When Steve Fossen and I simultaneously agreed to learn how to play guitars and start a band back in 1965, there were no credit cards. People had to carry money around all the time. Cell phones?
Forget it. Computers? Sure, the size of a refrigerator.
One thing there was? The BEATLES. That sound that ignited one’s spirit upon first listening, that gave the feeling there was new hope in the world, that made most of a planet fall in love. Their influence changed the world, not unlike when flowering things emerged all over the planet, millions of years ago.
What there wasn’t, included the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, at that time not even a sparkle in Jann Wenner’s eyes. Thank you, Jann Wenner. I think it’s a good idea, though impossible to ever be perfectly fair or just.
Sitting here in the Delta Airlines emergency exit seats provided by the Rock Hall, Linda, who got the window seat for a change, catches up on the latest style-oriented magazines on her iPad, another thing that didn’t exist back in ’65.
She’s a guitar player’s dream girlfriend: a rocker chick who adores electric guitar. Acoustic is alright, too, as long as its sounds are genuine and well-played. I often marvel at her quick wit and keen intelligence, wondering why she’s with someone as wacky as me. Then I remember: Back in 1965 I vowed to become what I had seen in a vision - a major dude musician.
Roger Fisher’s ability as a guitarist is specialized - it’s only rock and roll. He’s no Tommy Emmanuel, no Steve Howe, no Django Reinhardt. But he is Roger Fisher, and almost certainly the best one on the planet. He’s a wacky player and a wacky person, as anyone who knows him will tell you. Maybe that’s why Linda likes me. One-of-a-kind. Being me is to be caught in a world of wonder. I always wondered why all the kids at school told me I was weird... crazy. I obviously didn’t fit, except with a few, like Steve Fossen. Always wondered why there was so much cut-throat ruthlessness that created hostility and division. Wondered how people could be so mean and stupid.
Music! Our savior. Our door out of a room of doom. Our vehicle to the heights of joy. The planet’s sage teacher. The hidden government of all people. Music - my life!
And so began a new diet, one that nourished the soul, one that demanded many courses day after ravenous day. A diet of Louis Armstrong with his impossibly high, strong trumpet notes and radiant smile which revealed a beautiful spirit; a side dish of Elvis Presley, whose youthful energy and sexy swagger disarmed and discarded any doubters; a good portion of Aretha Franklin who sent tingles up the spine; and for dessert - the BEATLES. Thank you, God, for the Beatles.
Bro Mike and myself were busily wending our way through the myriad steps it takes to reach the goal of finishing a great album. The date was December 11, 2012.
Mike is sitting to my right, using the digital audio workstation, Studio One to mix that song of the day, the title track to our new project - ONE VISION. I’m just to his left, working on a music video on a different computer.
We’re in a new world now. Mike and I both remember having to daily clean and demagnetize the two-inch tape, 16-track tape recorder we used back in the ’80’s. In today’s world there are much more complicated ways to enmesh one’s self in tediousness.
I hold Michael Chester Fisher - aka the Magic Man - in the highest esteem as an audio specialist. He hears detail that, even after I’m shown, takes me days or weeks to clearly perceive. We can spend weeks making something right, only to discard it and start over with a new tack, seemingly on a whim. No wonder we’ve been working on the same album - ALL TOLD - since 2009. But it has to be right! You, our beloved audience, must be thrilled to the core, magically manipulated, deeply moved, changed forever.
I notice on Facebook a post that says, “Heart has been chosen as one of the class of 2013 to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” I show Mike. We smile at each other and get right back to work. After a couple hours I check Facebook again and it has lit up like a wildfire. PEOPLE ARE EXCITED! Then I start getting excited. Wow, this is damn cool!
Timing is everything in the meetings of people. In his book, One Train Later, Andy Summers talks about the serendipitous meeting of he and Stewart Copeland... pure luck. And the timing and circumstances surrounding the formation of the Beatles... it’s almost as if there were someone pulling strings from above, making everything fall into perfect place.
Steve’s and my band, Heart had just broken up as bro Mike moved to Vancouver BC. Coincidentally, Ann Wilson’s band had, too. We were looking to put new bands together at the same time. Steve and I ran an ad in the Bellevue American, which Ann saw and promptly answered. When we got together in Chris Blaine’s basement for the initial audition, it was like sparks of electricity were flying around the room. There was something undeniably special and powerful going on with this mix of musicians.
After we all submitted names into a hat, Steve’s suggestion, Hocus Pocus, was chosen as the band’s name. We rehearsed thoroughly and then went on the road for nine months, taking only Thanksgiving and Christmas off.
Once again, timing played a key role as Mike showed up at a gig we had in Bellingham, Washington. That was 1971. When Mike met Ann it was game over. Both had intense experiences that shook their worlds. The hocus pocus was kicking in now!
Fast forward to 2013. There are a LOT of people who would love to see the original lineup of Heart - Mike Derosier, Roger Fisher, Steve Fossen, Howard Leese, and Ann and Nancy Wilson - reform, at least for a song or two. They say, “What’s the matter with you people? Can’t you just put the past behind you? After all, it was 34 YEARS AGO!”
Well, sure, as of this moment, 9:40 AM, April 15, 2013, the plan is to do just that - play one song at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony on April 18. Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen. Our first rehearsal is scheduled for tomorrow at 4 PM. Who knows what might happen? It’s not possible for me to black out my memories of the past. I was deeply involved with Nancy for four years and suffered the worst pain of my life when we split, a story I’ll reveal in the dual autobiography Mike and I are writing entitled, Bros.
No, I can’t forget the past and neither can they. That’s what makes me a little nervous about our meeting. In my heart of hearts, I only hold caring, positive thoughts and intentions toward them, as I do for all of humanity. I wish we all could just get along and have a beautiful world. But the play of life on earth at this time demands struggle, hostility, redemption, and conquest. Tomorrow’s rehearsal shall be revealing on many levels.
These sisters who have struggled and pioneered their way around the world, not unlike their ancestors, who forged their way across America on a wagon train, are different people now. The same but different, as am I. We’ve both been victorious over personal battles only we can know. Both have grown, matured, and wised up in many ways.
As the date draws nearer, I find myself waking in the night, head full of possibilities of how things might go at this event. Who knows, there could be sabotage afoot! I’ve seen the ugliness of carefully-crafted mind games inflicted on the unsuspecting when I was in a band called Alias. I’ve seen psychological seeds planted just before a performance with the hope of failure. The most efficient and deadly form of sabotage though might be that which comes from not dwelling in the all-powerful NOW - self-sabotage. Thinking too much? Overly concerned about the past and/or the future? Maybe taking something to relieve the stress? Self sabotage. I don’t subscribe.
Bro Mike and myself - and sister Kay, of course - were very lucky to have had extraordinary parents, Hank and Sylvia. The send-off I got every morning as I left to school has become the modus operandi for my life, and will dictate all I do here in Los Angeles regarding this great honor of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Dad said, “HAVE FUN!”