Above may be evidence of the most-glorious day of my life: the day I walked onto a stage and played lead guitar in a rock-and-roll band.
By “stage”, I mean “corner of the Bruce Hall lobby.” And “played lead guitar” is admittedly misleading. To be frank, I was rocking a pretty mean air guitar.
Ladies and gentleman, I give you the Fupid Stuckers!
When I was in college, I served several semesters as a resident assistant at Bruce Hall, the oldest dormitory at UNT. Part of our duties included regular shifts at the front desk, where we kept an eye on security monitors and loaned items to residents, such as keys to the soundproof practice modules.
In “real life”, I can play two songs on guitar — “Civil War” by Guns N’ Roses, and “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC — but I could always fake it on a broomstick. During my shifts at the Bruce Hall front desk, I would bring along my massive CD collection and spin tunes on a jambox. Air guitar worked itself into the routine, and it was an especially good way to pass time — and stay awake — during graveyard shifts.
Also working at Bruce during this time was Derek. Our resident music expert, he was famous for many creative activities, including his encyclopedic mix-tape anthology known as “Digital 80s”. If a game show ever asked me a question about popular music of my youth, Derek would be my lifeline.
Derek and I started jamming together on the air instruments, and that led to the idea of creating a band. One that played only air instruments.
The Bruce Jam
Every semester before dead week, the dorm hosted the Bruce Jam, a 9-hour showcase of in-house music talent, with an emphasis towards electrified sound. Novice acts headed up the lineup starting at 3pm. Acts then increased in popularity & audience as the day wore on, climaxing with a big headliner act at 11pm.
We decided we had to get into the Jam. To do so, we needed a band. Luckily we found some willing players, and our roster became the following:
- Matthew McGarity, “guitar”
- Kevin Shupe, “bass”
- Daryl “Daxx” McClendon, “keyboards”
- Derek “D-Rock” Ellsworth, “drums”
We ended up being the second act that day. Which means that the act before us was deemed less popular/worthy than a band whose keyboardist was playing an ironing board.
For our setlist, we each picked one song that reflected our musical interests at the time:
- Van Halen’s “Unchained” was my choice, as I was knee-deep in pre-Hagar love of their older catalog.
- Daxx chose Toto’s “Rosanna”, as it was a great showcase for his “keyboard”. Our harmonization of that song sounds just like the CD, doesn’t it?
- Shupe’s name was written all over Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”. Besides, we either did Bon Jovi, or we’d be forced to do Petra! The part that stuck with me these past 15 years, even before seeing on video again, is how fun it was to sing back-to-back in the same mic!
- Derek’s contribution was Rush’s “Limelight”. When you see how intricate his “drum kit” was, it totally deserved a song that flowed well in terms of percussion.
It didn’t make it onto the video, but we did one encore featuring Rush’s “La Villa Strangiato”. It was a perfect fit for me: it reflected my status as world’s biggest Rush fanatic (then and still) and provided a great outlet for some inspired “guitar” work. Who needs a real guitar to knock out multiple time signatures?
Anyway, enough with the “VH1 Behind the Scenes”. Hope you enjoy the combination of bad sound, poor video quality, and the stage presence to overcome both.
Maybe if we’re lucky, we can put together a reunion show!
- Look in the upper-right — does anyone know whose Lobby Lizard interview that was?
- Is anyone else bothered by the instability of having keyboards during a pre-1984 Van Halen song?
- Why did I wear all of my t-shirts in XL back then, when I weighed 165 lbs.?
- On top of my “guitar” is my infamous can of Spam, then just 10 years old at the time. And yes, of course it is a double-neck “guitar”!