Cherry Coca Cola was released to major beverage distributors in the Long Island area on this day in 1985, and we thought it was truly a momentous event. The first time my friends and I tried it, we were a little bit stoned, and we spent the first hour or so of the experience trying to figure out which flavor you tasted first, the cherry or the coke. Amazingly, that was pretty much the most fun thing that I can remember happening on that particular day. Oh, and I say ‘amazingly’ because did I mention that this happened in the parking lot while we were waiting to get in to the U.S. Live Aid concert?
It’s funny, but I don’t know anyone who claims to have been at Live Aid except for myself and the three friends who I went with. My friend Diana and I were dating at the time, but our other friends had not really been let in on this fact yet. My friend Dyann (whose dad co-owned the beverage distributor) was ready to see some great musicians live and to have this wonderful adventure with her friends in Philadelphia, and my buddy John – a partner in crime at our college radio station – was psyched to be going to the show, and that Dyann was single.
Over the course of that long, hot, seemingly endless summer day, the few things I can remember are being outed as a couple by our friends (quote from John “Hey …. whattaya doin?”), getting possibly more than mild heat stroke during The Pretenders and muttering something about a puppy (I didn’t HAVE a puppy), and the fact that the cooling, high powered fire hose that was being shot into the crowd stopped just a few rows shy of where we were sitting. And I also remember that by midday, we had gotten so sick of hearing “Do they know it’s Christmas” (in 104 weather in JULY) that our whole section began chanting “Feed the wooooorld, feed the f***ing go*****ed woooorld.” How VERY un-P.C., right!? But we were so frikkin’ hot at that point that we were past caring.
It was in a stadium … and a BIG one. It was the dead of summer. Now, by this point I had easily been to well over a hundred live rock shows, including The Who concerts at Shea Stadium in 1982, so I was basically a “pro” at this. And I knew that this was basically a mess. But since there were no tragic events – amazingly no one died from the heat – the concert itself was looked at as a success. It certainly wasn’t from my vantage point. Stadium sound systems were still not very good (not that they could qualify today as ever being “very good’). The set changes were way too long, occupied by boring “awareness-raising” political speeches, and comics taking fifteen minutes out of their busy schedules to tell us that “Hey, I’m doing something important for humanity today and you are, too”. And the music, for the most part, was compromised as a result.
No one except for Eric Clapton played a set worth noting. (And yes, I’m a big Clapton fan, but ‘White Room’ blew the walls of the stadium down.) The coolest thing was that Phil Collins flew between the London and U.S. shows on the Concorde to play at both events. But after that night, Phil was seemingly everywhere you looked (“Hey, it’s Liberace, with special guest PHIL COLLINS!”), so that was an annoying ‘aftershock’ of Live Aid. The reunited Who (a set that we had to watch on the giant screen) sucked. The ‘world premiere’ of the Bowie/Jagger video for ‘Dancing in the Street’ did NOT make me want to dance, but to simply raise a glass to wish the happy couple well for their future. And the reunited Led Zeppelin were a mess. Ironically, at that time I wasn’t half the Zep fan that I am now. But that might have been a good thing. I thought the set was a disaster, and reading back on it now thirty years later I can see that I was apparently correct. I hear that Queen was great. I don’t remember. I think that during Queen’s set I was waiting for them to replenish the snow cones at a concession stand … so that I could rub it on myself!
Did we have fun? Yes. I think we did. I was in the company of friends that I love. But other than for the company, I think we all only hung in for the duration of the show for two main reasons: firstly, to be able to say that we had “done it” … we had been in the audience for Live Aid … and secondly, because I think we were all waiting for some magical musical moment that was sure to arrive. It didn’t. I don’t even remember who closed the U.S. show. In fact, I usually have to check Wikipedia before I say something like “Gee, I never got to see Black Sabbath live with Ozzy” to make sure that I actually had not ‘seen’ them at Live Aid. And we all know about the McCartney ‘Let It Be’ disaster at the UK event.
So, to this day, when the momentous Live Aid is discussed, including on the event’s thirtieth anniversary, I find that my auto response is a cynical giggle. I am delighted that it was put together to make money for charity. That was the whole idea. But, as we know, much of the money never even reached its intended recipients. (Hats off to the world’s politicians, by the way!) But, for that intended reason, it was an amazing thing to have been a (very small) part of. But to try, even thirty years later, to pass the thing off as having been a momentous MUSCIAL event. Nope. I was there. And I sorta kinda almost maybe remember that it wasn’t.
Sad news today.
Pete Fornatale, a legend in New York and one of the originators of progressive FM radio, has left us.
To those of you who knew Pete but were unaware of his passing, I am sorry to bear such news. For those of you who never had the chance to meet Pete, or were unaware of what he meant to so many radio listeners ... or of his significance in my life ... I am sadder still that you will not have the pleasure to know him.
Right now, his friends and family are asking for prayers and positive energy from everyone who knows Pete, and from those whose lives were ever touched by his words or the music he played for them in the 40+ years that he has been on the air in New York and on Sirius/XM. Peter deserves the most graceful of transitions.
Over the course of the past six years, Pete Fornatale became a dear friend to me. He also became my 'business' associate, though developing and presenting our programs together could never have been called 'work'. He got my jokes ... all of them ... even the most intensely geeky music-related ones. And those of you on this list who know me well all realize that this made Pete 'a member of the gang'. And he was. Those of you who met Pete during our own version of the 'never-ending tour' picked up on that right away. He was also, truly, 'one of the good ones'. And every person who I watched meet Pete during the course of our travels walked away thinking the same thing: "Wow, he's the same nice guy in person that he is on the radio!"
