The Moment that Changed Everything
I spent most of my childhood playing outside, riding bikes with my friends, or trying to catch crayfish in creeks like so many kids. As I got a little older I spent a lot of time drawing up in my room. In fact, once I was old enough that creeks and bicycles lost their luster no one had to look any farther than my desk if they wanted to find me. I was always there hunched over, with my nose but a couple of inches away from the paper I was drawing upon. Today my back would go out, my neck would kill me and I couldn't focus on anything that wasn't at least a foot and a half away if my life depended upon it, but back then I would spend hours on a square inch section of whatever masterpiece-in-waiting I was creating. I would come downstairs for dinner, and go right back upstairs to continue drawing until it was time to go to bed. All of that changed on my fourteenth birthday.
We always had music playing around the house. At least up until we got cable vision. I guess when you couldn't change the channel with the knob on the television unless you knew where the vice grips were it was easier to keep little ones entertained with music. We would take turns selecting whatever we would play during dinner and I almost always chose The Beatles. By the time I was in junior high school I was starting to come out of my shell a little bit and I began seeking out bands I could call my own to listen to with friends that also were just coming out of their shells. I turned fourteen in 1981, and I still remember running around the house on my birthday to find all of the presents my parents had hidden for me. As I recall, I got something like a dozen albums that year and the one that made the biggest impact was Rush's "Moving Pictures". I am quite sure that many little drummers were born of that album. I still remember playing the beginning of "Limelight" over and over with awestruck enthusiasm waiting for that first tom flourish, a semi-flatulent call to arms for young boys and girls who also wanted to to live "... on a lighted stage" as described in that song. I knew right then and there that I would be a drummer, and I know now that I will always be one.
What a phenomenal year for hard rock! Some of the biggest, most monumental records for huge bands came out that year, and for a kid who was just beginning to step out into the world it was exhilarating! "Back in Black", "Moving Pictures", "Permanent Waves ", "Heaven and Hell", "The Mob Rules", "Women and Children First", "Fair Warning" and "Diary of a Madman" all came out in that 1980 - 1981 time frame. And the next year brought "The Number of the Beast", "Blackout" and "The Electric Eye". No mullet was too extreme, and I was in hog heaven! I became obsessive about all of it, but Rush was the band I paid special attention to up in my room with headphones pounding my eardrums. I wanted to play everything Neal Peart did on all of those records! I "felt" every little nuance, and I actually had nearly all of his parts committed to memory before I ever even got my first drum set. I knew every bass line, every shrill lead note, and every crack in Geddy Lee's vocals. Rush championed geek-dome like no other band, and I was ready to lead their geek armies to whatever dork planet they could conjure up! I knew that no women lived on any of the planets Rush and I would conquer together, but there would be time for that later. I heard my calling, and the babes would just have to engage in pillow fighting and brushing each other's hair until my triumphant return...