Saturday, April 9, 2050

How I Became An '80s Rock & Roll Radio Disc Jockey

Gerry Moylan on-air 1982 Photo by
Marcia P.
Near the end of first semester of my sophomore year at Southeastern Massachusetts University, Darmouth (today it's UMass Dartmouth), I was looking for some extra-curricular activities. One of my English professors suggested that I write for The Torch, the university’s weekly school newspaper. So I did.
I started writing funny stories about benign things like the shepherd’s pie they served in the school cafeteria. What did they put inside that pile of mush anyway? Then I moved onto deeper, more thoughtful stories. A young man I knew had gone missing after an off-campus party one night. I had attended the same kegger. Months later, after the winter thaw, his deflated body was found on the bank of the Westport River. He must have become

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Hanging With Melle Mel & Grandmaster Flash

I was so excited to see Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five way back in the early '80s. They were playing at my favorite nightclub haunt - the Living Room in Providence, RI. The place held maybe 300-400 max capacity. I was also terrified because I knew I was going to meet the band and was worried that they'd laugh at seeing a ginger who was more pale than snow (wink) and who was so into their music. Or maybe they'd think that was cool.

The night arrived, and the tiny venue where I had seen so many great bands (Nina Hagan, Billy Idol, INXS, REM, Violent Femmes, etc.) was PACKED. I grabbed a drink I'm sure and headed back to the always cramped dressing room in the back of the club and BOOM. There was Melle Mel. Big mother fucker with some dreads and lots of bling.

Talk about preconceived notions or, I suppose, stereotyping. We had a blast. My friends and I got to talk to Melle and the guys from Grandmaster Flash all about their music and all the other bands that were breaking at the time. Talked about the success of "White Lines" and one of my all time faves "New York New York" and "Jesse" (Ode to Jesse Jackson who was running for President). Imagine that.

It's a great memory, being huddled up next to those guys who really turned the page on '80s music, folding in rap and hip hop to the hair band and synth scene. The show was fucking off the charts good. Grandmaster scratching and Melle Mel just belting out the shit.

"Ticket to ride, white line highway
Tell all your friends, they can go my way
Pay your toll, sell your soul
Pound-for-pound costs more than gold
The longer you stay, the more you pay
Buy white line, go a long way
Either up your nose or through your vein
With nothing to gain except killing your brain..." -- Melle Mell & Sylvia Robinson

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Day With Ronnie James Dio

It was 1984 and I was pretty early in my commercial radio career at WHJY in Providence, RI, having just come off a three-year stint in college radio at WUSM (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth). So Ronnie James Dio wasn't even part of my musical vocabulary. I was more of a fan and huge promoter of progressive bands like The Smiths, New Order, INXS, Depeche Mode. These bands were not anywhere near as commercial back then as they are today.

So I had to adapt to working at a radio station that at any given time during the day and night was blaring hard rock bands like The Scorpions, Led Zeppelin, Ratt, etc. I had to fake it, pretend I was into that kind of music.

But then something weird happened. I started to re-enjoy classic rock and not act so snooty over the new head-banging metal bands. After all, this was my new career and pretty much my new life. I had to live and breath the stuff, if I wanted to stick around. My college radio pals were probably scoffing at me whenever I came on between songs.

"That was Don Henley and BOYS OF SUMMER here at ninety-four FM, W-H-J-Y, the home of rock and roll," I said into the microphone with all of the enthusiasm I could muster. "And this one is by request, it's AC/DC and BACK IN BLACK."

Laugh all you want, my progressive rock friends, I was beginning to enjoy this.

Then one day I went into the station early to do some production. There was this short little guy with a mop of dark, kinky hair coming out of the main studio. Rick OB had just interviewed him. It was Ronnie James Dio, legendary frontman in a couple of bands you may have heard of--Black Sabbath and Rainbow. I wasn't a huge fan--remember, I'd become a music snob. Regardless, I stopped to say hello. After a little back and forth, he asked if I was going to his show at the Providence Civic Center that evening. I told him I wasn't sure if they had set aside tickets for me. Ronnie reaches into his pocket and pulls out an ALL ACCESS backstage pass and hands it to me.

"This should work," he said.

The record label rep he was with invited me to have dinner with Ronnie and him. Next thing you know, I'm in a car with Ronnie James Dio headed to the venue. And just like other rock stars I'd met up to that point, he was fascinated with new music and was actually into a lot of the bands I followed at the time. We got into a lengthy discussion about music and where it was headed, and we actually had very similar tastes.

The first place we stopped was at his hotel. There was a mob of fans outside that swarmed around Ronnie for autographs and photos the moment he stepped out of the car. I was stunned they knew and waited to find him there. I knew he was popular, but I never would have guessed this popular. We managed to break away from the fans and got into his hotel.

Later over drinks and dinner before the show, I learned that Dio also liked classical music and he collected cars. He lived in Los Angeles. And he was very smart.

At showtime, I stood off to the right of the stage. The lights went out and Bic lighters ignited all over the civic center. Then there was a huge explosion and flames onstage, out of which jumped this short guy (I'm 5'7" and he was shorter than me). The music was so loud and the light show intense. It was electrifying to see this guy, who hours earlier I could have cared less about, come to life and get thousands of hardcore fans onto their feet for almost two hours of non-stop, sweaty, ear-tickling, hard rock. It was one of the best concert-going experiences of my life. Theatrics, showmanship and really amazing guitars and drums.

