Reno’s Rant: Musical Influences Vol. 3: Family Tradition

In the continuing saga of the people in my life who influenced the music I love, we take a look at one of the main influences of my love of heavy metal, my cousin Rusty.

In all of the music that I grew up listening to and all of the genres that it encompassed, I had always had my roots in rock. One of my favorite toys as a kid was my plastic KISS guitar. I’m sure that my mom would have never bought it for me if she knew I would be listening to Love Gun. I remember being fascinated by a news piece, on the nightly news, about how long it took KISS to get into make-up every night for their concerts. Later on, I remember staying up late to see a video of KISS without their make-up, on Friday Night Videos!

So I had always loved rock but when I was young, I loved a lot of other music too. Don’t get me wrong, I still love all kinds of music but there’s nothing does it for me like metal! My cousin Rusty is largely responsible for that! As a kid growing up Rusty, who was a few years older than me, was the coolest. Playing kickball in the back yard he was the best, he was funny, infamously flipped the score on Pac-Man, plus he listened to the coolest music!

Watching him draw the face paint designs of the guys from KISS inspired his younger brother Robbie and I to do draw them ourselves on one afternoon. He did them perfectly, it seemed….I don’t remember mine turning out so well, which just led to the mystique of my cousin’s rock n roll coolness.

He was the one who introduced me to one of my favorite bands, to this day. He got the AC/DC Dirty Deeds tape when it was finally released here in the States. While I’m sure he wanted to listen to tunes like Dirty Deeds, Problem Child and Squealer, I must have asked him to rewind it to Big Balls about 15 times. I mean, come on! A dude singing about balls is hilarious to me, even to this day!!! Even though at the time, I had heard of AC/DC but I was young, maybe 10 and wasn’t really “into them”. But I was just starting to “get it” when it came to rock and that was about to change. While Big Balls was funny, I did hear all of the other songs on the album thanks to Rusty and it sparked a love for a band that I can’t get enough of to this day! Highway To Hell, Back In Black and High Voltage are some of my favorite albums in my vinyl collection!

Rusty also introduced me to another favorite band of mine, Motley Crue! I always loved the Crue poster he had on his bedroom wall. I believe it was the one where the band was dressed like 30’s gangsters with Tommy Guns. It was bad ass. One day all of us kids were congregated in cousins Rusty and Gray’s room and my aunt Jess came in. Motley Crue was brought up and Rusty grabbed my aunt and started doing some sort of swing/jitterbug style dance with her singing Helter Skelter in the style of Motley Crue. It cracked everyone up and became one of the things I think of whenever I listen to Crue. Listening to tunes like Shout At The Devil, Smokin’ In The Boys Room, Looks That Kill in those younger years, all stick in my brain and why I still love and listen to Crue to this day.

Another one of my all time favorite metal bands, Iron Maiden, I can attribute to my cousin Rusty’s influence. It was another Saturday afternoon and Rusty was listening to Iron Maiden’s Live After Death album. Rime Of The Ancient Mariner comes on and to this day, this live version is my favorite because of when Bruce Dickinson says to the crowd, “And the moral of this story is, this is what not to do if a bird shits on you.” Hilarious as a kid whose mother tried to shield him from all bad swears. Hilarious to this day to a foul mouthed DJ. But it was the gateway to listening to more Maiden after that and getting all of the literary references. I remember sitting in English class and hearing about this poem or that story and realizing, that’s a Maiden tune!!!

And of course Twisted Sister Stay Hungry is one of my favorite albums of all time because my cousin Rusty sold me his dubbed copy for $1. Best dollar I have ever spent because Twisted Sister were full of attitude and angst that, as I said before, I was starting to “get”. Also, Twisted Sister, like KISS and Crue were showmen. They had an outlandish look that I appreciated. Even at a young age, I understood, in rock, you’ve got to put on a show to stand out from the rest. I guess that’s why I gravitated to the glam metal of the later 80’s.

So there you have it! I can never thank my cousin Rusty enough for all of the great music I listen to and love to this day, that he influenced. I may have ended up loving metal like I do without his influence but I’m glad I had a cool cuz to show me the way, back in the day!

Up next, The Metal Years!!!

Until Next Time…Cheers!!!