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When I was 10 and Dan was 14 we used to watch a lot of TV. When we got bored with the dialog we would turn down the sound and make up our own. Dan started playing the guitar, and a year later I started taking violin lessons (He didn't need any). He had a few tunes, and I would throw in a little ditty to add my 2 cents. When we got around to writing lyrics to songs, we never understood why anyone would write about the usual stuff. Things like love affairs going good and bad, and other typical lyrics about such senseless things. We thought, wow, we could write our own songs just like the dialog we made up for the television shows. We had some things far more meaningful to write lyrics about, like farts, dumbasses you know from school, the guy with the speech impediment down the street, mythical comic book characters,leaping in the lilac bushes, and the girl you woke up next to who was covered with flies. Most of these songs didn't go over too well with the neighbors, or anyone else for that matter. However, we kept plugging along, writing our silly songs. We were determined to stuff this shit down everyones' throat until they said Uncle Daddy.

Dan met up with high school buddies Tony Delduca and Jim Furno, and started a band called The Brass Knuckles, on account of the James Cagney movies. Over the years we would add or subtract the Brass, according to whether or not Ted Musolf was playing the saxophone. They did one of their first gigs at the Burton Fire Department, in Burton, MI (our home town-not Flint), on Labor Day 1972 for the Jerry Lewis Telethon. They did all originals except for their cover of Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath. Again they were not entirely well received by everyone.

I was given a transducer microphone for my violin on my birthday that year and started playing in the band. We played a high school assembly in the fall of 1973 at Atherton High School. (I was 12 and Dan was 16) We played everywhere they would have us, (and even where they wouldn't) but everyone asked us if we knew "that song" by "so & so" (usually Bob Seeger). In those days, if someone had an original song it had to sound like a cover, or they couldn't play it in a club.

When Dan turned 18 he was old enough to rent a hall, and that's where it all began. We had changed our name, started putting on our own shows, and inviting other bands to play. We would rent a hall, get a beer permit, buy a keg of Strohs', and for 3 to 5 dollars you could get into the show and drink all the beer you wanted. ( Aye, there's "The Rub" now matey!) Our oldest Bro.Jack came up with the new name. It was a lot of fun and hard work, but at least we didn't have to play any Bob Seeger tunes, which is exactly what you had to do back then if you wanted to play in a club. There was no such thing as "Alternative". Alternative in those days meant the radio stations alternated the same five songs between Bob Seeger, Bob Seeger, Journey, Ted Nugent, and Bob Seeger. I always hoped it wasn't that way in the rest of the country, but that's how it was in Michigan. Frank Zappa had pulled a couple of silly fast ones and that's it. (Thank the Almighty-Zeesus for "Dyna-moe Humm" and "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow"!)

Some called us prog. rock in the seventies, punk rock in the eighties, alternative in the nineties, and perhaps ahead of our time. To me it was only rock and roll. Not that we weren't inspired, Dan had some guitar heros: Link Wray, Robert Fripp, Peter Banks, Frank Zappa, and Tony Iommi, to name a few. Whatever he borrowed, he made it entirely his own(and he wasn't afraid to admit it).

My first concert was Roxy Music at age 14. Eddie Jobson did an incredible violin solo, just before everyone walked out on ELO. Roxy Music had one radio hit, ELO had many. This taught me two important lessons: play what you enjoy playing, and don't write anything that you can't play live. ELO were caught that year miming to tapes. The audience sensed they weren't real and split.

Dan continued rocking long after I quit the band. He moved on to destroy new territory. He was an inspiration to countless musicians, especially me. Anyone who knew him would have to agree that he blew their mind and made them laugh their asses off at one time or another. As my older brother, he helped me to become a man? Most of all he taught me that if you want to rock,"Just Fucking Do It"! We did. My last live show with Dan was with Fer Cryin' Out Loud in 1999 at The BackRoom in Flint, MI. It was an incredibly fun one I must say. He also taught me to be brutally honest.

These days there are approximately 5000 different categories for "Alternative". Has anyone heard any of this shit that you like? Let me know fer Chri-sake! And Jack White, if you read this, you should listen to "From a Dry Camel" by Dust. I think you got one of the chords wrong on "Seven Nation Army". Maybe you could conjure up Paul Kossoff with your Tesla Coil and see if he can teach it to you -"Mr. Big". We're on to you! I also like Green Days' version of "All the Young Dudes". Oh, that's "21 Guns", sorry wrong key! Metallica,"Turn the Page"! What's the world coming to? Speed it up a bit, huh? Like Keith Richards said, "You have to go waaay back, baby".

We liked turning the sound down and making up our own words to movies, but playing other peoples songs, changing the words, and even winning awards for it is taking it a little too far, don't you think? And another thing, who came up with the idea of sampling other peoples shit because you can't write your own? How about riding the coattails of the hip-hoppers to the top, announcing your a Republican, then singing out of key while wearing a confederate flag on stage? Not mentioning any names here, just that even Greg Allman said he had nothing to say about the other southern rockers. Lynyrd Skynyrd? WTF? Some of your fans must feel like they've been tied to the "Whipping Post"! "Sufferin' Succotash", I guess that's our "New Alternative"?

Brother, we turned'em upside down, sideways, inside out, and standing on their heads in a pool of contention, begging us to please turn down or unplug it! Some of'em even said "Turn it Up Fer Cryin' Out Loud! None of that sissy shit either!" We had our share and more! Fuck everyone else! Feh! Well, maybe not everyone? You and "Enola Gay" dropped a bomb on us that left a crater the size of The Great Lakes in our hearts.

Crank it up and "Kick'em to Hell and Back" "Twice and for Once" for us Brother! "Nothing Can Stop You Now"!!!

I Love You and Miss You My Brother.

Love as Always, Your Little Bro.Tom

Tom Russell, Fall 2010