Monday, October 17, 2016

C'MON! (Chapter Two: Under the Influence)

My Story of Rock, Ruin and Revelation
(The 5th Anniversary Edition)
- Christopher Long -


Greetings, and welcome to the latest installment of the FREE online 5th Anniversary Edition of my book, C'MON! — My Story of Rock, Ruin and Revelation.

When I sat down to write C'MON! in 2011, I had no idea that my first faith-based book, would be so well-received. It's been incredibly rewarding and truly humbling to hear how my personal story has touched the lives of others. It's been described as The Wonder Years-meets-The Wall at a Big Tent Revival, and I'm thrilled to be slicing up this expanded edition — chapter by chapter, each and every Monday through January 9, 2017 — the official five-year anniversary of the book's original release.

Even if you've read C'MON! previously, I guarantee that you'll experience something fresh in this deluxe version. PLUS it's FREE — so spread the word!

Under the Influence

So Long Beaver, Hello Chain Gang!
September 2, 1975 — my first day of school at Stonewall Jackson Junior High in Orlando, Florida proved to be a complete culture shock. As a kid growing up in Springfield, Missouri, I had only met one African-American and I was completely naïve to racial discord. But with my new school’s multi-cultural student body I now would witness frequent afternoon rumbles between whites, blacks and Cubans.

Some of my classmates actually kept chains in their lockers and we even had a full-time, on-campus police officer to deal with volatile daily student-related situations. In short, I wasn’t “in Kansas” anymore. But many fascinating individuals soon entered my life who introduced me to the music that not only provided the soundtrack to my early teens, but also fueled my future rock and roll ambitions.

Stonewall Jackson Jr. High - Orlando.

Flaming Youth
My cousin Cathy lived in Tampa, Florida during the mid 1970s. Cathy was two years older than me and in my mind at the time she was the personification of “cool.” She smoked cigarettes, went to concerts and helped reinforce my self-esteem during my particularly awkward tweenage period. The coolest thing about Cathy, aside from always being hip to the hottest new bands, was her willingness to hang out with me at our frequent family functions despite my obvious lack of coolness. Through Cathy I heard amazing first-hand accounts of actual rock concerts by such top-name acts of the day as Bad Company, Rod Stewart and Alice Cooper.

I remember hanging out with Cathy in my parents’ living room on Thanksgiving night in 1975, listening to Orlando's wildly popular radio station, BJ-105 FM. Mixed in among current hits from such pop artists as The Captain and Tennille, Barry Manilow and K.C. and the Sunshine Band, I heard for the first time a distinctive-sounding, hard rock, live concert recording. I couldn’t help but notice the abrasive guitars and gang-style back-up vocals chanting, “I – wanna rock and roll all ni-ee-ite, and party ever-ee day.” It was loud, heavy and I didn’t like it. In my estimation, Cathy knew everything about music. So, I asked her, “What’s this crap?” She immediately replied, “This is KISS. And they’re cool!”

I’d recently seen the band members’ outrageously painted faces on their album covers at the local record store in the mall. I also recalled having seen a commercial for their television appearance that summer on The Midnight Special. Their trademark make-up, leather outfits, platform boots, and fire-breathing, blood-spitting antics frightened me. And although The Midnight Special was my favorite TV show, I definitely did not tune in that week.


Cathy confidently endorsed these weirdos, and who was I to argue? From Elton John to Steely Dan, she’d always been on-point with every other musical recommendation. Could she also be right about KISS? I had my doubts this time.

My younger brother, Greg, was the first in my immediate circle to (bravely) purchase a KISS record. Although I openly chastised him for his lack of sound musical judgment, I’d often secretly crank up his 8-track tape of KISS' Destroyer album when nobody else was at home. I was quickly hooked on their high-octane, heavy rock anthems like “Detroit Rock City,” “God of Thunder,” “Shout it Out Loud,” and “Flaming Youth.” Before long I personally owned several KISS albums. I also began buying every magazine I could find that featured pictures or stories of the band and my parents were becoming very concerned. I remember dressing up as KISS drummer Peter Criss for Halloween in 1976. I didn’t possess the means to recreate his outrageous stage costume, so being a rather resourceful kid I just wore my green leisure suit, claiming I was paying tribute to Peter’s Dressed to Kill album cover look. I was clearly becoming a bona fide “KISS Freak.”

Do You Feel Like We Do
To me, the mid 1970s was a fascinating period to be a young teen. In 1976, America celebrated its Bicentennial, a peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia was elected President, The Six Million Dollar Man was a top-rated T.V. show and Farrah Fawcett’s image was seemingly everywhere. Plus, who could forget the C.B. radio craze with such infamous catchphrases as “breaker-breaker, good buddy” and “hammer down!” From such country acts as Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson to rockers including Aerosmith and Blue Öyster Cult to R&B supergroups, Earth, Wind and Fire and the Ohio Players, there was also an abundance of incredible music in 1976. And I absorbed it all like a sponge.


