of Storm Troopers. I even gave a shout-out to Chewbacca, who then stood up and fist pumped.
I was patient, took my time, read the crowd, and got the laughs. Comedy is a delicate, wonderful thing.
And now, I’m waiting—patiently—for the call from either Lucas or Spielberg. It’s been six years now since the show. Come on, guys. I can do comedy. I can even throw knives, if that’s what you really want.
RULE: Settle for Second Billing Only If the Top-Billed Act Can Beat You Up
T hat’s what a little sign read on the table in my tented VIP cabana at the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles. There was no sign of this so-called Metallica, but if they were going to get higher billing than me, I was going to take their goody bags. (My grandkids
guitar picks, Linkin Park T-shirts, and studded leather wrist bracelets.)
I was at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards, where I was to receive the coveted Honorary Headbanger Award. A headbanger is a heavy metal or hard rock fan who rocks his or her head violently back and forth while listening to said music.
(NOTE: Please—don’t ask me to ever demonstrate. I am an honorary headbanger. I am not licensed to head bang, nor may I practice it, or advise others on its practice. At least not in the state of California. But if you ask me in Nevada—let’s rock!)
I settled down into my chair in the little “Metallica and Me” section, ordered a beer and some sliders, and gazed at the crowd. A parade of young—and not so young—metalheads, tattooed and bestudded, passed me by, occasionally stopping to do a double take at the sight of Mr. and Mrs. William Shatner. It was quite a bizarre crowd. The VIP room was a who’s who of “what the hell is that?”
(NOTE: Give yourself extra time when attending a headbanger awards banquet. It takes forever to get through the metal detectors.)
I usually ask myself this a couple of times a week, and while sitting there drowning in the sonic assault of the speakers at this heavy metal melee, I pondered,
How did I get here?
But I guess music has always been part of my life in a way. When I was a child, my father would come home from his clothing business on Saturdays and put the Metropolitan Opera broadcast from New York on the radio. I would often close my eyes and wonder what the singers looked like. (I doubt they looked anything like the singers on the black carpet at the Golden Gods Awards. Those fat ladies at the opera could sing, but none of them could wail like these metalheads.) In college, I directed some musicals, and even took some voice lessons as a young actor. And now, at the age of eighty, I have three full-length records under my belt.
The Transformed Man
, and . . .
Searching for Major Tom
. It’s in record stores now. You might want to purchase it and listen to it while reading this book. (Headbanging while reading keeps you from looking too nerdy. )
Searching for Major Tom
started in 2010 when the head of Cleopatra Records, Brian Perera, visited my office. He sat on the very couch that once held the Foos Brothers when we began discussions of
“We’d love for you to sing on an album for us,” he asked.
“I don’t sing,” I replied.
“Oh, I know. But sing—like you do—on an album of science fiction songs.”
I began to look for a way to wrap up the conversation quickly. I explained that I didn’t want to do an album of science fiction–themed tunes. Would I be holding a toy laser gun on the front cover? Would the songs be punctuated by sound effects? This had “novelty” written all over it, not worth my time.
Brian thanked me, and left some sheet music on my desk for these “science fiction songs.” Later, I began to go over some of the lyrics. One was “Space Oddity” by David Bowie, which—judging from Bowie’s ever-changing appearance over the years—I assumed was autobiographical.
But no, it was about a character named Major Tom. And he appeared in more than one of the songs on my desk. He is the title character in a song by Peter Schilling, there was another tune called “Mrs. Major Tom
” and then there was the sheet music to Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” which is basically about Major Tom.
FUN FACTNER: William Shatner became one of the first artists to cover “Rocket Man” when he performed it at the Saturn Awards in 1978.
SECONDARY ADDITIONAL FUN FACTNER: Cee Lo
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