Dear Diary: In The Beginning

The following is an excerpt from one of my journals I recently stumbled upon. I had kept a journal through out my senior year in high school detailing my journey to achieve fame and fortune.  With the 25th anniversary of those glory days fast approaching, I’d like to share much of it with you over the course of the year.  So get ready to laugh and if you were on that journey with me, maybe you’ll recall some of the good times you had as well.

This first entry is from the summer of 1986 recalling how I first began playing guitar:

It was another boring day as a musician. I had just gotten my first guitar: a cheap copy of a Les Paul model. I was so thrilled at this I dashed to my room to play. I didn’t even hook it up to my amp – a Fender Vibro Champ.

With that, I began my very first guitar lesson. One that I had sent away for in the mail. It said, “Play the third string, third fret” and so I did. I placed my first finger ON the third fret and played.  The sound of course was so awful (as any sound played on the fret wire itself would be). But I kept trying and failing. Finally, I had enough. The guitar my Mom had rented for me went back in it’s case and collected dust until the end of the month.

My interest continued. I had lied to classmates several times that I had a guitar and could play. One day, a year or so later, my Mom rented me a red Hondo Flying V guitar and actually paid for a month’s worth of guitar lessons.

My teacher explained to me how to really play a note and I guess I owe my guitar abilities to him because without that knowledge I would’ve never got off the ground. Soon I gradually got notes going and amazed myself with chords – E, G, A and D and even switching positions! I also began to learn scales and three songs I wanted to learn:

Metal Health by Quiet Riot, Rock You Like a Hurricane by the Scorpions and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap by AC/DC

These were real simple to learn for beginners and I practiced constantly to master them. Well, after playing Rock You Like A Hurricane two thousand times at home I started to hear it from my brother and sister. In fact, I still do: “TURN IT DOWN!” And in the beginning, it really disheartened me.

During the summer of 1985 I walked with my flying V about a mile every Thursday afternoon for lesson.  My case was broken so I wound up strapping my “V” to my back with a cheap strap I had made.  I was getting yells from people passing by in cars. Saying things like “Alright! Rock on MAN” and countless other things. But it never really bothered me. Only the long walk did. Being a musician sure had its disadvantages then.

October of 1985 also brought along my 16th birthday and my father bought me another Hondo. This time, a Fender Stratocaster imitation. I immediately fell in love with that baby and it became my personal toy for the next ten months. During this time, I began playing hard. I had learned nearly twelve songs and also did studies in sight-reading too.

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