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Motorcycles Are Like Wi-Fi & Music – So Conversational

May 4th, 2012 · Tags:Arts · Cities



Well this is fun. Something cool came from something crappy. My motorcycle helmet was stolen from my bike — one day after I gushed over my new bike in the blog.

I was livid. The nerve … and to steal it at my home away from home — Starbucks, duh. Thank goodness the guy who almost ran over me in the parking lot later, as I rode home helmet free, wouldn’t stop when I chased him. He might have felt wrath intended for someone else. LOL

… As I posted on Facebook: “To the thief: If I see the helmet on you, you will need protection from my steel-toe boot … a little lower:)”

No, I’m not bitter … 🙂

So … about the good part. I am preparing to ride to Amarillo and needed a new helmet. The Amarillo highway goes on forever, so I wonder if I will make Amarillo by morning. (How many song references can you correctly identify in that one sentence? I digress …)

Safely, I drove my crossover Toyota over to a motorcycle shop that has a good selection of helmets.

As I walked in the door, the sound system was playing Blue Ă–yster Cult‘s “I’m Burning For You.” (I always note life’s soundtrack …)

I looked around a bit, and the very next song was “London Calling” by The Clash.

Yes .. back to back Blue Ă–yster Cult and The Clash!

Oh … why is that significant to me? Well … you see, I have interviews of the two lead singers for those bands on this very blog. Ha … in fact, Buck Dharma of Blue Ă–yster Cult is even one of my connections in the LinkedIn business group. (I think that is pretty awesome to have a rock star connection on the most conservative of all social media sites …)

Blue Ă–yster Cult

The Clash

So .. back to motorcycle helmets … I am standing there marveling at coincidence, when the store manager comes over to help me. He is a nice guy and he recognizes me because I just bought an extra helmet in his store for potential passengers of the female persuasion, about a week ago.

If you know me … you know sometimes I just sort of blurt out either what I am thinking or sometimes a bizarre, out-of-context question. Mr. Motorcycle approaches me and wanted to talk motorcycle helmets, and I fire back, “Are you into music?”

Indeed he is, he informed me. So I told him about The Clash, BĂ–C and of course this Website, the common denominator in my random comment.

Les Lewis, Cycle Gear

Les Lewis, Cycle Gear

This is where it got good. He is not only a musician, he is from Amarillo. Oh we talked and talked …

Cycle Gear

My new friend, Les, from Cycle Gear in Fort Worth, once played with the two best vocalists to ever come from Amarillo. If you know music somewhat, you know the name or more likely the voice of Amarillo’s J.D. Souther. He sang a duet with James Taylor that was a hit … Note: J.D. is the better of the two voices, I don’t care how much you like Sweet Baby James.

Back when I was in Amarillo, my old buddy and fellow journalist at The Amarillo Globe News, Charlie Bates, used to refer to J.D. Souther as “The Other Eagle” because of his work with them. Souther dated Linda Ronstadt, for goodness sakes. I guess J.D. only had one hit on his own — “When You’re Only Lonely.”

Met J.D. once, at Farm Aid in Austin … about 1985. He was producing a Lubbock act — “The Nelsons” who had a big hit on the then fledgling MTV (R.I.P Donnie Allison …)
I said Souther was one of the best to come out of Amarillo … in truth, J.D. may have been the best voice … EVER … in pop music. Certainly top five! Listen for him. He does back up vocals on lots of classics, you know.

So, circa 1965 or so, my new motorcycle friend Les was playing keyboards in an Amarillo band called The Cinders, with J.D. Souther. Cool, cool!

But there’s more. If J.D. Souther (who also teamed up with some Flying Burrito Brothers, Byrds, Poco types in the Souther Hillman Furay Band) is the best voice ever from Amarillo — then #2 is Michael Tomlinson.

I talk to many people, all the time, who are familiar with J.D., but Michael T. — not so much. Ha … My kids and my “ex” know of him. I made them listen to “Years” on ever roadtrip we ever took that came within 400 miles of a desert … because of the song’s romanticizing of the arid lands. (Note this rough recording doesn’t do the studio version justice … look for it on iTunes.  You’ll thank me.)

Les either knows or played with Michael T. or both, as well.

We went on for about a half an hour. He knew Amarillo’s bad boys Baby, from back in the day. (Brits John Waite and The Babys had to change their name at one time to avoid infringing on Amarillo’s Baby name.)

He knew of my old co-worker Gary Grice and Blackstone. Who were Blackstone? They were a long-haired, wiry bunch of hard rockers from Amarillo who won the battle of the bands at the old Texas Jam, blowing away the bands from the bigger metropolitan areas. (There’s some Amarillo rock history …)

He knew of The Undertakers — an Amarillo band that used to travel in a hearse to their gigs. Hmmm …. somewhere I have a 45 single of The Undertakers doing Ray Charles‘ “Unchain My Heart” … I digress …

But sadly, my new friend did not know of The Daydreamers. I think The Daydreamers may have opened for The Undertakers somewhere along the way. But only a few people in The Panhandle will remember those guys. They played the dance/prom circuit up in the northernmost part of the state … farm towns … small schools. I remember seeing photos of them in their matching gold silk shirts, with the big blooming bell sleeves … and gold corduroy sleeveless vests in other shots. I saw them play a few times in the old Vega High School gym — just off old Route 66 — when I was a little bitty kid.

But there is one more thing … I think I have mentioned on this blog that I did my first TV reporting gig at 12 — as a junior reporter for an Amarillo TV station. What I don’t think I have mentioned is that tv reporting was not my first gig in show biz.

You see, when I was about 5, and my sister “Luke” was 6, we road in the parade of The Oldham County Round Up to help promote a high school dance. The band played some songs that were popular at the time — “Little Red Riding Hood,” by Sam The Sham &The Pharaohs … and “Peter Rabbit.” (No idea who recorded a song about a rabbit … or if it was “code.”) But i know this. My sister was dressed as Little Red Riding Hood and I was wearing a rabbit suit in the August heat … in a parade … in the back of a tan colored 1964-ish Chevy El Camino … with vinyl records and signs all over the sides. So, my first promotional gig was to promote The Daydreamers.

My oldest brother was the bass player. I never learned to play, but no doubt he and my other brother Steve (who played in a band as well) set the beat … fueled my passion for music for years.

What a great day for a motorcycle ride.

Know what I sayin?