…and it blew me away. This line is from the Foreigner song Jukebox Hero about a kid who buys a pawn shop guitar and goes on to become a rock star. I took a modification of that title for my first novel Lunchbox Hero about a kid who wants to be a PI. This isn’t the only illusion to guitarists in the novel. The MC is named Kenny Sheperd, who takes his name from young guitar prodigy Kenny Wayne Sheperd. Sheperd took his traditional blues influences and mixed them with modern rock influences. There’s a long history of similarities between the blues and private eye fiction and I see myself with the same ambitions as KWS. I want to take the traditional PI influences and mix them with more modern pop culture influences.
All but a couple of the characters in the novel are named after lead guiatarists. Kenny’s boss is Steve Vaughn, named after Stevie Ray Vaughn, a pioneering blues guitarist in the 80’s. There’s FBI agent Tom Schultz, lead guitarist of the band Boston, Kenny’s client Nancy Wilson, guitarist for Heart, Kenny’s occassional sidekick Riley King, named after Riley “B.B.” King and a rival PI is Saul Hudson named after Saul “Slash” Hudson, lead guitarist from Guns ‘n Roses. I’ve begun compiling a list of guitarists names for future characters, particularly female names. This is my tribute to the unsung heros of rock. Most people know know the names of the lead singer of the big bands, but very few know the lead guitarist.
What this comes to is that I desperately want to be a guitarist. I’ve owned a couple of guitars over the years and taken some lessons and learned some chords and can even play some songs. But I’ve never stuck with it. So many things have come easily to me that I find it hard to stick with things that take some effort. I was always hoping that I’d pick up the guitar and suddenly be a prodigy. Never happened. Yet every few years I get the urge again to play. It sticks with me and even when I’m not playing or learning to play I’m listening to the guitar licks in songs and admiring the greats. Last week my friend took me to a blues club for Christmas and the guy playing there was amazing and it got me all riled up again and I went out the next day and started looking at guitars and books and lessons. All of my previous guitars have been acoustic guitars, but most of the music I love and the guitarists I admire mainly use electric guitars. If I get a new guitar in the next couple of weeks, which I may or may not do, it will be an electric. Maybe that’s why I never stuck with it, I wasn’t playing the kind of guitar I really wanted. I may or may not stick with it this time either, but I’m fairly certain this won’t be the last time in my life I’ll try.
Otherwise, how else am I going to be invited to join the Rock Bottom Remainders?