I took my first guitar lesson on May 10, 1963 with Virginia Fredrick, and continued to take lessons for about 18 months. This is the blond Grestch electric my parents purchased for me from Virginia for $135.00 used. I really wanted a sunburst Fender Jazzmaster, but the closest I got was a full size cardboard model I copied from the front of the Venture's 4th album "The Colorful Ventures" LP, and hung on the wall alongside my cardboard Stratocaster. I didn't much like the shirts Don and Bob were wearing on the cover of that LP, and I was definetly confused by the fact that there were only 2 of them now, not the full 4 piece band as before (I suspected Nokie was a fantastic guitarist) but it did scream "PURE ELECTRIC GUITAR SOUND". Just those 2 Fender guitars: lead and rhythmn and you could see all the details of both the Stratocaster and the Jazzmaster. Many years later, I aquired a pair of white Jazzmasters for my collection, and today I have a mint condition sunburst Jazzmaster reissue I play occasionally, but back then I had this big fat Grestch.
Finally the Grestch was traded in on a new sunburst Stratocaster in the summer of 1964. The Stratocaster cost $245 with case, less $85.00 trade-in allowance for the Grestch, so mom came up with the $160.00 so I could get a flashy new Stratocaster. Mike Collins was away for the summer, so I started a band with Frank Farina, Schenectady's hottest lead guitar player of the day (Fender Jazzmaster and Blond Fender Showman amp) who did these incredible things with (or maybe to) the Jazzmaster tremolo bar. This was the first week I had my new Stratocaster, and Frank knew Boom Boom Brannigan. He had the number for Boom Boom's direct line at WPTR, the big rock station at the time. Boom Boom immediatly started plugging the band on the air for our gig at Saratoga Lake that weekend. Saturday night came and Frank and I hooked up with 2 really good looking sisters. This ranks as a 10 out of 10 on the teenage cool-guy meter, and 20 out of 10 if you had a chance to duplicate something like this as an adult (never, never, never ever)... thanks Boom Boom... thanks Frank... and very special thanks to Pam and her sister!
On the "not nearly as cool scale" but still worth doing, I played fill-in lead guitar with Ronnie DeLorenzo who played with Benny Canavo's band part time. Ronnie also lined up some wedding gigs for me... the food was good, the pay was great, and the music sucked, but I was actually making money playing guitar.