Our entry was called "I'm Not Like Everybody Else," which I thought was one of the few Kinks classics that could be improved on from the original version. Ironic that it was released in 1968. You see that was the very year, 1968, that I last saw my little step-brother, Nato. That's a picture of the two of us back in our heyday in El Paso, Texas. I like to call it, "The First Kinks Tribute Band."
We were HUGE Kinks fans back then. I brought my fandom with me from Oklahoma where I lived a poor working-class life in the town of Moore, Oklahoma, hooked forever into being a Kinks fan due to their trifecta of releases; "You Really Got Me," "All Day and All the Night" and "Tired of Waiting for You." My step-brother came from LA. We were united by the marriage of his mother with my father and we came together my senior year in high school in El Paso, Texas. We got along GREAT! Nato inherited my Kinks fandom almost instantly. As I recall, being poor and at a time when The Kinks were banned from touring the U.S., we could only fuel our intense love of them by treking up through the hot Texas sun to read about them on the news-stands of our local mini mart.
Then our folks split up. Nato wound up back in LA, living with his grandfather. I finished high school in El Paso. On the night of my senior graduation, instead of partying like my fellow classmates, I packed my belongings in an "old kit bag" and took a bus out to LA first thing the next morning to join him. Strangely, four members of my graduating class died that evening, three in car accidents, one a horrific train accident coming back from Zaragosa, Mexico, and another shot to death by a security guard that caught him breaking into a soda machine at a swimming pool complex. Let them party, I thought to myself on the bus, I'm going to Hollywood!
I can't begin to describe the excitement of the times. It was the summer of '68. It was the time of free love. Of Volkswagen buses painted with flowers. Of Hippies, which I aspired to become. LA and Hollywood were HAPPENING! I instantly found a job working for Howard Hughes making a whopping net of fifty-five dollars a week (huge wages at the time) and rented a room for a pittance of fifteen dollars a month, all bills paid, rented to me by Nato's grandfather. I was seventeen and I had my little brother to hang out with living next door and there were SO MANY beautiful girls!! Damn! Even to this day I get choked up remembering all those beautiful girls LOL. On weekends, his grandfather would take me out with him gardening in Beverly Hills. Coming from a barren desert I was in awe of everything about California and for me it was the best of times!
But the real excitement was soon to follow. I began to hang out on Sunset Strip, at first on weekend nights and later EVERY night. It was just too much excitement to let a night go by without hanging out on the Strip. And the bands I saw; Buffalo Springfield, Question Mark and the Mysterians, Moby Grape, Taj Mahal (yep still together) and one of my favorites who I thought at the time would take over the world -- Rhinocerous (well I got that one wrong LOL). The Doors were playing the Whiskey A-go-go and I know that it was this time in my life that would inspire me with a love of rock and roll music that would last me my entire life.
Of course none of these bands swayed either me or my brother's enthusiasm for the Kinks. The Kinks were and have always remained numero uno in both my life and as I would later learn, the life of my little step-brother, Nato.
It was the offer of a full-paid college scholarship back in El Paso that railroaded my life in LA and I left at the end of the summer. Life seemed to swallow me up then, turn me into a man instead of a free-spirited kid, burden me with responsiblities and ambitions that would wash away that summer of '68. And alas, as fate would have it -- never to see my little brother again.
Then in July, 2012, the Kinks sponsored a Kinks cover contest. My band's entry caught Nato's eye. I received correspondence on that most wonderful of Social medias, Facebook, from Phyllis, his wife of thirty-seven years. I thought it was strange that a woman from Seattle would vote for our entry and boy was I soon to find out just how strange when she contacted me and sent me the picture from above which I had never seen before but which had stayed in Nato's possesion all these years.
In a few days I'm flying to Seattle to stay with them and I'm taking tapes of every live Kinks concert I've had the good fortune to attend and let me tell you I've seen a LOT of bands in my life but NONE ever compared to the Kinks live. I've got a strong hunch that my tapes and list of concerts pales in comparison to the concerts of theirs that Nato has seen. His wife tells me Nato has a Kinks project in store for me when I get there. I was choked up when I called him for the first time in forty-five years. Later, in the relative calm of a Facebook post, I was able to tell him ". . . can you believe it was the blooming Kinks that finally brought us back together after all these years?"