David Bruce: 250 Music Anecdotes — Fans


• Matt Groening, who is most famous for his long-running series of panel cartoons Life in Helland for TV’s Simpsons, is a music lover. As a young man, he loved some kinds of music that drove other people away. He says, “If my friends and I could drive people from the room when we put a record on, that was great.” Another favorite activity was attending punk concerts, sitting in the balcony, and watching the audience: “To this day, there’s nothing funnier than watching people being outraged by being bumped into while everybody else is slamming.” For a while, he worked as a music journalist. He would recommend albums that no one would buy, and eventually he started making up band names and reviewing non-existent albums. One of the band names he invented was Chatter­box Punch Gruffy.

• When author Wilborn Hampton was a young person, he and some kids from the neighborhood played Elvis Presley’s new RCA record “Heartbreak Hotel” in a backyard. He and the neighborhood kids danced to the music. Suddenly, a neighbor lady opened her door and yelled, “Jezebels! You should all be ashamed of yourselves! That music is evil!” Then she went back inside. Wilborn and the others turned down the volume of the music a little and kept dancing. Certainly, people — especially females — reacted to Elvis strongly. Very early in Elvis’ career, Mae Axton, a publicist for Colonel Thomas A. Parker, asked a girl who had been jumping up and down and squealing while Elvis sang, “Honey, what is it about this kid?” The girl replied, “He’s just a great big beautiful hunk of forbidden fruit.”

• Joey Ramones, lead singer of the Ramones, was very likeable. In Japan, he went backstage at a Bob Dylan concert, and at that time people obeyed a backstage rule that stated, “Don’t even look at him.” Supposedly, people were required to stay away from Mr. Dylan and definitely not make eye contact. Best was simply to go into a room and shut the door if you saw Mr. Dylan coming down the backstage hallway. However, when Mr. Dylan saw Joey, he walked over to him and said, “Hey, Joey, my kids love your music.”

• Small things can make a fan happy. Jazz enthusiast and photographer Duncan Schiedt was once in a Fifty-Second Coffee Shop in New York when Sidney Bechet, who played clarinet and soprano saxophone in jazz groups, sat beside him, listened to the jukebox, and asked, “What’s the name of that tune they’re playing?” Mr. Schiedt answered, “Dill Pickles.” Many years later, Mr. Schiedt says that “etched in my mind is the small pride I carried away from the event!”

• All copies of the December 1989 issue of Sassy, a magazine for North American teenage girls, contained a flexidisc of R.E.M. covering the song “Dark Globe” by Syd Barrett. Sassyeditor Jane Pratt walked by Tower Records and was happy to see that every copy of Sassyhad been sold — until she noticed a trashcan filled with copies of Sassy. R.E.M. fans had bought Sassy, thrown away the magazine, and kept the flexidisc.

• YouTube allows viewers to press a button to indicate whether they like or dislike a video. For example, when a video of the excellent A Touch of Class pop song “I’m in Heaven (When You Kiss Me)” was given over 1,500 likes and 24 dislikes. ATC fan Gemgurllove has a very plausible explanation for the 24 dislikes. She commented, “24 people were [so] busy pressing the replay button they pressed the wrong button!”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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