In the spring I became friends with two teenage brothers who lived down the street from me in Orlando  Ricky and Ronnie Burns. Unlike myself, the Burns brothers were, very cool. Ronnie, in particular, smoked, rode motorcycles, listened to rock and roll and was adored by the neighborhood “bad girls.” In fact, the Burns brothers were so cool that my mom literally forbade me to associate with them.

Consequently, I had to sneak over to the Burns house to hang out while my mom was at work. It was during these covert after-school rendezvous that Ronnie showed me how to apply Alice Cooper-like make-up and breathe fire, Gene Simmons-style. Ronnie played drums in the school band and even owned his own kit that he kept set up in his bedroom. From time to time he would give me pointers and even allow me to bang on them  and I loved it! Ronnie also educated me on various “ways of the world”  offering me compelling, step-by-step tips on how to get to “third base.”

Almost daily we would sit in the Burns living room listening to KISS albums at a ridiculously loud volume. Then one day, Ronnie decided to switch up the afternoon playlist and he introduced me to a new album called Frampton Comes Alive. After a succession of flop records, Peter Frampton, the former Humble Pie guitarist, exploded from out of nowhere and rocketed to the top of the charts in 1976 with the blistering live double-album. The signature Frampton classics “Show Me the Way,” “Baby, I Love Your Way” and the monstrous 14-minute, “Do You Feel Like We Do?” made Frampton Comes Alive an overnight international sensation and it's still considered one of rock’s all- time best-selling live albums. But one aspect of the record that captured my imagination almost as much as the music was the insightful liner notes printed inside the gatefold album cover. Written by (then) teenager Cameron Crowe, the Frampton bio was one of the first bits of rock journalism that I can recall ever noticing. Oh sure, I bought many of the popular rock magazines of the day, but with most of them offering near countless pics of Paul Stanley, I couldn’t be bothered with text. However, Crowe’s contribution to Frampton Comes Alive proved to be of considerable inspiration to me in my future writing endeavors.


Night Moves
Another inspirational character I met during my two-year stint in Orlando was a young man named David Tegeder. David was a year ahead of me at Stonewall Jackson Junior High. When you’re 14, one year is a BIG spread and I kinda looked up to David as an older brother. Unlike the Burns boys, David was focused on academics and he never got into trouble (at least not that I know of). He played sports and earned money mowing lawns. David was also passionate about rock and roll  and I had a mad crush on his younger sister, Donna. Hence, he was definitely a guy who I wanted to hang around with.

After promoting myself to David for months as being at least somewhat cool and reasonably astute when it came to rock and roll, he finally invited me to his house one day after school  and yes, Donna was home. I remember first entering David’s bedroom and admiring his vast music collection. He had crates and shelves full of vinyl LPs and stacks of both 8-track AND cassette tapes. David’s stereo system was equally impressive. It had AM and FM capabilities with two types of tape players and a built-in turntable. PLUS his speakers were HUGE! The woofers must have been an astounding 12 inches in diameter!

I don’t know if it was because he was cool or that perhaps he was afflicted with some kind of attention deficit issue, but David only referred to musical acts in abbreviated terms. Jethro Tull was referred to as “Tull,” Aerosmith was simply known as “Smith” and REO Speedwagon was, well, you get the idea.

During my first visit to David’s house he introduced me to an act he simply referred to as “Seger”   and he wasn’t talking about folk musician Pete Seeger. David was preparing to school me on the virtues of Detroit rocker, Bob Seger. Hot on the heels of his breakthrough album, Live Bullet, Seger and his Silver Bullet Band had just released  Night Moves, which at that time had just begun racing up the charts.


“Seger blows KISS away,” David informed me as he carefully removed his LP copy of Night Moves from its cardboard jacket and gently placed it on the turntable.

By this time I had become well-known at school as being a devout KISS Freak and I soon got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as Seger’s classic “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” began blasting from David’s enormous 12-inch speakers. I’d never heard such honest and pure rock and roll in my life. In fact, I became more enraptured with each ensuing track and I kinda felt as if I was cheating on a girlfriend. I mean, what would I have said if KISS guitarist Ace Frehley actually walked in David’s bedroom at that moment and caught me listening to Bob Seger with such delight? I could only imagine my defense. “Uh, Ace  you’re home early. This isn’t what you think! I swear it was only one time. Seger means nothing to me!” I then was struck with an unspeakable notion. Could it possibly be that KISS was NOT in fact “The Hottest Band in the Land?” Although I was unwilling to dethrone my kabuki-faced heroes, I did have to concede by the conclusion of Night Moves that I would at least have to make room for TWO at the top of my “Greatest Bands” list.

