I’ve known plenty of fans with an unshakable, enthusiastic devotion to certain acts. I’ve known Dead Heads.
But, no matter how passionate these folks might be, in twenty-five years plus, no one has struck me as having more unerring passion for a band than a friend from high school.
Bosco loved The Tubes.
Bosco had more than a bit of Spicoli in him, though he attained his carefree demeanor (mostly) without additives and preservatives. There was also some Ferris Bueller in there, too.
He wasn’t a jock, the most quick-witted, or the most dashing lad in town, but there might not have been a more genuinely liked popular kid in our school as Bosco.
Bosco and some of his friends intersected with a group of mine and during our last two years of high school, I got to know him quite well and we had more than our share of misadventures.
I was with him once when he informed the cop that had pulled him over that he couldn’t give Bosco a ticket because “I have no job, no money and no future.”
(somehow, like a Jedi Mind Trick, it worked)
It’s still easy to picture him – checkerboard Vans, lank blonde hair flopping about, and the perpetually surprised yet drowsy expression he seemed to always have.
Music was the usual chatter. For the isolation of our remote hometown, Bosco had spectacular impressive taste in music. He seemed to have a bent toward literate songwriters – Bob Dylan, Ray Davies, and Mark Knopfler – during a period when these artists were not at their commercial or artists heights in the early ‘80s.
But The Tubes were all his.
He’d make collect calls to the president of their fan club – some chick named Marilyn in California – from the high school lounge during lunch.
He had pictures of him and the band, backstage, after concerts.
(we had no idea such a thing as backstage existed)
“It’s me and Fee,” – he and lead singer Fee Waybill had their arms around each other’s shoulders – “drinking buddies.”
He’d use Spooner – in tribute to the band’s guitarist Bill “Sputnik” Spooner – as a greeting.
He was a fan of the band long before it became an MTV darling with She’s A Beauty. Bosco knew all of their albums years ahead of that time.
It must have been his older brother that turned him on to The Tubes because, aside from reading about them, stuff like Mondo Bondage and White Punks On Dope was not going to be heard on the radio stations in our orbit.
I haven’t spoken to Bosco in twenty-years. The last time I saw him, we were both home from college, and things had changed. It was him, but there was no whimsy. He was focused on his fraternity and business school.
I did a bit of online sleuthing for him awhile back and the results yielded a lot of stuff involving chambers of commerce and zoning ordinances.
I couldn’t help but wonder if he still listens to The Tubes.
Nevertheless, I still listen to The Tubes. Here is a quartet of songs from Fee and friends…
The Tubes – White Punks On Dope
from The Tubes (1975)
At fourteen or fifteen years old, the wry title of White Punks On Dope alone was a source of amusement to us when Bosco was turning us on to The Tubes. It’s a nifty little bit of social commentary that manages to be a catchy stomp of a song that contains the theatrical flair that helped garnered attention for The Tubes.
The Tubes – Talk To Ya Later
from The Completion Backward Principle (1981)
I’ve heard the earlier stuff from The Tubes – courtesy of Bosco – but I was more partial to their more mainstream stuff and that’s pretty much all I own (I’ve kept my eyes open for some used vinyl with which to reacquaint myself with no success thus far).
And though The Completion Backward Principle probably mortified long-time fans of the band’s more outrageous stuff, my friends and I loved it. The slick, new-wave tinged Talk To Ya Later featured Steve Lukather (of Toto) on guitar. Infectious beyond belief, its title became our standard conversation ender for years to come.
The Tubes- She’s A Beauty
from Outside Inside (1983)
She’s A Beauty was the first time I ever heard The Tubes on the radio and the next day at school I immediately reported to Bosco that 96Rock had played the band’s new single. Two months later, the song had become the group’s only Top Ten single in the US.
Outside Inside was one of the big albums for me and my friends during the summer of ’83 (along with The Police’s Synchronicity, which was the album that summer). It’s still a song that I wont skip on the iPod.
The Tubes – Piece By Piece
from Love Bomb (1985)
Love Bomb came out in the spring of ’85, the last full year my friends and I had together before heading to college. Maybe the fact that it came and went with little fanfare might have been an omen that our group of friends was headed the way of the dinosaurs.
I don’t recall it being a bad record, just kind of uneventful. This was surprising as the great Todd Rundgren – someone else who Bosco had turned us onto – produced it. But, like She’s A Beauty and Talk To Ya Later, I can’t skip the crunchy goodness of an earworm that is Piece By Piece.