Saturday, April 18, 2009

I have my license, it came with birth, for self reliance on this earth.

On Tuesday I started recounting the guitars I have owned or possessed long enough to claim ownership on When Things of the Spirit Come First. Today I am going to share with you pictures and the story of the second guitar I owned. There will be posts for each one with perhaps one or two lumped together because their stories aren't as fun or interesting. I hope you enjoy this little rock-walk down memory lane and please feel free to share an axe tale of your own in the comments.

Number 2
1982 Ibanez Rocket Roll II RR50-FR

So this is it...what I would call my first "real" guitar. It was purchased by my Mom and Dad and it played like butter. It's also one of those guitars I regret selling.

I talked Mom and Dad into a trip to Uncle Bob's Music Center in SW Milwaukee. It is now located at 10220 Greenfield Ave in West Allis, WI and unfortunately has no website. Uncle Bob's was a small store that was so packed with gear it seemed like a hallway with amps stacked to the ceiling. The front of the store had a wall of guitars that at the time seemed cool but in retrospect is mind numbing. It was 1985 or so and I can recall seeing Les Pauls, Strats and a Dean explorer type thing but the guitar I picked was the Rocket Roll II.

This candy apple machine whispered out to me and basically toyed with my 15 year old mind. Could a guitar be that sexy? Damn! It was Metal it was Punk hell my heroes played flying V's.

The guitar was $125 with a form fitting hard shell case and to sweeten the take Uncle Bob himself gave Mom and Dad a $35 deal on a Peavey Audition 30. Throw in strings and picks and I don't remember my cheeks aching more from the grin I had on the car ride home.

Again I have no photos of my guitar but since Ibanez only had two color schemes for the Rocket Roll II it was no problem finding one.

picture from
It's almost like the RR50 was a divining rod to find rock and roll.

The Rocket Roll II's came in two styles. The RR50 was the Metallic Red beast I owned an the RR400 was a flame maple topped bound beauty in a cherry sunburst paint scheme. The picture from the Ibanez catalog showcased the maple striped RR400 as seen below. It's a shame because the RR50 was the one that seemed more Metal anyway.

picture from

As I said earlier my heroes played flying v guitars and my favorites were K.K. Downing of Judas Priest and Bob Mould of Hüsker .

Judas Priest had the balance of K.K. and Glenn Tipton. When I had this guitar I often made my friend Jeff jam while doing the Rock Stomp motion (see 2:14) that K.K. and Glenn did while playing live. Jeff had dark hair and played a black Stratocaster like Glenn did and I had blond hair and played a red V like K.K.. Looking back it was all pretty silly but it made me happy.

The other "God" with the flying V is Bob Mould of Hüsker . He didn't have a red V but he did have a Rocket Roll albeit the first generation of the Ibanez V's. This guitar was an exact replica of the Gibson flying V. They were built in the 70's and are amazing guitars. They fetch an unrealistic amount of money and even then you rarely see one come up for sale.

I did see Bob play his V in 1987 during the first leg of the Warehouse: Songs and Stories tour in which the band rifled through the entire album without letting anyone breathe. Bob trotted back and forth riding the V in what looked like a hobby horse between his amps and the front of the stage with a glazed look in his eyes. He wore a grey t-shirt with a New York Yankees pin-striped jersey over it and the sweat stain on the front of the shirt grew throughout the set. He sawed at that Rocket Roll with a piston like fervor slamming song after song through his swarm of bees sounding gear.

That concert was the concrete that set in my mind that I needed to play guitar and The flying V would be the perfect beginning.

Here comes the sad ending.

Over time I punched holes in the undormered ceiling of my bedroom, chipped giant chips of paint from the guitars awkward body and weened myself from the reality that I was going to be a Heavy Metal guitarist. I had picked up new guitars and found it time to move on from the Rocket Roll II. I sold it to one of my older brother's coworkers to give to his son for $300.

The kicker is I recently felt nostalgic for the V and started looking into the availability of another one. After doing research and losing many bids on Ebay I gave up hope. Not only has the guitar gained in value but so many other people have now come to realize the unbelievable quality of these late 70's and early 80's Japanese copies and they often time go for $1,000 or more with the most recent one going for $995. If only I had held on to that guitar for 25 years. Curses to the likes of bands like Tears for Fears and the Smiths for making me feel like I had to soften my approach to guitar. But hell, even Bob Mould doesn't play the things anymore.


Mom said...

You moved me to tears, Hal. I remember that trip to Bob's like it was yesterday. Dad and I thought that guitar would quell your thirst and we could put this "phase" behind us. Not the case. In any event, I enjoyed reading this post and the memories that came flooding back.

Intergalactic Cupcake said...

Oh man, I was moved to tears by your mom being moved to tears. She sucked me into a chick spiral even with the super manly rock topic at hand.
Well played, Mom.
I wasn't expecting that.

Oregarus said...

Guitar #3 will trip you up and show my softer side...sometimes I walk avoid you...when I've annoyed you...

Anonymous said...

Hi I was browsing while Cleaning my Ibanez R550FR The same Candy Red Model that you were reminiscing about. I have had mine since about that time don't remember exactly what year it was but I do remember many Jams with many friends, with this awesome Axe which in the same way as you blew me away at the Music store. My V has been sleeping quietly in its case since the 90's I take it out from time to time to change the strings and clean it, still to this day the action is sooo good.I was however thinking of selling it. If you inerested in the one I have contact me and we can chat.

Anonymous said...

I have an Ibanez Rocket Roll II available for selling if you are intrested contact me: