Bill’s Bio – Chapter 13

The First Gig


But The Show Must Go On

Posted 5/25/08

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….  


To go to Chapter 14, click this link:

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One Response to “13 – Bio – Chapter 13”

  1. Mike Says:
    May 27, 2008 at 5:28 am   editThe 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!


Bill’s Bio – Chapter 12

The Start of What Mary C. Has Been Waiting for…

Posted 5/18/08

The Beach Boys – my all time favorite band.  This isn’t just a recent development born of nostalgia.  They were my favorite group from the first time I heard “Surfin’” on the radio.  And I had been collecting every Beach Boys album as fast as they released them.  I had a total of five of them (including the original “Beach Boys Concert” in Sacramento) at the time I met Havert Sealy.  And I met Havert Sealy through Scott McLane.  Havert lived just up the street from Scott…

In order to avoid more “begats”, I’ll just cut to the chase and say that the first guy I met at St. Bonaventure High School was not Scott McLane.  It was Bob Moraga. 

It was the first week of my freshman year at St. Bonaventure.  I didn’t know ANYBODY there and most of my class mates knew lots of people because most of them had gone to school together K – 8.  I was actually used to that situation because of the number of changes of school I had endured throughout my life. But this time I was on a mission so the circumstances of my “new-kid-in-school-edness” had changed.

One day at lunch I was sitting at a table and this kid comes up and sits down across from me.  We just started talking and have been friends ever since.  His name was Bob Moraga and he became my best friend throughout my high school years, which is saying a lot because the guys in the band and I were very close. Bob was a sophomore.  (Again outside the scope of this bio, Bob and I had some screaming great times in those years. There were times we laughed so hard we almost threw up – literally. As a matter of fact, he once proved that a person could be making you laugh uncontrolably and you could be really mad at that person at the same time… It happened in the school library early one Saturday morning… But I digress.)  Bob, now Bert, remains one of two “childhood” friends with whom I am still in touch to this day.  (The other is Colleen Megowan – More about the Moragas and the Megowans later on.)

I met Scott shortly after that, and then Scott and I met Mike Kinart, and then Mike and I met Tim Redd (Scott already knew Tim, if I remember correctly).   

Somehow, we all figured out that we all wanted to be in a Rock band (except for Bob, who didn’t play an instrument at the time, but he became an unofficial part of the group just because he was such a great friend.  He even came up with a name for our light show for us down the road… I’ll get to that later…)

We decided on a lineup of who was going to do what:

Mike would be the drummer.

Tim would be the bass player.

Scott would be the rhythm guitarist and lead singer.

I would be the lead guitarist.

We were ready…  the fruits of my labor were about to be borne…  I had a band and we all wanted to play the same music….

There were some issues, though:

Mike didn’t have any drums.

Tim didn’t have a bass.

Scott didn’t have a guitar.

Nobody had any microphones.

Add to all that the fact that we were all “beginners” with our chosen instruments and we had the makings of the perfect “non-musical-music-group” storm….

We had no instruments, but we had each other and that was a start.  Sort of.

Fortunately, I had the snare drum with a little symbol that was mounted directly on the drum, so Mike could at least have that on which to practice.  Other than that, all we could do for a few weeks was make plans to become a rich and famous rock group. 

And then, one day, we all had instruments to play.  But we still didn’t have microphones and Scott didn’t think he could sing loud enough to be heard over the instruments…

Enter Havert Sealy.  Havert didn’t go to St. Bonaventure, so most of us didn’t know him.  But Scott did and he told us about him…

He had a microphone.  And he played the organ.  And he wanted to be in the band.  And he had a microphone.

That was about all we needed to know.  We took a vote and he was in.  (When could we get his microphone?)

It was time… We were really ready this time…  We even decided that we could meet Havert and hold our first practice at the same time.  It would have to be at Havert’s house because his organ was a console model and his parents wouldn’t just let him take it any time he wanted.  (And none of us were old enough to drive it anywhere, anyway.  And even if we were, none of us had a truck with which to move the behemoth.) But he had a microphone, so we went along with it.

We all gathered at Havert’s house on Thursday after school.  Introductions were made and we all set up our instruments.  Then we discovered Havert’s microphone…

It was made of plastic.  And it was Pink.  And it had a picture of Barbie or some other fictitious person of that ilk on it.  And there was no stand to hold it.  In fact, it was permanently attached to a pink reel to reel tape recorder.  And it belonged to his little sister.  And we needed her permission to use it…

I began to pray, silently, again…

“Dear God, I don’t suppose you have a spare microphone you’re not using, do you?”

We went ahead and practiced without a microphone….