Walk This Way
I was always extremely close to my mom. She was my best friend and biggest fan. Like my dad, my mom was also raised in Tennessee and grew up in church. But whereas my dad took more of an iron hand, "do as I say" approach to parenting, my mom had considerably more finesse and possessed a true knack for connecting with me and my siblings. When I was about five, she heard me use the “N” word. At that age I had no idea what it even meant  I was merely repeating what I thought was a funny-sounding word that I had heard some other kids else use. She quickly and clearly educated me of the stupidity she had heard come out of my mouth. I immediately no longer thought it was a “funny” word. And to this day, I find few words to be as troubling. In fact, I don’t care if you’re a black rapper or a white supremacist, it’s an ignorant word.


I fondly remember having many wonderful and heartfelt conversations with my mom as I was growing up. During many of these childhood talks we would discuss various matters of faith. From explaining the meaning and importance of being “saved” to communion to tithing, the spiritual lessons I learned from my mom have stayed with me throughout my life.

My mom could seemingly do it all. Although I primarily remember her cooking, cleaning and creating an overall perfect home environment for our family, she also worked full-time in retail, security and banking. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t truly appreciate how demanding her gig really was until I became a parent myself. She asked very little of me as I was growing up and in return for her selfless efforts, I couldn’t even keep my room clean.

When I think back on everything I put her through when I was a kid, it’s amazing that she never strangled me. Once, when I was in junior high she discovered some rather risqué cartoons I had drawn in my bedroom which she found particularly disturbing. Another time, she came home early from work and caught me in my parents’ bed with a little teenage girl I had brought  home from  school. But she never ratted me out to my dad. Instead, she would always calmly confront me in private to express her displeasure.

A wise child brings joy to a father; a
foolish child brings grief to a mother.
Proverbs 10:1 (NLT)


I guess the one time I really pushed her buttons was in early 1977. I was 14 and a HUGE Aerosmith fan. At that time their single “Walk This Way” was a hot radio hit and I thought it was just about the most incredible record I’d ever heard. When a girl at school asked me to write down the lyrics to the song for her, I had to play my seven-inch single over and over at 33 1/3 rpm to decipher each and every one of Steven Tyler’s libido-drenched lyrics. Keep in mind, I was still a young and extremely naïve church boy and I genuinely had no clue what the lyrics meant  I just thought it was a groovy tune. However, my mom knew exactly what “bleeder” and “muffin” meant, and assuming it was a song I’d written, she flipped out when she found the copy of my handwritten lyrics lying on the coffee table. In short, she nearly had a heart attack, and in the words of Ricky Ricardo, I had “a lot of esplainin’ to do!”

If I could have just one more minute with my mom now, I would hug her and thank her from the bottom of my heart for everything she ever did for me. And I'd humbly apologize for being such an ungrateful little creep.

With my mom in Chicago.

I Get Around
By my early teens it seemed that all of my peers were being allowed to attend rock concerts. Everyone that is, except me. I had to settle for second-hand accounts of outrageous performances by legendary artists the following day at school. I never got to see the real Alice Cooper Band, Led Zeppelin, or the original Lynyrd Skynyrd lineup. However, after years of persuasion, I finally allayed my parents’ anxieties regarding rock concerts.

After recently denying my impassioned request to attend a KISS concert in December 1976, my parents finally gave in and allowed me to experience my first rock show — The Beach Boys in early 1977. My parents’ primary objection to me attending rock concerts was their expectation of people in the audience freely taking drugs and openly engaging in sexual activities at these events. I thought that was ridiculous. What did my parents know anyway? They were over 30 and by my accounts that made them really old and completely uncool. But when I arrived at the concert that night with the love(s) of my life; Jackie, Sharyon and Andrea, I was amazed to discover throngs of tie-dyed clad hippies scattered throughout the 10,000 seat civic center in Lakeland, Florida — smoking dope and groping each other. Holy cow  — my parents were right!

Like The Beatles, The Beach Boys also started out as a squeaky-clean pop act in the early 1960s and later morphed into scruffy-looking longhairs, creating more experimental-type rock in ensuing years. This concert was during The Beach Boys (scruffy) “Brian’s Back” era, heralding the return of the group’s chief songwriter, producer and visionary, Brian Wilson. I’ve often joked that there are only two kinds of people in the world  “John Lennon” people and “Brian Wilson” people. Although John Lennon is rightfully considered by many to be one of pop music’s all-time premier songwriters and has touched the lives of music fans in profound ways, Brian Wilson’s songs have touched me personally in ways few others have. I once heard a listener comment on a call-in radio show that Brian Wilson is the “Beethoven of pop music” — well put!


The Beach Boys show was a sold-out event. And from the roar of the crowd and the undeniable fragrance of marijuana permeating the arena to the blasting music and colorful light show, my first concert experience proved to be fantastic and inspiring.

