Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band wasn’t officially released until June of 1967 yet Tim O’Neil obtained a copy in early May. He invited me over to his parent’s basement, which was a hangout for seemingly every teen in midtown Superior. I have no idea how he got the advanced copy. He just grinned when I asked him. “It doesn’t matter how I got it, Armond-ski. It only matters that it’s here and it is the greatest album ever fucking recorded.”
He restarted the album from the beginning and I was immediately impressed. This was The Beatles? It didn’t sound like The Beatles. It was far more mature musically than anything I’d heard from them up to that point. I was blown away on first listen.
Tim played the album over and over. It was the only album we would listen to that night. Tim started to proselytize about starting a new band, an experimental band that would do nothing but trippy experimental psychedelic music. Anything was fair game. Any sound that anybody wanted to add. The music would be free of earthly bonds causing the listener to float around their body in a trippy psychedelic state. Yeah, there was some pretty great weed in town and Tim had smoked copious amounts. The high from that smoke was remarkable, devastating, and enlightening all at the same time.
Tim bounced his ideas off the ceiling and the wall and to all in the room. We started to jam. The O’Neil’s had a Baldwin organ in their basement. It wasn’t a Hammond by any stretch of the imagination, but it had keys and it made noise. Others in the room joined into the jam. Tim started pounding drums. A bass player they called Ham plugged in and laid down solid funk along with Tim. A guitarist they called Pin Dink banged his guitar near his amp producing massive amounts of feedback.
At some point we broke into standard twelve-bar blues. Twelve-bar refers to a repeating song construct of twelve measures, not the number of honky tonks the band played. The vibe in the room was incredible. Stoned girls nodded their stoned heads up and down in beat to the music the stoned musicians cranked out.
I’m not certain when she arrived, but at some point I felt a warm body next to mine on the organ bench. I opened my eyes to see a beautiful Irish girl with reddish-black hair that somehow reminded me of Poe’s poem The Raven. I felt her sweater-clad breasts brushing lightly against my arm as she leaned over and started making out with me. We hadn’t even spoken. She just started Frenching me out of nowhere as I played organ. I didn’t even know her name, nor did I particularly care at that juncture. What I did know was that this was one seriously passionate chick with a tasty tongue.
The music quickly faded as one musician after the other was accosted by a horny chick. And soon, silence.
“Didn’t I tell you this was a great fucking idea?” Tim broke the silence. “I’m going to book a show for us at the Id. It’ll be the coolest.”
None of the rest of us paid attention to Tim. He just blathered on into the night about making posters and the groovy clothes we would wear. (Groovy was just entering the local lexicon.) He described how we could use the fluorescent letters from laundry detergent boxes – that was the current vogue – that would glow under black lights and it would look really radical.
“I’ve got a name for the band, too. We’ll call it Poison Cookies Rotten Pig Band.”
That stopped everyone in their tracks. What the fuck did he just say? I started laughing causing the girl to dislodge from my face and start laughing, too. The entire room burst into laughter. Say it again, man.
“Poison Cookies Rotten Pig Band,” Tim repeated.
It got funnier each time he said it. The sheer ridiculousness of the name made it a great name. We were all soon crying we were laughing so hard. Ok, maybe the pot had something to do with it, but you have to admit, it is a pretty funny name.
When we calmed down, I introduced myself to the chick hugging me. “My name is Armond,” I offered hoping that she would tell me her name.
“Yeah, I know,” she replied right before she stuck her tongue back down my throat. Who was I to argue?
It got late. My lips got numb. My balls turned blue. She asked me to walk her home. While slowly walking the nine blocks on a beautiful May night she asked if I would take her to a movie the next night.
“Sure, what would you like to see?” I asked.
“You’re going to think I’m weird,” she said.
“I like weird. I’m weird,” I said. “What movie do you want to see? I’m game for whatever you’re into.” I held my breath expecting her to name something lame like The Jungle Book, which was a film that you might get stuck bringing your young cousins to. It could be even worse. She might want to see the latest Elvis fucking Presley crapfest called Clambake.
“In The Heat Of The Night won the Best Picture Academy Award and a bunch of other awards. I read the James Ball book last year. It was great. I loved it. I hear the movie is super. Ok?”
I was stunned. She was a hot chick who wanted to see a cool movie and she could even read.
“Far out,” I said. “I’d love to see it, too. How much do you read?”
“Tons,” she replied. “I love reading. I’m reading five books right now. I can’t get enough.”
“Wow, me too,” I said. “I’m reading seven different books at the moment.”
We talked about books we were reading or had read. We were both reading To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee at the time.
“Do you know that the character of Dill is based on Truman Capote?” she asked.
“No shit? I didn’t know that.”
“Yeah, Nelle Harper Lee grew up in Monroeville, Alabama with Copote.”
