Friday, July 22, 2011

R.I.P Old Pal


By my junior year in high school I'd been a professional musician for about 3 years, I'd worked scores of recording sessions and played in every environment from teen dances to night clubs.  I would often work 6 nights a week, so my social life was... to put it mildly... a dud!  That was true for the other guys as well, except for Bibber who seldom performed without having to drag a couple of babes...hanging on for dear life to his pant legs... up onto the stage.

I'd tried dating, but it didn't work out too well since I was always performing.  At reunions I get asked “Why didn't you date any Lapeer girls?”  Well, the answer is I didn't date ANY girls.  Where would we go, to the club?  To an InVicta show?  I guess we could have gone somewhere on Sunday afternoon.  I should have perused the paper for the ice cream social schedules, but I never thought of it.

In addition to the performing schedule Dick, Cary and I were instructors at the Lowe Music Studio, and I had taken on the task of training the drum-line for a local majorette corps.  The more I listened to Flint radio, the more attracted to a career on the air I became

The above picture is my old pal, Terry Knapp.  We attended school in Lapeer, Mi from elementary school on.  We both played drums in the High School band.   In the mid 50's my dad took a part time job as a station master for the New York Central Railroad.  I'd go down on Friday nights to keep him company.  Terry would occasionally ride down on his bike.  I remember us walking down the apron while my dad checked the mail bags, marveling at the people sitting in the dining car.  There were white tablecloths and silver service. We wished we could be on that train, going somewhere... anywhere other than Lapeer.

A couple of years later we'd commiserate constantly on a radio career.  He discovered “The Wild Itralian” Dick Biondi on WLS, and couldn't wait for me to hear him.   I discovered “John R” on WLAC in Nashville, and couldn't wait for Terry to hear him.   We were fellow musicians... Terry was a GREAT drummer... and friends who shared a common goal.  We wanted to be in broadcasting!

Terry graduated a couple of years ahead of me, and became one of Detroit's top radio personalities.  He later formed the seminal group Terry Knight and the Pack.  They were part of the proto-punk movement of the mid 60's that included The Shades of Night, ? and the Mysterians, The Easybeats, Count Five, Music Machine and more.  Along with ? and the Mysterians,  Terry and the Pack opened the door for numerous Michigan groups to obtain recording contracts.  Without them paving the way, it's questionable whether Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Meatloaf, Bob Seger and many others would have made the big time.

In the late 60's Terry was a staff producer at Capitol Records when his former band mates, broke and living hand to mouth back in Flint, formed a power trio.  They adapted the title of one of Terry's songs, The Grand Funk Railroad, as their name and the rest is history.  With Terry as their producer/manager they became the biggest band in the world.  They blew Led Zeppelin off the stage at Cobo Hall in Detroit, and sold out 2 Shea Stadium shows in 3 days.  It took the Beatles 3 weeks.

The band and Terry came to an un-glorious breakup in the early 70's.  Bad blood all around.  I knew all of them very well, and they're all great guys. I  can't imagine what happened.

A few years back Terry was brutally murdered while trying to protect his daughter from her drug crazed boy friend.

But I never knew Terry Knight, I knew Terry Knapp and I can tell you... Terry Knapp was a GREAT guy!

1 comment:

  1. Great writing and a fine memory, Pat!

    Where's that long overdue book?

    "Peter C."