In keeping with the theme of my interview with Frankie Banali (see below), I wanted to share the experience of my first rock concert. As I mentioned before my very first live show was Quiet Riot when they headlined on their “Condition Critical” tour (1984). I had been a huge fan since their previous #1 album “Metal Health” and I was awe-struck by their drummer Frankie Banali. He was the reason I picked up drumsticks in the first place. If not for him, I would not be a drummer (or a blogger) today.
Three things stuck out in my mind when I watched Banali play. First, was his power. I had never seen a drummer hit as hard as he did. Second, was his showmanship. Despite being eclipsed by a 360 degree drum kit he didn’t get lost. Third, his ability to lay down a steady groove and then throw in these brilliant fills when appropriate. He definitely played for the song. Just listen to the title track on their second album “Condition Critical.” The song starts off with a simple 2 and 4 beat repeated over and over. As the song builds Banali throws in these brilliant breaks where he hits the snare, blazes down the toms, and finishes the fill with a one second open hi-hat before going back in to the original groove. If you don’t listen closely you’ll probably miss it.
When Quiet Riot came to Pittsburgh I was in the seventh grade. My father decided to take me and my friend Dennis to the show. My dad was, and still is, very much into music but Heavy Metal was not his thing. Still he agreed to take us. As we arrived at the venue we ran into a vendor selling concert t-shirts in the parking lot. We quickly grabbed one up as the prices were no doubt significantly higher inside. I wish I still had that shirt. They sell on eBay for $. Our seats were fantastic. Front row on the balcony stage-right. This gave us an unobstructed view and we were able to sit down and still see.
Whitesnake opened up. I had no idea, nor did I care who they were at the time. I was there to see Quiet Riot. I vividly remember when they came on stage. I said to myself “Oh my God! There they are!” I was giddy for lack of a better term. For the next hour or so the band put on a spectacle full of smash hits and unlimited energy. At the end of the show I was just as exhausted as the band.
I went to many concerts after that but the Quiet Riot show sticks out in my memory as a life-changing experience. It made me want to be a musician and Banali made me want to be a drummer. Over thirty years later I’m still playing the drums and I’m still “banging my head.”
Image is the actual advertisement from the 1984 Pittsburgh paper.