Under the (Evil) Influence
It was also during my early teens when I first recall sitting in church and hearing about the evil influence rock and roll had over its followers. Sunday after Sunday I was reminded of how rock music promoted ungodly behavior  particularly, ungodly sexual behavior. In fact, the way I heard it, rock and roll was responsible for nearly every sin and impure thought known to man. It seemed to me like that was a lot of blame to cram conveniently into one package. After all, the Bible is filled with numerous accounts of immoral human activities from thousands of years ago. Do the words Sodom and Gomorrah ring a bell? In fact, the graphic accounts of incestuous behavior between Lot and his daughters found in Genesis 19:30-38 are so outrageous that it makes an episode of Jersey Shore seem like a rerun of Full House. I’m serious  there’s some unbelievable stuff in the Bible   it’s a bona fide page-turner!

Anyway, I was almost certain that many of these biblical examples of outrageous personal conduct had to have predated The Rolling Stones by at least a decade or two. As a result, I didn’t buy into the full-on, anti-rock mantra that I heard coming from the pulpit as a teenager. However, I might have connected with the message had my pastors and Sunday school teachers spent less time playing records backwards and dedicated at least a little energy towards offering an alternative.



Read C'MON! in it's entirety 

Copyright 2012 / 2016 Christopher Long

Saturday, October 15, 2016


A New Way of Thinking

Given the utter absurdity playing
out on the national political stage
during the current election cycle,
I've been focused more closely on
my hometown issues and races.
And recently, I had the pleasure
of connecting with a particularly
impressive young candidate.
Relax — it's a non-partisan race.

"It may be a new way of thinking, but it's important to always treat people with respect." From the look in his eye and the tone of his voice, one couldn't miss the sincerity of 26-year-old, C.J. Johnson, as he poured out his passion for the local community during our recent coffee get together.

A 2007 graduate of West Shore Junior-Senior High School, Johnson was brimming with enthusiasm as we sat together discussing an array of intriguing topics, from our favorite slaw recipes to the upcoming November 8th Melbourne, Florida District 5 City Council election — a race that has him pitted against a wide field of contenders, all vying for one of the four seats up for grabs.

Getting my "joe on" with Melbourne, Florida
City Council candidate, C.J. Johnson.
Having attended Florida Southern College on a tennis scholarship, Johnson currently is also President of the Florida Federation of Young Republicans of Brevard. However, he maintains that he has, "very Libertarian leanings" — explaining further that most of the issues he'll face as a councilman are not party line issues, and they will affect the things we all see from day to day, such as keeping traffic lights working and maintaining trash pick-up.

C.J. Johnson with girlfriend,
Sandy Proctor, at a recent
Florida political event.
In addition to his current day gig, practicing real estate and probate law with the firm of Frese Hansen, Johnson also is an active volunteer with the non-denominational, Young Life Christian ministry youth program. And when I reached out for assistance with staging an upcoming local fundraiser to benefit hometown victims of the recent Hurricane Matthew disaster, C.J. Johnson responded to my call immediately in the middle of the night. Wow  "a new way of thinking," indeed!

-Christopher Long
(October 2016)


The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Friday, October 14, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: "Unkie Munkie Lives at the Zoo" by Violet Favero

Unkie Munkie
Lives at the Zoo
- Violet Favero -

I applaud artists who are
dedicated to creating kid
-friendly content. Hence,
I was thrilled to receive
the latest in author Violet
Favero's Silly Yaya series.

Author and illustrator, Violet Favero, possesses a pure and honest passion for storytelling — and for kids. Debuting on Amazon in the summer of 2015, her popular Silly Yaya series has entertained young readers nationwide, while also introducing them to several members of her "silly" family. And in the latest installment of her (now) three-part series, we're introduced to perhaps the "silliest" member of her tribe — Unkie Munkie.

Favero's latest is packed with
fun, full-color illustrations.
Here's the skinny. Family member, Lu, meets up with Unkie one day while on a magical adventure to the zoo — and he seems to be quite familiar with his surroundings. But does he actually live at the zoo? Hmm. Maybe he just works there. Maybe he's just a really smart, super-fun guy. I'm still not quite sure. But the adventure certainly is a lot of fun!

-Christopher Long
(October 2016)

The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

RECORD REVIEW: Green Day "Revolution Radio"

Green Day
Revolution Radio
(Reprise Records)

My 15-year-old buddy told me
recently that whether it's for a
week, a few months, or even
years, everyone goes through
a "Green Day phase." I guess
I'm finally going through mine.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will confess that despite achieving enormous success over the last 20-plus years, Green Day isn't a band that ever rose to a place of significant prominence on my personal radar. While I've always recognized the band's signature zing factor and frontman Billie Joe Armstrong's undeniable knack for creating well-crafted earworms, I just never connected with the platinum-selling faux punk combo — until now.

With the recent release of their 12th studio record, Revolution Radio, Green Day has dropped a doozie — a cohesive, high-octane collection that captured and consumed me in short order.

