In the tiny high school that Andyr and I attended, there was a guy name Chris who was 1 year ahead of us. Chris emerged, around 1979, as our high school’s primo rock hero. Word had been getting around that the loner with the long, stringy blond hair and army jacket was an amazing guitarist. A handful of those much cooler than Andyr and I had already seen his Southern Rock-style band play a party. As his band’s upcoming school assembly concert approached, the word on the street was universal.
“Amazing!” said the guy in our school who could play the unaccompanied guitar solo in Led Zeppelin‘s “Heartbreaker.”
“Amazing!” said the other guy in our school who could play the unaccompanied guitar solo in Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker.”
“Amazing!” said the guy who played flute and styled his Look after that of Ian Anderson.
“Amazing!” said the big asshole in Chris’ grade who could drum a little and who was beloved by the cool kids for god knows what reason.
“Amazing!” said the hippie girl I’d occasionally realize I had a little crush on.
The big day finally came and the Southern Rock-style band led by Chris and his Hammond organ-playing brother (who went to another school) really were amazing. Although they played a combination of Southern Rock classics and Southern-fried originals, music that I’d happily avoid listening to under usual circumstances, this band could really play, both individually and as a unit. They ended their set with a note-for-note cover of “Whipping Post,” a song I couldn’t stand when done by the Allman Brothers but a performance, on this day, that dazzled me as done by this silent loner in the army jacket and his long-haired, accomplished, teenage bandmates.
Even after establishing himself the unparalelled rock hero of our little school, Chris finished out his high school years in his private sphere, wearing that same army jacket. My music friends and I heard reports of his inroads into a professional music career. Any time his name came up in conversation the word “amazing” was sure to be spoken. A few years later, as he and his bandmates made their way deeper into the Philadelphia music scene, they fell under the management of the same guy who took The Hooters to national success, Then they got ’80s haircuts, wore slick clothes, and changed their band name. They no longer looked and sounded like Southern Rockers. It was disappointing, but I guess that was a reasonable way to go if you wanted to make it as a bigtime rock musician with a bigtime rock music manager in the mid-80s.
To this day I think this guy Chris is still making music and helping others make music as a producer and sideman. I’d love to track him down and see what he’s learned from the journey. I wonder how he feels about “Whipping Post” today. Man, you could tell he and his mates loved playing that song!
Did your high school have its own rock hero or heroes, a kid or an entire band that was way ahead in their rock development? Was it you? Don’t be shy. Did you ever keep tabs on these high school heroes?