It was refreshing returning to the “wild” rock scene at Sherwood in the following months of autumn with Ted Nugent, Bob Seger and other “house bands” running every other Sunday through the end of the year. On Christmas Night, REO Speedwagon defied horrendous weather conditions (including a major ice storm) to play before another sold-out crowd. Their cover-version of Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie” had already become a major Midwest hit and they were finally realizing long-awaited national recognition.

Instead of staging a concert, I decided to welcome in New Year 1974 with a party in my home on Concord Street in Flint. I had an enormous basement area wired for serious sound and a most understanding wife. WTAC staff members mingled with my Sherwood Forest crew and other guests well into the following morning. A handful hung around for football games later in the day.

John Irons was there. We made some cassette recordings which were quite creative. Although John was alone in experiencing a brief period of religious conversion, I was the one speaking in tongues. My extemporaneous dissertation had something to do with Shelly Fabares and a dozen orangutans, each of which I named after someone everyone knew. They were alleged to have performed various acts with Ms. Fabares based on personal characteristics with which those assembled were familiar. I was much more eloquent and imaginative than I would have suspected, given my level of alcoholic splendor. I have no idea why Ms. Fabares was subconsciously selected as central participant. I suspect it was probably a reflection of her “Donna Reed Show” virginal innocence. I must have sensed that ’74 would be a great year to begin in drunken elaboration upon fantasies unexplored.

Another Terry Knight group graced our Sherwood hall in late January.

Their claim to fame had been found in an incredibly successful record about remaining secretly awake through a gruesomely prolonged, terrifyingly detailed experience of accidental and agonizing death. The cheerful little tune was called “D.O.A.” Terry had appropriately named the group “Bloodrock”. They were surprisingly good musically, but all the crowd wanted to hear was their “hit”. It was saved for the last number. The dirge-like sirens were particularly enjoyed.

“Bloodrock” was to return on Easter Sunday and draw another decent crowd, but they refused to play “D.O.A.” They were trying to resurrect themselves from the dead professionally and felt that the religious significance of the day might add moral endorsement to the effort. For the omission, they were soundly booed at the end of their performance, sacrifice denied being decried. They broke-up a short time later.

The middle of March had been set-aside for our annual WTAC “Client Trip” wherein dozens of clients would receive a free vacation with the station to somewhere interesting in return for purchasing more advertising than they really needed. This time the destination was Nevada. Any place good enough for Elvis was good enough for us! Viva Las Vegas!

An entire plane had been leased for the journey.

It had been airborne for under five minutes when two stewardesses came charging down the aisle, demanding to know who was “smoking marijuana?”.

They zoomed in on “B. C.” like avenging angels of death.

“B.C.” was William “Billy” Coleman. He already looked like Willie Nelson eventually would, but was a decade ahead.

If the long-hair, handlebar-mustache, red bandanna and purple shades didn’t attract the attention of an anxious stewardess; the snakeskin cowboy- boots, orange sombrero and twelve-inch silver belt-buckle marked “F.U.C.K.I.T.” might. Those things, and the fact that Billy had been passing ice-cold bottles of beer around the cabin after first opening them with his teeth, raised suspicion to convictive levels.

“F.U.C.K.I.T.” was the name of B.C.’s “social club”, which included many of our “Concert Associates”. It stood for “Fraternal Union of Casual Knights-Integrity Tomorrow.” He was on the client trip as a guest of Mister Goodbar, who was traveling as “John Smith”, official representative of his theater circuit.

I had first met Mr. Coleman ten years earlier when he worked as top salesman at “World-Wide Furniture Warehouse” where WTAC did “remote broadcasts” from time to time. He had an extraordinary line of bullshit. Many were lured to the establishment by my irresistible broadcast offers of free records and hot-dogs. Billy had excelled at convincing those so enticed of their fundamentally undeniable need for at least five or six rooms worth of cheap furniture. He wore expensive suits, had slicked-back hair and used to drive two or three gorgeous women all over town in a brand new Cadillac convertible. “B.C.” had been “Born-Again”, but he had saved himself.

He had become tired of the job and felt that money for purchases beyond the basic necessities of life just came down to “points on a scoreboard”. He could win anytime he seriously played anything, so why bother? If ever existed a “Rock ‘n Roll Renaissance Renegade”, it was “B.C.”

Billy’s wallet was lovingly filled with pictures of his Triumph motorcycles. He supported himself as a projectionist and specialized in removing four or five seconds of “interesting moments” from various films passing through his booth. These bits and pieces had been spliced-together into a rather stream-of-consciousness epic called “Tits and Creases”. It was constantly being upgraded and improved upon as a continual “work in progress”. The current version ran approximately twenty minutes. I had included it in several WTAC “Midnight Madness” showings as a special bonus with excellent response and many requests for repetition.