Based on a rather enthusiastic recommendation from a 14-year-old friend, I purchased Revolution Radio digitally from iTunes. As a result, I received just the songs — no cover art, liner notes, production / songwriting credits or lyrics — which is probably for the best. As I've learned over the years, I'm much better off being oblivious to Billie Joe's insightful lyrics. In fact, my personal Green Day experience has always been maximized when I merely focus on the band's true strengths hooky choruses, crunchy guitar riffs and Tré Cool's badass drum work. And that was precisely the compass I used when approaching Revolution Radio.

Green Day
Within the first few seconds of diving into the opening track, "Somewhere Now," I was struck by a glorious, knee-jerk revelation. Green Day seemingly had somehow managed to jam ten Who songs into one single track — I was hooked immediately!

Although the lead-off single, "Bang Bang," packs two fists-o-fun, it's not necessarily the shiniest gem in this magical 12-stone crown. Other personal favorites include the title track, the moody, yet engaging, "Outlaws," the Struts-flavored "Still Breathing," and the familiar-sounding acoustic delight, "Ordinary World."

But the mightiest highlight of all is undoubtedly the ferocious drum work of Tré Cool. From the mouth-watering sound of his kit to his impeccable performance, Revolution Radio represents arguably Cool's most impressive work to date.

In sum, Revolution Radio is simply a solid rock record — an honest, natural-sounding slab — as if three old friends came together merely to make some great music without pretense. Bravo! (A-)

-Christopher Long
(October 2016)

The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Monday, October 10, 2016

C'MON! (Chapter One: Genie in the Bottle)

My Story of Rock, Ruin and Revelation
(The 5th Anniversary Edition)
- Christopher Long -

Greetings, and welcome to the first official installment of the FREE online 5th Anniversary Edition of my book, C'MON! — My Story of Rock, Ruin and Revelation.

When I sat down to write C'MON! in 2011, I had no idea that my first faith-based book, would be so well-received. It's been incredibly rewarding and truly humbling to hear how my personal story has touched the lives of others. It's been described as The Wonder Years-meets-The Wall at a Big Tent Revival, and I'm thrilled to be slicing up this expanded edition — chapter by chapter, each and every Monday through January 9, 2017 — the official five-year anniversary of the book's original release.

Even if you've read C'MON! previously, I guarantee that you'll experience something fresh in this deluxe version. PLUS it's FREE — so spread the word!

Genie in the Bottle

Four More Years!
1972 was an amazing, yet turbulent time in U.S. history — especially for a wide-eyed, 10-year-old, Midwestern church boy. Amid escalating Vietnam War protests and the brewing Watergate break-in scandal, Americans voted overwhelmingly to give President Richard Nixon "Four More Years." Little did we know that Nixon's triumphant second term would end in disgrace lasting only two more years. The Godfather was the top-grossing film of 1972, while the controversial, groundbreaking new sitcom, All in the Family, was the #1-rated T.V. show. And The Rolling Stones scored BIG with Exile on Main St.

I was raised in a strict, Bible-believing, Christian environment. In 1972, my family attended as many as three church services a week  I was even baptized that summer. And my conservative parents, Chuck and Barb, never would have allowed worldly rock and roll records in their home. As a result, the popular music I first was introduced to by my older sister, Debbie, was the product of wholesome artists of the day, such as The Monkees, The Osmonds and The Carpenters. Yeah, I said it  THE CARPENTERS!

My introduction to the world of rock and roll was certainly innocent. However, over the next 35 years, I would experience first-hand the dark, harsh and sometimes heartbreaking realities of the music business — greed, egos, dishonesty, addictions  and even some really bad stuff too!


Thank God I’m a Country Boy
Although I was born in Chicago, I was raised in Springfield, Missouri  the “Queen City,” located in the heart of the Ozark Mountains. My mom and dad’s sides of the family were both from Tennessee. As a kid, I spent many summers on various farms, visiting aunts who never missed a church service and prided themselves on their fried okra and homemade peach cobbler, and uncles who grew beans, wore (only) bibbed overalls and chewed lots of Red Man. I’ve experienced using a cane pole down at the ol’ fishin’ hole and I have personal knowledge of outhouses. I even know exactly how far “yonder” is. Simply put  I am a country boy, at heart.

In addition to my sister exposing me to her pop record collection, country music was also a major part of my early music experience. Not the generic, watered-down twangy-pop version of country music popularized by the “Carries,” “Zacs” and “Taylors” of today, but traditional country music from such old school legends as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and Eddy Arnold.

My parents were always staunch proponents of quality, family-friendly entertainment. Given our rural background, my brother and sister and I were frequently treated by my parents to a host of live country music variety shows that were becoming popular in and around Springfield during the early 1970s. In fact, we rarely missed a hometown hayride, hoedown or hootenanny.

