Segarini – I (Still Kinda) Like the Beatles and MacMillan Loves the Rolling Stones Part One

By the time The Beatles hit the stage on Ed Sullivan on February 9th 1964, I already had long hair and was in my second band. A clip featuring the then teenage mop tops had been featured on a Jack Paar television special after his daughter had succumbed to them on a visit to England with the family in September of 1963. It was fascination at first sight and, like so many others around the world, I was instantly converted. So long Chuck, Richard, and Motown…It was love at first yeah yeah yeah.

The Jades. I’m the Second Dork from the Left

I was fired from the first band I was ever in for growing my hair long.  Left the second because we sucked, and left the 3rd one to form my first one, The Family Tree…but those three bands sure played a lot of cool gigs.

The first one, The Jades, were the winners of a talent show I placed 3rd in and after the show, asked me to join them as a singer and rhythm guitar player.

There were no British bands to emulate, no British records on the radio, and no signs or hint that everything was going to go ass over tea kettle 18 or so months later when playing in a group would be forever changed.

We played a lot. We wore matching green satin jackets and did steps and played a variety of songs from Buck Owens to Little Richard, Chuck Berry to Lloyd Price, and Elvis, Rick Nelson and Gene Vincent were my favourites to sing. Our leader, Risty, was in his mid 20s, worked at a grocery store, and sang the country stuff as well as some of the rock and roll tunes, and was a fine guitar player.  The rest of the band were also day jobbers, from stock boys to plumbers…as it turned out, I was the only lifer. At 15 I was the youngest, and the only one who wanted to do this forever. I learned a lot…they were all exceptional players, but not prepared at all to deal with what was just around the corner. When I saw what was coming and grew my hair long and combed it down instead of in a pompadour, the writing was on the wall. What they heard and saw, were classic songs by Chuck Berry, Little Richard and others, being played loudly and irreverently by 4 teenagers from overseas who looked like girls.

Hi. Laugh All You Want. We’re the Future of Rock and Roll

There were heated discussions about how lousy they were.

I was canned.

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The Ratz (the unfortunate name of the 2nd group) were sartorially the best looking band in California at the time, at least the best dressed bunch with no record deal, no hit, and no money.

We owed our reputation (like the current celebrities…we looked the part, acted famous, and talked the talk), to people’s perception of us which was informed by outward appearances and swagger, magnificent up-to-the-minute- Mod/Rock Star superficial icing on a 9th Grade Home Economics class cake, faux British accents, and an insane desire to BE what we appeared to be. We were the Ted Bundy of rock bands without all the serial killing messiness. Girls wanted to take a ride with us, moms thought we were nice, and the guy that owned the posh and oddly hip (This is Modesto California we’re talking about) Carnaby Street-like clothing store was sure we were going to go straight to the Toppermost of the Poppermost, and decked us out in the latest gear fab…uh…gear as kind of a sponsor, although now that I think about it, I wonder if he was looking for a little more ‘personal’ relationship. No matter…all I know is we looked like the Real Deal all the time. I owned more polka dot shirts, wide wale corduroy pants, ruffled blouses, floral print Edwardian jackets and coats I swear were made out of couch upholstery…(one coat I had matched my Aunt Jenny’s living room divan) and dozens of dickies in as many colours.

A Lousy Picture of The Jacket that Matched My Aunt Jenny’s Divan

The boots were Beatle, the heels, Cuban, and we took to calling girls ‘Birds’, ate ‘chips’, smoked ‘fags’, and got asked to leave when we ordered ‘bangers and mash’ at the Modesto Denny’s where the staff thought we were on a day pass from a mental institution. When jocks weren’t chasing us to beat some sense into us, they were happy just to call us names or throw soft drinks at us from their cars,  while their girlfriends passed us their phone numbers when we hung out at the record stores.

On the suggestion from the Wannabe Epstein at the clothing store, we all had stage names.

