Friday, August 26, 2011

The Mother Of All Farts

The Summer of 1968 turned into Fall, then Winter.  Throughout I was constantly on the run promoting shows and dances, and pocketing the cash.  I'd have several appearances every week, and collect a hundred or two for each one.  That's 1968 money folks, today that hundred dollars would buy $627 worth of goods or services.  Serious money by anyone's standards.  We had some great times too.  All of the groups were easy to work with, especially The Pack and The Amboy Dukes.

Everyone in the area knew that The Pack would eventually make it big, but nobody could ever have guessed just how big they would become.  When I booked them for shows, they were a 4 piece, pseudo R&B band.  Don Brewer was easily one of the best rock drummers I had ever seen, how Rolling Stone could ever have concluded that his playing would “drive you up the wall” is beyond me.  Mark Farner possessed an enormous charisma, he was a handsome, muscular young guy with long, flowing hair.  He'd perform shirtless, and go into his “riding the microphone” routine, hair flying and girls screaming.  They were the show closer every time, but we just couldn't figure out how they'd make it big given their repertoire.  When they latched onto Mel Schacher, they became a hard rock power trio and as Grand Funk Railroad, became the most popular band in the world.

Nugent was another pro.  As wild and crazy as the guy can be onstage, he was quiet and business like off.  He would go to any extent to give a great performance.  I can vividly recall him standing in front of a huge bank of Fender Dual Showman amps playing the feedback from his guitar.  He was such a great performer, I imagine he must've lost 20 lbs from the sweat alone.   I recall a show at the local college when he cranked up those amps and blew the power out.  He sat on the stage and threw a temper tantrum, sitting cross legged on the floor banging some maracas until the lights came back on.  When Ted was in the middle of a show, he was in a different world!

The MC5 were a special treat.  They were the baddest, fire breathin'est band on the planet.  Managed by John Sinclair, they traveled with a coterie of handlers, groupies, roadies and various hangers on.  Their “spiritual adviser” "The Prophet Of Zenta Brother J.C. Crawford" would make the opening invocation.  “You must choose brothers and sister. Are you part of the problem, or part of the solution?  I give you a testimonial... THE M...C...5!!!!!!!!!”  At which point Rob Tyner would run up to the mike and scream “KICK OUT THE JAMS MOTHER %$#@ERS!!!!!”  I vividly recall the first time Deb and I booked these guys into a show in East Tawas.  When Tyner let out the “F” bomb we just looked at each other in disbelief.  Moments before we'd been backstage with them, and they were as polite and agreeable as you could imagine.

I'm bettin' the little, old ladies that chaperoned THAT show never did another!

The Frost was the band everybody thought would make it big, though somehow they never did.  They could pack a venue and whip the crowd into a frenzy.  Dick Wagner would later team up with Steve Hunter and tour with Ursa major, Lou Reed and finally Alice Cooper.  Dick wrote many of the Alice classics including “Only Women Bleed."  Dick and Don Hartman would trade guitar riffs making for some of the best rock guitar I've ever heard.  Bob Rigg would send the place into overdrive with his extended drum solos.  Bob was easily  one of the best drummers in the world.  It was a good thing I wasn't playing professionally anymore, I'd have been seriously out of my league!

Superstardom was still a couple of years away for these performers, and I could still book them for $400 per show.  A couple of years later you couldn't have touched Grand Funk for less then $100,000, that's nearly 700 grand in today's money!

But as I mentioned earlier on, radio has a tendency to kick you in the rear just as things are going as smooth as can be, and that's exactly what happened at WKNX.  Part of what made the job at 'KNX so great was the unlimited plugs we could give out for our appearances.  My salary at the station was only $125/wk, even back then that wasn't much.  It was the several hundred I'd get for appearances that made that job worthwhile so as you might expect I was greatly discouraged when the station manager announced that, heretofore, our access to this benefit was to be greatly reduced.  Apparently my dances were cutting into HIS business, and that was seriously unacceptable!  To add insult to injury, I was on the air when he came into the studio to tell me.  Now I was pissed, really, REALLY pissed!

I'd stopped off for lunch a few minutes before I went on the air, and whatever I'd eaten was not agreeing with me at all.  This of course made matters even worse.  I was contemplating what my next move should be.  I'd gotten good ratings up to now, and a station in Detroit had recently contacted me about working there.  Detroit was a top-10 radio market, and would be a real asset to my resume.  I'd done OK in Saginaw so maybe it was time to leave, but not without a grand gesture of some kind.  The indigestion was starting to become painful by this point, something was going to give... if I could just hold on for a couple of moments to allow maximum pressure.  Finally the record ended and I cracked the mike:

In my best radio DJ voice I announced “I quit!!!!!” then placed the mike within' fallout range of my rear-end, and let 'er rip.


It was without question one of the loudest, rudest incidents of crepitation in the history of the world.  Indeed THE loudest and rudest.  Not only that, but the aroma was beyond anything Dow Chemical could have ever put into the air back in Midland.  To make it worse, the thing was being amplified and carried across the airwaves by 10,000 watts of pure, unadulterated radio horsepower.

The manager came running into the studio as I was walking out. “What in the hell was..” then he caught a whiff  “JESUS....” he screamed as he turned around and headed out of the studio.  By this time I was at the door, headed for my car. That was my last show at WKNX.  

Then again, maybe not.  

Radio signals leave our atmosphere and travel, unencumbered throughout the universe.  I'm told that solar systems similar to ours exist about 40 light years from here, which means that my gargantuan fart from 40 years ago is just now arriving there.  Now suppose there's intelligent life on those planets.  What if some little green folks are riding around in their anti-gravity cars right now listening to that show and they hear that fart?  Don't you know the guy in the back seat is yelling “Oh MAN, open the window for cryin' out loud!!”

The Credanian, interplanetary warships are probably being loaded with negative ion anti-matter cannons right now!

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