Located 45 minutes due south of Springfield is a small town called Branson. Over the years, Branson has become known to many as the “Vegas” of country music, even challenging Nashville for the distinction of being country music’s capital. But in the 1950s, Branson was backwoods country — plain and simple. That is until 1959 when the Mabe family debuted their local country music variety show, The Baldknobbers Jamboree.


Named after an Ozark vigilante group from the 1880s, The Baldknobbers show was the first of its kind in the area and featured brothers Bill, Jim, Lyle and Bob Mabe. Combining down-home music and wholesome comedy skits with a focus on faith and family, the show immediately became a hit with tourists. Imagine a live theater version of the long-running T.V. variety show Hee Haw — years before there was a Hee Haw. The Baldknobbers presented meticulous, well-crafted, authentic onstage hillbilly personas. Yet despite the washtubs, washboards and bibbed overalls, they were actually master showmen and brilliant musicians with amazing business savvy. Chuck and Barb took us kids to see The Baldknobbers several times as we were growing up. Although their “pickin’ and grinnin’” performances were a far cry from the often outrageous future rock and roll stage shows that I would present, my Baldknobbers experiences had a profound influence on me. Their show continues to be a top-drawing Branson attraction.

C'mon, Get Happy!
Another T.V. ratings champ in 1972 was The Partridge Family. The show was based on a fictional pop group made up of three brothers and two sisters, along with their widowed mother, Shirley Partridge, played by veteran stage and screen actress Shirley Jones. Keep in mind, this was back when there were only three networks and three channels  period. Consequently, I’d never before seen or heard anything like this band. Of course there was The Monkees, another made-for-T.V. pop group, and I had experienced The Baldknobbers show, but their music and image didn’t “speak” to me like The Partridge Family.

The band was fronted by Keith Partridge, played by real-life rocker, David Cassidy. He had fabulously feathered, shoulder-length, hair and wore cool clothes. He also played an electric guitar, and chicks went crazy every time he opened his mouth. In short, this guy was a rock star!


Another alluring aspect of The Partridge Family for me and throngs of other adoring pre-pubescent boys was the group's lip-syncing keyboard player, Laurie Partridge. Played by then relatively unknown 18-year-old actress / model Susan Dey, Laurie Partridge was an exquisite beauty and my first pin-up girl. She was tall and slender with long straight brown hair. Despite being only ten years old at the time, even I could sniff out her intriguing and mysterious qualities  and I was in love!

Within the first five minutes of viewing my first Partridge Family episode, my future was clear  game over. The genie was already officially out of the bottle and it wasn’t going back in. I was going to marry Susan Dey and I was going to be a rock star like David Cassidy  or I’d die trying.

Zoot Suit Riot
My dad has always been very “Opry,” while I’ve always been more “Ozzy.” He takes great pride in maintaining his car and his lawn, while I can’t change a spark plug and most of my sprinkler heads usually are broken. Despite coming from completely different worlds, my dad has been the biggest influence in my life. Practically every lesson he taught me as a kid I’ve applied to my various future endeavors although he probably would be the last one to recognize that.

My dad is an old school guy who grew up in Johnson City, Tennessee during the Great Depression and he spent much of his adult life in the electronics business, working in management for corporations like Motorola, Zenith and Dictaphone. He’s always had an amazing work ethic and a strong commitment to his family. He’s the type of guy who seems to do everything right, while I’ve always struggled even with life’s most menial tasks.


My dad is actually the one who instilled in me at an early age the importance of being an individual. When I was a kid he would often help me with school projects, making sure they were unique presentations. Whenever we would go shopping for back-to-school clothes or new shoes, he’d always remind me of how in his younger days he had a bright yellow zoot suit and that no one else in his crowd had one like it. Every time I heard this story it ended with him picking out the lamest pair of shoes or most ridiculous-looking leisure suit. “These (insert items of choice) are so ‘square’ Dad,” I’d often inform him. But my passionate pleas for truly groovy shoes or anything other than that leisure suit always met with him encouraging me to be a leader. “Start your own trend,” he would often say.

One year for my birthday, my dad bought me a ventriloquist doll. I can’t remember why. But I quickly became quite good at throwing my voice. By 1972 I was writing my own skits and doing shows at various school and church functions on a regular basis. It wasn’t very “rock and roll,” but it presented me with a wonderful opportunity to create original material, plus it offered me valuable stage experience at a young age.

Performing for my third grade class in 1972.

When I was 11, my dad built me a custom bicycle. This ride was “pimp” years before anyone was “pimping their rides.” It was custom-painted and pinstriped with a chopper front end, a steering wheel and a windshield. It also had a fur-covered seat with fur-lined baskets. And with green tires, I could leave signature, colored skid marks down the street  as if to say, “Chris Long was here.”

