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One day, I carved up grandfather’s guitar to resemble the one Rick Nelson played on TV. Music had become my escape, and Shorewood was my first confrontation with a bigger city. Living there solidified my love for music.

I built a model airplane in the kitchen of my house. Of course, my brother Patrick showed it to his friends. Patrick had set my airplane on a pillowed seating area by a big picture window. One of his friends, Mac McCarthy, sat down and broke it. I could hear him laughing while I was in bed at night, but I didn’t know what had happened until I got up the next morning.

Downstairs, I would sing Rick Nelson and Everly Brothers songs until I was blue in the face. All of sudden, one day I heard a twanging guitar with no vocals on the radio. I thought, “Wow, maybe I don’t need to sing. I could just play guitar.” The artist was Duane Eddy. That experience led me to become not just a Rick Nelson and Everly Brothers fan. Duane Eddy came to play a major role in developing my love for music. I gravitated toward him because I loved the sound of the electric guitar. Once a lady asked my mother, “Where’s Reed?” “He’s alone,” she replied, “he’s got somebody watching him-- Duane Eddy (in spirit) on his Victrola.”

Since my brother Mike was gone, Patrick was in charge of watching over me while Mom and Dad attended to whatever they had to do. Pat wanted to go to see Frankie Avalon and other artists at the Riverside Theater on Wisconsin Avenue. To our surprise, Duane Eddy happened to be on the bill. Patrick got my dad to cough up an extra five bucks for a ticket, and Pat brought me along to the show. Pat was my guardian, and I might as well have well been strapped to him. In any case, I was really excited to go, and together we hit the road.

Artists came on stage and performed two or three songs a piece. The same band backed up every vocalist. I became antsy, left my seat, went down to the lobby, and found the door that went to the basement, thinking that it was a way to get backstage to performers’ dressing rooms. Because the foundation of the theater was right on the Milwaukee River, the hallways were dark and humid. In the distance, I saw a light and could hear the distant beat of a single drum, today known as a snare drum. As I approached, the light shined brighter. A lightbulb dangled from single wire. A guy with two drumsticks was tuning his drum. I believed I had just met the drummer for Duane Eddy. I asked him if I could be allowed to meet my idol, Duane Eddy. He said, “No way, kid; I think its time to leave.” I walked back to my seat in the balcony thinking I was about to see Duane Eddy perform. I then heard the announcement, “On behalf of WOKY, I introduce to you the one and only Duane Eddy,” who approached the stage with his bright-orange, single-cutaway, 6120 Gretsch guitar and Magnetone amplifier. To my surprise and total letdown, the drummer I just met and talked to was not Duane Eddy’s drummer at all. I had been deceived. Interestingly, many years later, I finally had the chance to meet Duane Eddy and his wonderful wife Dede in person at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Upon telling Duane that story, he did remember the venue. Being the country gentleman that he is, Duane said, “Son, I would never let a drummer like that be part of my band; and it would have been a pleasure to have met you.”

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