Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Heavy Metal Drummer

Shiny shiny pants and bleached blond hair
A double kick drum by the river in the summer

--"Heavy Metal Drummer," Wilco

August 5, 1988

Twenty years ago today as a thirteen year-old I piled into the car with my middle school friends and ventured down to Nashville's Starwood Amphitheater for my first concert ever -- the one, the only Def Leppard. My bedroom was plastered with glossy pictures of long-haired lead singer Joe Elliott. MTV showed the "Pour Some Sugar on Me" video 500 times a day. Girls sporting a gallon of hairspray in their teased mullets worshiped these rockers and thus so did mullet-touting teenage boys.

Touring to promote their comeback Hysteria album, the band featured one-armed drummer Rick Allen, who had learned to play an electronic drum kit with his feet and one arm after a car accident. The seed was sown for my affinity for the drums, and years later I would save up my money for my own drum set. I remember the lead-up to the show as my group of friends called each other on the telephone for tips on the proper way to shred & bleach our blue jeans so we could dress like our beloved rock star heroes. I vividly recall begging my mom for an advance on my allowance so I could buy both a Def Leppard and a Europe (the opening band) t-shirt. My parents accepted chaperone duties to drive us down to the show as long as my then 17 year-old sister agreed to go to keep us out of trouble. (Belated thank you to Mom, Dad & Melanie for appeasing my irrational teenage quest.)

The show as I remember it was everything a 13 year-old could hope for -- loud guitars, raucous crowd, lights, lasers, a Rick Allen one-armed drum solo. I remember wearing those t-shirts proudly for months.

Eventually the love for hair metal music -- thankfully, oh so thankfully -- wore off. Grunge and substance replaced glitter and glam in my musical tastes. Def Leppard is still around, albeit playing to much smaller audiences. (The mullets will never die though.) A couple of years ago I heard on the radio where these guys played the parking lot at the grand opening of a Super Wal-Mart in Fayetteville, NC.

Ah, how times change.

Do you take sugar -- one lump or two?


Melrutl said...

Oh, don't I remember this well. I can still sing every lyric. I have to mention that while I view the blog, Corinne always comes around calling 'gj' and 'pappy', excited to watch one of your clips of them. As we both watched some Def Leppard, she kept pointing to the video calling, 'Pappy, pappy'! Ah, Corinne, that is no where NEAR your Pappy! :-)

Anonymous said...

Did you hold up a lighter during Bringing on the Heartache? Tell the truth...

My first show was David Lee Roth and Poison, so I claim no artistic high ground on this, by the way...

Chris L.