I wasn’t always a single, working mum. I was married once. Before that I was a party girl, and before that……I was a rock chick.
The 80’s was an awesome time to be growing up in Oz, and the music of the time, was a big part of the magic. Before the internet, CD’s and iPods, we spent hours sitting in front of our radio’s waiting for our favourite song to be played and, when we heard those first few notes, leapt across the room to hit ‘record’ on the cassette deck….. ahhhh the mixed tape! I remember spending a WHOLE weekend camped in front of my stereo/radio waiting for U2’s ‘Two hearts beat as one’ and when I finally captured it – I ran a victory lap around the lounge room.
That lounge room was in a tiny flat, near the railway line that I shared with my boyfriend. I was with him from age 17 to 20. He was an abusive paranoid schizophrenic, but I was in love with him, so I stayed.
Spending three years of your life, terrified, is not pleasant. Every move I made was scrutinised. Everything I did, everything I wore, everywhere I went, was questioned. I got anxious merely walking past him. I never knew when that arm was going to lunge out, grab me and throw me against a wall.
I was not allowed to buy new clothes, go out with my friends, or wear makeup (which was quite distressing at the time as I had bad acne). I lost touch with all my friends, took drugs and got very thin. ‘Frankie’ ceased to exist for a while there.
I tried to run a couple of times. The local cop shop was just a block away. I remember running down the footpath at midnight in my nightie, hoping desperately that someone was on duty but, the lights were all off. I had nowhere to go, and ended up being pushed backwards over the brick wall surrounding the carpark. I was dragged home by my hair.
But, in 1985 I got out. Fuck me, I don’t know how I did it, I was sure he’d kill me……but I did it. I was finally free….. and I was 8 weeks pregnant.
I’m not going to go into my thought processes at that time other than to say I was 20 years old and was not going to continue a pregnancy that would see me permanently linked to a psycho. So….that was that.
I moved back to my mum’s. My younger sister was still at home and we took the opportunity to do some much needed bonding. This involved mostly just drinking and smoking mull, but it was bonding nonetheless.
Much to my surprise she had joined a cover band, as keyboard player. We’d both had piano lessons when we were younger but neither of us thought it would ever amount to anything….fun. I can’t remember how she got started but I do remember being thrilled to bits and tagging along to band practice. The band was called ‘Burning Boxcars’ (hahaha, don’t laugh). Much to my further surprise (and delight) my high school sweetheart (and the guy who whisked away my virginity) was the drummer!
It took the drummer and I about two days to hook up again and suddenly I was the ‘roadie/door chick’. Unfortunately I didn’t see much action (in the band area) as they didn’t get that many gigs! Nevertheless it was fucking awesome to be part of it!
A few months in, my sister broke up with the guitarist. It was messy. End result – she left the band and went to Seattle! So….. here is a cover band, repertoire finally sorted, new name, all ready to hit the local scene, and NO KEYBOARD PLAYER or back up vocalist.
"Ummm….excuse me guys but, I can play".
My initial attempts were met with a resounding "No fucking way", the lead guitarist being my greatest opponent. He was dead set against anymore ‘in-band' relationships (I was living with the drummer by now).
I wouldn’t let it go. Every time they practiced I would flick on the spare mic and belt out the harmonies for all their songs. I have a fucking good voice! (and I sound just like my sister).
In the end, I wore them down.
I was in!
To be continued…