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