Some are born to greatness. Others have it thrust upon them. Whilst others…well they just are.
Ricky was holding court at his local, “The Vaults”- a sometime music venue in a rundown part of town. Still a watering hole for the lost, the losers, the cheaters, the misguided and the misunderstood, its walls bore testimony to former glories. Adorning the walls were photographs of those who had once drunk deeply from the wellspring of blues and rock history and had trodden the boards at The Vaults. They could’ve been contenders some of them. The Valiants had almost got a support slot with the Clash; Micky Duke had once been a guitar tech for someone famous, though nobody was quite sure who and then there was Ricky.
In the midst of all of these photographs was one of Ricky in his heyday. Forget the preening, self absorbed bastard offspring of reality TV and the tyranny that is the “X (Chromosome) Factor”. Ricky was the real deal. A swamp rat who had crawled out from the Oil City delta, a worshipper of the twin gods of Marshall and Fender. Despite being in his late 60’s he was still possessed with self belief, attitude and a swagger fuelled by cheap vodka and pharmaceuticals.
Keep him well lubricated, and the stories would keep coming, although sometimes it was hard to separate fact from fiction. Tales of when the played on the same bill as the Stones, of how he’d stepped in at the last minute to play rhythm guitar for the Pretty Things when the regular guitarist was suddenly mysteriously AWOL, how he’d been in Hamburg when the Beatles had first showed up. Stories that were high on incident, but low on substance and detail. Despite all of the gaps, you wanted to believe Ricky as much as he believed it himself. But sometimes. Sometimes he could be his own worst enemy.
“I think I might have supported Elvis once. Yeah…shortly after he died”.
That one was always a show stopper.
“I was doing this gig at a funeral directors convention. I was on just before the headline act, an Elvis impersonator. And you know Elvis isn’t dead right? And this was a funeral directors convention. And Elvis had a sense of humour about these things. It was him you know”.
Then he would fix you with that stare. The one that made it absolutely clear that argument was pointless….