Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Marked for greatness

It's funny, the memories that pop into your head while you're skidding to work on a sheet of ice.

This morning's drive prompted thoughts of drummers and stolen Sharpies.

During my 15-mile commute to work in the dark, a local radio station played a song I hadn' t heard in years: "Animal" by Def Leppard.

Now, I've never made any attempts to hide my true colors on this blog. In the 80s, I was a Duran Duran groupie, but when the late 80s rolled around, I fell in love with hair bands. By 1992, I'd have sold my left foot to get next to Def Leppard's bass player, Rick Savage.

That's where the trouble began.

I saw the band live for the first time in August 1992, and then I saw them again in Wichita in December 1992. My mother wasn't exactly thrilled that I had chosen to drive all the way from Yankton S.D. to Wichita, Kan., to see a band that I'd already seen, but I was in college and well, you know.

When I heard they were coming to Lincoln in March 1993, I was bound and determined to go again -- come hell or high water. Coincidentally, I ended up almost missing work the next day because the Platte River flooded and the bridges between Lincoln and Norfolk were completely submerged. Let's just say, it was a long trip home. My mother wasn't happy because she was up half the night worrying and forbade me from "wasting anymore money" on seeing Def Leppard play live again.

I was okay with that because after that concert in Lincoln, my friend and I raced from the venue to the Cornhusker Hotel (where the band members were staying) just to get their autographs. I managed to get that of guitarist Vivian Campbell, but when Rick Savage, the object of my affection walked past, I froze.

I imagine I looked something like this :-0

Having blown my chance to grab the attention of the man I wanted to marry (of course, I'm exaggerating here), I accepted my mother's prohibition and turned my focus to getting into trouble on a more local scale. I eventually married the man of my dreams (coincidentally, he's a guitarist, too), had children and started working as a reporter for a newspaper.

Well, it just so happened that about three hours away from my hometown, this group of ranchers had been working together to put on a huge rock music festival featuring four days' worth of national acts. Grand Funk Railroad -- featuring former Norfolkan Max Carl on vocals -- was one of the bands scheduled to perform. And who was the headlining act that night? Yep, you guessed it, none other than Def Leppard.

Armed with a press pass (because I was set to interview Max), Zack (who, as a drummer, was a huge admirer of Def Lep's one-armed drummer), and Max's long-lost cousin Kelli, we set out for the Comstock Rock Festival with hopes of snagging a few autographs.

Now, as a professional reporter, asking for autographs is frowned upon, but my stint as a reporter there only lasted about a half hour. After that, I was on my own time, and I knew from previous experience with this festival that it wasn't difficult to catch the acts between shows to get an autograph. You just had to know where to stand at "the fence."

During my interview with Max, I kept hoping to see the Def Leppard bus pull inside the gate. Unfortunately, it didn't.

So, as soon as I finished, I returned to the glorified pasture party and convinced Zack to bring his Sharpie marker to the fence and wait with me.

Have you seen Zack's
Sharpie Mr. Allen?
We did, and the bus finally showed up. I managed to get the autograph of the other guitarist, but the rest of the members didn't come to the fence. Tired of the 100+ degree heat, I returned to our chairs and left Zack by the fence where he held onto the hope that he would get Rick Allen's (the one-armed drummer) autograph.

Not more than a half hour later, Zack returned to where Kelli and I sat with grin sprawling from ear-to-ear. Not only did Rick Allen give Zack an autograph, he stole Zack's Sharpie.

Despite being a victim of petty theft, Zack happily forgave Mr. Allen and enjoyed the show.

We left Comstock at about 11 p.m. and pulled into the garage at my house after 2 a.m.

Getting up for work the next day was horrible. I couldn't hear anything. But we had a grand time, and it's kind of interesting to wonder how many autographs the boys from Def Leppard signed with Zack's Sharpie.

I guess that's one way for Zack to leave his mark.


Kate Karyus Quinn said...

OMG - great story! It has been years (ok, more like a decade) since I've been to a concert, but I used to love them in High School.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

I haven't been to many live concerts, but Sting was great. He performed in a fairly small amphitheater, and that felt much more intimate than a stadium-type concert. I have to face it--I'm just not hip enough for most live music. :-) It's usually too loud.

gzusfreek said...

You are such a rockstar, Kat and my hero! :) This was fun. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Wow. That's a GREAT story! OMG. You have the best stories, girl.

Boofy said...

To this day Zack still loves telling that story and wondering where his Sharpie is...probably in some landfill somewhere now, but it didn't matter. Don't you have a picture of that? He had so much fun!! You still like Duran Duran...admit it!!

Kat Harris said...

Yeah, *blush* I still like Duran Duran. Heheh.

I do have a picture of Zack and Rick Allen, but I think it's buried somewhere and my electronic archives don't go back that far.


T. Anne said...

I loved that, thanks for sharing! I wish I could meet some of my rock crushes, how fun! And armed with a press pass? I'd for sure have my way with that!