“I didn’t know that, either,” I said. This was incredible. She was a literate wasicu chick with a great body, as passionate as could be, wanted to be with me, and she was schooling me about one of my favourite authors. I never wanted the walk to end.
“I love Harper Lee, but Truman Capote pisses me off,” I began…
“Because he’s a queer?” she asked.
“No, I don’t care about that. It was what he said on the Johnny Carson Show about Jack Kerouac.”
Simultaneously in a nasal voice we both said, “That’s not writing that’s just typing.” We laughed at our synchronization on the line. Johnny Carson had asked Capote what he thought of Kerouac’s book On The Road.
We arrived at her house way too son. She said goodbye and turned to walk in the house.
“See you tomorrow for the movie,” she said over her shoulder.
“Six-thirty, movie starts at seven-fifteen.”
“Wait,” I said as she reached the door. “What’s your name?”
“Patty,” she laughed. “Patty O’Leary.”
“Why haven’t I ever seen you at school?” I inquired.
“I go to Cathedral,” she said. “Goodnight.” She slipped through the door out of my sight and into my heart.
No wonder I had never seen her at Central. I certainly would have noticed a girl of this beauty, with that Raven hair, and nice Winnebago’s if she’d been in our halls at any time. She was an Irish Catholic girl who went to Cathedral, the private Catholic school in town.
I floated home on warm waves of remembrance of the night I’d just had. I was smitten. I was certain that I was in love.
In early May, we opened for a band called South 40 at the Duluth National Guard Amory. They were an ass kicking rock group with a wicked original song titled Evil Woman Don’t Play Your Games With Me. It blew me away when I heard it. The gritty Hammond B3 played by Kink Middlemist provided granite support for the biting vocals. Kink’s solo was a mad ball of energy. And, I loved the lyrics.
“See the look of Evil in your eye-ease.
You’ve been filling me all full of lie-ease.
My hope won’t change your shameful dee-eeds.
You will bear some others fertile see-eed.
Evil woman don’t play your games with me.
Evil woman don’t play your games with me.”
I asked Kink for permission to perform the song with Dynasty, which he quickly granted. Then, I asked him to show me a couple of the wicked Hammond lines he’d whipped out. They were faster than my ears could assimilate. He graciously showed me hand positions and movement. Yet another example of what makes a great musician. He treated me like a brother keyboard player and was eager to share what he knew.
“That was really cool,” Patty said as we walked out to the van. “That was a really classy thing for him to do.”
“Tell me about it,” I said. “I would never have figured that out on my own. That cat can play rings around me, my dear.”
Patty became my shadow that month. We went everywhere together, especially the library where we mostly researched and read, but occasionally snuck behind the stacks to make out for awhile.
One day she dragged me into one of those photo booths where you get four photos for a quarter. She plugged a buck worth of quarters into the machine because she needed bookmarks.
We walked all over the city just talking, walking and talking in the warm springtime, always stopping to make out for awhile. We did lots of making out and that was about it. I hugged her and rubbed my hands all over her back, but never probed into more private areas. I could claim that I was being respectful of this young lady, but who would believe that. No, I was just chicken-shit. I liked her way too much to jeopardize our relationship by getting too grabby too soon.
As for the new band, one weekend when Dynasty was off we actually dragged instruments, amplifiers, and lights down to the stage of the local YMCA, which was nothing more than a dusty old gym with a few punching bags and spit buckets, to perform the one and only concert of the Poison Cookies Rotten Pig Band. We drew amazingly well considering we didn’t advertise or even give a damn if anybody showed up. The YMCA guy was amazed. We brought in over $100 to his organization with that show.
Patty said that she enjoyed the show but that it was nothing compared to Dynasty. I thought she was talking about the South 40 show.
“You should have seen us when we opened for the Animals,” I bragged.
“I did,” she said. “How do you think I knew who you were? Why do think I asked Teamo to invite you down to his basement?”
I was dumbfounded and it showed. I didn’t know what to say.
“I saw Dynasty at the Animals show. I was in the seventh row on your side of the stage. I thought you were really cute. I’ve known the O’Neil family my whole life. My dad is Teamo’s godfather.
“I went to the public library and looked up books that you had read. I’d seen you there many times, always carrying an armload of books in only to carry a new armload out. There is just something about you that is so cute. I love guys who read.”
I had no idea. It was astounding that this girl had manipulated the forces that she had just to get to meet me in Tim’s basement. I was overwhelmed by the thought.
“Wanna see a movie?” I said trying to hide my blushing face.
“And you’ve got cute dimples,” she piled on.
“Movie?” I smiled more shaking my head in disbelief.
“Let’s go see The Reluctant Astronaut,” she suggested. “I love Don Knotts. The Ghost & Mr. Chicken was a scream.”
Could this girl be any cooler?
“Sounds great to me.”
We didn’t see much of the movie, but it must have been really funny. The folks down below were laughing uproariously at something. Patty and I made out in the balcony through two showings.