When I was growing up every family had a radio and most cars and trucks had radios but kids didn’t own anything that could be plugged in. Most houses had one electrical socket in each bedroom and that was it. If a kid was lucky he might have a lamp, but as far as having something that produced sound, well, no. My parents had a turntable and they had four or five albums but they weren’t really into music that much. The radio in the car stayed tuned to whatever my father liked and therefore I liked it too, or didn’t but no one cared.
When my older sister got a turntable for her birthday, and I think she was twelve or thirteen, it was as if someone had walked into the house leading an alien by a leash. Here was a personal music playing device and even though my sister didn’t own any music, and all this thing would play was those small 45’s, but that was heaven enough.
It was an odd thing to be given a choice in music. All the music we had ever heard was on my father’s car radio, or one of those old albums, but when it got right down to it, there wasn’t enough music I had heard to know what I really liked. There weren’t that many radio stations and the older kids all listened to the same music as the adults. When my birthday rolled around I got a turntable, too, and it too played 45’s but it was mine. I just had no idea what music I liked.
I started out with what was popular on the radio, and for a short time anything on the top ten on the radio was enough. But then eight track tapes became more popular and suddenly, there was a lot more music, and some of it was rock and roll. Everyone knew who the Beatles were but we had only heard rumors of what Alice Cooper was like, and what some of the bands like the Rolling Stones sound like.
I lobbied hard for a real turntable, one with two speakers so I could listen to things in “stereo” and I wanted one that would play albums. But my parents wondered if allowing a kid at the age of fourteen to choose his own music, if that wasn’t going too far. My father had a solution to the problem by not allowing us to buy music he wasn’t standing there to see, and it worked. He would shake his head and say, “You don’t like that.” My father did that a lot, explaining to us what we did or didn’t like.
In the Summer of 1975 my mother allowed me to go to a local music store and buy anything I wanted, one album, of any sort, of any music, no holds barred. I had heard Alice Cooper, and this store had one copy of one Cooper album, “Welcome to My Nightmare” I loved it. I played the album until the grooves nearly wore off of it.
Okay, your first album was…?
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit
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