Which sets up the story of how I became utterly and completely hooked on Rock and Roll.
In 1981, at the age of 15, I heard ZZ Top for the very first time. I hadn't had the opportunity to hear very many groups because my parents HATED rock music and rock stars. Rock was a "bad influence" and all rock stars were "degenerates". So when I started working at my first job (washing dishes in a pizza restaurant) I was lucky enough to work with a bunch of guys who loved rock and loved to listen to it loud! We listened to the radio all night while we worked and a whole new world opened up to me. When I heard ZZ Top the first time, I was blown away by their originality and their sound. When the radio station announced that they were coming to town I headed to the local record store and bought my ticket.
I believed buying that ticket was a great idea for two reasons: 1) I really wanted to see ZZ Top; and 2) cool people went to rock concerts - - I would be cool by association.
My first obstacle was telling my mom. I did not tell my dad--I would not be here typing this blog today if I had. I figured I would never obtain permission, so I decided to beg for forgiveness--and a ride to the concert since I was too young to drive. My mom wasn't very happy, but to her credit (and my joy) she relented and a couple of weeks later, she dropped me off in front of the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City.
When I walked into the venue, I felt like I had entered a whole new world. I was young, I was naive and I was a little scared. I had never seen anyone like some of the people that were there that night. There were people my age, people much older, people with strange hair, no hair, multi-colored hair, and there was a lady who was somewhere between 55 and 106 years old wearing a leather outfit that was both interesting and horrifying at the same time.
I found my seat and waited for the concert to start. They guys next to me were older, hippies, very friendly and drinking freely. They said "man" a lot and asked me if this was my first concert. I told them it was. which they found highly amusing and also reason to buy another round of beers. For the rest of the night, they all called me "Z Man" -- which made me feel cool. "Z Man, isn't this concert awesome!" "Z Man, the Top rocks man!" "Z Man, the laser show is freaky!" and "Sorry I spilled my beer on your foot Z Man!"
They were genuinely friendly and I have never forgotten them.
The show was amazing, and I was hooked. From that night on, I worked for the sole purpose of earning money to go to more concerts. 26 years later, I took my wife to see ZZ Top again. It was my fourth ticket to see them. This one cost me about ten times the amount of my first ticket and it was worth every penny.
ZZ Top is not my favorite group, but I feel a kinship with Dusty, Billy and Frank. Going to see them that first time never made me one bit cooler--in fact I am even less cool. I am embarrassed to admit that I now own a PT Cruiser just because it reminds me of their Eliminator car.
I may not be cool. But I am happy. And if you're happy then nothing else matters.