In the '60s my sister Eloise got her first job working at a record store, opening me up to the world of music and dancing for the first time. She always looked out for me; she wanted her brother to be “cool," so she helped me here and there. She would help me dress and she would instruct the barber to leave my bangs like The Beatles so I was stylish at school. When she started bringing home records from work, she helped me learn how to dance. “I don’t want you to go out on a date and not know how to dance!” she would say. I learned a lot from my sister, but she never taught me how to get good grades like her.
Music became my passion, and her influence and introduction to music helped kick start that passion. She turned me on to the music of Herb Alpert, Chicago, Peter Paul and Mary, The Beatles, and The Who. I’ll always remember listening to "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band" on the turntable, playing it over and over again until I learned every lyric and could sing along to every song.
My parents only really listened to some country music or bluegrass here and there. Whenever we were in the car or at home the radio always played one of these genres. Andy Williams was a big hit in my parent’s home. When my sister started bringing home albums it was the best feeling to hear something new. I hadn’t heard Rock and Roll before then, and I was relieved to hear other music that spoke to me.
Later on, I was gifted a radio by my great aunt who had taken a liking to me. I remember her living alone with her parrot. The parrot wasn’t the nicest of pets; it would always bite me whenever I got too close. Despite the mean parrot, my great aunt loved me and blessed me with her radio upon her passing. This radio opened my eyes further to the world of music and news. I distinctly remember listening to Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) fight Sunny Listen in 1964 as I lay in bed with a broken leg from football.
Late nights I would retreat to my room and tune in to the various radio stations I could pick up across the county. Rock and Roll stations far and wide would reach my receiver. With my imagination, I could be anywhere listening to that music. The various voices of B.B. King, Muddy Waters, and James Brown would trickle in through my speakers, igniting my fascination with the world of music entertainment. I had an immense desire to see all these artists live, and one day possibly meet them.