In the Fall of 1976, my senior year of high school, I had the good fortune of taking the elective course “Speed Reading” (also commonly referred to as a “blow off” class) to complete my minimum number of hours for graduation.
Just as it sounds, the entire class was devoted to teaching us techniques to read faster while still comprehending a high percentage of the content. I don’t remember anything about the class except meeting James Halford, who I sat beside and who invited me to sit in with his garage rock band.
I had already achieved minor high school guitar-studly cred during my junior year, because of my playing bass and guitar for a pop group that was a select set boys and girls from the school choir.
One of the featured numbers of that group’s set was an all instrumental version of 25-or-6-to-4, by Chicago.
I played lead on the number — see the wicked double-neck Ibanez bass & guitar I owned at the time — and took every opportunity to crank the volume when it got to the solo.
When James invited me to jam with his band based upon my reputation, I thought “that’s cool.” (I also thought it was cool that James’s name was a combination of two of my favorite rock artists, at the time: James Hetfield, frontman for Metallica, and Rob Halford, lead singer for Judas Priest.)
Anyhow, we knew we had a good sound when got together and almost instantly dubbed our 7 piece ensemble Shadow, with the following line-up:
- Kent, drums
- Phil, keys
- Byron, rhythm and moxie
- Cathy, female vocal and sex appeal
- Chuck, male vocal and frontman
- James, lead guitar and bass
- me, bass and lead guitar
Byron, being the born promoter as he was (and the oldest, at 19) immediately booked a live TV and radio simulcast, on the local college network, for our first gig!
After a couple of weeks rehearsal (by that I mean, 3 or 4 nights of 5 hours of constant noise, eating, goofing off, ordering more food, and tuning instruments, and maybe 20 to 21 minutes of actual musical practice), we knew we were ready.
Needless to say, our debut was a wild affair that gave me a better appreciation, albeit only a tiny thimble-full, of the absolute chaos and madness that Woodstock must have been for its promoters and stage producers. All in all, the one photo I have from the concert gives the appearance of a relatively calm affair. But, as they say, “that’s show biz!”
The live TV and radio Simulcast was a program produced by the local junior college, Amarillo College. (Little-known fact: I actually attended AC on a partial music scholarship, playing the bass guitar in the college’s jazz, singing ensemble.)
The AC program was called Jackson Street Live. It was performed on campus, at mid-day so students could attend between classes, at lunch time. I’ve developed a Spotify playlist of our set, by the original artists. The majority of the set is composed of the top rock and roll artists of the day:
- the Doobie Brothers
- Elton John (before he was “Sir”)
- the Eagles
- with a few Top 40 hits thrown in, from the funky (Wild Cherry) to the hard rock (Styx)
I’ve also preserved the live, full-length Shadow the Rock Band concert recording, uploaded to a Soundcloud playlist. As you’ll hear, the college DJ who was running the mic during the performance (who was probably all of 18 years old) really wanted to call us “Storm” instead of “Shadow!” By the end of the broadcast, he’s finally about got it memorized!
We only played about a dozen or so paid gigs during the year that Shadow was together. Most of the gigs were high school and junior high dances, although we did play the hoity-toity Amarillo Country Club – twice!
I’ve memorialized our city-wide “tour” with a 1976-1977 Shadow Tour T-shirt, which you can purchase on Cafepress.
Be sure to return from time-to-time, to find updates as I unearth (or re-create) more of the history of the one-and-only Shadow the Rock Band!…