Scott Andrew

Gnarled JavaScript warlock, musician, and cartoonist.


This is an archived blog post that was posted on May 10, 2011.

Tom King

Tom King of the Outsiders passed away a few weeks ago. When the news flew through my personal blogotwitterfacebookosphere, some rusty wires in my brain sparked, and I suddenly remembered that I had once opened for Tom King.

Thing is, I barely remember the details. I'm gonna guess that it was around 1991 because that coincides with the release of the Outsiders' "30 Years Live" album. I can't remember the venue for the life of me. Part of me is convinced it was The Sahara Club in East Cleveland, but it also might have been JB's Down Under near Kent State. Either way, I was playing guitar with my first "real" band Cartoon Freeze Tag, and we probably got the gig because we were the ultimate college cover band at the time and always managed to draw a good crowd.

I'm pretty sure the night was billed as "Tom King and the Outsiders." At the time, all I really knew about them was they were 60s rock royalty, and me being every bit the obnoxious, self-absorbed twenty-something musician I had no idea why I should have been impressed. I had never heard their famous single "Time Won't Let Me." And why would I? My grasp of "classic rock" began and ended with ZEPPELIN, MAAAN. I admit that I didn't have much respect for these Old Guys and the older crowd that pressed right up to the edge of the stage to watch them.

I don't remember the set. I didn't know the songs. I do remember Tom King coming out to begin the set and thanking the audience for their "patience." I put that word in quotes because that's kind of how he delivered it -- pointedly. And I realized that he was probably talking about our set. I think our singer was a little miffed at that.

Looking back now, it's pretty funny. The Outsiders were -- and probably still are -- the Most Famous People We'd Ever Meet, and they had to wait for us to finish our set of R.E.M. and Pink Floyd covers.

But anyway, beware laughing too long at Old Guys, lest one day you become an Old Guy with the curse of perspective. (p.s. actually this happens whether you laugh or not.)

I've never owned a vehicle with a CD player, so I listen to radio. (It's not that I'm a Luddite, I just don't care enough get a decent stereo.) On my way to rehearse with Kirby Krackle last weekend, I found an FM station that played only 60s and 70s tunes. Turns out there's a ton variety in those two decades alone, especially if you ignore the Beatles. I tuned in just as Paul Revere and the Raiders' "Where The Action Is" started playing.

Man, what an incredible time to live through. Back when rock and roll was new and big and weird, as life-changing as television or the internet would eventually be, before corporate efficiency turned it into a profit center. That's the world the Outsiders inhabited and were a part of. Sorry Tom, I get it now!

What's my equivalent, MTV? Grunge? Maybe the web, in the early days of blogs? They don't feel like they even come close. At the moment they feel like offshoots, evolutionary branches that end with MTV Cribs, Nickleback and Gawker, respectively.

But maybe for a little while they felt as important, and as dumb as it sounds, I find I really, really long for those moments. Something nascent and positively charged, a groundswell that was going to shake up everything, something you can feel coming, hope on the wind.