Guitars & Radio & Wild Wild Women. (Crazy Man Crazy) Chapter I edited 5/10/20

When I learned that Little Richard (pictured above) had passed, I realized that most of the pioneers of Rock&Roll are now gone forever. Sadly we no longer have Bill Haley, Elvis, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, or Chuck Berry around to entertain us anymore. All that’s left of the originators is Jerry Lee Lewis and all eyes are on him now.

I still remember the day that I heard that Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Richie Valens had died in a plane crash and was shocked, but when I learned that Elvis had died, I was devastated.
Elvis changed my life the very first time I ever saw him. He was on a big band show that my father was watching called “Stage Show.” Not only did he blow my mind, but I knew right then and there that I had to be a guitar man. Hell, even John Lennon said that without Elvis, there’d be no Beatles.

Can you imagine what kind of show must be going on up in Rock & Roll Heaven? Hey, when you’ve got Bill Haley, Elvis, Buddy, John, and George along with Michael Jackson, Hank Williams, Fats Domino, Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, David Bowie, Janis Joplin, Chuck Berry, and Jim Morrison, not to mention, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Croce, Bobby Darin, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Roy Orbison, Freddie Mercury, Glenn Fry, Prince, and Tom Petty waiting in the wings to go on. Hey, it’s almost worth dying so that you can catch them all live.

Unfortunately, I know more about most of those folks than I do my own family. I don’t know anything about my great grandparents, and what I know about my grandparents is that my grandfathers were both from England, and my grandmothers were Scottish.
However, legend has it that grandpa Ben Vince who was an engineer, actually stopped his train in the middle of Scotland to chat up my grandmother Charlotte who was picking flowers in a field.

Then there’s my grandpa Ed Johns, a bandleader, (pictured above) who married his 17-year-old piano player so she could legally tour Europe with him and the band. However, I can only imagine the playing that must have gone on each night after they finished up playing because my father turned out to be the youngest of their six kids.
I’d give anything to have a journal that my dad kept so that I could read about his life anytime I wanted. So with that in mind, may I present mine.

It all began in Winnipeg,
but we moved around a lot
Melbourne and Sydney
where the first of our many stops.

Two years in Australia
then it’s off to Vancouver
Now it’s back to the prairies
and a town called Swan River

Then it’s back to Winnipeg again
for the birth of my brother
Where we lived in my grandpa’s house
’till my folks bought another.

Hooked up with a friend named Barry
and we played a little ball.
I loved his sister’s strange music
and she was a doll.

Then came that day
when I started to scheme
About making music and pretty women
more than a dream.

BillHaleyI can still remember the day my whole world turned upside down, so I’ll begin there first. My friend Barry and I were practicing at his place for the upcoming little league tryouts. My dad thought this was a complete waste of time because whenever he’d tried to play catch with me, I was so afraid of the ball I just cringed instead of trying to catch it.
Not only did I make the team, but I also made the “Dream Team,” which played the final game of the season downtown of Winnipeg in Goldeye Stadium, where my father saw me play baseball for the very first time.

OK, enough of all that glory stuff, let’s get back to that warm spring day and the moment when I’d discovered what I’d be doing for the rest of my life.
After Barry and I worked up quite a sweat, he suggested that we go inside for some water. Once in there, I couldn’t help but notice the blonde goddess who was standing by the record player swaying her hips to some strange music.

The goddess turned out to be Barry’s seventeen-year-old sister who was listening to was one of the first Rock & Roll records ever made, “Crazy Man Crazy” by Bill Haley and the Comets.
As I stood there watching, I had no idea that women who looked like her, and the music that she was playing would soon dominate my whole world.

I recently found a rare copy of “Crazy Man Crazy,” and whenever I listen to it, I can still see Barry’s sister’s hips swaying back and forth, back and forth, back and …




8 thoughts on “Guitars & Radio & Wild Wild Women. (Crazy Man Crazy) Chapter I edited 5/10/20

  1. So you are descended from a Scottish Engineer. Well, then, Laddie, maybe ye can explain why KVIL Engineering in 1978 was such a disaster.
    Ye are of Clan Johunstone, I see, and fought at the Battle of Sark in 1448. How did that one turn out?

    • Actually Hollis, both my Grandfathers were English, Vince on my Mom’s side and Johns (Welsh) on my Dad’s. It’s my Grandmothers who were Scottish, Hunter, and Sutherland. Also, I’m a programmer and don’t know from engineering. Thanks for the read.

      • Ah, thanks for the clarification . KVIL still sticks out as having the worst politics of any place that I ever worked, and all of it was in Engineering, centered around fellows names Spence, Smart, and Crossno. Sadly, none of the politics was aimed at getting Ron and the guys the Engineering assistance that they needed – that always seemed to be a side-issue.

        • Sorry, you had a bad experience at KVIL Hollis. I heard my fair share of whining from the air staff but I don’t recall much of it being about engineering. Know this though, Ron could have anything he wanted, he chose spending most of the money on promotion.

          • Most of my time at KVIL was good. You always remember people who were a whole lot nicer to you than they had to be, and Ron, Larry Dixon, Ken Barnett, Dan Bell, Len Mailloux, Andy McCollum, and Mike Selden were among the really great people that I worked with. However, the studio at the Park Cities Bank was poorly wired with absolutely no backup for the studio or to either transmitter. At that time, Ron didn’t have control of the Engineering Budget and everything that I did for Ron would blow back on me because Crossno would become jealous and go running to Smart. I believe that my leaving caused Jerry Kablunde to come aboard as CE and I hope that he didn’t face the same situation. As an aside, I was hired by Crossno with instructions to never talk to Chapman because he was crazy. He was not. I am greatly enjoying your blog.

          • George:

            I learned volumes by reading about KVIL in the trades, and watching the results in the ratings. On the rare occasions I got to hear Ron Chapman, his enthusiasm and energy were very obvious and infectious to those of us listening! We wanted to keep listening to keep plugged into his outlet of fun!

            Thank YOU (and Reg) for spreading the gospel and recipe for great radio. I began learning in 1986 when we became a Fairwest station.

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