New York Groove (Part 1)

“Back in the New York Groove” was a song written by Russ Ballard that first appeared on the 1975 album “Keep Us Off The Streets” by the British glam band Hello. As a musician I know this because well, I looked it up.

Who would have thought that three years after it first appeared on vinyl that song would indirectly become part of my life?

It was 1978. The year the members of KISS, the biggest band in the world at the time and with enough glitz, makeup and pyrotechnic prowess to make even the great Liberace and his golden candelabra melt, all simultaneously released their own solo albums as a gimmick. “New York Groove” was a song covered by guitarist Ace Frehley on his solo album of the same name.

As a nine-year old boy, KISS was the world to me and Ace was always my favorite member of the band. Not just because he had the coolest face makeup but also for the way his sunburst Les Paul guitars would literally catch fire during his solos. Ace’s antics were one of the main reasons I picked up a guitar with the dream to “Shout it Out Loud” and “Rock and Roll All Nite”. As far as I was concerned Ace Frehley was synonymous with rock and roll and suffice to say, his solo album quickly wore out on my turn table.

So it’s kind of ironic how thirty-three years later that particular song, New York Groove, was selected to be the theme for NY Ink, the reality-based television series on TLC. For those who may not be aware, NY Ink follows the trials and tribulations of famed tattoo artist Ami James as he attempts to make a go of a tattoo studio in the SOHO district of New York City.

What’s even more surprising is the notion that the melody for “New York Groove” kept running through my head as I looked out the window of the bus that was carrying me to New York City to get my first tattoo from Megan Massacre, tell my own musical “story” and have the segment recorded for the second season of NY Ink.

In my family being of age and still a tattoo virgin is frowned upon. The inside joke being: “You can’t consider yourself a “Wood” if you don’t have at least a little ink”. Most of my relatives have been tattooed at some point or another but I never was. Quite frankly, I would have been perfectly content with being the only black sheep in the family.

It wasn’t until I stumbled upon NY Ink that I began to give being tattooed serious consideration. The artwork and stories I had heard really had a profound impact on me. More so than any “cool” factor would in me getting needled. And my own story would sure be one for the books.

From an early age I was a guitarist with a dream to be a rock star. You know, right up there in the same league as KISS, Survivor, and Bon Jovi. Yeah, that was going to be me.

I even remember writing  journal entries about “making it” while in high school. At one point I’d pretend my journal was a Rolling Stone magazine interview. I’d write questions that I’d want the interviewer to ask me and then answer them in full ‘rock and roll’ mode. I’d muse about who I’d be collaborating with, the up coming summer tour I was about to embark upon and what I did when throngs of female fans sought my attention. Little did I know at the time that one day the dream was going to come true but in a most unusual way. I couldn’t wait to tell the story and have it memorialized.

Me and Ami James

As the bus slowly rolled into the Port Authority Station a feeling of excitement and anticipation filled me. I slowly departed and made my way into Manhattan not really sure if I was more excited to tell the story, get my first tattoo from an artist I greatly admire or the fact that my experience was going to be filmed and possibly air on a television show.

In any case all I did know was that Ace would have been pleased. Today was going to be an interesting day.

Next: The Thing About Subways

About James Wood

Influenced by life, love and the pursuit of the perfect song is what best describes my passion. I’m a closeted classic rock/metal-head from the 80′s who loves to write.

Posted on March 5, 2012, in Art, NY Ink and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. One day, your fame will get out of control. I hope you remember us ‘little’ people when it does. Between movies, broken guitars on stage (with the help of helicopters…not stage antics), pierogi-technics, and the classic ‘backyard’ Spiderman episodes, you’ve got a future. Now, you start a story about having someone put art on your body (hoping they don’t f**k up, which is a spin of the show at times), you are going places. What a life you have had so far, Jimmy. You’re going places…and, we will find out where when you post ‘The Thing About Subways.’ Looking forward to it.

  2. Did you see that episode where Billy was having problems with the one tattoo? That was the day I was there. When Megan came over to take a peek she was over with me at at the time. Why they didn’t show me with my Brad Pitt good looks and chiseled abs is a mystery to me.

    Have to admit one thing though – with me there’s always a story. Wait til you see the finished piece.

  3. ok, diggin’ it so far, but we haven’t gotten to the graphic part. Nice Liberace reference…not something most writers would come up with…kinda llke “the skyline wears a shroud.” haha Not expected, but I definitely enjoyed it.

    subways huh? oh yeah, that should be good.

    kath

    • Had to have a good reference to go along with the glitz and glamour of KISS. Considering it was the 70′s. Liberace immediately came to mind… haha.

      that skyline wears a shroud reference is one of my faves. right up there with “one girl, lost in a reverie”….

  4. very intriguing! can’t wait to read more. isn’t it funny how some songs seem to follow you. can definitely relate to that one. loved the part about your journal entries in high school. i did my fair share of “dreaming” about the future, too!

    p.s. nice reference to Survivor! :)

    • It is funny about the song. I remember New York Groove and Fractured Mirror were my favorites from that album.

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