Rock n’ Roll Life!
The Peace Movement won The Vietnam War and the early mid-70's were taking hold. I transitioned from the movement into becoming a manager of one of Boston’s first glitter rock n’ roll bands. We were called Harlow. One weekend, we had a Friday-Saturday gig at a dive bar just outside the city, a place called Mickey’s in Ashland. We had a great gig on Friday night and were looking forward to a successful weekend of performance.
At the time, I was living on Grove Street on Beacon Hill in a pad shared with our lead guitarist, Johnny Tomorrow. Just days before the Mickey’s gig, a friend and fan of the band, Daniel Drake (where are ya, Dan?), gave me a pink 1956 Cadillac. He believed his gift would help our band.
Not yet ride worthy — my new caddy wasn’t registered (Dan’s license plate was still on it), nor was it insured. Worse, I had to renew my driver’s license. So the Caddy sat outside our apartment, just outside our window, and emanated an unquenching lure of “drive me.” The lure was so strong it was like the famous movie Christine where the Plymouth just had to move. I couldn’t wait to get it legal and on the road.
The Show Must Go On!
So then the wheel of fate and hands of time took a mighty turn. Our band was gathered at my place, waiting for a van to drive us to our gig. The equipment was already at the club. All we had to do was get there with our musical instruments.
At the last minute, the ride fell through. It became an authentic “damn it!” moment. Nobody had money for a high-priced, long distance taxi ride. Our poverty-induced struggling but otherwise extremely excellent rock band was stuck. But I was the manager — this couldn’t happen on my watch!
Since time was of the essence, there was only one option. I had to succumb to the all-mighty magical lure of “drive me.” With the full and complete confidence of a 1970’s glitter rock n’ roll band manager, I looked at my bandmates and calmly stated, “We’re gonna take the Caddy!” The band cheered! So we packed the guitars in the spacious trunk, jumped in like the true rock n’ roll stars we were, and we drove straight to Mickey’s.
No problem! We were an instant hit on our arrival! Everyone gathered ‘round the caddy — it became a very great moment! If anything presents the imagery of true rock n’ roll, it’s when the musical fantasy becomes the reality and your band arrives exiting a pink 1956 Cadillac!
Throughout the night our friends arrived — including the van originally meant to bring us to the gig. We shared the truest form of an anarchistic textbook night of rock n’ roll!
So the band played on, the night finished and Last Call was well-worn. Our equipment was packed and we were gathered round in the parking lot, ready to return home for an after-hours party at the Beacon Hill pad. But there’s always that snag when playing chess against Fate. The club owner hadn’t yet returned to the club and we needed to get paid.
So, with the full and complete confidence of a 1970’s glitter rock n’ roll band manager, I quieted everyone down, looked at ’em all, and calmly stated, “You guys head back to Boston. I’ll stay and wait for the owner. Besides, at this time of night, given the Caddy’s illegal, it’d be better were I to drive home alone — without a bunch of New York Dolls-type musicians drawing attention to the car.”
Of course, it didn’t help my own hair was shoulder-length, my lady hairdresser friends had dyed bright colors into my hair and I was sharply-dressed like David Bowie. But I was the band manager. I had to make the call.
And so it goes!
Everyone left full of happiness as if the Beacon Hill party had already begun. In our world then, fun was fun and it’s fun when everyone is having fun. Joyfully, they all left me. I thought about having one of the women ride with me, but I knew my ride was going to be risky and it was best I do it alone. It turned out this decision also changed the fate to what would soon happen.
Eventually, the owner shows up and gives me the band’s pay. I jump in my Caddy and carefully make my way onto the Mass Pike, thinking “all I gotta do is make it into the city and it’ll be an easy drive home once there.” It’s a beautiful summer night. All windows are down. The radio’s on. I’m feeling great. I even have a huge wad of cash on me. The car’s runnin’ smooth, I’m a cruisin’ the speed limit!
Suddenly a car pulls alongside mine in the passing lane. I glance over to find two extremely beautiful, smilingly- wild women inside. They were fired up. Now, so was I. They continued driving next to my car, the passenger constantly waving and yelling out “hi,” “like your Caddy” and “I like your hair!”They were also chatting with each other. We went for about a mile like this, just looking back and forth at each other.
Finally, the woman on the passenger side pulls her boobs out and yells out, “you wanna fuck?” Struggling to maintain control of my car, what with the very large steering wheel, my smiling head — something else too! — began bobbing up and down in a yes-like motion. Once they elicited my agreement, the driver hit the gas and sped off, my Caddy in tow right behind ‘em. Sure enough when the next exit came up they took it, me close behind. I’m thinking, “Wow, this is really gonna happen!”
At the end of the exit, they bag a right. Me too. Now both cars are zooming along at a pretty good clip, probably about 50 in a 25 mph zone, me and my Caddy dutifully on their tail.
Fate, Again, Takes a Turn — Stopped By The Cops
Sure enough. We zip past a hidden cop car which at the last second I caught from the corner of my eye. But it’s too late to react or change tempo. I’m pulled over. There I am, sitting under blue flashing lights, a strangely-dressed sitting duck in a pink ’56 Caddy … guilty as guilt can be and I had no paperwork, except a bill of sale showing I got the Caddy for a buck.
My only defense was my gift of gab and telling the sorrowful tale of a struggling rock n’ roll band needing to get to a gig. I’m thinking, “I’m screwed.” Certainly not how I intended — lol!
Two policemen approach my car from both sides. I could see the smirk on the face of the one approaching me as I saw him notice how I was dressed and he was staring at the colors in my hair. Now I’m center stage under police flashlight from both sides. I could actually sense my being handcuffed and led away, leaving the lure of my Caddy.
Before the one near me could even ask a question, I smiled and quipped, “Officer, I can explain this. The car I was following had two pretty girls inside. They asked me if I wanted to fuck. So I …” Instant vibe change. I could feel it. In the middle of my attempt to describe “was following,” one cop looked at the other and turned his flashlight back towards the police cruiser. Without uttering a single word, they immediately left rushing back to their cruiser. With the blue light still on they drove away chasing the girls.
I then pulled off the very best U-ie a Caddy ever made. Heading the direction opposite of the cops, I went back onto the Mass Pike a free man. Nearing the end of my journey, I kept thinking: Did I get lucky? Did they get lucky!
I guess, overall, I’m the lucky one as I survived the experience and I lived to write again. I eventually stopped managing bands, taught myself how to play guitar and put my first rock n’ roll band together at age 62. Here’s a video of my current band, Climate Change (it’s a YouTube link and okay to click “Show embed”):