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Rock Tales #63-Jay Vaquer
One summer I was a lifeguard at the Officer's Club pool at Ft. Benning. I overheard a Captain ask our pool manager if he knew of any good rock bands to play for a pool party being planned for a Ranger battalion recently back from Vietnam. Seizing the opportunity, I modestly told them I belonged to the best rock band in town- The Bitter End. Herb Guthrie on drums, Mike Guthrie on guitar, Gary Burnette on bass and me on guitar. Bob, the pool manager, attested the claim and we were hired for the gig at $250. We arrived early, set up, sound checked, and began playing on time. Mike selected "8 Miles High" to open and when we finished, instead of getting the applause we expected, we got " Hey, can you guys play `Louie Louie` or something we can dance to"? Mike said "sure" and selected "Stephanie Knows Who" by Love. The song has some phrases that extend beyond 4-4 time. This would automatically throw the dancers out of time and they looked, and probably felt, like a bunch of spazzed dorks. The officer's wives got together during the third song and decided that Herb was the one throwing in those odd beats and they were going to throw him in the pool for that. The band was on a raised platform with the upper pool at our backs. Nonchalantly, several women gathered directly behind Herb, who was behind us. In the middle of the song, they grabbed Herb's arms and legs and were trying to throw him in when he kicked his legs free and fearfully implored we rescue him. I was cracking up, but Mike, only about 15 years old, saw his brother being attacked (maybe he knew Herb could'nt swim) so he yelled at us to go help Herb. Gary and Mike jumped off that stage and started slinging those wives like ragdolls to the concrete deck. When the Ranger Officers saw their wives with ripped clothes and bloodied elbows, inflicted by these hippie freaks, they attacked. I swiftly grabbed my guitar and went straight to the supper club balcony. Herb, Mike, and Gary ended up in the pool. Herb was so furious he went back on stage to the microphone, dripping wet, and shouted, "the Army sucks, you guys are a bunch of idiots". Before he got much further, the Rangers attacked the stage in a group. Bob tried to stop them and got a bloody nose for his futile effort. While he was calling the Military Police, the enraged Rangers were kicking drums over and tossing our equipment into the pool. Seeing those Fender amps floating stunned every one when they realized they were still plugged in. The Rangers were laughing and joking about going into the water now, so Herb, Mike and Gary came up to where I was safe. The M.P.'s arrived and said there would be an investigation and we were banned, again, from Ft. Benning. My Dad was in Vietnam so Herb and Mike's Dad, still in the Army, went to the Ranger's commander and asked about the damaged equipment. They said they would take up a collection. A week later he brought us a check for $65. And unfortunately, we did not get paid for the gig. It was a bitter end to The Bitter End. About one month later we changed the name of the band to "Arnold Bean" and conned our way back on post playing at the Lawson Field Officer's Club with Gary Loftin, a.k.a. Professor Jackson, who dressed as an Arab (The Six Day War), stood in front of the stage, and acted as our intermediary and bodyguard. This is Tale 66.

Rock lesson #63- Don't tug on Superman's cape and don't mess around with Army Rangers or their wives.

 





 

 

 

 

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