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Rick Rococco

Thursday, 13 September 2007

In the early eighties I played drums in a rockabilly band of which I cannot remember the name. I guess the band never had a name, or we had so many names that we never could decide which to choose. We didn’t need a name: all we did was practising once a week in a basement of one of the dirtiest houses I have ever been in my life. I could not play at all and the bass player was in the same category. I think the guitarist was more talented, but he too had just begin playing. The main attraction of the band, and the reason why the band existed, was a guy that called himself Rick Rococco. I hope that I spell his name right, in case he might read this.
Rick was a nice guy. He looked a bit like Lee Towers. That is only important because he once attended a James Dean look-a-like contest. I remember that he was pissed off that he didn’t win. I also remember that he once showed up at one of our repetitions on his socks, without the motor boots that he usually wore. When I asked him what happened to his boots, he refused to answer the question.
Rick wrote all the songs for the band. We could not play most of them, but when we had our magic moments, I realised that the songs were good. And the lyrics were funny. Rick was a fan of The Cramps and his songs echoed their early records. Rick was determined to become successful. I admired him for that, although I could see no way how a guy who was in band with suckers like us could ever become successful.
After a year or so the band ceased to exist, because the place where we could practise for free was tore down. That place was in Haarlem, where Rick lived. I lived in Amsterdam, so after that we only saw each other occasionally at concerts. But since I really liked him, I followed what he as doing. He was a writer too. He published in several magazines, and I was not the only person to notice that he was operating in the same territory as I did.
A few years later I got a phone call that he had a new band, The Pain and the Pleasure, and that he was doing a gig in a café in Amsterdam. My brother, who knew Rick only from my stories, went with me. I would like to hear what his memories are of that evening, because I find it hard to trust my own. I remember that there were just as many people in the audience as there were on stage. But from the first notes on we knew that we were witnessing a legendary event. The musicians that Rick had dug up could really play and Rick was incredible. His singing talents may have been limited, but he made optimal use of them. What I remember most was his charisma, his enthusiasm and his songs! Compared to the hundreds of other beginning bands I had seen, this was completely different.
In the first set the band played rockabilly. I even recognised some of the songs. Then the band took a break and returned on stage without Rick. To our surprise they played a long instrumental funk song, and finally Rick reappeared, in a banana yellow soul suit. To our utter amazement he did a set of James Brown like funk songs, complete with the moves and all.
When my brother and I walked home we agreed that we had witnessed a miracle, that we could never ever explain to all the people who knew Rick and had missed this concert. But we were sure that Rick would be on other stages too, and that he would get the success he deserved. For mysterious reasons that never happened. I have no idea what has become of Rick. But man, what a evening!
All I can let you hear is a song from a demo tape, that Rick made with more or less the same band that my brother and I saw. But this tape has little of the magic that he band had that one evening. It will make my story even harder to believe than it already is. Anyway, here is The Pain and the Pleasure with She’s my baby.

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