First, a lil astronomy. I use the words ‘Rock Star’ as an identifier, which is not based on whether you know who they are or not. This is sorta the point of this bit o’ writing. As has been (over) stated on the subject of Porn, not every porn ACTOR is a STAR.
Despite the lack of a true Q rating on some of these names, it matters nothing. Because when I met them, I wept and screamed and rolled around on the floor till Security dragged me to the Beatin’ Room (which I hear exists).
Fame and Influence are not the same thing. Right? On with the show….
As desperately as I despite to be considered ‘suave’, the closest I get in when I appear slightly bemused and stand very still and say nothing. Cause…it aint in the cards I’m holding. I want to be cool and collected, and leave that impression. And I do, if the conversation is short enough.
Fact is, I’m a spazz. I get excited and jump around to the point nits embarrassing to everyone. I’m fascinated by minutia so minute and will bore to TO YOUR FACE, YO. I have habits which foretell habits, and can be identified by stringing 100 cultural cliches about geekery into something like macrame, And who doesn’t like macrame?
I have met musical heroes. People of influence to me, and more important than ‘Stars’. I’m not bragging. A lot of people met more and more often. I do hope they handled it better…
Ian Hunter: He was the first singer / songwriter hero (for completists, Black Sabbath was my first band of heroes and Spiderman was my first hero hero). This was based on one of my first LP purchases ‘Mott Live’ based on the scary marionettes and silver ‘H’ guitar on the cover. The image was pure comic book, which is the route I came. Mott The Hoople was my gateway drug tween ‘Amazing Stories’ and ‘Creem Magazine’.
What I appreciated about Ian was his habit of self reference. He wrote an ongoing myth roll utilizing his band, his fans, the Music Business, teenage heartbreak and political fury. And this spoke to me, since I was always trying to recognize myself in greater and greater contexts. Ian saw me in the metaphoric crowd and called me by name.
To really put a fine point on it, it was ‘Irene Wilde’. That song….which at it’s core was an absolute cliche….was the story of a kid in love with a girl far beyond his hipness to talk too. So he imagines a future (which he actually created) of success and regret and in the end gives her the credit. Though you do get the sense she is dead or at least less hot.
This song was for me and every other ugly teen monster with real poetic and romantic ambitions. It said plainly that ‘Fuck today. Bank on tomorrow. You’ll show them. You’ll show them ALL!!!!’ (insert malicious creaky laugh here).
So I bought every record I could get my hands on, some through special Import order (that seems quaint now, eh?) and slowly worked my way through his style, his influences (Dylan and Little Richard) and his history. It became my obsession.
And the n came that day that Ian Hunter came to the New Haven Agora (or Twilight Zone or Metro etc.) and I was in a deep relationship with ‘Ian Hunter Live’ and kismet!
Well…no. I was 14. Though looked near 25 (for what they say about healthy living, unhealthy living usually makes you the dude who wont get carded), the enterin’ age was 18. My older brother (by 4 years) and I got in the general admission line none the less, and began the near 6 hour wait for entrance.
Afternoon turns to night and the line finally starts to move. Rowdy yips and excited yammering as we march into the venue. Step by step. I c an hear the soundcheck from out front, a half started version of ‘Gun Control’ and a bunch of tom tom tapping. Step by step. Anticipation.
My brother gets their first. I’m watching to see what they are going to ask me, what I can anticipate.
And it went something like this: my brother passes security, but waits. I approach, looking as 24 as I can. The Security Guard asks for me ID. I panic. My brother shrugs and walks into the venue. I’m alone on the streets of New Haven.
Defeated. Bitter. A bit shocked due to the unfairness of it all (‘THESE PEOPLE AREN’T FANS!!!! I’M A FAN!!!’). And then watching from the street as happy bastards take my seat. And when the final few walked in, the doors closed with emphasis.
And I’m alone. So I take to the side alley of the venue and listen to the growing sound of a gig. People file in and find a place. Drinks get gotten and drunk. Anticipation. Less exciting through a concrete wall. Just me leaning on a railing in the New Haven night. Just fucking bereft.
And a sound, beyond me. Something big. I turn in time to have the high beams catch me in my turn and it all goes vaguely psychedelic while my metered mind identified: a bus. A big ass bus. Turning into my alley. And fast.
I deftly throw myself against the wall and the bus occupies the place where I just was. And I peer up to shoot the driver a dirty look but see the big bus card above the windshield first. ‘Ian Hunter’.
The bus screeched to a halt and out of nowhere, people appear from all sides yelling for Ian. I din’t know Rock Stars came via bus. I clearly dint know anything yet. My alley filling up with punters and some vaguely scary authority figure steps from the buss and clears a way.
A minute…two….and then The Man steps from the bus. Big smile, looking weary but high spirited. He’s shaking hands on his way to the stage door and I’m queuing up. To meet my hero.
I want to ask him arcane questions about Mott The Hoople. stuff so delicate only myself and Buffin know the answers. I want to tell him that I’ve started writing and hes a big influence to me and tell him what he means to me. I wanna know if he ever actually banged Irene Wilde. I want information.
And he approaches and shakes my hand. A strong grip. A heroes grip. And I tell him:
Ugh. So. Not. Cool. I prematurely geeked all over myself.
And he…a little taken aback by the 24 year old dude practically wetting himself through self induced HunterMania.
And he gave me tickets, front row. And then asked me to join him on tour. Yeah.
OK…No. He got the fuck away from me as soon as possible and disappeared into The New Haven Agora. And I was left with the knowledge I will never be truly cool.
And the crowd files in and the show starts. And I spend my first Ian Hunter show dancing alone in the alley to ‘Angeline’. And God Damn if I dint have an amazing time.