I suppose I also got my musical passion from my dad. He grew up playing a variety of instruments and he sang bass in several Southern gospel groups such as The Tennessee Harmony Boys, until he entered the army in the early 1950s. Although he had ample opportunity to pursue a professional career in gospel music after returning home from the service, he put his personal aspirations aside in order to provide a “real” life for his family.

I heard Ted Nugent comment in an interview many years ago that he was grateful to have had strict parents. And I completely agree with that sentiment. I didn’t stay out of trouble in my younger days because I was a good kid  it was because I feared my dad’s wrath if I’d gotten busted. Now, many years later, I truly can appreciate his no-nonsense approach to parenting.

Only a fool despises a parent’s discipline.
Proverbs 15:5 (NLT)


It’s funny, but when I was 19 I knew everything about life and at 49 my dad was (in my mind) completely clueless. Now, I’m 49, my dad is 79, and I realize he’s a total genius and I’m a complete idiot! How on earth did that happen? And be sure that although we still don’t always see eye-to-eye on some things, even as I approach 50, I respect my father as much, if not more, than ever.

If you honor your father and mother, things will go
well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.
Ephesians 6:3 (NLT)

Moving in Stereo
In the early 1970s our house was always full of music. In 1973 my dad brought home our first family hi-fi set. It had TWO speakers, offered AM and FM stations, with an 8-track tape deck and produced stereo sound. It was completely state-of-the-art for those days.

My parents quickly began buying stacks of 8-track tapes by country music’s hottest (and wholesome) artists like The Statler Brothers and Charlie Rich. But oddly, Chuck and Barb suddenly started to become cool. So cool (for them), that they also began bringing home tapes by such “cutting-edge” artists as John Denver and Bread.

Even my 14-year-old sister, Debbie, got into the act by smuggling home pirated tapes that she would buy from music bootleggers at school. This was a very early version of what today’s music thieves call file sharing.


Debbie was also becoming so hip that she started buying edgier-sounding seven-inch singles. The Osmonds were passé by 1973 and she was now turning me onto grittier music by such R&B acts as Sly and the Family Stone, Isaac Hayes and The Staple Singers. And I was quickly becoming the funkiest 11-year-old white boy in school!

I Get a "KICK" Out of You
For my 12th birthday in 1974 my parents bought me a battery-powered AM radio headset. Depending on your point of view, this was either the greatest gift they would ever give me or their all-time, single biggest parental blunder. I could now listen to the radio at any time, in any place and if I kept the volume low enough, no one would ever know. My favorite radio station quickly became Springfield's AM 1340 KICK. In those days AM radio was still kinda cool and station program directors enjoyed considerably more freedom than they do now. KICK’s play list combined typical pop hits of the day from such Top 40 artists as Neil Sedaka and Olivia Newton-John along with more FM-oriented artists like Grand Funk Railroad and The Doobie Brothers. KICK was also responsible for introducing me to the world of southern rock through frequently played records by The Charlie Daniels Band and (Springfield natives) The Ozark Mountain Daredevils. And it was on KICK in January 1975 when I first heard a song called “Free Bird.” It started out as a beautiful ballad, but faded out more than five minutes later amid layers of soaring guitar solos. And I was sure the DJ announced that the record was by a guy named Leonard Skinnerd.

In early 1975 there was hardly a time when I was without my trusty AM headset. It was on in my bedroom while I did my homework, it blasted in the bathroom while I was in the shower and I even slept with it (turned down very low), buried under my pillow.


I soon became a frequent winner of KICK’s various listener call-in contests. From seven-inch singles and full-length LPs to movie and concert tickets to near countless restaurant gift certificates, my slew of radio prizes kept me rocking, entertained and well-fed. One day, while playing hooky from school, I scored a complete FREE set of tires for my sister’s car from a call-in contest. Even my dad was impressed by that one!   

KICK DJs Jay Stevens and Peter T. became my heroes. My dad would drive me all over town as I became a regular attendee at their frequent promotional events, broadcast live from various record stores, used car lots and pizza joints throughout the Springfield area. And when I had a sixth grade class assignment to interview someone with a job I’d like to have, my dad drove me to the KICK studio to interview Peter T. as he cued-up seven-inch singles and pre-recorded commercial tape cartridges live on the air. For a young, impressionable kid, it was a fantastic and memorable experience. My love affair with radio would endure for the next 20-plus years.

The Midnight Special
The kids of my generation didn’t have MTV to shape and mold our musical and cultural identities 24/7. We discovered new trends and music artists of the day via weekly T.V. programs such as American Bandstand, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and The Midnight Special. Airing every Friday at midnight (duh!) on NBC, The Midnight Special debuted in August 1972 and featured live concert performances from an array of artists as varied as David Bowie, Earl Scruggs, Al Green and Helen Reddy  often in one single episode. Consequently, as a kid I could never hear “black” or “white.” And I never recognized any difference between R&B, country or rock. All I heard was music. And to this day my personal iPod can shuffle randomly from Marvin Gaye to Loretta Lynn to Motörhead to Buddy Guy without me noticing any difference in the genres.