Ronnie James Dio, the man himself, had turned me into a fan. Then off he went to repeat his kindness and professionalism and spread his music and message. I never saw him again but was quite sad when I heard news of his death in 2010. Thank you, and RIP Dio.

Monday, May 4, 2015

LOST AND FOUND: REM At The Living Room in Providence, RI

REM onstage at the Living Room, Providence RI
Photo by Laura Sylvester
I recently blogged about the first time I met the guys from REM. Within a day of posting, Laura Sylvester, an old friend and fellow WUSM disc jockey, reminded me of a couple of interesting things from that wonderful evening back in 1982.

Michael Stipe (r) and Mike Mills (l) of REM at
The Living Room in Providence, RI
Photo by Laura Sylvester
Firstly, she recalled that the band was so lacking in material that that night they actually played a couple of their songs twice. Probably Perfect Circle and Wolves Lower. In fact, the band likely had more material than the five songs from their debut IRS Records EP, "Chronic Town". But I'm guessing they just weren't used to playing all of their material in a concert setting at that point. Their full-length album, Murmur, would be released the following year, featuring Radio Free Europe, Pilgrimage, Perfect Circle, etc.

Then came the most shocking and pleasing news from Laura. She had taken photos of REM from that evening at the Living Room. However, she had misplaced the pictures and had forgotten about them for years until recently when she found them in some box.

These photos of Michael Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills really put a smile on my face. This is how I remember them in the beginning. Look at how geeky Stipe looks.
Michael Stipe onstage at the Living Room
in Providence, RI 1982
Photo by Laura Sylvester

Back in the eighties, we didn't have cell phones and digital photos. I have lost so many amazing pictures over the years from my days in radio. I wish we'd had the technology of today back then. So I hope I will be getting more messages from my radio and music industry friends from back in the day that they have unearthed some amazing photo surprises from our eighties time capsule.

Lost and found.

Friday, May 1, 2015

That Time The Drummer From REM Told Me He Had a Dog Named Gerry

From the internet

Bill Berry, I learned early on, is a funny guy. It was October 4, 1982, the first time I met the four members of REM and watched them perform LIVE at what would become my all time favorite venue to catch cutting edge bands on the rise to super stardom. The Living Room in Providence, Rhode Island.

I was beyond excited to see REM perform, after being instantly hooked on their debut, six-song EP Chronic Town. Like most other fans, I was dying for more music than just those six songs.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

That Time I Ended Up In The Ladies Room At Dancetaria With 3 Rock Stars

It was the winter of 1983. I was in New York City with a few of my college radio compadres for the CMJ Radio Convention. CMJ as in College Media Journal - the folks who brought us the monthly CMJ New Music Report magazine, which followed and charted the new music of the day being played on college radio stations across the United States. I think they called the convention the CMJ Music Marathon.

We were having a blast attending panels that were focused on the drastically changing music scene of the early 1980s. My fellow DJs and I were meeting all of the new artists, like Cyndi Lauper (Girls Just Want To Have Fun had just been released), Richard Butler of Psychadelic Furs (they weren't a new band, but Love My Way was new, and the song was quickly moving up the charts and

Saturday, April 11, 2015


Debut album cover 1982

One of my all time favorite bands from the '80s was Face to Face. Laurie Sargent was the lead singer. Stuart Kimball played lead guitar and is actually the one who formed the band in the '70s in New Hampshire. Angelo Petraglia also played guitar and keyboards (he also produced a Kings of Leon record for which he won a Grammy in 2010). John Ryder was on bass, and Billy Beard on drums. I

Friday, April 10, 2015

Bigger Than Ratt: The Time I Had a Moment With Jon Bon Jovi

(1985) It was one of those slap me moments. Or grab a piece of my arm and twist. A "shut up!" moment. Sadly there were no cell phones at the time. No Facebook or Twitter. There were car phones, but they were like clunky army field radios with wires and boxes, and they were super expensive. I suppose I could have pulled over and pretended to my passenger that I needed to make an important pay phone call to the radio station where I worked for some bullshit reason and then really call my friends and tell them I was driving the back streets of Providence, making my way toward the Civic Center with Jon Bon Jovi riding shotgun in my beat-up AMC Spirit.


The Clash onstage at SMU 1982.
Photo by Dave Warren

This is an amazing photo taken by my friend Dave Warren. We had the Clash play at our college (Southeastern Massachusetts University) in October 1982. Right after the program council booked them, Combat Rock was released. The day tickets went on sale, the campus center was overrun by fans who had traveled from across

Chrissie Hynde Was The First Rock Star I Ever Met

I had been doing college radio at Southeastern Massachusetts University's WUSM for almost one year when I met my first genuine rock star. Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. The band played in our campus gymnasium on November 3, 1981. All of the members did radio spots for our station. We were playing the hell out of their records. MTV had launched only three months earlier and were already playing the band’s videos. I was just in awe of meeting and having the chance to speak with them and then watch them perform. Chrissie Hynde showing me for the first time that a woman could rock just as hard as a man.
Before the show, I was walking down the hallway toward the band's dressing room. I had