GUITAR BAND by STEVIE WRIGHT Story by Andy Griffiths

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GUITAR BAND by STEVIE WRIGHT Story by Andy Griffiths


 Andy Griffiths
Eastern suburbs (Vermont), 1975
When I was fourteen years old my dad and I disagreed about a lot of things.

What time I got up. What time I went to bed. How long my hair should be. How loud I could play my records. How much homework I should be doing.

He wanted me to study hard, get good grades and have a professional career as a doctor or a lawyer—neither of which made much sense—or sounded like much fun—to me.

Not that I had any better ideas about what I would do with my life until one night—lying in bed listening to my crystal radio set—I heard a song that changed everything.

When I was just twelve years old, my Daddy sat me on his knee.
He said “Now listen here my boy, this is how it’s gonna be.
I’m gonna put you right through school, boy have I got plans for you”
I said “Please don’t make me Pa, the only thing I wanna do
Is join a guitar band, a guitar band, I’m going to be a star with my guitar in a guitar band.
Guitar band, guitar band, I’m going to turn it on, get in strong with a guitar band.”

My pa he looked at me and said who do you think you are?
You’ve gotta have some education boy or you won’t get too far
I looked at him and said, “Hey pa, that jazz is okay for you
Please let me live my life and do the things I have to do
And join a guitar band, a guitar band, I’m going to be a star with my guitar in a guitar band.
Guitar band, guitar band, I’m going to turn it on, get in strong with a guitar band.”

 My future was now clear. I was going to be a star with my guitar in a guitar band.

Okay, so I didn’t actually have a guitar. And even if I did I couldn’t actually play a guitar. But those were just minor details.

Guitar bands need singers. And even though I couldn’t actually sing I had a pretty loud voice.

I wasted no time.

The very next afternoon in Year 8 Social Studies my friend Andrew Bytheway and I decided to form a band.

And not just any band. It was going to be the the biggest and wildest rock and roll band the world would ever know.

And we would call it Silver Cylinder.

And Andrew not only had a drum kit but he also knew how to play it. Now we had a singer AND a drummer: we were on our way.

It was a double lesson so we had plenty of time to plan it all out. We designed our album covers, our costumes and our amazing stage shows. Not only would we have a full-size movie screen behind us showing surf movies but Andrew would have a drum kit so large that he would need to get extendable robot arms to be able to reach them all.

We also planned out the itinerary for our world tour. We made a list of backstage requirements which featured every type of alcohol, drug and form of debauchery that it’s possible for two year 8 boys in a Social Studies class to imagine.

Our first album would be called ROCK AND ROLL INSTITUTE after the name of our first smash hit single Rock and Roll Institute which we wrote right there on the spot. (I mean, that’s just how good we were.) It’s about a young man so hopelessly addicted to rock and roll that his parents have had him committed to an asylum for the musically insane —the ROCK AND ROLL INSTITUTE of the title.

It was clearly inspired by Guitar Band, although—in my opinion—it took it to a whole other level and was actually much better.

My mum and my dad are LOCKING ME UP
And then they’re going away
They’re gonna put me in a ROCK-AND-ROLL INSTITUTE
for the rest of my days.

I’m a loud-mouth rocking rocker
In a non-stop rocking daze
They’re gonna put me in a ROCK-AND-ROLL INSTITUTE
for the rest of my days.

Help me, somebody, help me!
I feel like I’m going insane!
They’re gonna put me in a ROCK-AND-ROLL INSTITUTE
for the rest of my days.

 Given my obvious talent as a lyricist—and vocalist—it was already clear to me that I was well on my way to securing my place in the rock and roll hall of fame.

Well, I would have been except that my drummer had a problem with the second verse.

He thought the line ‘I’m a loud mouth rocking rocker’ was weak. He wanted to change rocker to codger.

‘Nah,’ I said. ‘We should keep it as rocker. Codger makes him sound too old.’

But Andrew wouldn’t budge.

I was prepared to compromise and suggested we change it to bludger.

But Andrew said no because the guy’s problem wasn’t that he didn’t want to work hard, it was that he wanted to rock hard.

‘Alright then,’ I said, ‘what about wanker?’

‘What?’ said Andrew. ‘I’m a loud-mouthed rocking wanker? Are you out of your mind?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘you are. You’re the wanker. It’s loud mouthed rocking rocker and that’s final.’

‘Fine,’ he said, ‘in that case I’m quitting the band.’

So my first band only lasted the length of a double Social studies period. Clearly—to quote another popular song of the day—it was going to be a long way to the top if I wanted to rock and roll. But, goddammit I DID want to rock and roll and thanks to Stevie Wright pointing me in the right direction I was on my way and nobody—including my career-obsessed dad or an over-opinionated drummer with stupid robot arms—was gunna stop me.

Guitar band, a guitar band, I’m going to be a star with my guitar in a guitar band.
Guitar band, guitar band, I’m going to turn it on, get in strong with a guitar band…

Yeah—wanna be a rock and roller
See the world
It’s all I wanna do!
Play my guitar!
Slay’em in the aisles!

Willy Lit Fest
Stereo Stories
A Rock and roll institute
For the rest of my days!

A rockin’ rocker!
A rockin’ codger!
A rockin’ wanker!
A rockin’ children’s author!

 

Photo courtesy of Williamstown Literary Festival.

Andy Griffiths and The Stereo Stories Band performed Guitar Band – and Rock And Roll Institute –  at the Williamstown Literary Festival on Saturday 17 June, 2017. The previous year they performed Andy’s ode to Alice Cooper.

By | 2017-06-27T17:09:10+00:00 June 17th, 2017|Featured Posts, Rock, Stereo Stories Live|2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Bruce June 17, 2017 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    Codgers everywhere doubtless went a little moist at this most poignant story. Even the ones who are also wankers.

  2. David Oke June 18, 2017 at 12:02 am - Reply

    Andy, Guitar Band was fantastic. I had a good sing along with you. Rock And Roll Institute could have truly established you as a one hit wonder. Thanks for your contribution to a great night.

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