Saturday, April 25, 2009

Scottius Maximus Celebrity Of The Month

I'm not even sure where to begin this post. I mean, besides at the title. Which I suppose could be Celebrity Of The Year for that matter.

Sorry, Barb, this is going to be one of those "essays"!

This post is the reason I don't use tags. The list of tags for this post would dizzy everyone, not that you won't get dizzy reading this anyway.

Who decides what the tags should be on a post? Oh well. I don't care. So here we go.

St. Louis. World Series. Rock Concerts. Cassette tapes. Red Rocker. Pontiac Trans Am. Van Halen. Permanents. KSHE. The Who. Tommy Herr. Led Zeppelin. Ralston-Purina. Illinois State University. Southern Illinois University. MTV. Tequila. High school graduation.

Okay, so tags usually come at the end of a post. But, having to weave a tapestry of coherent thoughts together using all of the above is a challenge I can't pass up...

So I'll begin this post the night of my 1981 high school graduation. I attended a party hosted by a neighborhood friend I'd known since kindergarten. And there were a lot of people there I knew very well, and a lot I only knew by name. Most I would never cross paths with again for another 20 years, but that's another story for another time. This post is going to be long enough as it is.

That night I struck up a friendship with someone that lasted throughout college. Someone I had never talked to in high school. Not that there was dislike, just that we hung out with different people. But after that night, we hung out together with a couple other friends almost every night we were all home.

Anyway, he ended up going to school at ISU, a 45 minute drive down the road. Due to an interest in the theater, he ended working the lights for many concerts and productions that came to town.

I believe it was the summer of 1982 when my friend mentioned he had been up to school to do the lighting for our celebrity of the month, and said something along the lines of (that was over 26 years ago, I don't remember the exact quote) it being the coolest concert he had ever worked.

At some time during the concert, he had made a tribute to the recently disbanded Led Zeppelin, the greatest rock band in history and a Scottius Maximus favorite. So naturally this caught my attention.

So our celebrity played Led Zeppelin, played his own music, talked to the crowd...but mostly flat-out entertained everyone in attendance. Oh, and he's a patriotic guy, which is unusual for a rock musician.

I went out and bought his two most recent albums and they became a couple of my favorites. I didn't have to to buy any old stuff in order to listen to it, because my brother already had those albums.

It was around this time that the Cardinals began their drive to win the 1982 World Series. Glenn Brummer stole home that summer. And I did something that to this day I am somewhat embarrassed to admit- I had my hair permed.

You see, my favorite player on the Cardinals at that time was 2nd baseman Tommy Herr. And I just loved the way his hair flowed out from under his hat. And our celebrity of the month had a hairstyle just like it. So it just seemed natural. If one can call artificially reshaping one's coiffure natural.

The fall of 1982 not only brought the Cardinals a championship, but MTV was introduced to our house.

The original concept of MTV was music. MTV stood for music television. It was in its infancy and was a mishmash of music videos, interviews with rock and roll artists, and concert footage.

Which brings us to 1983. Our honored celebrity was once again on tour. March 13, 1983, I believe, was the date chosen for St. Louis.

Two of my friends from high school, no strangers to concerts, secured tickets and headed off from SIU to the late, great Checkerdome (named that in the '70s because of its ownership by Ralston Purina).

Unbeknownst to any of us, MTV had come calling to record the concert for their new cable network.

Once again, our celebrity received high praise from my friends for putting on one of the best shows, if not the best show, they had ever seen. Little did I know that just a short time later I would be able to view this concert on the new music television.

I finally got to see why everyone loved this guy in concert. He was wild, energetic, entertaining, fun, and best of all, he rocked.

Things were happening fast around this time. Networks were just starting to broadcast in stereo, and MTV was naturally one of the first. So they were able to broadcast the concert in stereo.

I was able to hook the cable up to my brother's tape deck, and, voila, I had a stereo recording of the concert on cassette tape.

Both the video and audio were spectacular. And, having recently purchased this new thing called a VCR in the summer of '83, I was able to record the video as well. (It was a Beta, back in the days of the video system wars, and although it eventually lost out to the VHS for some unknown reason, it was a superior product).

I still have both video and cassette to this day. The videotape is a little scratchy, so the quality of the video has diminished considerably in 26 years, but I can still watch it.

Fortunately, portions of this legendary concert are now on YouTube. I just love YouTube. In fact, I think all of the songs of the concert are posted there, although some of the artist's banter with the crowd between songs isn't. Which is okay, because I have it on my cassette and video.

It was quite a set:
1. Love Or Money.
2. Three Lock Box.
3. Baby's On Fire.
4. I Don't Need Love.
5. Never Give Up.
6. I've Done Everything For You.
7. Heavy Metal.
8. Rise Of The Animal.
9. I'll Fall In Love Again.
10. Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy.
11. Bad Motor Scooter.
12. Red.
13. One Way To Rock.
14. Baba O'Riley- encore.
15. Remember The Heroes- encore.

Young, thin and in his prime here, the man knew how to put on a show.

Know who I'm honoring yet?

A few more hints-
He is an icon in St. Louis. Has sold more tickets there than any other artist. How does a southern California kid become St. Louis' adopted son? Somehow St. Louis, particularly KSHE, helped launch his career. St. Louis loves him and he loves St. Louis. He even can be spotted wearing a Cardinals cap at times.

He helped, in some small or large way depending on who you talk to, end the 55 mph speed limit in the 1980s.

He went on to bring some stability to Van Halen after the departure of Diamond Dave.

He loves tequila and is quite the successful businessman.

He still has a solo career with the Waboritas, and is presently releasing a new CD with his new group, Chickenfoot.

He recorded another St. Louis concert with the Wabos in 2006, and this one is available for purchase as a DVD.

By now you should know that the Scottius Maximus Celebrity Of The Month for April is Sammy Hagar, the Red Rocker.

Recently, I've gotten out my old cassette tape and popped it in the stereo. That concert is great work-out music.

Here's "Red" from the 1983 St. Louis MTV concert. Incredible. Note the red Trans Am on stage.

The last song before the encore, he rocks out from high above the stage, and incredibly rattles off his previous tour stops before climbing up that contraption and jumping down. This whole concert, which can be seen in segments on YouTube, is full of stuff like this. It is quite a show.

I hope to catch Sammy the next time he's in St. Louis, God willing. I'm sure he won't disappoint.

Anyway, here's to Sammy "Freaking" Hagar. Yes, there's only one way to rock.