Saturday, February 23, 2013



I'd wager a guess that
any musician who has
played live more than
once in their life has
experienced a nightmare
gig. I certainly have. In
fact, after more than
30 years, I've endured
several. However, my
all-time worst gig without
a doubt was my very first
experience onstage...

My first KISS concert in June 1979 proved to be so inspirational that I decided to become a drummer and I formed my first band the very next day. I’d never played a note and I didn’t own a kit, but I couldn’t be sidetracked by minor details. I've often been accused in life of putting the proverbial cart in front of the horse, and my sudden leap from spectator to musician certainly exemplified my often rushed decision-making process. But I was gonna be a rock star. And over the next 30+ years I allowed nothing to interfere in my pursuit of the rock and roll dream.

I called up some local musicians and in short order I had assembled by first band. The only problem was, I couldn't play. So I borrowed a drum kit from my buddy Glenn Creamer and spent a few days piddling in my bedroom, trying desperately to play along to Journey, Pat Travers and Van Halen records. I had no idea what I was doing, and it showed. My first band rehearsal was only three days away but I knew that somehow I'd miraculously become a virtuoso in time for our first encounter. That didn't happen. In fact, it still hasn't happened.

However, my new bandmates; Scott, Eric and Nick didn't abandon me upon discovering my lack of musical ability. We actually stuck it out together and spent the next several months practicing and writing our own material. And on December 1, 1979 my first band, Beowulf (insert wisecrack here), debuted at my high school’s Battle of the Bands competition.

There we were, four kids who couldn’t play — onstage attempting to perform (horrible) original tunes in front of a sold-out house. At the height of Skynyrd Mania — a good five years prior to the global hair band explosion, we walked onstage donning make-up and matching Japanese-style outfits among a host of competing T-shirt and denim-wearing Southern rock cover bands.

The crowd hated us, plain and simple. But given my naiveté combined with unabashed cockiness, the louder that the people booed, the more I perceived the response as perfect pandemonium. And I completely ate it up. In fact, I even set my drum kit on fire ala-Alex Van Halen during my ridiculous excuse of a drum solo. But the fact remained that we sucked. What's more, I sucked. And not even my best friends, not even Glen Creamer could or would deny it. And when our 4'x8' cardboard banner was ripped down following our set, the roar of the crowd was deafening as the huge Beowulf logo came crashing to the ground. OUCH!

In short, I was devastated. My very first show provided me with the painful, humiliating and humbling experience of being booed off the stage by more than 1,000 people. But I learned a lot from that gig.

BTW —  Beowulf broke up the next day.

-Christopher Long
(February 2013)

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1 comment:

  1. Well, this is a fun avenue into self examination and the art of self imposed humility.

    I was at the next year's battle of the bands at SHS. I recall a group that lip synced their performance to a KISS tune (Detroit Rock City, I believe), complete with fake instruments, etc. They got booed as well.

    For me, I won't forget sharing a "stage" with Mr. Long in the parking lot of Atlantic Plaza in the freezing cold on a January morning. We "rocked" to Train Kept a Rolling and several other classic rock tunes about 50 yards away from the plaza doors. There may have been 5 people tops in the "crowd." I'm sure today in the same setting there would be zero people interested enough to drive over or walk over to see what the noise was all about.

    Good memories, but not my worst gig experience.

    My worst was showing up at a liquor store parking lot to play a gig in Apopka called Blue Jeans. The bar was in the back of the liquor store. While we were playing, someone came in a duct taped a pole to the floor and the ceiling. Then, while we continued to play, three less than stellar prostitutes came in a started to work the pole. Being overshadowed by sad, sad, sad ladies of the evening wasn't "priceless."

    Thanks for the forum Chris. Great memories!