Covering the music scene in the Seventies for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Now it seems several careers and another lifetime ago.
But it really happened. I have the proof in a large box of yellowed newspaper clippings, photos, backstage passes and record company memorabilia.
So why "rewind the tape" and rehash those years which were eerily similar to Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous (expect in my case, it would have been called, Not Even Close to Almost Famous). My answer: "Why not?" Isn't that the magic of blogging? You don't need the approval of an editor on a tight budget. All you need is desire. The money isn't great but we never got into journalism for the money in the first place, did we?
As the first fulltime rock music writer for the Star-Telegram, it was in many ways a dream job. As long as I can remember, I've always been into music. All styles and flavors. But rock and roll was at the top of the list.
Neither music nor reporting figured in my initial hiring at the newspaper. I came aboard as a copy editor for the Evening edition, another relic of our modern publishing era. One of my colleagues on the big horseshoe desk was Jerry Zenick. Aside from copy editing, Zenick wrote about music for a weekly teen supplement called Tempo.
Zenick would cover rock on occasion but gravitated toward the lighter, adult contemporary genre: Ferrante and Teicher, Peter, Paul and Mary, Tony Bennett. But this was a time when rock music was exploding into our culture at every level -- music, concerts, television, radio. Another major factor was the brand new, 14,000-seat Convention Center built by the city of Fort Worth.
Many of the major acts chose to begin their tours in Fort Worth, partly because the crowds were receptive and the facilities were topnotch. It was also a good kickoff point to hop acropss Texas, which usually included stops in Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio.
Zenick and I became fast friends and it wasn't long before I was using my free time to cover the rock music side of the business for Tempo.
For a young journalist just getting started, it was heady stuff.
Work the copy desk by day, go to the concerts by night. Not to say there weren't challenges. Like having to leave in time to find a pay phone to make sure your review got in the next day's paper. Try dictating a review on the phone by the concession stand as Led Zeppelin is into their second encore and the decibels are at jet plane level.
But seeing your byline on the review the next day sure was sweet (even if they had to cut your best potential award-winning prose to fit the space).
In those days, the paper would rarely assign a photographer to cover a rock concert event. Photography was another hobby and love of mine, so naturally I was soon bringing my own camera and scurrying back to the employee Dark Room afterwards to develop the prints. (What I wouldn't have given for one of today's digital cameras or cell phones.)
Over time the reviews and columns in Tempo start appearing with more frequency in the Star-Telegram until someone decided rock music deserved its own fulltime writer. I was elated to take the job.
The five years I spent on the rock music beat were quite a ride. I got up close and personal with everyone from Paul McCartney and Wings to Cher, KISS, Elton John and Three Dog Night.
There would be thousands of LPs (the vinyl, long-playing variety) to review; press junkets; pyrotechnic controversies and run-ins with groupies and hangers-on.
There's not much method to the madness here. I'm simply going to cull through the clippings and memories and post as I have the time. And as much as possible, combine it with a "then and Now" element. Of course your comments and observations are welcome and encouraged.
Music was always a big deal to me. Whether records, reel-to-reel tape or cassettes, I liked to surround myself with music. So it wasn't a big stretch that when i joined the staff of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1970, I volunteered in my off time to write about music and musicians.