A missed chance: ... what might have been. Courtesy photo


For sure when we will be enjoying music in person again as we used to. In the Good Old Days. — only 15 months ago? Seems like a much longer home-confinement prison sentence. My cell block plays some pretty good tunes. But, it’s still not live. It will be a slow progression, I imagine.

I have a healthy respect for facts, science, and for viruses smart enough to hide and mutate and kill millions of us. And I have a desire to live long enough to hear that music again. Not to mention that I want my performers still breathing.


For now will continue to be bits and pieces, shiny objects, tales and trophies, insights and insults, teaching and preaching, musty music memories. While I feel I was blessed to have lived through the best eras for music — from seeing Elvis on TV for his first time ever (uncensored, I was 8, on The Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey Show, they were big band guys), to The Beatles on Ed Sullivan (and The Stones, Animals, Everly Brothers, Chuck Berry and everyone else), cruising with AM car radio that played just about EVERYthing, Buck Owens followed by The Troggs (what a music school!), almost catching the great Yardbirds in little Las Cruces, NM but finding out just as we were about to jump in the car to drive 450 miles, that the venue burned down the night before, to Cream on their farewell tour in only a dozen US venues, to hanging with Buck Owens at a honky tonk at the edge of Albuquerque and Glen Campbell, who lived there for a while, getting up to jam, to riding in Yes’s hot air balloon with an outrageous sound system, to giving the New Riders’ John Dawson a ride to Taos (proving true all I’d heard about his prodigious drug intake) after their stunning set opening for the Dead’s stunning three-hour set (the only time I ever saw them), to the mind blowing parade of music, literary and other cultural icon guests on Hugh Heffner’s very short-lived TV series “Playboy After Dark”

— to The Ramones nearly blasting down the walls of a small coffeehouse, playing at stadium volume, to a life-changing concert by Jimi just a few weeks before he died, to watching from side stage the incomparable acoustic guitarist John Fahey’s hands shaking noticeably until the instant he set them on the guitar and played flawlessly like God’s personal messenger, to Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s unheard-of monster quad sound setup inside the 20,000-capacity Pit, to the ZZ Top tour with a live buffalo on stage, to The Stones’ very best tour, 1972, with the founding lineup plus Mick Taylor in for the deceased Brian Jones (their best lineup ever) with Stevie Wonder opening, to Tiny Tim’s wedding to Miss Vicki on The Johnny Carson Show, to the illustrious classical Guarneri Quartet’s viola-violinist Michael Tree showing up at my farewell to NM party but proving to be too blue-nosed to fiddle with the cool country band I had there, Lawyers, Guns & Money (they were mostly lawyers, my friend/bass player Chuck Daniels later became Chief Justice of the NM Supreme Court, take that, Tree), to being absolutely floored by Led Zeppelin on their first tour, in a 3,000 capacity hall,

— to The Pointer Sisters, LaBelle and Bette Midler (not together) giving outrageously fun performances that brought out Albuquerque’s previously below-the-radar gay community in full feathers, to the incredibly good Dylan-Band tour (drove to Denver), his first since almost losing it in a bad motorcycle crash, to being disappointed to find out Randy Newman was being honest when he warned me, as I sat down, that he was a bad interview, just a boring suburban dad who mowed his own lawn, to being delighted to see Capt. Beefheart twist into self-conscious, stammering knots a parade of hipper-than-thou DJs at the campus radio station who were each convinced they could “save” the live on-air interview with the avant-garde intellect who had no use for them, to finding John Mayall was a cool, authentic blues guy who scheduled his last tour show in NM so he could go hiking into the great wilderness there (and that he was in twice the shape I was at twice the age),

— to being less than enthusiastic about Dylan’s first show in my hometown because he was in his musically-fallow born-again period, but sailing high out of the show because opening act Leon Russell absolutely took us all to church, to saving myself the embarrassment of being terribly shot down, or punched by Lindsay Buckingham, when I was about to hit on that very cute little blonde sharing my side stage vantage point for the opening act, only to realize at the last moment that she was the new singer in Fleetwood Mac, to agreeing to give up the interview with Steppenwolf’s John Kay and tagging along as the photographer because my friend Michael Blake was astute enough to propose, “he’s a Canadian born in Communist East Germany and I want to ask him about his politics and not even mention music,” to finally seeing the Beach Boys and hating them for years after because Dennis Wilson was so out of it he kept falling off his drum stool and the music was terrible, to a fascinating long talk with Dr. John about his studies of Aramaic so he could better understand the original sacred texts of his voodoo religion,

— to being expectedly disappointed with Elton John’s concert, especially his lame band, especially his useless drummer Nigel Olsson with the biggest drum kit I ever saw and he used only three drums and was completely shown up by the new drummer for opening act Mark-Almond, English folkies, who snagged the legendary Dannie Richmond, fresh off years of touring with Charles Mingus, and his genius on a drum kit I could barely see was life-changing, to riding up in a hotel elevator for a post-concert interview with Alice Cooper and stopping on a floor to have two of his band members step in, who then proceeded to pull out and gleefully fondle the biggest knife I’d ever seen and talk some strange shite and I did not think I would make it to the last elevator stop (this was not showman-golfer era Alice, this was dangerously weird and drugged out Coopers), and then there was being one of 20 or so people to hear Jethro Tull sound check in a cavernous Pit Arena, sliding from cacophony to nearly a half hour of “Thick As a Brick.” Sweet Jesus. But that’s another story.


And all before 1980. I know lots of people with better stories. But they’re my stories, I had to make them happen, and I love them. So while I feel I lived through the best eras for music, I have no patience with people who say, eh, I don’t listen to anything after 19__, there wasn’t any good music after that.

Fine. You stay home after the music comes back. I can get closer to the stage.

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 33 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com