I made many life-changing musical discoveries via The Midnight Special. I can recall the show’s announcer, legendary radio personality Wolfman Jack, introducing a beautiful brunette singer during one particular episode in early 1975. The petite bombshell with a huge voice who completely rocked my world was Linda Ronstadt. Although she would go on to become one of rock’s all-time best-selling female artists, Ronstadt was only starting to break out at that time. As she belted out the lyrics to her then current fiery breakup hit “You’re No Good,” I instantly knew that Laurie Partridge had been replaced. Linda Ronstadt was now my one true love. And I knew she was destined to fall in love with me too. After all, I was a dashing 12-year-old with an awesome bike! How could she possibly refuse me?

I Slept with Brad Pitt – TWICE!
From October 1967 to May 1975 I lived at 703 Katella in Springfield. During this time I attended school one block down the street from my house at Horace Mann Elementary. Just as on T.V., I lived a wholesome life that mirrored practically any episode of Leave it to Beaver. I also was seemingly a clone of the nerdy pre-teenage character, Ernie Douglas, from the popular sitcom My Three Sons, a ratings winner during the 1960s and early 1970s. Hang on, it gets worse. I somehow became so politically charged at an early age that during the time of the 1972 presidential campaign, while my friends were collecting football and baseball trading cards, I was collecting presidential trading cards. At the age of 10, I had all of the U.S. presidents committed to memory  in order. I was such a freak of nature that my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Page, would frequently parade me in front of the class to show off my little “trick” for various school administrators. Yeah, I was (am) a complete dork. However, despite being hopelessly uncool, I did have a very cool friend.


If you went down a block or two from my house on Katella, took a right on Broadway, then a left on Primrose, you would have been at the Pitt residence. Yes, THE Pitt residence!

Brad Pitt wasn’t someone who I kinda knew and now conveniently remember, given his incredible Hollywood success. Brad and I were actually childhood buddies. In fact, he even attended my 12th birthday sleepover party in December 1974 (the night I received the AM radio headset).

There are lots of things I remember about Brad growing up in the 1970s. I vividly remember his mom, his younger brother Doug and his sister Julie. I also remember that as kids, Brad’s friends were never allowed actually to enter the Pitt home. We always had to play outside in their yard or at one of our other friends’ houses. One day while playing with Brad on his family’s porch, his mom opened the front door and for a brief moment, I got a quick glimpse inside of the pristine Pitt palace. I remember seeing a beautifully furnished, immaculate living room with white shag carpet and lots of decorative (and breakable) glass fixtures. Even as a dumb kid, it was clear to me why the inside of Brad’s house was off limits to us ragamuffins.

After becoming disenchanted with the electronics business, my dad accepted an offer from my Uncle Bill in March of 1975 to become a partner in his Florida chemical business. As my family prepared to move to Orlando in May, my mom allowed me to have a going-away sleepover party. She didn’t want a houseful of kids running around so I was allowed to only invite my three best friends from school: Joe Deskin, Kerry Middleton and Brad Pitt.


My sleepover parties were typically routine affairs. My pals and I would stay up late with our sleeping bags lined up on my parents’ living room floor, playing cards and listening to records. Inevitably we would end up around 4AM sitting on the kitchen floor, devouring Freakies breakfast cereal, talking about school, little league and of course our favorite subject  girls.

I recall hearing rumors circulating in the late 1980s among some of my childhood friends that Brad had moved to Hollywood and landed a couple of T.V. appearances. Then the movie Thelma & Louise hit theaters in 1991 and soon Brad Pitt would become a household name.

As his Hollywood star was rising in the mid 1990s, Brad developed a reputation for being a dark and mysterious loner  a bad boy. This was hilarious to me because the Brad Pitt I knew had always been an outgoing chick magnet. In fact, he was Student Council President in the sixth grade at Horace Mann. As kids, my buddies and I would become annoyed when Brad would show up at our local roller rink, Skateland, on Friday nights. We knew none of us stood a chance with any of the little girls from school as long as Brad was hanging around.

My mom got a kick out of Brad’s notoriety. She would often boast to friends that People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” used to sleep on her living room floor  in his underwear!

I remember Brad and I hanging out in my parents’ living room on the morning following my going-away party in 1975. It was like a scene right out of the 1980s T.V. show, The Wonder Years. As we listened to Alice Cooper’sOnly Women Bleed” playing on KICK, it finally started to sink in that in just a few days I actually would be moving away to Florida and that I’d probably never see Brad again. In fact, my whole life was about to change and my Leave it to Beaver days would soon be gone forever.



Read C'MON! in it's entirety 

Copyright 2012 / 2016 Christopher Long