My worlds met and married on a Sunday evening when I was about 13 courtesy of the King Biscuit Flour hour and the FM radio band.
Consider where I came from: comic books and horror. Literature, of a type. At least literate. This was what occupied my head until that night. I was a fan of music, as I had brothers and sisters and cool cousins who would treat it like a religion.
My sisters brought me Deep Purple and Black Sabbath when I would crawl around the carpet and just stare at the covers. My cool cousin brought me to Yes. My extended family brought about Lynyrd Skynyrd. I have forgiven them. Jackson 5 was on the radio and then a heavy dose of AM radio classics as my parents were a bit older than everyone else’s.
A record that had a big impact is a record I despise, to this very minute. Terry Jacks ‘Seasons in The Sun’ was proof of evil in a blissful world. I would weep like a smaller child every single time it came on. Just that opening vocal melody would make my face scrunch up like I was slamming lemon juice.
Though painful to listen to, and deliberating to me little kid ego who could not keep it together at all, that record showed me that songs can hurt.
The first record I ever wanted was the 45 of ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’. My brother wanted ‘Golden Years’ by Bowie. Our Dad bought us both in the same day. Those two record were seeds to a burgeoning personal revolution. The grit of Thin Lizzy matched with the suave alien Pop sound of Bowie had an effect I would not recognize for years.
I stumbled from books on Parapsychology into comic books. Obsessive on the things I loved, this is all I did. It was natural, trading mysteries on outdated and rained upon books for full color magic pages. And superheroes were the extension of what I wanted to be. Having super powers looks pretty prime when you’re a kid where you are generally powerless.
All these influences, all these mixed media muses lay dormant in me as I continued the business of growing up. Until that night.
Sunday night , 8 PM, and school the next day. I settled in my room and turned on the radio. It was a rite as my brothers and sisters before me had. I think it was the talk more than the music for me as I was raised on AM talk and police scanner chatter. The sound of distant voices and noises was always soothing to me. I have lived within listening distance to 95 most of my childhood.
When people want peace, they aim for silence. For me, the opposite is true.
A big voice came on the radio heralding the ‘King Biscuit Flour Hour with BLACK AND BLUE!!!’ (the exclamation points came through the speaker like an aural typeface). I faced the speaker like the DJ was going to bounce through it.
What came next was screaming. A horror flick soundtrack played over massive cabinets . Massive bell ringing. Then the guitar. It was ‘War Pigs’. And it changed me.
I spent the remainder of that 13th year in my room, eschewing the outside as I bought and played out every Black Sabbath record. I had friends who thought I evaporated. My room went from full color Marvel art to black and red. I started sporting Satanic gear everywhere I could.
It felt right.I felt like I belonged to something. Heavy Metal was my religion. I sold my entire comic collection for an Alice Cooper ticket in the city.
I do regret that.