Continuing a look back at my first exposure to a number of rock 'n' roll acts and superheroes (or other denizens of print or periodical publication), some of which were passing fancies, and some of which I went on to kinda like. They say you never forget your first time; that may be true, but it's the subsequent visits--the second time, the fourth time, the twentieth time, the hundredth time--that define our relationships with the things we cherish. Ultimately, the first meeting is less important than what comes after that. But every love story still needs to begin with that first kiss.
Bomp! magazine's epic power pop issue in early 1978 was the first I ever heard of this British punk (sorta) group. I may or may not have heard them on campus that Spring--there was a Punk Night at our on-campus bar The Rathskeller, and occasional punk/new wave records played on our radio station, WBSU, and either of those sources could have served up some Generation X--but I can say with certainty that I bought two Generation X import 45s by the end of that summer. The singles were "Ready, Steady, Go" and "Your Generation," and I loved both of those loud 'n' vibrant records beyond rational description. "Your Generation" was also included on an album called Geef Voor New Wave, a freakin' fantastic compilation that no home should be without. But I never got around to owning any Generation X albums. I bought one more single, "Dancing With Myself" (billed under the truncated name "Gen X"), and remained resolutely unmoved by lead singer Billy Idol's subsequent solo success. Local faves The Dead Ducks used to cover Generation X's "King Rocker" in their live set, and just recently opened their 2016 set at Bright Lights! The Syracuse New Wave Rock 'n' Roll Reunion with a rendition of "Ready, Steady, Go." And while I never got any Generation X LPs, I do have the Perfect Hits best-of CD. And I want it fabulous!
THE GHOST RIDER
Some time in the early '70s, I received a grocery bag full of fairly recent comic books. I have no recollection of who gave them to me, but I think it was probably a friend of someone in my family, just passing on a bunch of funnybooks they had and didn't want. These contained a number of Marvel Comics titles, including some outside the superhero genre that was my main interest. So this was a great opportunity to try out a bunch of titles I might not have seen otherwise. I remember an Amazing Adventures starring The Beast (whom I'd previously known in his original, less-furry form in The X-Men), an issue of Sub-Mariner (featuring some of the last work from the character's creator, Bill Everett, and inspiring my immediate affection for Subby's nubile young cousin Namorita), and an issue of Marvel Spotlight, introducing a new character called Ghost Rider. (I was..what? 12 or 13? Forgive me that Namorita made a more lasting impression than Johnny Blaze, his motorcycle and blazing skull notwithstanding.)
THE GRASS ROOTS
Sometimes I find that my vivid memories of discovering specific pop songs don't jibe with any real-world chronology. I remember listening to "Sooner Or Later" by The Grass Roots on the radio when it was a hit in 1971. I also recall their hits "Midnight Confessions" and "Temptation Eyes" later being cherished staples of my AM radio heyday...but both of those predate "Sooner Or Later." Looking back, I can only presume WOLF or WNDR was still mixing those latter tracks into their hits lineup well after the fact, and I was too stupid to realize they weren't current hits.
It's possible that I saw Green Arrow's young sidekick Speedy guest-starring in an issue of Teen Titans before I ever saw The Emerald Archer himself. My first G.A. sighting was near the end of Justice League Of America # 55 in 1967, where he was one of a quartet of JLA members (along with Superman, The Flash, and Green Lantern) brought in to meet a crisis. Those four made the cover of the next issue (pictured above). Green Arrow and Speedy had been created in the 1940s as a copy of Batman and Robin; by '67, Green Arrow was the only JLA member without his own ongoing solo series--even The Martian Manhunter had a back-up series in House Of Mystery, but G.A. was a free agent. Green Arrow was also featured prominently in the next issue ("Man, Thy Name Is--Brother!" in JLA # 57), and was the center of attention in "Operation: Jail The Justice League!" in JLA # 61, my favorite issue of JLA for a good long time after that. Green Arrow was given new life with a costume redesign by Neal Adams in a Batman team-up in The Brave And The Bold in 1969, and given a lasting shake-up in the early '70s by Adams and writer Dennis O'Neil in their headline-making series Green Lantern/Green Arrow.
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