 30 songs I wanted Joe to learnbefore we'd let him gig with us.

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   I also suggested that he come overto my place over the next couple of days after school so that Icould play the ones he didn't have at home for him and I would teachhim more stuff. The main thing I wanted to do Wednesday when hefollowed me home from school was workout the parts to "Gimme ThreeSteps" and "Freebird. " He couldn't do slide guitar, so I got theGary Rossington part of Freebird by default, which left him withAllen Collins'.

Wednesday, we honed in on Kiss' "Black Diamond. " "Who are Kiss?" heasked. "A band that is going to be one of the biggest in the worldif they get a fair shot, I think," I said disingenuously. Kiss'first album had just come out by that time.

We had a band rehearsal Friday without Joe, during which I taughtthem "Day of the Eagle" by Robin Trower and Blue Oyster Cult's "HotRails to Hell. " After we finished the rehearsal, I told Pete Iwanted to work on the bass part for the Trower song a little more. Iactually didn't. I wanted him to fuck me again, so we repaired to mybedroom, shed our clothes and, after I gave him some nice head thatsaw me gulping down more of his manjuice, we had a righteous screw,his sweet dick sending me to the heights of pleasure again andagain. I held on to him for dear life afterward. I was really likinghim but I really didn't want to fall in love with another bandmember.