And even without a microphone we actually “learned” six songs in that first practice.  Three instrumentals and three songs with lyrics.

I remember all of the instrumentals:  “Walk Don’t Run”, “Wipe Out” and “Pipeline”. 

I only remember two of the songs with lyrics:  “And I Love Her” by the Beatles and “The Last Time” by the rolling stones.

And then, the very next day, it happened….  The break we had been waiting for…

One of somebody’s parents knew somebody who had built an apartment building.  That Saturday was going to be the Grand Opening, and that parent suggested to the apartment owner that he might do well to have a live band perform as part of the opening ceremonies.  The owner didn’t want to pay a band, so the parent offered our services free of charge.  This would be a win-win situation because

1.     The apartment owner would be able to have FREE live entertainment at his grand opening and

2.   We – the band – would get FREE publicity.

We had our first gig lined up, and we had only been together for two days!! 

And I still had possession of all of my Beach Boys albums…

  1. colleen Says:
    May 18, 2008 at 3:39 pm   editthe suspense is killing me…
  2. billkammerer Says:
    May 18, 2008 at 6:54 pm   editYeah… Me too… )
  3. Jennifer Gonzales Says:
    May 19, 2008 at 8:07 am   editOk, I what I really want to know is…………..what were you laughing about that made you almost get sick? It must be really good! I can not wait to read your next Chapter! )
  4. Judi JP Putnam Says:
    May 19, 2008 at 2:53 pm   editSorry I haven’t been keeping up. I had to go back and read the past 2 chapters. Life has continued its hectic pace (especially at the church.)

Bill’s Bio – Chapter 11

I Reorganize


How to Make New Friends

 Posted 5/5/08

1 And so it happened that, at that time, I was summoned by one or more of my parents and 2 was made to sit in silence whilst they 3 pronounced upon me the decree that I should not be attending Balboa Jr. High School in my ninth grade year…. 

4 And, lo, I was NOT happy about it….

And then, 5 in the fullness of time, it was revealed unto me wither I wouldst be spending my ninth grade year…

6 And, again, I was NOT 7 happy about it… 

8 “Thou shalt become a student at St. Bonaventure High School.”

9 And there was great wailing and gnashing of teeth…

“And further, 10 Thou shalt become a GOOD student at St. 11 Bonaventure High School.”

And at that moment, 12 all of the birds in the sky fell to the Earth and were slain and their foul carcasses were gulped down by the beasts of the fields.  13 And the beasts of the fields, having consumed the decaying flesh were poisoned by it and 14 succumbed to the rotting flesh of the birds of the sky.  15 And the corpses of the beasts of the fields were devoured by the insects and other vermin of the land…

16 And a great depth of darkness and a great storm of utter despair enveloped me, and I was alone…. 17 And the Earth ceased to revolve…      

…Until it dawned on me that this could be a great way to meet new friends…. Friends who might be musicians, like myself…. Friends who might be in the market for a few other friends who might be in the market for a few friends who might be in the market for a spot in a band… one that actually wanted to play the same music at the same time and at the same rate of speed…

I became cautiously optimistic that this might not be a completely bad thing.   The one possible caveat   was the adjective “good” preceding the noun “student”… I had to take an entrance exam….

Historically, I was not a good student.  I was an OK student.  Barely.  And it only went downhill when I got to High School.  In fact, at dinner tonight, Judy and I were talking about high school, and the fact that I only did homework three times a year (the last week of any given quarter), and she came out with the statement “You know, it was really nice of St. Bonaventure to let you graduate.”  And she was serious… (In college, I was actually a pretty good student most of the time…) Yet another topic for another biography…

But I had a few weeks to bone up on English and Math.  The only issue there was that it would seriously cut into my guitar practice time.  But I thought about it and decided that, if there was a chance that I could meet some guys with the same aspirations as me, it might be worth the effort to study up and pass the entrance exam.  Besides, I could do some studying while I was babysitting, so it might not cut into my first priority that much.

I took the “long run” approach and managed to get into the school.  I started the following September…

… And that’s where I met Bob Moraga.  Then Scott McLane, Mike Kinart, Tim Redd, Al Gandy, Havert Sealy and Daamen Krall…

And not too long after that, I would loose my complete collection of Beach Boys albums…

  • Mary Alice Staggs Says:
    May 8, 2008 at 12:18 pm   editHi, Bill, Pat and Judy Byrne are in our small faith sharing group, and we met last nite…..Pat was tellling us about your website and just emailed it to me. I just wanted to say hi, hope all is well, and I will enjoy reading your bio here!! take care, our best to your family….Mary Alice at IHM