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