10 Reasons Why – Tommy

‘Gator and me hung out from the moment they boarded the plane in Iowa. We found Minehan and his crew more to our liking. David called me a fag and was roughly upbraided by ‘Gator.

“I ain’t loved no other guy than ol’ Huck,” I stuck up for myself. He’s my hero. I’d do anything fer him and enjoyed it. Jist don’t git no ideas yerself,”

That settled any problems and we all decided to hit the rock clubs. When David and Robby found out Tony was booking bands at the Starwood and Whiskey, as well as an assistant manager at the Troubadour, they were on instant suck-up. Tony called around and got the boys on the guest list and arranged limo service for us seven straight boys.

“Put us on the list as The Neighborhoods plus 5,” David joked

“Meet me back at the Troubadour after midnight. I have to work tonight,” Tony told them. “Tommy can show you around. He performed here last summer.”

Minehan was instantly jealous. “You play?” he demanded. 

“I perform,” I nonchalantly replied. “I tell my ‘Gatorsaurus tale  while playin’ guitar to ‘Crocodile Rock.'”

 

I worried that old Jace hadn’t been around to help me on guitar since Tim died. I made no claims to be all that on guitar.

With a limo arrival, we rushed the door at the Starwood, ending up on the disco floor with no one dancing and everyone staring at us.

“Fuck this,” David yelled. “Where Eddie Nash?” Tony had told David that Nash was the one to get him on the bill that night.

 

Someone took us upstairs and through the VIP lounge to an office looking down at the stage. Nash was a short Mediterranean man discussing business with a similarly physiqued man. When he saw us standing at his door, he quickly closed an open safe.

“What do you kids want?”

David was in his element.

“Mr. Nash, I’m David Minehan, the guitarist and singer in The Neighborhoods. We’re house band at the Rat in Boston.  We’re here for a funeral tomorrow. We’d like to play tonight, our only chance to perform in Hollywood during this visit.”

“Well, we’re already fully booked. What makes you think you can just walk in and get on the bill?”

“Tony, from the Troubadour, said you were pretty cool and might allow it.”

“Tony, Doug’s butt boy?”

“We’re all just kids and know how to get other kids excited. Your bar take will double while we play.”

“I suppose you wanna be paid too.”

“Just 25% of the bar take while we’re on.”

“Where are your instruments?”

“The other bands will share.”
“Really?”

“Yeah. It’ll make them look good.”

“Okay, Mr hot-shot. If they go along with it. I’m thinking they may regret being upstaged. You can go on at the end of the next band’s set. Boston, huh? You’re like the Modern Lovers?”

“No way. They’re just Velvet Underground clones. We play rock.”

“That I gotta see.”

 

We rushed into the adjoining Green Room and bullied the opening band into agreeing to lend their instruments. I kinda admired ol’ David for having big balls and gettin’ his way.  He promised them we’d be up front and cheering them on.

We went down on the floor in front of the stage, ready to make a scene. There were few other fans. David took matters in his own hands, rushing into the disco room and pushing all the girls over to the live stage room. Most of the boys followed. Even Rodney left the DJ booth to see what all the commotion was about.

The opening band was called Big Hair. They played ponderous rock from the late sixties, with long solos during which the guitarists could whip around their long hair,  living up to their name. David got us prancing around in a circle, pulling in all the bemused disco dollies as we circled them into a tight crowd.   The boys were too intimidated to reclaim their girlfriends. The band assumed it was a result of their unexciting music.

At the end of their set, the singer announced our surprise. “Well, we’ve got some Boston friends here who have whipped up tonight’s excitement. Get up here and keep it going.”

David bounced on stage, followed by Jim and Mike, picking up the borrowed instruments. He grabbed a guitar and stepped up to the mic.

“Good mornin’, Vietnam” he croaked. “We’re the Neighborhoods. So lock up yer daughters and prepare to rock.”

The disco crowd looked confused but having been herded into the stage area stuck around to see and hear what their master had for them.

“We always start off with an homage to my high school girlfriend, who done me wrong. ‘Roxanne.’

