Emboldened by my experiences with the battle of the bands and the fact that I had finally gotten paid to play my guitar with Sceptor, I continued to search for a band that was a good fit. Considering that I had grown up listening to everything from Simon & Garfunkel, Buck Owens, the Beatles, AC/DC, Judas Priest, ABBA, Duran Duran, and nearly everything in between; I didn’t think it would be too hard to find another band. This is probably the reason that I didn’t work very hard at this "search". I mostly just continued to practice and get better as a player – although I only really progressed when I had a teacher directing me.
Then one day, kind of out of the blue, Shannon Otte calls me up. He was divorced from Tracy by now, and he was in a band called Shilo. I knew of Shilo because my friend Kevin had been their drummer for a short time, and also because their original lead guitarist, Darren "Hawkeye" Pearce, was another friend of mine. Hawkeye and Kevin had both quit the band by then, but Shannon called me up because they were looking for a new gutiarist. The short story from here is that I came to a rehearsal, met the guy who was going to be the new drummer (it was his frist time meeting the band as well), Eric Wilson, and found out that they were going in a more pop/rock direction. For about a year they had been making a name for themselves as a country band, but Shannon felt the need to expand the repertoire and change the name to reflect that. The other members of the band at that time were Bill Sherritt and Stacy Taylor, both of whom were very country oriented. Eric and I were decidedly rock oriented, and Shannon was bit of a mix of both. During that first meeting, it was decided that the new name of the band would be C. C. Ryder – a name Shannon came up with based on a song that Elvis used to use to open all of his concerts.
About the same time, I started dating Lisa. The only member of Sceptor that I kept contact with was the other guitarist, Lynn Dennett. He was local, and he lived with his parents just around the corner from my apartment building. He also worked on the college newspaper with my cousin, Nicole Bonham, and he and I started hanging out together and jamming once in a while. He introduced me to Lisa one day, when she was at his house, and we got along pretty well. We had met previously, when she and Nicole ran into me and Kevin after the first Sceptor gig. She teases me about this because I don’t remember any details about "Nicole’s friend" that night. I don’t remember Nicole introducing us. I had just played my first four-hour gig, it was about 2am, and all I wanted was to get a drink and a hot dog and go home to think about the gig.
That summer, Lisa was one of the few people that I knew well enough to call up socially that hadn’t left town until the next fall, and we started going to movies together. At first I thought of it as just a friendship, even though I was attracted to her almost immediately. We would talk for long periods about politics and social issues, and it was the first time that I remember having a conversation (that wasn’t about music) with a peer who knew more about what they were saying than I did. Well, it was the first time since the last time I had seen my high school friend John. Before Lisa, he was the only person I ever spoke with that got into the same kind of discussions.
I lasted as a member of C. C. Ryder for two years. During that time we added Shannon’s girlfriend, Lise Mills, as a backup singer, Stacy got married and moved to Missouri, and we replaced her with Michele Pinoch and added keyboardist/guitarist Mike Myers. Mike worked at the new chemical plant that was just starting up, WECCO, as the IT director. I was "taking a break" from college, working as a dish washer, and trying to make loan and insurance payments on a used car that was a replacement for the one I wrecked the previous summer. Mike knew that I was studying computer science in college, and he needed an assistant with a small amount of computer knowledge for a temporary project. I needed a better job than washing dishes, and I figured Mike would be a good boss to work for, so I got hired as a temporary employee for Western Electrochemical Company (WECCO), a subsidiary of American Pacific Corporation (AMPAC). Mike’s mom, Rhea, was the plant secretary, and was in charge of processing all the paper work. Lisa and I were living together, planning to get married soon, and Rhea took it upon herself to process all of my paperwork as a permanent hire, instead of a temp, so that I was enrolled in the pension and insurance benefits.
During my time with C. C. Ryder, we played a lot. It was the norm for bands to play both Friday and Saturday night at most places, and some places would have you play on Wednesday, too, for ladies night; and we played three out of every four weekends. We had our ups and downs, but between Shannon looking like a stunt double for Patrick Swayze and a song list that spanned several genres and was always adding current hits, we ended up being the biggest draw in the area. This was good, because we nearly always played for a cut of the door. Now, being the biggest draw in southern Utah isn’t nearly as prestigeous (or profitable) as it may sound. But we had a good time. It didn’t take long, though, before I began to see that Shannon was an asshole, and he and I did not see eye-to-eye on many things where the band was concerned. As time went on, I began to resent him more and more, to the point where I only played my guitar at band rehearsals and gigs. Every time I picked it up at home, I was overwhelmed with thoughts of how much I hated Shannon. I didn’t like feeling that way, and being too emotionally immature to deal with it properly, I dealt with it by not playing my guitar. Michele felt the same way, and she was constantly campaigning to have Shannon replaced, but I was the only one that felt strongly enough about it to support her openly. One day Shannon just up and fired her from the band, and then the next Monday at work, after playing our first gig without a female lead vocalist, Mike told me that Shannon and Bill were auditioning guitarists to replace me.
I remember thinking that it was a good thing that I was finally going to get out of that band. I wasn’t a strong enough person to quit on my own, and Mike and Eric were such great friends and musicians to work with, that I kept holding out for Shannon to leave. But Eric was going to be going on a mission for his church in a couple of weeks, so I was feeling less committed to sticking around. I remember thinking that if Shannon and Bill – especially if Bill had done so – but if they had come to me and said that they didn’t feel I was a good fit any longer, I would have agreed with them. If they had asked me to stick around and play the scheduled gigs while they find someone to fill in and/or replace me, I’d have been happy for the chance to play more. But with them going behind my back, I decided that I didn’t owe them a damn thing. I told Mike to tell them that I quit, and that was that.
For the next two years, however, I was still consumed with hatred for Shannon every time I picked up my guitar, so I didn’t ever pick it up. I finally got over myself and found the desire to play again, but I had a young child now. Lisa and I had been married for more than two years, Charlie was almost a year old, and we had finally moved out of our apartment and into our first house. I was practicing in the bedroom, and watching Charlie. He crawled up to my amp and, before I knew what he was doing, he cranked the master volume up to about 8 or 9. Poor little guy was scared half to death and started bawling right away. I made a mental note that I wouldn’t practice while he was up and around, and that I would focus on giving him my attention instead. It didn’t take long before I realized that, by the time Charlie was down for the night, I was too damn tired to think straight, let alone practice my guitar. I also had been moved into production at the plant by this time, and my work schedule didn’t make it easy for me to commit to a band, so I had no motivation.
For the next eight years, about once a month, or so, I would get my guitar out, spend about 10 to 15 minutes remembering bits and pieces of my old repertoire, and then put the guitar away for another few weeks. That is, until I had an accident at work one day. I got my finger pinched in a peice of equipment and split open my left hand ring finger. It was only four stitches, but it was right on the part of the finger that contacts the strings when you play power chords. Being primarily a hard rock and metal guitarist, I played more power chords than anything else, and the part of my finger that is used for scales was also affected. It took more than a year before I was brave enough to force the flesh to toughen up so I could play steel strings again.
By then I was working a desk job at work, and I was really starting to enjoy work again. I had a "regular" schedule, which made it possible to consider looking for another band, but then I went and started going back to school for a degree, which sucked up way too much time away from my family. Lisa struggled with three children at home, while working a full-time job at the university, and I was always either in class or at work, working long hours to make up for the time I was at school.
It was a difficult time for our family, and our marriage, but we survived it.
Next time: Part 5, the conclusion that brings us up to date.