When I think about life, specifically life lived; I think about people. A day in the life is made up of life experiences, and within those experiences, are people and moments that can affect life itself. A day in the life is forever changing, as no two days will ever be the same. The importance or affect a day, or a person may have on your life is decided and always will be decided by one person; you. This story is about a day in my life, a life experience, a person, and a moment that would significantly affect my life for years to come.
As a teenager, I shared the same Rock Star dream with every young musician. Rock Stardom is dreaming big, but when you're young, the only way to dream; is big. As a teenager, I would see the launch of MTV and its enormous impact on not only music but inadvertently life itself. I know it's hard to believe now, but at the time, MTV was groundbreaking as it added the visual experience and literally put a face to the music. How important was the visual experience? Gene Simmons said it the best, and I quote: "people listen with their eyes".
Music was my life, and if not practicing drums, or at band rehearsal, I was going to concerts. I loved concerts back then, as each show would be a learning experience on how to play, how to look on stage, how to sound, and how to be a Rock Star. My first concert was KISS in 1980, followed by numerous concerts until 1990. The '80s was a decade of amazing music, amazing concerts, and amazing life experiences, which includes a very important day in my life. The day was December 29th, 1987, the concert was Def Leppard, with Tesla supporting, and the person was Tesla Drummer, Troy Luccketta.
I didn't meet many Rock Stars until I was… well, a Rock Star. As a fan, I remember hearing legendary stories of backstage, with each person adding some yeast to the tale, like some mythical version of the game "telephone". Although the possession of a backstage pass gave you instant bragging rights, I was more intrigued to experience this legendary world, and see if the stories were actually true. I couldn't tell you the number of concerts I experienced over those ten years; however, I can tell you the number of times I made it backstage; that number is three. One of those times, I would meet the band Tesla, and drummer Troy Luccketta. As a fan, I looked forward to meeting Troy, and as a drummer, I was hoping to pick his brain to satisfy my ongoing search for knowledge.
Upon entering the dressing room, I quickly found Troy standing alone by his road case. I extended my hand and said, "Hello, my name is Phil, nice to meet you." I complimented his drumming, both live and recorded, to which began a conversation about drums. I told him of my Rock Star dreams and asked many questions that he graciously answered with knowledge and advice that was so important for a young drummer like myself. After a few minutes, and with people waiting to meet him, we again shook hands and thanked him for his time. I would stay another thirty minutes or so, making the rounds and meeting the rest of the band before heading toward the door. As I was about to exit the dressing room, I heard someone yell "Hey Phil" in the distance, only to find out it was Troy. Stunned that he remembered my name, he would also add; it was great meeting you, best of luck with drumming, and wished me success. Troy's words would have a significant effect on my life, as in that moment I vowed if my Rock Star Dreams came true; I would treat every fan as Troy treated me, with respect, with kindness, and with dignity.
A few months after meeting Troy, myself and three other guys from Ft Lauderdale Florida, formed a band called Saigon Kick. Two years after forming, Saigon Kick would sign a recording contract with Thirdstone-Atlantic Records. Two years after that, Saigon Kick would open for Tesla, and on that day, another day in my life, I would meet Troy for the second time. I approached Troy as I did before, extending my hand to greet him as I said, "Hello Troy, I'm Phil Varone," but unlike the first time, I added, "I play drums for Saigon Kick." Troy greeted me in return with kind words about my drumming and congratulations on Saigon Kick's success. I waited four years for this moment to come to fruition, and with this moment, began my story of thank you with the words "I know you won't remember our first meeting, but I wanted to thank you for what you did for me." I would go on to tell of our first meeting some four years earlier when I was a kid with a dream, and how his words would forever impact my life. I don't know if he remembered meeting me back then, and to be honest, it didn't matter. I just wanted to say thank you, and let him know how grateful I was for that day in my life, when he gave me his time, his advice and his wishes of success.
The music business has given me some incredible moments in life. KISS was my first concert in 1980, and in 2000, I would be opening for them, playing drums for Skid Row. I met Troy, in 1988 as a young drummer with a dream, and in 1992, I would share the same stage with Troy and thank him as he welcomed me into the Rock Star club. In 1983, I would see Ozzy Osbourne, with Jake E Lee playing guitar, and in 2017, Jake would ask me to join his band.
When I think about life, specifically life lived; I still think about people, but more importantly, how a day in the life can go full circle.