Navigation for 50's Rock and Roll
In the spring of 1957 the Northern Lights' story began, at least for me. I thought that I should tell it before I get Alzheimer's. I hope you can bear with me as I take you on a unbelievable trip through the wild and wacky world of Rock and Roll in the late 50s. Some of the times and dates might be a little off but the events are real and the memories vivid. I am not a very good writer but I’m willing to give it a shot and I hope I don’t lose you along the way. So sit back, relax and let me share with you the fond memories I have of that wonderful place in time.
Don Gates, a football jock and popular guy in GHS stopped me in the hall one late spring day. I couldn’t for the life of me think why. I was kind of a geeky 16 year old kid and member of the Greenfield High School Band. He said that a couple of guys were getting together at his house for band practice and he heard that I played the Sax. They were looking for a sax player and would I be interested. He said it might be a lot of fun. I said ok, why not and told him I would be there. We exchanged addresses, phone numbers and then went on our separate ways. Little did I know, that this would be a major turning point in my life.
I had been a member of the Greenfield High School Band even before I was in high school and was active in music for many years. I don’t know if I was 13 or 14 when I started taking music lessons. I studied clarinet with one of the best clarinet players in the country, Chester Hazlet. He just happened to retire in Turners Falls, a little town close by, and supplemented his retirement income by giving music lessons for 20 bucks a half hour. That was a lot of money in those days. His list of accomplishments read like a Who’s Who of American Music History.
Well, to make a long story short, the kind of music that a rock and roll band plays and the kind of music I was involved with was quite different. I never learned how to play by ear. If it was written down, no problem. But to improvise or adlib…..I don’t know…. Oh well, I’d give it a shot! Anyway, what the hell….what do I have to lose!