I was no longer a Segarini let alone a Bob…I became that internationally known British Rock Star…wait for it…Cylus Proulx!

The ‘X’ was silent…Like ‘Gran Prix’

I dream in Technicolor.

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My Wife said ” It’s Either Them or Me”….

To say the Beatles were Game Changing is to under estimate their impact. Regardless of what year it was or how old you were when you first heard their music, are you one of those  whose life they impacted so dramatically that now, almost 60 years after they came into existence, you still believe they embody the absolute pinnacle of popular music and have a shrine to them erected in your backyard tool shed behind a false wall? A sanctum sanctorum that you slink off to while the family is at church or Bingo and you put on your collarless Beatle Suit you bought at JC Penny’s a Millennium ago and keep hidden in your hockey or golf bag, slip on the boots and skinny tie, and spend an hour or so alone with the four Saints of the Apocalypse listening to your favourite songs from the dog eared LPs you keep in a toolbox under the floorboards and play on a Radio Shack turntable you bought at a yard sale and snuck out here? You are not alone. Like Elvis, the Beatles have inspired religious-like fervor in some fans that seems to strengthen with age…but  unless you were actually alive and playing music when they were alive and playing music, you have NO idea of how Earth shattering an effect they had on EVERYTHING.

J J Abrams couldn’t have rebooted Star Trek more jarringly than The Beatles completely changed the musical, fashion, social and sexual landscape that existed before the British Invasion, or as several of my old school musician friends said at the time, The British Insurgence…or was it Intrusion. Whatever it was, a lot of good, dedicated players lost their gigs, or gave up, or just plain quit. They couldn’t make the change. They were too old at 25, or they felt uncomfortable with suddenly having to dress differently, change their hairstyle, and buy the right instruments. Over the years the negative impact disappeared in the rear view mirror, but at the time, it was both sad, and harsh…having your livelihood taken away from you not because you couldn’t play the music or weren’t good enough, but because you no longer fit in, no longer had what the audience wanted, and worst of all…you no longer mattered.

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In a way, The Beatle led “British Invasion” did something no one had ever been able to do.

They beat Americans at their own game.

Rock and Roll, that most American hybrid of Country and Blues had come along and dethroned the OTHER American music, Jazz, and looked to be numero uno for many years. The burgeoning generation that became known as Baby Boomers were reaching puberty and beyond, and they were the largest segment of the population. Rock and Roll DID have a good run…but it wasn’t the Americans who took it to prominence the world over…it was those fucking kids who looked like girls and could barely play.

The Beatles.

Next Friday: Part Two

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Segarini’s regular columns appear here on Friday’s except when they don’t in which case they didn’t

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

dbawis-button7giphyBob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

3 Responses to “Segarini – I (Still Kinda) Like the Beatles and MacMillan Loves the Rolling Stones Part One”

  1. Watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, I was ten. How many times over the last five decades had I wished I had been born six or eight years earlier. Would I have been in a band, or three, like you? Could I have written a song? Might I have gotten myself into the place of being hip enough, fast enough, to have made some kind of artistic impact? Who knows. Even as a squirt at ten I got swept up in the exotic changes that were happening. I hungered for something, anything that would pull me up out of the white-bread boring lower middleclass straight ignorance that was my life in Chico, California. You wore the clothes and grew you hair and bravely journeyed into the shifting fray. I sat wide-eyed in front of the telly, my little kid heart aching ever so slightly for a life that seemed a zillion miles away. Good on you. Great story.

  2. […] Rock and Roll, that most American hybrid of Country and Blues had come along and dethroned the OTHER American music, Jazz, and looked to be numero uno for many years. The burgeoning generation that became known as Baby Boomers were reaching puberty and beyond, and they were the largest segment of the population. Rock and Roll DID have a good run…but it wasn’t the Americans who took it to prominence the world over…it was those fucking kids who looked like girls and could barely play. – From Part One […]

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