I got my first guitar when I was 11 a Silvertone lowest end model but good enough to learn on. My cousins taught me how to tune it up but it took a while to find my ear some might say I’m still looking.
I’m not sure if I even suggested to my Dad that I take lessons I just bought a learn guitar book with my meager paperboy earnings and plunged right in. The book I bought taught you to read musical notes on the page and where to place your fingers to ring out the given notes, lead guitar. It also taught a bit about tempo etc. But I paid no attention to that.
I learned to play scales and could bang them out like nobody’s business and then some very simple songs I don’t even remember which ones but they were not cool and I would have been embarrassed if any of my friends heard me playing them even though they might have been a little impressed that I could play anything at all.
But it was all notes after months of playing I had not struck a single chord. One day though my friend from school said “hey Bobby you got a guitar why don’t I come by after school with mine and we can mess around?”
Dave came by and I was sitting outside my three-decker in Lowell MA on a little wall knockin’ out some scales and “Greensleaves” or “Goodnight Irene” he said “whoa that is cool but don’t you know some chords?”
Dave played Van Morrison “Gloria” and then launched into “Louie, Louie” and even sang my jaw dropped. Twenty minutes and three chords learned and I was playing “Gloria” non-stop until my Dad knocked on my bedroom door and shouted “take a break Elvis.”
Dave took lessons and showed me some other stuff and him and two of our classmates at St. Pat’s Jack and Mickey even played a folk Mass for our 8th grade graduation. They were much better players than me and I had to borrow a “real” instrument just so I wouldn’t sound too terrible. That was my only gig ever but I kept playing and I got a bit better.
One Christmas I got a hollow body electric jobber cheap one and a small Kalamazoo amp and I could do some damage with that baby. My friend George who lived up Butterfield St from me corner of Mt Vernon had a snare drum and also a vacant building a former Greek church that we could play in when his dad allowed us.
We had another friend with an electric guitar but he could barely play no matter I taught him a few simple things and we was off to the races.
We had a songbook with chords that I borrowed from the library many of the songs I wasn’t familiar with so just played it my way and later when I heard the song by the original artist lord have mercy so that’s how it’s supposed to go.
We had some fun killed some time even had a little battle of the bands with some guys down the street who had a full drum kit. We played Donovan “Hurdy Gurdy Man” one of our three audience members laughed “what the hell was THAT!”
At this time I had a job working the Bingo game at St. Pat’s setting up the small auditorium/lunch room with tables and chairs we even had overflow to the first floor hallway so we set up there too a fire hazard for sure.
During the games we would cover the floor so when someone got the bingo we would run and check their card.
I made some real money with which I bought a bookcase full of athletics books from Track &Field News and a Yamaha Guitar I saved $180. dollars for.
That was 1971 I got the FG 180 red label model made in Japan.
Well around five years ago I pulled it outa mothballs and brought it to a friend for a tune-up. I asked him “hey Steve I think I need a new guitar a Martin or a Gibson right because I will sound better and everythang.”
“Bobby you got a real nice instrument here I would definitely not give this up.”
Turns out Yamaha just re-released this model they originally started making in 1969.
OK Time to practice maybe it’s time to take another crack at Hurdy Gurdy Man.