– KHJ – Johnny Mitchell – Tommy Vance – November 23, 1965 – Ellis Feaster Collection –
You remember when your hair got you in trouble.
You played guitar since you were in 6th grade – you’ve been in a band since Junior High – You were the Viscounts – You were a Surf Band. You were the hit of the 9th Grade Talent show. Girls screamed – you loved it. This was going to be your life.
Now you’re in high school. You discovered The Beatles and Dylan and The Rolling Stones. You weren’t The Viscounts anymore. You were Rainy Day. You didn’t play Surf anymore. You auditioned to play Pandora’s Box – you didn’t make it. They said “come back in a couple months”.
You start to grow your hair – you get busted by your Gym teacher. He tells the Boy’s VP – the Boy’s VP calls your parents. Your parents yell at you – they’ve been doing that a lot lately. They think you’re going to be a delinquent or a drug addict. They been watching the news. They hear things. They don’t look at you like they used to.
It’s World War 3. The guy at the Record store gives you advice; slick your hair back and use a ton of hairspray. It works but it’s weird – your head feels like it’s drenched in baby oil and the hairspray makes you look bald. It works for a while, at least until the audition. After that, you’ll never be bothered again. Freedom, at least from Vitalis.
Your life gets complicated – school, rehearse, come up with songs, avoid authority figures; it’s a full-time job. Your parents are suspicious – you tell them when you pass the audition and play at Pandora’s Box you’ll get in the Musician’s Union and the school can’t touch you. Your dad shoots you the squinty-eyed “gimme a break” look.
For the next two months you spend every cent you have on two things; guitar strings and cool clothes. By the time the audition rolls around you could pass as a member of the Walker Brothers.
Because your dad owns the only car big enough to carry all the band’s equipment you promise him you’ll go to the barber and get white side-walls if they don’t pass the audition and would he PLEASE drive you to Pandora’s Box, just this once?
It’s the best the band has sounded – ever. Everybody is playing their hearts out – you start on time – you end on time. When you hit the final chord on “I’m A Man” (the Yardbirds song you know note for note, even the solo), everybody looks around at each other and break out in grins. Yeah, you nailed it.
You look out in the audience for the booker who sits scribbling on a notepad.
“Come back in a couple months”.
And while you’re watching your life flash in front of you, here’s around 45 minutes of Johnny Mitchell and Tommy Vance from KHJ as it was playing on a radio somewhere on November 23, 1965.
(Note: This is a work of total and complete fiction – any resemblance to events real or imagined is the product of this author and is a bizarre coincidence.)