#877: Accept Your Fate

GETTING MORE TALE #877:  Accept Your Fate

George, rest his soul, was a bit of a know-it-all.  He was the oldest kid on the block.  He was already living there when my parents moved in.  He was burning the nipples out of Playboy magazines with a magnifying glass when the rest of us were playing dinky cars.  Logically, he was into music before the rest of us as well.  The only one in the neighbourhood that was into Kiss before George was Sean Meyer.  George got into Kiss through Sean.  But he had a bit of a superiority complex, because Sean didn’t hang out with us, which made George the de facto senior of the group.

I remember him strutting his superior robot knowledge when we were really young kids.  It was him, myself, and Bob in the back yard with our Lego.  (George stole a piece of my Lego by the way, and a piece Bob’s too.  But we stole them back.)  George had been into a show called Force Five and built a robot made of Lego based on what he’d seen.  We admired it, and each of us came back with our own robots of Lego.  We made some design improvements over George, but he was not impressed.

In a condescending voice, George explained, “Yours are good but they’re not what mine is.  You built yours based on the concept of ‘robot’.  I built mine based on ‘Force Five'”.

Just the way he was.  As the youngest of three siblings, perhaps that contributed to his need to be better than us at childhood activities.  Or maybe it was just that he was the senior of the group.  But he did.  He even ranked all the neighbourhood kids in our baseball abilities.  We played “Pop 500” in the ball park.  According to George:

“Bob’s the best,” which honestly was indisputable, but then he went on.  “Then there’s me, and Rob Szabo, and John, and Todd Meyer, and Scott Peddle and Mike Ladano at the bottom.”  Hey, dude spoke his mind.  You can see why he made it difficult to like him sometimes.

We blamed George the time they were playing catch, and broke a window.  They were playing catch in the school yard.  Either Bob or John threw a solid one to George, who chickened out and ducked, thus breaking the window.  He got the blame, anyway.  When it came down to the actual hierarchy of the group, he was often Scapegoat.

Naturally George was into Kiss, and rock and roll, before Bob and I.  He had a growing Kiss collection.  We heard those albums first via George.  But he was such a know-it-all.  He bought a bass, and would play around in the back yard going, “Name this tune.”

One day, Bob came to me and said “I think I have a way to trick George on a music question.”

It was the very same Masters of Metal Vol. 2 cassette tape that started me on my own rock journey.  There was a band on the tape that we were sure that George had never heard of:  Accept.  And to our young ears, Udo Dirkschneider sounded exactly like Brian Johnson from AC/DC — the shriek.

“I’m going to play him this song ‘Balls to the Wall’ and we’re going to ask him who the band is.”

I enthusiastically agreed to play along.  Bob’s prediction was that he would think it was AC/DC.  It was a gamble, given that George was more experienced.  But he needed to be taken down a peg.

And so, in my back yard, gathered around a boom box, Bob challenged George to “name that band.”  Masters of Metal Vol. 2 was cued up to track five on side one:  “Balls to the Wall”.

George was quiet for the first minute of the track.

Then, “Watch the damned!” screamed Udo Dirkschneider from the speakers of that boom box.

Immediately George answered, “AC/DC”.  And just as immediately, Bob and I stood up and laughed!

“No!  It’s Accept!”  exclaimed Bob in victory.

“Sign of victorrrrryyyy!” sang Udo behind us.

George was flabbergasted.  He immediately struck out with explanations for his incorrect answer.  The quality of my boom box may have been drawn into question.  There were reasons that he answered AC/DC, but they weren’t his fault!

But Udo had spoken, “sign of victory,” and Bob and I declared ourselves the winners of this particular contest.  It was a very memorable way to cement Accept into my grey matter.  A momentous occasion in terms of neighbourhood history.  We made sure we told the tale of how we bested George in rock knowledge one afternoon.

Listen to both Udo and Johnson at that point in the 80s.  They both had such a deep, full bodied shriek.  The fact that George thought it was Johnson isn’t really a patch on George.  It was an honest mistake.  Our pride in fooling him was simply because George acted like he knew absolutely everything about rock.  And we had proven that he did not.  That’s all we wanted.  It was kind of like being the guy who took down James from his winning streak on Jeopardy.

