I don’t normally watch much TV with the exception of a handful of shows but I have to make a confession- I am an American Idol addict. A number of friends and colleagues have expressed surprise at this revelation so I thought it time to explain why I am hooked on such a campy show. (BTW, Bo was the clear winner in my book).
Very few people are aware that I was the lead vocalist in a band more years ago than I will admit. Our band played in my hometown of Houston, Texas and we gained a little bit of local notoriety. It was a fantastic time in my life with a lot of things happening all at once. Unfortunately I was probably too young at the time to fully appreciate it but I remember those times with fondness. Our band played at small Houston clubs for a couple of years and I suppose we were pretty good. We never had a problem getting a gig and it’s a sign of those times that we couldn’t make any money doing it.
It was a great time full of opportunity and when I look back on the experience it is amazing how far we were able to go and that we achieved such local "fame" simply by word of mouth. There were no web sites, no self promoting with CDs, fame was the sole result of word of mouth for local bands who received no radio airplay. There were two key events for me that stand out in my mind, probably bigger as a memory than they were at the time. For the band the biggest moment came when we performed as the opening act for the great musician Donovan (caution, audio will play). We played to a crowd of about 600 people which was huge for us but a total disappointment for Donovan, who had played to 50,000 fans at stadiums throughout Europe and the US. His appearance with us in Houston was on his "my career is finally over tour" but it was very big time for our band. It was amazing meeting him and listening to him perform, even if he was already fading from the public eye.
The second big moment came for me personally when I was asked to go up on stage at Gilley’s to sing with Dick Allen and the River Road Boys, a famous (in Texas) country band with a big following. It was pretty common in those days for local musicians to get called up on stage for impromptu jam sessions and one of the guys in their band had seen us perform in some bar in Houston and recognized me. Getting asked to perform with them was great and performing in front of the Gilley’s crowd was absolutely incredible. For anyone not familiar with Gilley’s at that time it was the biggest Honky Tonk in the US and was the site for the Urban Cowboy movie. Great times for me and I remember them fondly.
The reality of requiring money with which to eat, coupled with the "breakup" of the band made me leave that world behind and get into a "real" profession. I often wonder what would have happened had I been able to stay in the music business. This is the reason I am addicted to American Idol, and even though I only started watching it last year after I watched a couple of shows I was hooked. It makes me wonder what could have been had something like this existed when I was performing and I admire what these performers have to go through on the show to make it to the top. Message to young folks, follow your dreams if at all possible. Don’t wonder what might have been.