(Day 49) Kingtone Memoirs
March 25, 1964 (Wednesday)
We got up at 4 P.M. Pete and Mike went to Ft. Lauderdale to a beach shindig. I don’t know if Mike was trying to impress some girls or Pete, but he started drinking beer. He drank until he got drunk. When he finally threw up, Pete dragged him out of the party and went back to the apartment.
Bob, Phil and I went to listen to a new band that was starting at Porky’s that night. They were called “The Percussions.” They were from Chicago and they had played for Porky before. It was hard to tell if the band was any good because they were missing one of their band members, the keyboard player. He had a prior commitment and wouldn’t be able to join the group until Friday. The lead singer, however, was terrific. He was as good as Pete. He sang Dee Clark’s hit song, “Raindrops,” as good, if not better, than Dee Clark! It was going to be an interesting night. We introduced ourselves to them, and Frank, the lead singer, asked me if I would sit in with them for the next two nights. I didn’t want to, because I was already playing six half hours a night. If I said yes, I would be playing six hours a night with no breaks. But Frank was a great guy, with a ‘silver tongue,’ and he talked me into it.
We returned to our apartment where we found Mike half drunk and half sick. I got mad at both Mike and Pete: Mike for drinking and Pete for letting it happen. I told Major if he didn’t do his dishes, I wouldn’t fix supper. Since Bob was hungry, he did his dishes, and then I fixed supper.
We left for Porky’s at 8:45 . Mike wasn’t in the best shape to drum, but he was all we had. “The Percussions” and I went on the first half hour. Frank knew how to work an audience. With his smooth talking manner, you couldn’t help but like him. His voice was so good that even though the band didn’t sound that good, it wasn’t that noticeable. “The Kingtones” went on at 10 with a woozy drummer. Needless to say, Mike’s usual hard driving beat was not there. In fact, we were lucky he could play at all. The first two hours for both bands were not that good.
Mike, trying to get his head on straight, got some tomato juice to drink while he was drumming. Since he had no where to put the glass while he drummed, he placed it on the edge of my organ top. It was only a matter of minutes before my bouncing vibrated the glass enough for it to fall off. The tomato juice landed on my organ tubes and blew then out. My organ was out of commission. Porky did have a piano close by, but it was not on the stage and it was not electric. Phil put a microphone by the piano and I played it, but it couldn’t be heard very well, and it was more or less useless.
Fortunately for us, the Michigan State Students knew we were having problems and hooted and hollered like we were good anyway. On our last set, the crowd started chanting, “The Bird, “The Bird!” Because most of the audience had been patient with all of our mishaps, I came up on stage and we did “The Bird.” I was able to go nuts on stage because I wasn’t behind my organ. I jumped, bounced, was down on my knees, down on my belly and back up again. The students ate it up! When we finished the song, they yelled “more, more!” so I did something special for them that I hadn’t done in years. I did a mock impersonation of Elvis, singing “Long Tall Sally.” I had the curled lip, the black hair, along with wild and crazy gyrations. I shook, wiggled, danced, jumped, and did a flip, everything I could think of. When we finished the song, the place went ballistic. They were screaming at the top of their lungs for more but I was so tired that I could hardly stand, much less do another encore. When our nightmare evening finally ended, our only salvation was that we had left the stage on a high note. The students were patting us on the back saying how great we were.
Phil, Mike and I went to Royal Castle. Bob and Pete had dates and did not go with us. When we finally got back to our apartment, the doors were locked. Pete and Bob had brought their dates to our apartment.