"You and Janet have to be the only 33-year-olds in town who would cry because they couldn't go to the Bee Gees concert," my younger sister said when I discovered the Bee Gees were sold out.
Janet, now married with two children, has not kept up with the charts as much as I have. When I told her Abba was coming to town, she asked, "What does she sing?"; and Fleetwood Mac, "What does he sing?" But when the Bee Gees turned up, she called me right away. Could we get tickets? Unfortunately, we were too late.
I thought about why I should be concerned that I couldn't go (my sister wasn't and she's 27) when I realized that I go back with the Bee Gees at least 15 years, and rock'n'roll was a major part of my youth.
Having grown up just outside New York City, the hub of R&R, with Murry the K glued to our ears each night and dying to be old enough to go to the Apollo to see the groups (we were all of 11), Janet and I were weaned on this then-new wave of music. Pictures of Elvis and Ricky Nelson hung all over our rooms, and 45s were strewn about with abandon; "Be-Bop A Lula" and "Splish Splash" could be heard pounding from our bedrooms at any given moment.
At age 12, our first concert was at the county center. Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars, starring Bobby ("Wild One") Rydell, Paul ("You Are My Destiny") Anka, Jackie ("Here Comes the Night") Wilson, the Drifters, the Coasters, Ike & Tina Turner, Lavern Baker and a 16-year-old boy with a harmonica -- Little Stevie Wonder. Unlike the jeans, T-shirts and Candies shoes worn today, I had on a plaid kile with matching vest. Janet had on a dress.When Paul Anka came on, there we were, waving our arms, screaming, "Paul! Paul!"
And oh! the ecstasy of reading in 16 Magazine that Bobby Rydell was really Bobby Ridarelli -- could you stand it? He was Italian! So were Frankie Avalon, Fabian Forte and Dion DiMucci.
At 13, Janet and I were the talk of the town because my father got us tickets to American Bandstand. We waited in line to get into the tiny studio with the others, desparately trying to look 16, swooning over the "regulars" and later at the guest artist of the day, Jimmy ("Just A Dream") Clanton's autograph.
When the Beatles came to the States, we played hooky from school to take the train into New York to Carnegie Hall. This time we stood on our seats, and to get an even better view, on the arms of our seats, again waving and screaming, "Paul! Paul!"
I've seen film clips of these old Beatles shows, with all the girls screaming and fainting, and I never wonder, "How could I have done that?" Because I was doing it again just last year at the Stones concert, although that night I noticied that the majority of the audience were my peers, which was comforting.
Not too long ago, I went to a concert with a friend who was working with the band and hanging out backstage. A friend who labels me a "closet groupie." After the show, these little 12-year-old girls came to the dressing room door to get a closer look, and maybe even an autograph. I was stunned. They seemed too young to be doing this in their jeans and long blond hair. And yet, while the clothes may have changed, I was no different at that age.
I wonder now if it's a matter of keeping up with youth, or going back to our youth. It's no secret that the Bee Gees have kept up with the times. For 15 years or more, they've kept up pumping out hid songs. With "Saturday Night Fever," their following has grown well beyond "The Springfield Mining Disaster," the first song I heard by them so many years ago. And I've been an avid follower ever since. That's why I found it quite normal to want to go to their concert, and abnormal that my sister didn't care one way or the other.
But a stroke of luck brought us someone who couldn't use their tickets at the last minute, so Janet and I will be there after all -- although I'm not sure we'll be waving our arms and screaming. Still, I'm not sure we won't either.
Those young girls at the backstage door showed me that history repeats itself -- but there are a few of us who are still living it.