Pete holds a unique place in my life. He is someone who has inspired me since my childhood. He was a voice on the radio that was seemingly ever-present. I remember my sister's 'hippie' friends grooving to the words he said, and to the music that Pete and his fellow jocks played in the early days of WNEW when I was a small child in the Bronx. Going forward, I also remember how Pete and his station-mates were there to comfort a grieving generation of New Yorkers when we lost John Lennon on that horrible night over thirty years ago. (And who knew that he left the station each night - or K-Rock each afternoon - to come back to the same town I lived in? In fact, some of the friends I grew up with who are reading this probably knew Pete, or members of his family, and may not have realized who he was at the time!)
Pete Fornatale was one of the radio personalities who, along with the likes of Denis McNamara, Harry Harrison, Dan Ingram, Bruce Morrow and Dennis Elsas, inspired me to pursue a degree in Broadcasting. That decision shaped many aspects of my life that would follow ... and for that I am grateful. Pete continues to inspire me. He always will. We had things left undone. And I am going to move forward on a number of those things, carrying with me the energy borne of the trust and confidence that Pete placed in our ideas, and in how we approached achieving our goals. It won't be the same in any way. But it will, I believe, be a help to me, and to the many friends - those he knew personally and those who he never met - who will miss him.
After many, many years, the Beach Boys - one of Pete Fornatale's all-time favorite groups - have reunited and recorded a new album. The lead-off single is called "That's Why God Made The Radio". Pete didn't have the chance to hear that new single while he was still here and fully aware. But somewhere he is smiling. Pete is one of the people who made it quite clear to us ... time and time again ... just exactly why God made the radio. To spread music, warmth, humor and love.
In the spirit of Peace, Love and Music to you all ...
Wow. So, Macca has officially announced that he's off the wacky tabaccy. Well NOW what am I going to goof on him about? Oh, who am I kidding, there are still a score of things I can rib him over. But what has got me goin' is this ...
If you read some of the comments that posters are putting up in the newspaper / wire stories about this earth shattering (?!?) event, many individuals just seem to have it in for this poor guy. Paul is saying that he stopped smoking for Beatrice, and the biggest dig I see is "Sure, he didn't stop for his OTHER four kids, but he'll stop for this one!" blah blah blah. And the other big one is "Who CARES what this guy does. Why doesn't he keep his private life private?". OK. I agree. There is a degree of "too much information" goin' on ... but hear me out.
I thought about both of these points that people are ranting about, and here is my response to the Macca-bashing. Quite simply: Paul has partial custody of Beatrice - his daughter with Heather Mills - because of a court order / mandate. Most folks can acknowledge that Heather gave Paul a bit of a hassle during the divorce. Well, the deal may just be that a lifelong advocate of casual cannabis smoking and legalization may be making the best possible PR move, for both himself and his daughter, by making a very PUBLIC announcement that he is no longer partaking in the pleasures of that particular leafy substance. Perhaps there have been some behind-the-scenes hassles that we are not privy to.
Or yeah, maybe he was just finding that he doesn't have the lung capacity to catch the munchkin when she's running around after he's been hitting the ol' water bong! (Or maybe there's another Japanese tour planned?)
It amazes me. Sir Paul has raised three biological children who are all (seemingly) very well-adjusted, nice people. And he raised Heather with Linda as well. Are people really going to start questioning this man's fathering skills when he's turning 70? And what's with telling someone like McCartney that he needs to "be more private"? These people are celebrities. And with McCartney in particular we're usually all commenting on how he gives standard, almost pat, answers to questions all the time, and couldn't we get a little more of a personal glimpse once in a while. So now, when he's talking straight dope (pun intended) to Rolling Stone - a magazine that does NOT tolerate the same-old answers to stupid questions - he's going to get guff for it?
And then you have these people who are citing him as a "bad influence on our kids", LOL. Oh, I LOVE that. Yes, because your kids are being forced to scroll past hundreds of Paul McCartney web pages to find out what's happening with those cuddly Kardashians and snuggly old 'Snooki'. Ya gotta love it.
So, here's my message to ya Paulie ...
I'll take your word for it, Babe. You've given up on the ol' devil weed. I got it . I won't try to 'weed' between the lines. ;-)
So ... no more jokes ... I promise. Oh, who am I kidding, you've got nearly 50 years as a stoner under your belt, so it'll take at least twenty years until it's out of your system. So, until then ... (Tony makes loud suction noise)... I promise I'll 'leaf' you alone. "Peace, dude!!"
Hello Fab4Free4All fans!
Tony T. here, about to boldly (re-) enter the world of 'blogging'. I know, at this point, it's become old news to most folks, this whole 'social networking' thing. (Hmmm ... so am I 'blogging a dead horse'?)
The funny thing is that I was putting blog-type sites together a long time ago, but things like life - and developing podcast shows with my friends - intervened, and I feel like I've lost so much ground that I'm damned-near feeling like a 'newbie' again. But, here it is now ... for what it's wortth ... a place for my rants! And a place where you can all touch base with me and with one another. Now, I cannot promise that I will be posting every day ... week ... well, probably MONTH ... but I will be 'setting up shop'. Come by and visit when ya can.
Hope everyone has fun here!
Peace and Love,