As a coda to this story, it’s interesting to note that none of us knew what most of these bands looked like.  There were no picture inside that little cassette cover.  Then, one day I was in my basement watching one of the very first episodes of the Pepsi Power Hour.  On came Accept with “Balls to the Wall”.  I glued myself to the screen.

As the three guys with the axes in the front made cool knee-bending poses in sync with the music, I said that “Accept look pretty cool.”  Wolf Hoffmann in the front with the white Flying V” had a blonde, wind-swept mane.  I envied him.  The video lingered on the three axe-wielders for some time, before the vocals finally begin.

And then, suddenly appeared this little, tiny guy in head-to-toe camouflage.  He was slightly rotund, and he had… short hair?  This man with the monstrous screaming voice was a tiny guy with short hair and camo pants?  It was completely incongruent with the sound coming from his lungs.  How could this be?  It seemed, from the video, that the band were sort of highlighting or even mocking his short stature in their stage act.  A close-up shot of Udo’s head within the gap of Wolf Holfmann’s Flying V was simultaneously hilarious and bizarre.  In another shot, Wolf is covering Udo’s head and face with his hands as if he’s just a little GI Joe doll.

Obviously my first priority was telling Bob about this fresh discovery.  In our next conversation, I told him of the Accept video and the startlingly short (and short-haired) lead singer.  He was astonished to see it for himself.  I think seeing what Udo looked like may have soured him on Accept.  I don’t recall him being into them as much anymore, and I’m pretty sure he never owned any of their albums.

Fortunately Accept redeemed themselves in my eyes with a video from their next album Metal Heart.  I taped this video off the Power Hour in early 1986.  It didn’t feature Udo being used as a prop so much.  Scott Peddle found the spinning effect to be dizzying, as did I, but a cool effect it was.  (In hindsight it actually looks quite similar to the “bullet time” effect from the Matrix films.)  “Midnight Mover” was the song that kept me interested in Accept.  It proved you could have a little guy in camouflage (now with additional leather military utility belt) at the front and center, and still have it look cool enough for the kids.

Bob agreed that “Midnight Mover” was a cool video but was never really won over to Accept like I was.  By 1989, any prejudice either of us had about Udo’s appearance were rendered irrelevant when Accept parted with him and brought in an American singer named David Reece.  They came out with an intriguing new sound with “Generation Clash”, the first single/video.  Reece was a normal looking blonde singer dude, totally ready for MTV play.  He also had pipes to spare.  He could nail the screams but he was more versatile, and able to do more commercial music.  And it seemed like that was the direction that Wolf wanted to go in.

Ultimately the Reece lineup didn’t survive, but their story certainly didn’t end there.  Where I was concerned, I liked “Generation Clash”.  I still think the guitar solo alone is a tremendous and diverse piece of music.  The Accept/Reece experiment didn’t really fail for me, and I think their Eat the Heat album is pretty heavy for the year 1989.

Still, when they make the movie of my life, it’s the Accept scene with George getting schooled that I hope makes the final cut.

49 comments

        1. So psychologically speaking, your original comment was subconsciously a moment of self-sabotage, self-defeatism, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy as to your inability to be a macho macho man. Well I’m here to tell you Mr. Ladano, as you lay there on the MaGroin therapy couch, you’re hardcore badass.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I always looked at it this way, if AC/DC could have a short guy running around on guitar, then Accept could have one on the vocals. That was the problem with the 80s, too much was focused on image while I was more into substance. Both bands produced a lot of the latter over the years. Anyway, good you got one over on George.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not to mention Bruce Dickinson, King Diamond, Louis Armstrong, Ritchie Valens, Roger Daltrey, Lou Gramm, Blaze Bayley, Jon Anderson, Prince, Brian Johnson, Glenn Danzig, Joe Lynn Turner, Phil Collins, Frank Sinatra, Bono, Thom Yorke Billy Squier, etc. I bet Mozart and Beethoven could carry a tune too. And only one of those guys is/was over 5′ 6″ (Frank).

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        1. They say he’s 5′ 9″, which is perfectly average. I was trying to stick to around 5′ 6″ and smaller, because it’s incredible how many of the most acclaimed singers don’t get past that marker.