Coleman lived in a old ramshackle, brown-shingled, dog-infested house almost falling into the Flint River near Flushing, Michigan. Billy referred to Flushing as “Toilet Town”. He was definitely “crazy Irish”. We were bonded closely by genetic predisposition.

Billy noticed the stewardesses and frantically beckoned them to approach quickly. He assumed a look of frustrated intensity and an attitude of patronizing impatience.

“Look, sir, we–”


He reached in his vest and withdrew his “credentials”. It was an impressive leather-folder. You could clearly make out the highly-visible “F.B.I.” in bold, raised-lettering on the gold badge and an agent’s picture on the card underneath. It looked very official. Prolonged inspection would have revealed small print which noted “Fucking Bastards Incorporated”. The photograph was that of an old man grinning at the camera with no teeth. Billy had found it in a magazine at his dentist’s office. It was from an article on the dangers of periodontal disease.  Billy flashed his identification and demanded rapt attention. It was granted.

Billy’s voice was a strained whisper.

“Special Agent Coleman. Undercover.”

The girls simultaneously bobbed their heads with excited appreciation.

“I’ve got a radio group. I’ve been on ’em for months. This is it.”

The nodding increased.

“I need your complete cooperation. Don’t stop anything these people are doing. You’re destroying government evidence.”

Both stewardesses looked shocked and ashamed. Billy produced a small notebook and extended it.

Here. Write down your names, addresses and phone numbers. I’ll be in touch. Don’t say a word to anyone about what we’ve discussed. This is a “Code Green” case!”

“Code green?”

“Green. How long have you known the pilot of this aircraft?”

The ladies looked at each other and one softly confided.

“We’ve flown with him before, but we don’t really know him.”

Good. You both looked clean. Remember, not a word to anyone!”

“Yes, Sir.” “Yes, Sir.”

“Now, don’t come near me again. Oh, and bring that guy with the glasses up there as much Chivas Regal as he wants. He’s one of the leaders. I need him loosened-up a little.”

“Yes, Sir.” “Yes, Sir”.

We were ten minutes out of Flint with three hours left to go.

Much of the “WTAC Las Vegas Adventure” is lost in a whirling, twirling, technicolor blur.

There were highlights.

Upon arriving in Vegas, Coleman jumped me from behind as I passed through the terminal entrance and screamed ,”You’re Under Arrest!” for the benefit of his stewardesses. Since I had not heard his exchange and was carrying an ounce of “Mother Nature’s Finest”, I was momentarily convulsed in raw terror.

Charlie Speights, again a single man, was changing female partners every twenty minutes. Everyone stopped keeping track.

John Smith lost his toupee on the giant bumper-cars at Circus Circus and Mr. Goodbar made them stop the action so a thorough search could be conducted. It took five minutes. A crowd of spectators grew to several hundred. Word filtered though that there had been a fatality on the ride. A little kid found the hairpiece tightly wedged under a tire. It looked like a small, dead animal. Goodbar put it in his pocket and abandoned pretense of disguise for the rest of our stay.

We all went up to Mt. Charleston, just north of town, and rode horses.

We all rented dirt-bikes and took them out into the desert.

My wife Eileen spent twelve consecutive hours at the nickel slots.

Goodbar spent fifteen hours at the dime slots.

Billy Coleman spent no time at the slots, but ten minutes at “Blackjack” netted him seven hundred dollars. He retired from further gambling for the duration.

We partied. We drank. We smoked. We laughed.

No one slept.

On the last night, Charlie was missing.

We split up into “teams” and combed the casino area.  No Charlie.

We checked in his room. Billy popped the lock in less time than to read that he did.  No Charlie.

We looked in several other rooms where it was suspected he might be. Three were empty. A fourth revealed a naked couple enjoying mutual oral sex. Billy produced his ID and apologized for our presence. No Charlie!

Around four-thirty in the morning we abandoned our search and decided to have last call at the top of the Landmark. As we exited the elevator and approached the lounge, a wailing trumpet could be heard high above the din. It rose and fell in ecstatic release.  Charlie!!!!

He had brought his horn along to Vegas just in case. He had talked his way onto the bandstand and had been playing there for hours. He told us all later that he was sick of radio and had always wanted to “play horn in Vegas”. He said that he was going to move there, and pretty damn soon. He wasn’t kidding.

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