Reno’s Rant: Musical Influences Vol. 1: The Beginning

I’m trying something new here on my blog for the Rocky website. It’s a several week look at the people who influenced the music that I love and the musical tastes that I have developed over the years, at various stages of my life.

This first blog post is called “The Beginning” because appropriately, that’s where we are going to start!

While my parents never played any instruments, outside of my dad’s brief stint trying his hand at playing guitar, we were certainly a musical family. Dad was always singing songs. Mom was always playing records on the console stereo, singing along most times.

Dad seemed to always be singing a Willie Nelson song. His favorite seemed to be “On The Road Again” which at hated as a child. Dad always had a penchant for singing in public which embarrassed me as a kid. He also had a love for The King, Elvis Presley. There didn’t seem to be a Willie Nelson or Elvis song that dad didn’t know and wouldn’t sing. I remember sitting in my bedroom listening to my mom’s stack of 45’s with my dad and listening to him sing along to Elvis “In The Ghetto” and Johnny Cash “A Boy Named Sue”. While I didn’t always appreciate the artists or the songs then, I mean they were old and not cool, I learned to appreciate them later in life. I learned what great song writers Willie and Johnny were and what a great performer Elvis was. I didn’t realize it then but the songs I listened to my dad sing, as a kid, were the songs I remembered with great fondness as an adult and led to the diversity that would be my musical tastes.

My mom on the other had seemed to always have Tammy Wynette or Donna Fargo on the console stereo. While they were never really my cup of tea, listening to them opened me up to a broader musical world view. My mom’s great influence on me musically was the day she set me down in my bedroom with a record player and her stack of 45’s. I cut my teeth on artists from Tommy James and the Shondells to Freda Payne to the Shirelles to Glen Campbell. I would spend hours listening to CCR Born On The Bayou or Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. I remember as a kid barely in school and Gary Puckett and the Union Gap’s “Young Girl” was my favorite song. Seemed very relatable to sing about a “young girl” as a young boy. Now it seems a little weird…kind of like singing Winger 17 in my mid 40’s. But I digress. I loved the psychedelic sound of Crimson and Clover. The Foundations “Build Me Up Buttercup” was another favorite of mine. I spent hours pouring over the different record company labels like Apple Records, Motown’s map with Detroit, the purple Dimension record label, the UNI spiral, the black and silver DECCA label….ahh, the memories.

While I came to immerse myself in the music of the 70’s and 80’s, my musical foundation was built on the music that my parents listened to…pop, rock and country spanning the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and very early 80’s.

I even got my first taste of being a DJ with that record player and stack of 45’s. It was one of those stackable record changers. I would set up a stack of 45’s in the order and mix that I liked and let ’em spin. Not much different than what I would eventually do in radio.

So there you have it, the beginning of my life in music. Next week we’ll take a look at the radio years and those who influenced the music I listened to through grade school.

Until next time….Cheers!