Older Brother Phil and I and the family piano


I always loved music. I liked to sing from the time I was a small child and I wasn't shy. I like to tell people that my first gig was at five years old. I would watch the DPW workers in the street outside our house and they all seemed to know my father. Little boys love to watch grown men working and I was no different. They called me 'Little Roachie'. 
"Hey Little Roachie, sing us a song!" 

I'd sing to them:
I'm a rambler, I'm a gambler, I'm a long way from home
And if you don't like me then leave me alone
I'll eat when I'm hungry and I'll drink when I'm dry
If moonshine don't kill me, I'll drink till I die

They got such a kick out of me and I had no idea why. They'd give me a nickel or a dime. It happened a couple of times.





The music I remember loving the most before 'The British Invasion' is West Side Story. That record got a lot of play in my house. I also loved Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick and the Beach Boys. The End of the World by Skeeter Davis was one of my favorite songs.

Being the sixth of seven children and having sibling who were ten years older than I introduced me to all of the great 60s music in real-time. When the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan in February 1964, I watched them as well as the other British Invasion bands that followed like the Dave Clark Five, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Searchers, Freddie and the Dreamers, The Animals, and all that followed. The Beatles' arrival in the U.S. would change my life more than any other event. The living room stereo became my playground as I listened to The Stones, Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Simon & Garfunkel, Mamas and the Papas, Bee Gees, as well as every Beatle record as soon as it became available. In addition, I absorbed the AM radio like a sponge from ‘64 onward into the early 70s. 




Around ’71, my older brother, Phil, introduced me to headier stuff like Traffic, Santana, Allman Brothers, and Jethro Tull, as well as heavier stuff like Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Humble Pie, Ten Years After, and Black Sabbath.

My friends and I were white suburban macho punks growing up in the 60s and early 70s. We were products of our environment: sexist, racist, homophobic, and not nearly as tough as we wanted people to think. We had no idea of how ignorant, immature, scared, and scarred we all were; each bringing to the table their own version and depth of familial dysfunction. We spoke loudly and boldly about subjects of which we knew nothing and were mercifully spared the ravages of self-awareness. But we were also hilariously funny. Every one of us was an absolute clown and we lived to make each other laugh. We were silly as shit. We had our own language. We lived to just hang out with each other.

  We smoked pot, drank, and did hallucinogens only as often as we could get our nicotine-stained hands on them. We mostly talked about girls and music. And when it came to music, we loved the electric guitar.

The Beatles Santana James Gang
The Rolling Stones Allman Brothers Black Sabbath
The Who Spirit J. Geils Band
Cream Jo Jo Gunn Led Zeppelin
Jimi Hendrix Spooky Tooth Alice Cooper
Jeff Beck Group Jethro Tull Deep Purple


I still love all this music, except for metal. Outside of Sabbath, I never went near metal again. It does nothing for me. While we’re at it, let me add that I hated and still loathe Kiss. A lot of my friends loved them but I thought they sounded like shit and looked ridiculous. And I still do.  

Conversely, I feel blessed that I got to go through my early teens with Cat Stevens, Neil Young, and James Taylor. They were a gift from above, sent to help us find our way through the heavy fog of adolescence. 

As I became more immersed in music, progressive bands like Jethro Tull, Yes, and Steely Dan piqued my interest. I liked music that had thought, depth, and an element of surprise. 

That’s also why I missed out on the whole punk thing. I was at the right age for it but musically, punk was going backwards. I eventually caught up with that stuff 5-6 years later and I'm fond of a lot of it. Besides its social/anti-social statement, I can see why it was necessary as a musical laxative, as well. Somebody had to flush Disco and Manilow through the system.  

Then came the '80s and MTV.  

A discussion for another time perhaps …..  


October 2024