          If we shifted the goal post to there then we can include Rollins, Mike Patton, Freddie Mercury, Kurt Cobain, Tom Petty, Bob Marley, John Lydon, Ed Sheeran, Bruce Springsteen, etc.

          Forgot about Ringo Starr on the previous list, can throw in Bruno Mars for a more modern example too.

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        2. Bob Dylan, Bon Scott, Alice Cooper, Axl Rose, Sammy Hagar, Billy Idol, Jack Blades, Tommy Shaw, Michael Stipe, Klaus Meine, etc.

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        3. Seems being under 5′ 9″ is a pre-requisite to being a legendary singer. How could I forget Elton John as well?

          I’m just glancing at my record collection and it makes me think of more. Not coming from my noggin.

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        4. Heels, lifts, platform boots, John Anderson even had his own stage platform at one point. That’s totally understandable though since Trevor Rabin and Chris Squire are/were freaking giants.

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        5. Then again, the internets tell me (to name a few): Peter Steele (6’8”), Joey Ramone (6’6”), Chris Squire, Blackie Lawless, Josh Homme, Tom DeLonge, Ric Ocasek (6’4”), Roger Waters, Duff McKagan (6’3”), Zakk Wylde, Gene Simmons, Ian Gillan, Joe Elliott (6’2”), Robert Plant, James Hetfield (6’1”), David Lee Roth Dave Grohl (6’0”)…

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        6. Some great talents in there, but the only ones I’d say were ever great singers would be Lawless, Plant, and Gillan. I’d throw in Roth for style as well. Simmons is good too. Ocasek’s voice worked perfectly for The Cars, but I don’t think anyone would argue he was Lou Gramm or anything.

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        7. Ha true, I was just trying to see who was on the other end of the height chart. I identify with the boys at 6’2″, though I wish I could sing like Ian Gillan (hot damn!)…

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        8. I identify with the likes of Patton at 5′ 8″, and my vocal range spanned from F2-C#7 in my prime. This only proves the theory.

          Although my ability to stay on key with good tone depends on the day, and my diet.

          You, John T. Snow, and Harrison are all 6′ 2″. You guys should form a band called The Towers. Mike and I can open for you as The Top-Shelf Struggles.

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        9. Impressive! Are you in a band? Me, I can’t sing worth a damn (unless you wanna clear a room quickly).

          I love the Top-Shelf Struggles name! Baha! But The Towers might need some work. There are a ton of folks taller than us, usually standing directly in front of me at concerts g*dd*mnit. Like at the Slayer farewell gig in Toronto, we had great seats, and then some 6’9″ giant comes and stands right in front of me. Sigh.

          Hm. Maybe we could be the Six-Foot Toos.

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        10. I have been in bands. I can play guitar, so that means I can play bass. Started on keyboards so that’s a good too. Studied music theory too.

          Put out a single a year or so ago, but I’m not gonna share it in public.

          Six-Foot Toos is perfect. Only problem is Harrison admittedly has no musical talent. So he’ll have to be the Sid Vicious type in your group.

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        11. You’ve got mad skillz! I did a wee bit of theory (mostly forgotten now, likely) in school while lead chair trumpet in the concert and jazz bands. I did piano lessons only long enough to learn to use both hands at once. I figured since I could read music I could go alone from there (fool!). Took up the guitar in university and have been a hack ever since. I was in one band (drums) after college. We played a handful of gigs before disbanding. Man, I love playing drums, though (so much fun) even though I wouldn’t call me good at it I can keep a beat and do an occasional fill.

          Is talent requied? We could all be Sid-types lol!

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        12. *curtain. I think you know what I meant though. Must be all that extra length that makes it harder for blood to get to your brain. That’s why we’re so much more talented than the towers.

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  2. It was also a clever song to play since the word “balls” is in the chorus and AC/DC love to sing about balls. That being said, I’ve never heard Brian sound as constipated as Udo does during the verses of that song. I could see a kid not seeing the difference, but Udo sounds more phlegmy and Brian sounds throat shredding overdriven.

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  3. I was always a bit intimidated by the slightly homoerotic nature of the cover of ‘Balls To The Wall’, not that I’d have put it that way at 13! It only took me another 17 years to catch up to Accept properly.

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