Became “Shayne and The Rebel Raiders.”
a real rockin’ band
We then morphed to the Phantoms
which gained us a lot more fans.
Elvis was the one who turned me on to guitars, but Buddy Holly (pictured above) played the one I wanted. Lowe’s Music in downtown Winnipeg told me that it was called a Fender Stratocaster and claimed that they could get me one in about four weeks. Man, I wanted that guitar, but where the hell was a kid like me gonna come up with $473.00. Lowe’s saved the day by taking my trumpet in on trade and then putting me on their $14 a month payment plan. Can you imagine how excited I was the day Lowes called to say that my Strat had arrived? I was back at the store in no time and as I stood in front of the mirror, with my new guitar strapped on, (pictured above) staring back at me, was a “Rock Star.” Hey, I’ll have this thing paid off in no time.
After buying a couple of guitar books and spending hours and hours just trying to learn how to play a few chords, I soon discovered that dreaming about becoming a “guitar man” was a hell of a lot easier than learning how to be one. All I had to show for my efforts so far were bleeding fingertips.
Ahh but then fate stepped in as it would many times later. Out of the blue, I got a call from Shayne inviting me to join his group called the Devines, and within a couple of weeks, I was on stage in a talent show and also booked for a car club dance. The neat thing about the car club dance was we were going to get paid which meant that even though I was still learning to play, I became a professional musician. I was unplugged at the start of my musical career just as I was some 30 years when it ended. That though is another story for another chapter.
When I bought my Stratocaster in 1958, it turned out to be one of my better investments. Hearing that you should rid yourself of anything you haven’t used in six months, I realized that I hadn’t even seen my guitar, let alone play it for over thirty or more years, it was time to move on. My friend Randy Bachman, (The Guess Who & BTO) had been after my guitar for years, so we negotiated a deal. While doing so, he mentioned to me that when he was opening for Neil Young and they were chatting about the early days in Winnipeg backstage. Neil said, “George had one of the first cool guitars in Winnipeg.”
The value of a ’58 “Strat” is all over the place so Randy and I settled somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately, he is now pissed at me because he didn’t realize that in 1965 I had it refurbished which he claims diminishes the value. I guess like a car, you should also never sell a guitar to a friend.
Knowledge comes from reading; wisdom comes from observing.
I believe that Joe Cocker was the greatest cover singer of all time. In fact, most of his “covers” were better than the originals.
I’m amazed at how non-local, local radio is. I can only hope that we don’t have to hear the talent whine when they get replaced by a national radio show.
Geo’s Media Blog is an inside look at Radio, Music, Movies, and Life. For a sneak peek at some upcoming Blogs, or some that you may have missed, go to GeorgeJohns.com. On Twitter @GeoOfTheRadio. Sharing and commenting is appreciated.