pepsi power hour

#833: Flag Boy (Part Two of the 1986 Saga)

STOPARRETPotentially triggering material ahead.

 

 

GETTING MORE TALE #833: Flag Boy

Part Two of the 1986 Saga

One of the many recurring themes here has been the awful experiences of being a metalhead in Catholic school.  A story that has somehow escaped being told until now is the one where those bastard kids gave me the name “Fag Boy” for a whole school year.

Grade 8, the 1985-86 year, had to be the worst.  It was kicked off by a huge fight with the school bully Steve Hartman, a total piece of shit, but at least I won.  Not that it helped.  I was teased relentlessly all year for my love of Kiss and Judas Priest.  Then I had mono.  Incidentally, Catholic school bullies are the worst and the teachers didn’t give a fuck.  When one kid, Ian Johnson, got into a fight with another bully, the teachers made them walk around the schoolyard together hand in hand.  What was that supposed to do?

The only thing that made life easier that year was beating Hartman in September of ’85.  That kept him off my back for the school year, although there were other bullies waiting in the wings.  Jeff Brooks, who stuffed snow down my jacket every Thursday after shop class.  Kevin Kirby, who copied my homework.  Towards the end even Hartman was campaigning for a “rematch”.

My sister used to call that school the “Hell Hole”.  She would sing Spinal Tap’s “Hell Hole” when we drove by.  This is a little kid in grade 4 calling her school that name.

At the start of the eighth grade, to learn social responsibility, we all had to volunteer for something.  There were a limited selection of slots for each role we were offered.  I cannot remember all of the duties that were set out on our menu of options.  Volunteering at the church was definitely among them, but I volunteered for the one I thought would be the most interesting:  security!  On a regular basis, we were to walk around the school when it was closed to make sure all was well.  Keep an eye out for anything wrong, like vandalism.  It was perfect because I was always biking around that direction anyway.  It was really the most appealing of all the options to me.

I’m sure you have already guessed they didn’t give me the security assignment.  No, I was given something that was supposed to be better, but was actually far worse.  It was such a dubious honour.  I was Flag Boy.

I wasn’t athletic, I was a skinny kid who openly listened to Judas Priest.  No way were they putting me on security.  They gave the two open positions to a couple of the athletic kids.  I don’t think either of them did any security that year.

As Flag Boy, I was responsible for putting out and bringing in the Maple Leaf at the start and end of every day for the year. It was worst at the start of the day.  When announcements were about to commence, I had to get out of my seat and leave the class, which always seemed to amuse them.  Then I had to walk down the hallway past the other grade 8 classroom, who always mocked and laughed and pointed at me as I went.  They called me “Fag Boy” from day one.  What made it even worse were my boots.  My dad gave them to me.  I thought they were so cool.  They didn’t have laces, they had dual zippers.  The boots only made me more a “Fag Boy”.

When the first pair of boots wore out, my dad gave me his second identical backup pair.  Ironically those boots would be considered so retro and stylish today.

The abuse that year was pretty bad and I faked sick a lot.  I faked sick mostly on Thursdays, which was shop class.  They bussed us to another school, St. Joseph, which had a woodworking shop.  The supervision was minimal and the bus rides were all but intolerable.  At one point or another I just decided I couldn’t take it anymore and faked sick as many Thursdays as I could.  By the time I got sick with mono for real, I had several incomplete projects in woodworking.  I was home for the rest of the term, and I never had to worry about those Thursday bus trips again.

Having mono sucked a lot, but Thursdays on the bus were far worse.  I considered it more than a fair trade.

While sick at home for real, I absorbed as many Pepsi Power Hours as I could.  I heard Hear N’ Aid for the first time.  I became addicted to “Rough Boy” by ZZ Top because of that damn music video.  (I guess I learned from an early age that I’m really a leg man.)  My heavy metal credentials grew by leaps and bounds and I listened to more and more songs:  “Metal on Metal”, “Never Surrender”, “Turbo Lover”, “Rock and Roll Children”.  To this day, I associate those songs with my sick time in 1986.  Especially Dio’s “Rock and Roll Children”.  The surreal music video suited the way I felt physically.  It didn’t look like the real world and I didn’t feel like myself.

My association of heavy metal music with relief from the outside world was cemented that year.  I had always come home to the comfort of a few Kiss tapes.  In 1986, sick with mono, I was safe from the school and surrounded not by bullies but by Ronnie James Dio, Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford, and Bruce Dickinson.  They didn’t call me “Fag Boy”, in fact their lyrics encouraged me to dig for strength.  Recovering from my illness, I had built this wall of metal around me.  It would be my armour for life.

I don’t know if those kids remember calling me “Fag Boy”, or if they would admit it.  I know I wouldn’t recognize Hartman if I saw him today.  They used to talk about forgiveness a lot in Catholic school.  You can forgive, but you never forget.

 

VHS Archives #96: Brighton Rock play ball with Erica Ehm and Duane Ward (1991)

This video is for the one and only Buried on Mars!

