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Sumthins Wrong with you Man Sunday, June 3, 2012 08:06 PM
Daryl Barret had an artists heart.  He was sensitive and easily bruised emotionally. Things impacted him deeply, severely.  He didn't shrug off the harsh arrows of mercurial fate easily. It stuck with him. Made him bleed.  Trying to come to grips with this is what made him want to be a writer. Books, Stage or Film, it didn't matter he just felt the call to express himself. To share his joys, and appease his pains.
Daryl also loved Rock Music. Something that for a Black Man wasn't all that common anymore. Certainly during the 50's at the heart of the birth of Rock and Roll, being an African-American fan wasn't so unusual. Most of the artists performing the music were black.  There was Chuck Berry, there was Little Richard, Chubby Checker, Fats Domino.  People used to say the very first song ever classified as "Rock and Roll" was actually Rocket 88 by Ike Turners Kings of Rhythm.  The very term "Rock and Roll" was originally black slang for sex.  They used to call it "Race Music" and tried to ban it to keep it away from the white kids.

They didn't want them going into a wild sexual frenzy, like a horrid nightmare caricature of Reefer Madness - which was already a bad misleading caricature.  They didn't want them dancing to that Nigger Music.

Somehow in the late 60's that began to change.  Black based R&B, Blues and Rock and Roll had reached across the pond.  The frustrated cry for freedom expressed by Black Americans living under Jim Crow - where they couldn't express what they truly felt or wanted, particularly in the South, without suffering dire and sometimes deadly consequences - was being felt overseas by young Brits and Germans growing up in the aftermath of WWII with parents who refused to talk about what they had experienced.  An entire country dedicated to remaining stoic in the face of adversity, a trait that stood them well doing the worst of The Blitz, but afterward left deep unsatisfied shafts of sadness in their hearts and a yearning for sense and meaning beneath those stiff upper lips. The kids didn't fully understand what was wrong, but they knew they were missing something.

Many of them found it in Rock and Roll.  That's where the Beatless found it. Where the Rolling Stones found it.  Where the Animals found it.  They loved the Blues and they loved their Rock and Roll.

The Beatles, after playing Little Richard covers for years in Germany, exploded when they finally returned to England and began playing there own version of that music, now with a slight tinge of European/Classical vibe. They were soon exported to the U.S. and became a genuine World Wide Phenomenon(tm)..  Not long after came the Stones, who had been brought together by a deep appreciation of obscure Negro-America Blues.  Then the Animals, the Yardbirds originally featuring guitarist Eric Clapton.  Clapton was later replaced by Jeff Beck. Joining on bass during the Beck era was one Jimmy Page.  After Beck's departure Page moved to Guitar, then fully reorganized the band and granted them a new name - Led Zeppelin.

In America, things were different.  Newer younger Negro artist who might follow in the footsteps of Little Richard or Chuch Berry were far and few between. Little Richard's own songs were being covered and re-released by crooner Pat Boone - who charted with them higher than Richard's originals which were still on the charts at the same time. Even one journeyman guitarist, originally from Seattle who had decided to take up music full time after a stint as an army paratrooper ran into his difficulties.  James Marshall Hendrix had played with James Brown, with the Isley Brothers and Little Richard. Some of them found him too flamboyant, too much of an attention hog, so when Chaz Chandler of the Animals found him playing in Greenwich Village one night and invited him to England, he jumped at the chance.

In England he wowed them.  Chandler built a band around him and he eventually returned to America. Returned home, but having been washed by the shores of Britain he was no longer just another Negro musician straying from the well-trod fields of Motown, Gospel and R&B.  He was just another, more exotic, phase of the ongoing British Invasion.

But few others followed in his footsteps and succeeded.

None of that bothered Daryl; he loved the music anyway even if his other black friends thought he was strange for listening to that "crazy white-boy devil music."

"They just don't understand, they don't get it" he would think.  "This is our music too".

For Daryl the instrument that really spoke to him was the bass.  Sure he could appreciate the percussive "slap and pop" style that people like The Brother's Johnson had pioneered.  But the bassists he really loved where people like John Entwistle of The Who, who was like a juggernaut on the fretboard.   Chris Squire of Yes. And of course, the great Geddy Lee of the Canadian band Rush.

"If you want to hear somebody sing like a bird,while playing some incredibly insane shit on the bass - you gotta listen to Geddy Lee", he would tell his friends, most of whom were far more impressed by Rick James and Bootsy Collins.

"Sumthin's wrong with you, man," they would say.

To make extra cash after school, Daryl worked in a comic book store down in Hawthorne.  Geeky he was, but then Daryl really was a geek in the truest sense, someone who was passionate and intense in studying and learning everything about that which he loved, whether that was Rock or Comics. He embraced who he was.  Rock Stars really aren't all that different from Super Heroes.  They were larger than life, dressed flamboyantly, fought the good fight. Of course when KISS actually put out a comic book, and a matching TV movie, Daryl knew that they'd driven the link a little too far.  Even at 12 he knew that "KISS meets the Phantom of the Park' was a complete piece of crap.

He was working at the shop when this loudmouth kid came in. He had something to say about just about everything. Always talking, but even Daryl had to admit a lot of what he had to say made sense.  Eventually he walked up to the kid.

"Hi, I'm Daryl" he said.

"Hey, how ya doin'? I'm Johnny Radcliff"
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