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"Confessions of a Sax Maniac": Stories of my life in Music and on the Road.

California by way of Marriage?

Sooner or later I would end up moving to California. By the mid 80ís I was married and living in a relatively nice apartment in Anaheim on La Palma Ave. near Beach Blvd. I can recall one morning saying HI to my neighbor as I ran frantically in the opposite direction past the neatly manicured bushes and swimming pool. I was always so polite, the product Iím sure of my parents who always taught me so. The difference today was that I was greeting my neighbor as I ran from my husband. Iím sure he was set off in one of his frequent tirades by what I thought was some innocent comment, possibly about how I wanted to work again in music. Or maybe it was one of his accusations that I was cheating on him based on the fact that another male friend happened to be in the same public room the previous weekend. I canít recall. I only remember that he chased me through the parking lot that day with his van until I jumped in my car, drove to the nearest phone to beg one of my friends to let me stay for the night. Iíd usually go back to his profuse apologies and he would revert back to treating me like a queen until the next time.

Let me back up for a moment. My time in Denver was wonderful. I was making a living playing music in my own band. Motown R&B bands were quite popular and being from Detroit seems to give me an edge in presenting the real thing. After playing country rock for several years I had the closest thing that I wanted to present musically. I was writing and recording too. But when I met this Cajun man in a nightclub I thought I met not only my love match but my musically guide and partner as well. To me he was a cross between a younger Al Pacino and Tony Danza with equal amounts of charisma. During a break he told me stories of growing up with Art Neville, playing with Joe Tex and Dr. John. I was enthralled. By the time I got back on stage I felt a connection to him that would distract me until the end of the last set and we met at restaurant nearby and exchanged numbers.

We dated for 9 months before we married. He was in the oil business as sales consultant, selling oil pipe and inspection services. In 1984, the oil business was in a spiral and layoffs were hitting the major companies. We saw the writing on the wall. His job was soon to go. While I was doing well making music on a local level, I thought this was a good opportunity for us to move to not only a music center but a better place economically where I thought he could get a job with another oil company. So we packed up our van. We left making a dramatic scene in our Denver suburb, as we fought as we packed. He was in one of his Tasmanian devil modes, threatening, yelling, Iím not sure about what. Was he upset we were leaving and he didnít want to? I couldnít get him to give me a straight answer. Just shouting that made no sense. We stopped for gas and my cat jumped out of the van as soon as I opened the door never to be seen again. My Golden Retriever was trying to do the same. I should have followed. But me the dutiful wife, I thought I could talk him down. Iím sure he was also drunk. Our next stop at my friendís house was to drop off some furniture we were leaving behind. He was still ranting and threatening. Iím not a violent person by nature but I would find out during these years that the only way for my 5í1Ē self to let this abusive man, my husband, friend, enemy know I wasnít going to be terrorized, was to hit him in the head with the nearest phone. Yes, phones, plastic receivers, were my weapon of choice. I don't remember if it was a wall phone, if wireless ones were around or a princess phone we had. I might have used my saxophone if it was within my reach. One happened to be packed near the passenger seat and I wanted to send a wake-up call, a message that he better figure out how to treat me right. The shock value alone was enough to shut him up as I took the opportunity to run to my friendís house. He quickly composed himself for their sake only. We completed our trip to LA without incident.

The "Big Break", I mean Break-up

While in LA or Orange County, more specifically, we joined several bands. He was a drummer but usually ended up playing percussion. We had a band that would just write and jam together. We had a cover band trying get nightclub and wedding work. We also played in a group in Redondo Beach on Sunday afternoons backing up a great vocalist named Ester who was a former Ikette. This writing band was the group I felt had the most promise. Any combination of the 8 of us would get together and put tracks down. I would come up with melodies and lyrics. One of the guys used to meet John McClain (Janet Jacksonís manager at the time) at the Lakers games and give him cassettes of our songs. U.R.G.E (Unified Rhythm and Groove Exchange) as it was called then was 2 groups that merged. I thought this merging was an amicable one. This mistaken idea would cost me dearly to the tune of $13,000 worth my equipment. To this day I still do not know how my PA system burned in rehearsal hall. I just remember the phone call and my drive to the Santa Fe Springs business complex that morning in a panic only to find my stuff in a charred pile and a hole in the roof as a plane flew overhead. I had my Polaroid with me. I took pictures as I sobbed hysterically. Some of the guys from the band showed up. They were speechless as I asked repeated who could do this. Maybe we already knew that there was no forcible entry, or someone in the band was a likely suspect. I had no proof.

One of the part time keyboard players was there that day. I could tell he felt bad for me. I later took some of his tracks and wrote ďCadillac of ManĒ. I play it in my band now. There was another musician that was suspect and we found out from police that he was found drunk sitting in his car a few blocks away from the fire that same night. Still I had no proof. A detective verified arson. The landlord would not take any responsibility for the insurance coverage. Our Insurance had already dropped us for a previous fire at our apartment that luckily didnít effect us in our apartment unit, only near the front towards the street. I tried to recoup my losses by getting an attorney, press arson charges but no one would take the case.

About a year later, I would take my music and my broken marriage and leave California. The choices were his hometown, New Orleans or Detroit. I didnít think going back to Colorado was an option as its economy was still in recovery nor did I want to return to more of what I thought was Country/folk music scene at the time. New Orleans was even worse, economically and I didnít want to chance another marital fight, running though swamp lands for my life. My family was in Detroit. I felt that if I was going to piece my marriage together I would need all the support I could get.

Confession of a Sax Maniac: "Running Away" to Colorado/Meeting George

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