Up to bat:  Erica Ehm (MuchMusic)
Pitcher:  Duane Ward (Toronto Blue Jays)
Catcher:  Gerald McGhee (Brighton Rock)
Umpire:  Greg Fraser (Brighton Rock)

In 1991 Brighton Rock released their third album Love Machine, featuring backing vocals by Duane Ward of the Toronto Blue Jays! Erica Ehm got to play ball and ask questions of all of them. Questions about:

  • Duane’s “theme song” by Billy Joel
  • How Brighton Rock hooked up with Ward
  • What they do when they hang out
  • The first video “Hollywood Shuffle”
  • Life after the Jays

Let’s play ball!

VHS Archives #90: Aldo Nova – “Modern World” unplugged live performance and interview! (1991)

By request of the mighty JOHN T. SNOW of 2loud2oldmusic.com 

Canadian rock sensation Aldo Nova made his very first visit to the MuchMusic studios in July of 1991, on the Pepsi Power Hour hosted by Michael Williams.  Getting down to business, Aldo plays an unplugged “Modern World” from his brand new album Blood on the Bricks!

This nearly 20 minute segment is Williams and MuchMusic at their finest.  Aldo is engaging and frequently demonstrates songs on acoustic.  Subjects covered:

  • Signing a deal / starting out with “Fantasy”
  • Producing early Celine Dion recordings
  • “Runaway”
  • “Blaze of Glory”
  • His band and working with a singer instead of singing himself

 

VHS Archives #83: David Lee Roth in Paradise (1988)

Due to popular vote here’s David Lee Roth in the first VHS Archive of 2020!  This interview — jeez louise! — goes back 32 years.  DLR was promoting Skyscraper and was lobbed a few softball questions by rookie Steve Anthony of MuchMusic (at least in comparison to his 1991 interview with Denise Donlon, link below).

Enjoy a little live footage from the Skyscraper tour and Roth’s thoughts on success and his history.

More DAVID LEE ROTH in the VHS Archives:

#23: David Lee Roth grilled by MuchMusic (1991)
#76: David Lee Roth discusses change and disses Ozzy (1994)

VHS Archives #82: Tony Iommi & Cozy Powell talk Headless Cross on the Power Hour (1989)

Michael Williams asks some tough questions of Tony Iommi including “Why carry on as Black Sabbath?”  You have to remember that in 1989, Black Sabbath was considered irrelevant.  Ozzy was all the rage, leaving Sabbath in the dust far behind.

Other topics discussed:

  • The Live Aid reunion with Ozzy
  • Satanism in Sabbath music or lack thereof
  • “Heavy metal”
  • Rap artists (Sir Mix-A-Lot) sampling and covering Black Sabbath
  • Tony’s favourite version of Black Sabbath

What do you think of Tony and Cozy’s answers?

Then, stay tuned for another separate bonus interview taken from a CNN report!

 

#803: The Grocery Gang

A sequel to Get a Haircut and Get a Real Job

GETTING MORE TALE #803: The Grocery Gang

I started working at the grocery store in fall 1989.  While it was nice finally having a real job, it was immediately disruptive to my life.  I worked every Thursday, which meant that I was missing at least one Pepsi Power Hour every week.  If I pulled a Tuesday shift too, no Power Hours at all!  I had barely missed an episode in four years.  Now I was missing more than half of them.

That was a monumental shift.  I prided myself in keeping my fingers on the pulse of hard rock and heavy metal.  Keeping up with school work wasn’t hard.  Keeping up with music was!  I felt so out of touch with whatever the latest singles and new releases were.  The Power Hour was my main metal lifeline!

When a door closes, another opens.

I might have been missing the Power Hours* but like a see-saw, music swung back into balance.  Every work place introduces you to new people and new music.  The grocery store was like that as well, but those guys liked heavier music than I had been listening to at home.  Specifically I remember Metallica, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.  Those guys were not interested in Bon Jovi or Motley Crue, two groups I was really hot for in 1989.

There were three places I could be assigned to work at the grocery store:  Packing, parcel pickup, or cart collection.  That was the order of prestige involved.  Cart collection was considered the best assignment because you’d be out in the parking lot with a buddy collecting carts with no supervision.  It was a big parking lot so you could get lost and buy a soda at the convenience store for a minute or two on a regular day.  Parcel pickup was also cool because they had a tape deck down there you could listen to.  It was on that tape deck I heard a lot of my early Sabbath, Zeppelin and Metallica.  I wasn’t sure about Zeppelin yet.  They were telling me about this song “Moby Dick” that was a 10 minute long drum solo.**  And those guys didn’t care about Peter Criss’ drum work on “100,000” years.

