Early Influences: The DuCaines
Who are your influences? When you are mixing with like-minded music people that question inevitably comes up. As much as I like to think it is Bowie, Velvet Underground, and Joy Division, the only real answer for me has always been the DuCaines out of New York City. If it wasn’t for their guitar player and a girl he met at the beach, I simply wouldn’t exist.
The DuCaines played the school dance circuit of New York City in the mid-60s, sometimes sharing the bill with Leslie West’s band The Vagrants. One of their most notable shows was a slot at the World’s Fair in 1964 and with momentum building, the band cut two songs at the venerable Variety Recording Studio off Broadway in New York City. Like many other aspiring garage bands of the 1960s, the Vietnam War derailed future plans and the DuCaines came to a halt soon after the guitarist, Art Lent, left to join the Marines. Upon returning from war, Lent married that girl he met at the beach and they set about raising a family starting with their new son, me.
Growing up in Florida, music was always around the house as my dad continued to play songs whenever friends came over. Once I discovered music, I would put on their different records and read every word on the album. A 45 of Led Zeppelin’s “Living Loving Maid” is one I still remember as well as the Grease soundtrack which I recently borrowed from my dad while visiting. When I was young, my dad would tell me about standing outside bars in Greenwich Village listening to legends like Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix when he was a teenager or the time he shared a stage with Dion. Those stories didn’t register with me until years later as I was too caught up in the excitement of the newly arrived MTV.
Perhaps other parents would have worried when their only son wanted to dye his hair to look more like John Taylor of Duran Duran but my parents gave me a lot of freedom with my musical obsessions. My dad was the nominated concert chaperone and my pre-high school shows included Power Station, Whitesnake, Great White, Howard Jones, David Lee Roth, Cinderella, Madonna, and George Michael to name a few. When dad was away on business, my mother stepped up and took my sister and I to see Bon Jovi. They might not have loved the music I listened to but they loved me enough to sit through an entire Skid Row show.
A few years ago, my dad retired from his career in sales and decided to “get the band back together.” In his case, that meant adding some backing tracks behind his guitar and hitting the veteran’s halls and country clubs around Tampa, FL. One night, I joined him on stage for a handful of Jimmy Buffett and Dion covers and lived my dream of playing in the DuCaines. We even tackled “Little Angel”, the DuCaines would-be-hit, that he wrote for my mother. All these years later, I finally learned that the “suit of blue” was a bathing suit because he met my mom at a beach. Today, both my parents celebrate another birthday and their only son will be listening to the DuCaines feeling grateful that rock-n-roll brought them together.