Jim Siergey: Rock Star

November 9th, 2012

Like many people, I’d love to be able to play music. As a child, I took clarinet lessons for a while, and in my teens messed around with the guitar as well as the harmonica but never progressed beyond the ability of successfully producing more than a note or two.

I just don’t have the dexterity, the ear or the discipline to…aw heck, I just plumb don’t have the talent.

I love music. Many of my friends are musicians. I live vicariously through their talents. I have long played around with writing verse and lyrics. A few of my offerings have been turned into songs by some of my musician friends. A couple songs have even been recorded. I was on Cloud Nine (doin’ fine) when these instances occurred.

But, to be able to sit down with a guitar and pluck out a tune or at a piano and plunk out a tune would be marvelous. (I can one-finger out the chorus to Down At Papa Joe’s on the ol’ eighty-eights but that’s it. Even Chopsticks is beyond my coordination)

However, way back in the distant past, I was in a gig-playing band for one night. See? Miracles do happen and nightmares can come true.

If I could, I’d be a rock star like the Stones….


I was probably eighteen or thereabouts. Someone asked my friend Bill, a guitarist, if he had a band that could play at a Valentine’s Day dance at the local VFW hall. Bill said “Sure.” and then went out to put together a band.

Another musician friend, Don, signed on to play guitar. Someone else agreed to play drums and a bass player was added as well. Somehow, I was incorporated into the mix too. My responsibilities were vocals and tambourine and being the guy with the longest hair.

Or Elvis (illustration by the great Jim Siergey!)….


We got together and practiced a few times before the event. It was very helpful that I had no idea what I was doing. It may have been the same with the others as well. Youth knows no fear or self-doubt. We needed a name for our band and we came up with ZIMBA. I have no memory of how or why that came to be but that’s what it was.

February 14 came around and that night we hauled our equipment into the VFW hall. The walls of the old hall were covered with knotty pine wood paneling that was filled with memories—decades of war stories and jokes encased in cigarette and cigar smoke. There were some appropriate holiday-imbued decorations festooned about and an assortment of tables and chairs strewn around the place. In the back was the bar. In front was a little stage to perform on. Nothin’ but the best for ZIMBA.

Suddenly, a woman wearing bright red lipstick and a gigantic red heart on the skirt of her dress came rushing up to welcome us. Like straight out of The Manchurian Candidate, that giant red heart pretty much blotted out my memory of the rest of the evening.

I do remember that we opened with a cover of The Beatles’ Come Together. We did covers of other songs by CCR, the Stones and others. We also did some original songs. One tune was one that I wrote called Hey, Cowboy, a thinly veiled anti-war song. The response to our creative efforts onstage was lukewarm at the most and ignored at the least. Until we did one particular song.

Don and I had written a tune that we called The Teeny Bopper Song. It had a bouncy little beat with a chorus that went thusly:

“Everybody lies when they don’t say what’s true
and everybody’s lyin’ about me and you”

Every young person in this crowd rushed onto the dance floor and gyrated their little Valentine’s Day hearts out to our simple ditty. We were astonished. If only Don and I had taken a cue from this reaction and continued writing Bubblegum Pop, who knows? We could have been the next Boyce and Hart!

Instead, we collected our twenty-five bucks, bought some beer, picked up some girls and went out to the forest preserves.

Ah, the life of a rock star, who doesn’t want it?

Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was Big Boy Obsession….

One Response to “Jim Siergey: Rock Star”

  1. DB says:

    That’s pretty much how it went down. Sucka! Should hung with you the girls and the forest preserve.

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