Several inauspicious auditions later, Dad stumbled into his next band. The newspaper ad was placed by a lead singer teamed up with a bass player looking for keys, guitar, and drums. Normally it wasn't the type of ad Dad would respond to since he preferred an already established band, but he liked the type of music they were looking for - classic 70's and 80's rock (surprisingly most ads for keyboard players called for blues players, a style of music totally abhorred by Daddy-O - he claimed it gave him a sore neck playing it because it was so monotonous it made him tense).
Dad showed up to the audition with understandably low expectations. However, after meeting the lead singer and bass player Dad realized that there could be potential here. The lead singer, Brian Slin, not only had a very good voice, but was also charismatic and good looking, a big plus for a front man. The bass player Jeff was average, but also had good stage presence and decent background vocals (and also provided his basement for practicing!)
The real clincher though came when the guitar player auditioning for the band arrived. It was Larry Odneal, that awesome guitar player Dad had met after leaving the Longmont band! Larry had since quit the band where he and Dad had met, as the youth and unprofessionalism of the singer in that band proved too much for a pro like Larry. As soon as Larry stepped into the basement for the audition, Dad immediately exclaimed "you guys are definitely gonna want to hire this dude!" Larry was also very excited, as he and Dad shared a mutual admiration for each other's musical abilities. Both almost simultaneously said to the other how they had hoped their paths would eventually cross again.
At this point it was almost like Dad and Larry were a team, themselves auditioning for a singer and bass player! Before the four of them even played a song they knew this was the start of a band. Barely into the first song my Dad says he can still remember the looks of excitement on Brian and Jeff's face as Larry easily whipped out the Night Ranger song Don't Tell Me You Love Me note-for-note.
The next step was finding a drummer, which wasn't too difficult as Dad quickly recommended Clint Miller from his old Longmont band (Beaute Shiela), which had since completely dissolved. After an impressive audition, Clint was hired, and the band Fast Forward was now complete (click here to see the song list).
Back to the equipment front, it was about this time that Dad added a Yamaha DX-21 and a Korg Poly 800-II to go along with his CP80 electric grand and Roland JX-3P. The Yamaha added a unique type of digital synthesis, while the Korg provided additional analog sounds similar to the JX-3P. Dad also bought a 3-tiered A-Frame stand to accommodate the new synthesizers. At this point in his career more was better (laziness and age had not set in yet!)
Fast Forward's first gig was a weekend stint at Junques Saloon in Broomfield, Colorado. This was the first job Dad personally booked. The bar manager was Mike McCoy, a big, burly no-nonsense guy with years of experience dealing with band promo pitches. It wasn't an easy sell, but Dad somehow convinced Mike to give Fast Forward a shot. The opening night started off precariously when the hired soundman showed up with enough equipment to blast Mile High stadium! Mike glared at the soundman, a young punk with an attitude, and pointed out that he would be monitoring the sound closely. Once the band started playing, though, Mike started to relax. Part way through the first set the band successfully pulled off the Night Ranger tune - Dad still remembers Mike walking up to his side of the stage and giving Dad and the band a big thumbs up! Mike said after the gig it was one of the better bands he'd had in there in a while. He also loved Dad's rendition of Linus and Lucy during one of the band intermissions. This was the beginning of a tradition of clamoring by Dad's friends on a regular basis for "Snoopy! ... Snoopy!"
Something very key to Dad's musical career happened before the Junques job. Larry approached Dad a couple days before the job with something "real serious". Larry was very nervous, and finally just came out with it. "Fred, we've gotten together as a band and have decided, well, ... I don't know a better way to say this than we just don't think you should sing". Dad's reaction was, well, elation and laughter! Dad hated singing, and was really dreading doing the few background parts he had. Larry was to say the least surprised and relieved that Dad took it so well. This also spurred the new band edict that no mic was ever to be allowed within a 10 yard radius of Dad's vocal chords.
After a few more jobs, Dad received a phone call by the lead singer Brian about a "great job" in Yellowstone National Park on New Years day, 1987. Dad was upset and reminded Brian that he did not want to do any traveling, a condition he always made clear up front. Larry was also angry, but peer pressure persevered and Dad and Larry acquiesced. This "great job" turned out to be a disaster. The criteria of a "great job" is money and prestige, and this job had neither.The drive was nine hours, which included an extra two hour wait after Larry's van overheated. It turned out to be a ho-dunk tourist bar, fraught with drunks looking for trouble. Several fights broke out, including one that landed partly on Dad's electric grand, causing him to have to free his left hand to push'em off while still playing with the other. Just like in the movies, the band kept playing!
After the band got back to Colorado, it became apparent that there were different ideas of what the band should do. The bass player Jeff started demanding that the band go out on the road, which infuriated both Dad and Larry because it wasn't part of the original agreement, as they had steady day jobs they weren't about to give up. Brian also wanted the band to venture out, but wasn't as insistent because he wanted to keep the band together. Clint was a quiet type that was neutral on the whole situation. It was just a matter of a few days before Dad and Larry decided to hang it up with Fast Forward.
Chapter 6 - Chapter 11
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