 

 

“Gator was transfixed for a second before going off in the pit area. He grabbed me and did his tossing up in the air trick.  Then he tossed me to Hippie who just stood there with his mouth open. I knocked him down, landing on him. Bouncing up I grabbed him by the shoulders and we spun through the disco crowd, knocking several of them down.  ‘Gator picked up girls and tossed them in the air. Their boyfriends were totally afraid of the All-Big Ten linebacker and started to back away.  Hippie, Robby and I got behind them, pushing them back into the scrum and herding them into a circling band of sheep. The mosh pit was born there and then at the Starwood, January 1977. The band went into a string of their ‘hits.’

 

 

Finally the disco dollies broke away from the pit and headed for the door, totally terrorized.

“Stop,” Minehan screamed. “Here’s a rocker for ya. We ain’t just maniacs.”

 

 

The girls responded to his orders and ran to the front of the stage. The slow rocker was more to their liking. We got them waving their hands as David bounced around the stage.  As he finished, the amps went off and the club lights turned on. Nash had cut the power. Minehan bowed and jumped back into the crowd. Everyone headed back to the disco.

 

Rodney, the DJ, came over to our group.

“Wow, you guys were amazing,” Rodney, never lost for words, never said much except his fan-boy enthusiasms.

Minehan looked down at the short Davy Jones clone, surrounded by his teen groupies. He put his arms around two groupies.

“Well, the girls seem to like it,” he crowed.

“Come to K-ROQ on Sunday night. I’ll put you on the air.”

“Cool. Can we play?”

Rodney’s eyes bugged out. “I don’t know. Do you play acoustic.”

“Naw. We need the power to drive the girls crazy.” He squeezed both girls who squealed.

“Ten o’clock. Don’t be late.”

“Yes, sir, boss.”

 

Next, we went to see Eddie Nash and collect the bar take.

“I wasn’t sure you’d show up after I cut you off.”

“Naw. It’s cool. We just needed to let off some steam.”

“You wanna come back. I like your style of rock.”

“We’re pretty stuck in Boston. We’re the house band at the Rat. Your club’s much nicer. You even have girls in the crowd.”

“Good to see a band not all gay or strung out on dope.”

“How much did we make?” Minehan had his eye on the prize.

Nash reached in his pocket and took out $5, handing it to Minehan. “Nobody was drinking while you played.”

David went ballistic, grabbing Nash and pulling him into the VIP area and jumping up on the railing above the stage are. The next band was setting up.

“See how the house screws over the bands,” he yelled to the crowd, holding up Nash’s hand with the five dollars still in his fist.  “They say no one drank while we played. Get yer asses over to the bar and make us some money. We ain’t playing fer five bucks.”

 

All the fans did as told and rushed the bar. Minehan counted the drinkers. There were fifteen.

“That’s $45. You owe me $11 more.”

Nash laughed and pulled out a ten.

“Make that two fives,” David demanded. Nash complied and David gave one each to Jim and Mike.

“Don’t try to screw over the bands,” he admonished Nash.

“Welcome to Hollywood, kid.”

“Screw you,” and we all walked out.

Half the crowd followed us. Minehan had a groupie under each arm.

I told everyone to follow me to Oki Dog, a few blocks away, east on Santa Monica Blvd.  Several girls were my age. I soon was mimicking Minehan with a cutie under each arm. Robby tried to pick up but the girls told him he was too scrawny.  David was getting antsy about wanting to get it on with his groupies.

“I know a park up the street,” I had been shown the best make out spots by Joan’s groupies the previous summer.

“Let’s go,” he was on a mission. We walked two blocks to Plummer Park  and headed for some bushes away from the boulevard. I was already an expert at three-ways with Jace’s guidance. I kinda missed old Jace but it didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. Minehan was less than smooth. As soon as my lovelies started squealing and moaning, his two took charge and had him grunting and groaning.  He later explained it was his first time. Great to have a three-way to pop your cherry.  He regretted that it wasn’t with his girlfriend.

“Roxanne?” I asked.

“Nope. She dumped me in high school. Carol’s my girlfriend at Harvard. She’s holding out for the right time.”

“You’re at Harvard with Tim? How old are you?

“Seventeen. I skipped high school. Tim and Jack are my roommates.”

“I know ya ain’t no fag, just a little retarded.”

We lay back in the dark park, with two girls each. He explained what being Irish meant – falling in love before doing the dirty deed.

“Yup. Retarded,” I agreed.