2020 Official Phil Varone

A MOTHER, A SON , A GENEROUS ROCK STAR

Updated: Jun 14, 2019





My Mother loved music as much as life itself. If you asked about her favorite artist, you would quickly learn it was Elvis Presley. When I say favorite, I mean, obsession, super fan, fan for life. My Mother loved Elvis so much; she actually thought his movies were good. When I asked how my parents first met, she said of my Father, “I saw him through my window, he looked like Elvis, and I knew I was going to marry him.” My Mother took me to an Elvis concert in the '60s, which was technically my first concert. I say technically because she was pregnant with me, but nonetheless I was still there. As I got older, my introduction to music was through my parents. My Father introduced me to The Beatles for the first time, and my Mother introduced me to Elvis. When I graduated High School, they supported my decision to turn down an architectural scholarship, to pursue drumming and my crazy Rock Star dreams. Four years later I would sign a recording contract with Saigon Kick and the rest is…well you know rest, or do you?


It was Memorial Day 1992 and Saigon Kick was headlining the annual radio station festival in our home base of South Florida. The Lizard record was days from being released, Love Is On The Way was number one on the same radio station, and my daughter Talia was born just two weeks earlier. This was an amazing time of celebration in my life, and a home gig allowed my parents to ride with me, and experience it all together. On the lineup, that day was one of my favorite bands of all time, The Stray Cats. I was, and still, am a huge Stray Cats fan, so you can imagine my excitement when Brian Setzer came on our tour bus to say hello. As he entered the tour bus, my Mother who was sitting next to me, let out a sound of excitement that startled not only me but Brian as well. I turned to her with the “Mom, what are you doing” eyes, and quickly turned back to Brian with the “I’m sorry” eyes, and at the moment realized why she was so excited. Full disclosure, my Mother had no idea who Brian Setzer was, or what band he played with. Her burst of excitement was not for Brian at all; it was for the Elvis shirt he was wearing. In my mom’s defense, it was a pretty cool Elvis shirt, and once Brian realized he wasn’t in danger, we all had a good laugh. The day went on, The Stray Cats were incredible live, and Saigon Kicks gave one of our greatest performances for not only our hometown fans but our families as well. That was a special day that I will never forget.


If I end the story here, I would be leaving out the best and most important part. Some two weeks after this amazing day, a package arrived, addressed to my Mother. She would open this package and let out another burst of excitement that rivaled the one previously mentioned. The package contained the actual shirt that Brian wore that day on the bus and would wear during the Stray Cats performance. Brian literally gave my Mother the shirt off of his back. There are no words to express my gratitude for his incredible kindness, incredible generosity, and most importantly the happiness he gave my Mother.