I was nineteen and twenty years old in 1975
Folks were still wearing bell-bottoms and flares, paisley was still going strong, but love beads had fallen from grace almost completely. Leather and metal studs were in. Chokers were in, and incense still burned faithfully bringing to rooms a sensual hit of sage, sandalwood, or cherry. The world however, was not so mellow or inviting. As love beads fell from grace, the world seemed to follow suit. The fall of Saigon came with the North Vietnamese Communists overrunning the city. Hasty evacuations from embassys bookmarked American history as a battle that hadn't been won. In fact, it wasn't even resolved. Life wasn't like television or the movies; the good guys didn't always win. Meanwhile, here in the states, politics and Washington weren't much better, nor more stable. Everything felt edgy and uncertain. For the first time in my life I was concerned with taxation, and wondered just where I was heading. Certainly there was no future for me in sheet metal.
With the acquisition of my beautiful Lyle Hummingbird Classic acoustic guitar, I was experimenting with writing my own material while still faithfully covering The Rolling Stones. I was also figuring out on my electric, Pink Floyd songs, and some tunes by Rush with an emphasis on their magnificent LP 2112. For $35, I bought a brand new Cry Baby pedal for my guitar. It was one of the first innovative wah-wah pedals that mimicked Hendrix' pedal. If you pushed it all the way to the forward position and left it, it sounded just like an electric sitar. That was a great discovery!
Come summer I rented a really nice apartment just off 112th and Division. I recall that the layout was very interesting, and it had a window air conditioning unit in it. The summer was long and hot, and that AC saved my life. I remember reading the book "Jaws" before actually going to see the movie. "Shark mania" had gripped America, and everybody was talking about "Jaws." I read another book called "The Reincarnation of Peter Proud." It was okay, but the movie that followed was disappointing. In 1975, I was introduced to a new writer that seemed to be very good. With the novel "Carrie" I was introduced to the wonderful new world of Stephen King.
My apartment was upstairs and to the right. It was a 2-bedroom. My bedroom consisted of nothing really than a mattress on the floor, lamp and an alarm clock. It was just for crashing. The other bedroom was empty and made for a great studio to play guitar in. I practiced and learned many of my favorite Pink Floyd songs. I recorded a beefed-up heavy metal version of "House of the Rising Sun" using a Cry Baby pedal and heavy distortion. My friends loved it. It was there that I first became turned on to the likes of Rush, and a British hard rock band called UFO. By fall, when darkness fell much sooner than usual, I was listening to UFO's Force It album, along with Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," the premiere PFM album, and an album called Slow Motion" by Man.
Other favorites at the time were "Warrior on the Edge of Time" from Hawkwind and "Spartacus"by Triumvirate. "Spartacus" was a theme album that was a direct copycat of all the combined works of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Triumvirate could claim barely any originality, with one song being a direct rip-off--not copy mind you--but rip off of EL&P's beautiful song "Trilogy". These albums all remind me of living at Heritage
Green. The time spent in this apartment account for some of my most favorite memories of all.
The Lady Below
Just like any other young guy in the world, in the fall of 1975 I lost my heart to the woman who lived in the apartment below me. Though I'd never had any real contact with her, except perhaps, for seeing her in the parking lot, the one-way love affair endured. She was obviously single, therefore, I had every opportunity to act. It was during these times when I felt the most creative. I was more prolific in song writing, and I did more artwork. My attraction was not a lustful desire, but a genuine desire to get to know her, even though I'd guessed her to be at the very least, ten years older than myself. Nevertheless, it was a love affair of sorts, and I always wondered what had ever happened to her. Knowing she had cats, I finally gathered up the nerve to offer her some cat food I'd had for some strays I'd taken in. I was dumbstruck with curiosity as to what she may have looked like close up instead of quick glimpses on rainy afternoons entering and exiting her car. I screwed up and offered her what I called "dog food" in my stuttering manner, and she laughed at my nervousness, accepted, and thanked me. She was very beautiful. It was a very "Summer of '42" moment.
"AAAAAAGGGHHHH!!! Trilogy of Terror"
Wow. A terrific made-for-television movie called "Trilogy of Terror" blew us all away in 1975. It was a 90 minute anthology movie composed of three parts. The first two were okay, but that last one, damn! It was about a woman who buys this "creepy African doll" that suddenly comes to life when she gets it home. This screaming little monster with the razor-sharp teeth and butcher knife gave Karen Black nothing but hell in her apartment. This movie was so talked about, that some of the girls I knew couldn't get it out of their heads for months. I imagine that the sales of relic African dolls of any kind took a radical plunge in 1975.
Another great TV movie from 1975 was called "The Night that Panicked America" about the infamous radio broadcast of "War of the Worlds" by Orson Welles. The movie was really interesting, and featured a great performance from Paul Shenar who played Orson Welles.
Reading books was always a great pastime for me then, and on cold wintry or autumn nights was when I read the most. One book "The Reincarnation of Peter Proud was made into a movie. I remember going to see it and thinking how awful it was.
"Live from New York, it's Saturday night!"
One of the most hilarious programs ever to grace a television screen came to us in 1975. I remember sitting around at 11:30 pm for the premiere. I was with friends and we couldn't believe how wonderfully bold this show was. Much like National Lampoon, SNL took risks on TV, and created original characters that rode the ragged edges of "acceptable comedy" for a mainstream network. Though Saturday Night Live needs no other introduction, it remained in the 70's, one of the most-watched television programs ever.
Much like my beloved National Lampoon magazine, nothing--socially or politically--was sacred to the SNL crew. Washington D.C. was their first target of comic assaults. Every president in office seemed to have Dan Akroyd on his tail. Combined with their highly original scripts, gags, and characterizations, The Not Ready For Prime Time Players managed to fit in almost every current topic that wasn't suitable for mainstream audiences. In doing so, they made us all laugh so hard that Saturday Night Live was almost a requirement instead of a weekly program.