13 – Bio – Chapter 13

The First Gig


But The Show Must Go On

Friday night: Gig minus eighteen hours…

For some reason, my mom and I were in my sisters’ room sitting on one of the beds, talking.  We were discussing the coming events of the next day and I don’t remember a single word of the conversation except her statement of encouragement:  “You’re on your way, kid.”

That’s it.  That’s all I remember.  “You’re on your way, kid.” But that’s enough…

Saturday morning:  Gig minus five hours…

A few of the details are a little fuzzy…  It was a scramble…

We were not able to get Havert’s organ to the apartment complex, so it was decided that he would play the tambourine…

We also didn’t have a real microphone available to us, but that was fixed because the apartment owner had one and he was going to be using it and would let us do the same…

We had come up with a name for the band at school the day before, during lunch.  “The Roamin’ Five” – as in five entities that were wandering around aimlessly.  It fit.  More than we realized at the time…

We had rides to the gig.  We all got there.

The event was held in a large recreation room, and there were actually a fair number of people in attendance, milling around talking and partaking of free refreshments.  There wasn’t a stage, just a place in the corner where the owner and a few dignitaries (people from the chamber of commerce, etc.) were making some welcoming remarks.  There was a ribbon cutting ceremony and a big cake.

The owner had us set up, off to one side, during the speeches, etc. We went about our business in a calm, professional manner, doing our best to look like we had done this a hundred times before.  It must have looked impressive – plugging in cables, erecting the single drum stand and symbol, and tuning our instruments – because nobody had started laughing, yet…

When we were all set, we took our respective positions…  I’m sure we looked magnificent…  Me with my Sears Model 1457 dual pickup guitar with case in amp, Scott and Tim with their brand new guitar, bass and tiny amplifiers, Havert – by far the tallest of us all – with the tambourine we borrowed from somebody or other, and Mike with his red plastic snare drum, the symbol sticking up from the side.

I had some stage experience because I had been in all of the school plays throughout Jr. High School, as well as having been in the school chorus in earlier years.  I DID have a slight case of the jitters, but nothing I couldn’t handle.  As for the other guys, who knows???

Then, the introduction…  The owner took the microphone and made sure everyone knew who we were…

“Ladies and Gentlemen!  It is my pleasure to introduce to you our entertainment for the next few minutes.  Let’s give a big hand to The Roaming Five”.


The first thing that I thought was “Roaming? – with a “G”?

The next thing I thought of was “Wait a minute – Scott’s counting and he’s all the way up to three.  What’s the first song?”

After the count of four, Scott, Mike, and Tim started playing Walk Don’t Run in the key of A and I began playing Wipe Out in the key of E.

Then my mind was filled with my earlier fears…

Spectator 1:  “What is that song?  It sounds so familiar.”

Spectator 2:  “Well, I think it’s a medley of different songs.”

Spectator 1:  “That’s it!  But what are they?”

Spectator 2:  “I think drummer, bassist and rhythm guitarist are performing Walk Don’t Run and the lead guitar player is playing Wipe Out.”

Spectator 1:  “Why, yes, I do believe you’re right.  Too bad they are playing them at the same time.”

Spectator 2:  “And in different keys.”

Spectator 1:  “And with different time signatures. What’s that tall fellow doing?”

Spectator 1:  “He’s playing the tambourine.”

Spectator 1:  “So he is – and doing a right smart job of it, too, I might add.”

Spectator 2:  “I quite agree.  He’s the only one up there with any real talent, if you ask me.  At least he seems to be doing his part in such a way as to not clash with the other instruments.”

I was completely in a fog… My mind was focused on my fears and I had no idea where, in the music, I was, or even what song we were supposed to be playing…  However, the show must go on…

After our opening “medley”, Scott looked at me funny and announced the second song.

“Our second song will be Wipe Out,” he said.

“Didn’t we just play that?” I responded.

“You did,” he replied. “We played Walk Don’t Run.

“But that’s not even in the same key!” I exclaimed.

“That’s right,” he stated.

Then I looked out at the audience…. I shouldn’t have…

After nearly perfectly performing Wipe Out while everybody else was doing Walk Don’t Run, I managed to wipe out Wipe Out when everybody else was doing it for real….  But the show must go on…

Looking for some moral support, I found my dad and brother, Bob, standing against the wall at the back of the room.  My dad turned to the guy standing next to him and said something (which might be revealed at some later point), and the guy started laughing uncontrollably….

This, of course, played on my mind during the next number, Pipeline.   (For some reason, my dad loved that song.  He still brings it up today…)  But the show must go on…

After that, I decided that I would not look out into the audience anymore.  But the show must go on…

The first three pieces (and I mean “pieces”) out of the way, we went on to the next three – the ones that Scott would be “singing”.

Somehow, I had managed to get myself together for the final three selections.  I actually played the right songs at the right time and in the right manner.  Too bad Scott had to sing them…  It was HIS turn…

There was no microphone stand, so Scott had to hold it while he was singing.  This, of course, meant that he could not play his part on the guitar.

The first was And I Love Her by The Beatles (Lennon and McCartney).

I give her all my love,

That’s all I do.

And if you saw my love,

You’d love her too.

La di da da.

What?  La di da da?  What’s that?

He had forgotten the words “And I Love Her”…

Then we came to the Chorus… He started singing the right words, but in a melody that belonged to another song.  Not even one we had learned, yet.  And not in the same time signature…

That’s when it got really bad…  I started to giggle… Then I started laughing…  And I couldn’t stop…

Then Scott blew the last two songs out of the water and it was time to go…

But the worst was yet to come…

When we were done, the owner of the apartment complex came up and took the microphone and thanked us for our performance…

“My thanks to The Roaming Five for their contribution to our grand opening gala!  Let’s hear it for them!”  At which point the entire place erupted in howling laughter…  There was no stage door… There was no curtain behind which to hide…  We had to remain exposed – naked for all the world to see – while we broke down our gear…

Our first gig was a disaster… I screwed up the first three songs and Scott screwed up the last three.  If we had started over after the last song and done them all correctly, everybody would have thought we had done twelve different songs- that’s how bad it was….

My mom’s words kept coming back to me – “You’re on your way, kid.”  On my way where?  I thought that once you went to Hell, there was no getting out….


Click here To go to Chapter 14,

Click here to hear actual non-church related songs by Bill Kammerer

Click here to hear actual songs by Bill Kammerer with a spiritual emphasis,

Click here if you’d like to see some of my favorite Youtube music videos

If you would like to contact me directly, just click on the email address below, or send me an email from your own email account. my email address is:



One thought on “13 – Bio – Chapter 13”

  1. The forgetting words sounds so familiar! Hmmmm? But for me it’s ” now how does that song start????”

    Well, you were on your way and we all still are on our way!

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