I started absorbing the music.  There was one guy a few years older than me, Scott Gunning.  I went to school with his brother Todd.  I credit Scott for getting me into early Sabbath.  All I had was Born Again and Paranoid.  I’d never heard “Sweet Leaf”, “Black Sabbath”, “The Wizard”, “Supernaut”, “Changes” or anything else.  I decided to buy We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘N’ Roll and it quickly because a favourite.   Bob Schipper also worked at the grocery store, in the bakery.  He was already over early Sabbath and seemed bemused that I had bought it.  He much preferred solo Ozzy.  But I was really into the Sabbath, much more than I expected.  “Sweet Leaf” took over during the spring of 1990.

As discussed in Getting More Tale #709: The Stuff, I had no idea what “Sweet Leaf” was actually about.  I also don’t know if Scott Gunning though I’d gone drug mad, so much did I love “Sweet Leaf”.  But there I was in the parking lot, collecting carts, and singing “I love you, sweet leaf”.

Packing groceries indoors was the usual job, however.  It was a rare treat to be on carts.  Indoors, all the packers raced to pack for the young cute cashiers.  There were only a couple of them.  Kathleen Fitzpatrick, with her jet black hair, was the newest and most popular.  She was really nice.  She’d drive me home in the winter so I didn’t have to walk.  But other guys with more seniority would make me go pack somewhere else with the older ladies.

In fact, one guy had only about six months seniority on me, but he sure used it.  He kicked me off Kathleen’s lane more than once!  The funny thing about this guy is that his older brother would later be the owner at the Record Store.  I would regale the Big Boss Man of the times his brother kicked me off any cute girl’s lane.

Since the grocery store was located in the local mall (the same one the Record Store would later occupy) I could go music shopping at the Zellers before my shift.  It was there I bought the compilation Stairway to Heaven/Highway to Hell, loaded to the gills with metal rarities like Ozzy doing “Purple Haze”, the only studio recording of that lineup with Geezer Butler on bass.  I still have that.  I also still have my copy of Back for the Attack by Dokken, that I paid a co-worker $10 for, because he was tired of it.

I left that job in the summer of 1990 with lots of cash and new music in my back pocket.  I was off to new adventures including a week in Alberta that also featured a ton of new music.  The grocery store was good to me but I never went back.  I wanted to focus on getting into the school I liked most (which I did) but I also got my Pepsi Power Hour back for another year.  (It was replaced by the inferior Power 30 in ’91.)   Still I met some great friends there like Scott, and, oh I almost forgot, bought my first Flying V guitar from a guy that worked in the bakery too!  I can’t deny that the grocery store had an unexpected but indelible effect on my musical history.

 

* No, I didn’t set my VCR to record the shows.  When I usually taped the Power Hour, I sat there with my finger on the record button, ready to grab every video I wanted.  I didn’t record entire shows.  I didn’t have a way of transferring one tape to another.  I preferred missing the show entirely, to recording it and not being able to keep the videos I wanted for my collection.  I’ve always been picky that way.  The result is the VHS Archives that you enjoyed in 2019.  

** Live version.

 

VHS Archives #80: Accept interview (1989)

When Udo left Accept, it was was hard to imagine the German metal pioneers without him.  After a false start (including a photo session) with a singer named Rob Armitage, Accept finally settled on American David Reece.

Here Wolf and David tell MuchMusic why Reece was the guy after more than 200 applicants for the job. The album was called Eat the Heat, with lead single “Generation Clash”.  It’s an interesting interview considering the hindsight that the lineup ultimately did not work and Accept broke up, before reuniting with Udo in 1993.

VHS Archives # 79: Badlands interview (1989)

Badlands were one of the hottest new rock acts of 1989, notable because they were bringing in this influence called “the blues” that had been absent from the scene lately.

Find out what Ozzy thought of the blues when Jake E. Lee and Ray Gillen sit down with MuchMusic at Rock N’ Roll Heaven! Raw video of their live set included.

VHS Archives #77: Brian Vollmer of Helix co-hosts the Power Hour (1987)

One of the best early Power Hour co-hosts.  Helix mainman Brian Vollmer stopped by the Pepsi Power Hour with Laurie Brown to discuss their new album Wild in the Streets.  He also brought with him a Helix “Rockumentary” filmed at the Capitol Records building.

Topics covered:

  • The album cover
  • Jagger
  • AC/DC
  • Touring
  • A mythical future Helix album called Blood, Guts & Beer
  • The next video

Added bonus:  stay tuned to the end for a Music World TV ad for Wild in the Streets!

 

VHS Archives #75: The craziest Iron Maiden interview you’ll ever see (1988)

Bruce Dickinson is extra naughty and caffeinated here with bandmate Dave Murray and Power Hour host Erica Ehm!

Seventh Son of a Seventh Son was brand new and the music video hadn’t even come out yet.  Bruce and Dave discuss:

  • The concept
  • The video
  • Lucifer
  • Whether Deep Purple are good football players or not
  • Recording
  • Bruce’s forthcoming book The Adventures of Lord Iffy Boatrace
  • Going folk?

This hilarious interview is a must-watch for Maiden fans worldwide.