Vendor Profile: John

[Editor’s note: This story is based on an interview with one of our vendors and has not been verified.]

It all started back in 1962, after I saw The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. I ran out, bought a guitar and started playing.

I started my first band when I was 18 years old and I was the lead singer. I don’t stutter if I sing. You know, the lead singer of Ringo Starr’s first band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, had a bad stutter but sang like a bird. It seems to me that everyone who has a speech impediment can sing fine, although talking part causes hesitation sometimes.

Anyway, my first band was called ‘The Quiet Ones’ because it’s always the quiet ones you have to watch! I formed the band in Hartford, Connecticut. We played at every high school and college in Connecticut and Massachusetts, neighboring towns and beyond that. We opened up for groups like an early band called Jesse Colin Young and the Youngbloods – you will probably know their best known hit, ‘Get Together,’ and we opened up for The Velvet Underground a couple of times. This was in 1969, the same year as Woodstock (and I was there for all three days!)

The Quiet Ones lasted a year, and then somebody quit. Bands sometimes have conflicts and they break up. After that, I joined a band called Liquid Light. We were influenced by English bands like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Genesis and Yes – all progressive rock acts. The keyboard player was going to Boston College at the time, and he had to create a senior thesis for his last year in college. Being a keyboard player and heavily influenced by Keith Emerson, he wrote a rock opera called King of Nothing, based on Albert Camus’ Caligula. It was all about the Emperor Caligula and it was theatrical, classically oriented, and a very long 80 minutes. We recorded it on an 8-track in 1974, and I recently put it onto a CD. At the time, we tried to get a recording contract. Record companies would say, ‘Wow!’ and then they would say ‘It’s kind of long to play on the radio!’ Nobody bought it. The keyboard player passed his course because of the album, but his view was that if it wasn’t going anywhere, he would go back to medical school and become a doctor. He became a doctor, and we didn’t see one another after that.

After the keyboard player left, the drummer and I continued the band. We hired a man named Danny Brill, who was a keyboard player. He idolized Keith Emerson. In fact, he recently put out his own album called ‘Better Late than Never’ which he dedicated to Keith Emerson. Our band changed its name to ‘The Lighte’, and we opened for Blue Oyster Cult, The Grass Roots and Jefferson Airplane. But all that is a long time ago! The group continued for a long, long time, before financial problems took their toll on us. All we were doing was room and board. The income was adequate to pay the bills, but the guitar player got an offer to go to L.A., so he split and that was it.

After that, I just hung out in Boston, got a job, and continued to play the guitar. Here I am now, at 63 years of age, and I busk in subway stations, do some recording at a local recording studio and sell Spare Change News. I’m still creating songs and maybe in the future I’ll get another band together.

Writing songs enables me to tap into the spiritual side of myself and I am happier when I’m making music. Every lifetime is a learning experience for your next time around, and the biggest lesson I have learned is to become a stockbroker next time around!

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