Updated: Oct 24, 2020
….which is a groovy time as Jimi Hendrix put it, I was losing faith that I would ever find a major subject which would capture my enthusiasm and interest, and my grades showed it. One day however, I was walking through a student lounge in one of the dorms and heard a rock band rehearsing. I hung around listening for a while and became convinced that I could sing better than the singer I was listening to. One day I introduced myself to the drummer and bass player and learned that the singer hadn't worked out. I immediately offered to audition and got the job.
This was my first serious music endeavor since my early piano lesson days and I pursued it with fervor. We lived together, got a few gigs and even stayed together living at the guitar players house through the summer. One of my favorite stories of those days is when we were booked at the officer's club of a nearby airbase. We dutifully showed up and set up for the gig, but as our starting time approached we couldn't help but notice that the club was filling up with African-American servicemen and their dates. When I inquired at the bar, I was told that tonight was Soul Night. The only problem was that we were a rock band playing The Who and The Stones. Until that is, one of the servicemen approached the stage and said to me in a low, rather menacing tone, "I just know you guys got some soul in you." We held a hasty band conference and the guitar player started churning out some funky James Brown style chords and I sang in my best raspy voice which got us through the night along with some blues which was a regular part of our repertoire.
We finished the gig unscathed, managed to garner a few compliments and even got paid for our trouble. We returned to school in the Fall but it was clear that the band's days were numbered. I decided that I needed to up my game so I went to Manny's and Sam Ash on 48th St. in NY and bought a punchy Kustom bass amp and a beautiful Fender Precision Bass. I posted ads on the school bulletin boards looking for like minded musicians and ended up with Band number 2 which I felt was a stronger band in part because we had two guitars and the lead guitarist played a Gibson SG through a Marshall stack. Our repertoire now included Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull but the gigs were still few and far between. My grades were suffering and clearly it was time to get serious....