Leaving the bright lights and glitz of Dallas, Texas, USA, I headed South through the black Texas night. With music still ringing in my ears, my trip was drenched by constant mist and rain. My goal: to make it through the state capitol, Austin, before the traffic got bad. With the rain and wipers making me drowsy, I pulled over in West Texas, to get some rest.
I don’t know how long I was asleep, but I felt rested enough when I awoke. Making my way through the former home of David Koresh, Waco, Texas I had the radio cranked and Red Bull running through my veins. I made it through Austin unscathed, although the traffic was picking up considerably for 5 a.m. on a Saturday. I was stoked to pick up my old favorite radio station 99.5 KISS FM to help me through the trip.
A little about Texas Radio in the 1970s:
It was 1975 when I had received my first FM radio for Christmas. All of a sudden, the music world opened up for me. No longer did I need to listen to AM format music, with all the commercials and DJ banter. The FM world was a more relaxed style of broadcasting. I found two stations after scrolling up and down the dial. KEXL FM 104.5 opened my mind to the South Texas bands. It was more of a Southern fried-rock and all its musical derivatives. ZZTop, Pure Prairie League, Shawn Phillips, The Grateful Dead, and local legend, Augie Meyers, among others. DJ’s Allan Grimm, Bobby Reyes, and Debbie Jecker all spun the vinyl. Mr. Sam Kendrick also played some of the best tunes in South Texas, and was also the “alternative” news guy. Mr. Kindrick started Action Magazine and, to this day, is considered one of the biggest names in Texas music and culture. Definitely one-of-a-kind, Mr. Kindrick helped open this kids’ eyes to the Texas lifestyle. The life of a radio station can be brief and KEXL-FM 104.5 made its mark until 1977 when it was pulled from the airwaves. It was unfortunate as we needed more armadillo races in our lives.
So, to make up for the lack of good music, I had to search for another way to satisfy my needs. Now, mind you, I drove a 1966 AMC Rambler station wagon that only had an AM radio. Luckily, I was able to find KISS FMs little sister, KMAC 680AM. Simulcasting from 12 noon to 6 pm, I was introduced to DJs Tom Sheppke, Debbie “The Electric Lady” Alcocer and Donnie Meals. Once I was home, however, my radio was dialed into 99.5 KISS. An innovative style of broadcasting was what you could expect. Unfortunately, it would end its broadcasting day at 12 midnight and not fire up again until 7am. It made my day when they announced it would start one hour earlier at 6. They were always known for their on-air antics. On more than one occasion the album side was left to play in its entirety. Once, I do remember the needle was still popping and clicking at the end of the selection. The DJ returned, exasperated, explaining that he had to go home to close his windows as an impending thunderstorm was approaching. Yup, radio was like that back in the day!
Joe Anthony and Lou Roney were the main music directors. They scoured the world for bands that would feed the need for the growing metal community in San Antonio, Texas. Rush, Saxon, RIOT, UFO, MOXY, Budgie, and Legs Diamond, among many, many, others. You can usually find a note to them on the covers of the record albums from that era.
“Spread the Word” was the stations mantra in that time. My Rambler sported the KMAC/KISS window sticker, complete with the big red lips donning their logo. Joe and Lou brought so many bands through the town. Randy’s Rodeo Ballroom, The Municipal Auditorium, and, when the bands got large enough, the San Antonio Convention Center Arena were the usual venues. So many bands were brought to national view through our lil’ cow town. The concerts were memorialized in many live recordings. Remember “San Antonio! San Antonio!!” “Suck my bone-io” from Ted Nugent’s Double Live Gonzo? Black Sabbath and Sammy Hagar also recorded tracks for their respective live albums here.
Fast forward to present day. I was about to see two of the heaviest bands from the 1970’s and 80’s return to the “Heavy Metal Capital of the World” where they would do battle in a little club in downtown San Antonio, The Alamo City Music Hall. The lineup swapped for this one show in Texas, Saxon would have an extended set to satisfy the masses.
Prior to the onslaught, I would have the distinct pleasure to interview Biff Byford and Rob De Luca.