Almost Famous

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I’ve just been having a lot of fun tooling around in my time machine, going back to my youth and taking some actual events and framing them in a more literary way. Well, I decided to go back to the summer of 1979. Well, one day of it anyway.

Bill Hill was the type of guy who knew how to get shit done. He was a real Wheeler-Dealer who never took “no” for an answer, and above all Bill loved a bargain. Having him replace Bob Wing as our band’s manager was a real no-brainer. The only problem with Bill Hill as far as I could tell was that he just didn’t exist, but that was fine since we were never going to actually ever perform anywhere anyway.

Our band that was never going to be heard by anyone consisted of me (guitar/vocals), Mike (drums/guitar/vocals), my sister “Dusty Rose,” whose stage name was inspired by the color of the carpet in her new bedroom (keyboard. well chord organ actually) and Mike’s sister, we’ll call her Lacey because it rhymes with her real name which is Stacey, and there is just no sense embarrassing people unnecessarily. She was our bass guitarist. At this point, I should mention two things: (1) I was ten years old which would make Mike and “Dusty” eight, and Lacey eleven. And (2) the instruments in parentheses next to our names above were really just suggestions since we didn’t actually have any instruments, well except for the chord organ. But that was about to change, thanks to Mr. Bill Hill.

What our band lacked in musical training and instruments, we made up for with enthusiasm and a creative name. For a lot of bands, selecting the right name can lead to some pretty heavy conflicts between band members, and we were no different.

“DUSTY”: We’re going to be playing Kiss songs, why don’t we just call ourselves Kiss?
ME: Well, we don’t want to sell tickets with the name Kiss on them and have people thinking they’re going to a Kiss concert, and then we come out, do we?
“DUSTY”: Do you think that would happen?
ME: It could, I just don’t want any trouble.
MIKE: What about Kiss 2?
“DUSTY”: That’s cool.
LACEY: That would solve everything.
ME: Fine, Kiss 2 it is.

I guess I should also mention that we were a Kiss tribute band for two reasons: (1) we liked Kiss. A lot (well, Mike and I did, anyway. Looking back now, I think Lacey and “Dusty” just had nothing better to do that day). And (2) we knew their songs, and when I say we knew their songs, I mean we recognized them as Kiss songs when we heard them.

With the whole name issue resolved, I started thumbing through the Yellow Pages to try to put the whole instrument thing in our rearview as well. I pulled the phone off the wall and dialed the first number.

ME: Yes, hi. Do you sell guitars?
MUSIC STORE GUY: Yea, what are you looking for?
ME: Do you have electric guitars? (I racked my brain to remember what kind of guitars Kiss used)
HIM: Yea, you bet.
ME: Gibsons? (I practically shouted)
HIM: Yea, we—
ME: (Not letting him finish) How much are they?
HIM: Let’s see, the one I’m looking at here is one-ten.
ME: One ten dollar bill? (I could barely contain my glee)
HIM: No one hundred and ten dollars. What did you say your name was again?
ME: (panicking) Bill. What are the cheapest guitars you have?
HIM: What’s your last name Bill?
ME: Hill.

I quickly hung up the phone to a chorus of laughter. Bill Hill? Fucking brilliant. What the hell was I thinking? I called about 6 more music stores getting more comfortable as Bill Hill, I even started having fun with it, but the results of the calls were pretty much the same as the first — we couldn’t afford guitars.

After our efforts to make guitars using cardboard boxes, which we cut into shape, and rubberbands failed, we decided to work with what we had. Lacey pulled a violin case out of her closet. She had taken lessons, and I guess she was pretty good, I never actually heard her play it before. Mike returned from his room with a ukulele, and of course “Dusty” had the chord organ. As far as the drums went, we agreed we could all just slap our thighs to keep the beat.

So there we were, a leg-slapping Kiss tribute band with a violin, a ukulele and a chord organ. Try to market that, Gene Simmons. I imagine you’d have been as successful as Bill Hill. I suppose if we ever would have played a show, we could have done a Beth/Dust In The Wind/Tiny Bubbles medley. We never really found out, because it was time for dinner, and my mom picked up “Dusty” and I after that, and none of us ever really mentioned the band again.

© copyright 2009  

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