Some of you might be wondering why the heck I still am sporting these badges on my post today. Well, anyone who's been around my site long enough knows that I can run something to the limit once I get started on it. If I like an idea I'll get somewhat obsessed and keep on posting about it. After all I started that A to Z thing and that can be a bit obsessive too.
So anyhow if you missed either of the above posts I hope you go visit the Battle of the Bands post and vote on your favorite song version (voting ends tomorrow). Then check out my entry for the Blood, Boobs, & Carnage Blogfest. Once you've read these posts you might see some logical progression that leads to my post today.
My biggest takeaway from seeing the film Circus of Horrors was the catchy pop tune "Look for a Star". The only place I ever recall hearing that song was in that movie where it was played so many times and was so memorable that the song stuck in my head for months after I heard it.
By 1964 I had started acquiring my own record collection. I started out with the 45's that only had a hit song on one side and a lesser known "B" side. Soon I discovered that I often liked the "B" sides as much or more than the hits. At about a dollar a pop, the 45's didn't seem like such a bargain compared to an album with ten or so songs for a couple bucks more. My interests became more directed toward the long play albums--more songs and you didn't have to change the records so often.
But in the summer of 1965 when I found 45's at a clearance sale for the amazing price of 20 for one dollar, I couldn't resist. I was living in Crown Point, Indiana at the time. A friend and I had taken the bus to a shopping center on the outskirts of the city of Gary and it was at the Sears Department Store where I found the irresistible record sale.
With only a few bucks in my pocket I was still able to buy sixty 45's. Most of the songs and artists I had never heard of, but musical adventurist that I was, the obscurity of the music made no difference to me. I had a musical listening adventure ahead of me. I also had a copy of the song that been haunting me, "Look for a Star" by Garry Mills. That find alone was almost worth the three dollars that I had paid for 60 records.
For anyone who is not familiar with my history, my family had a juggling act that we performed when my father wasn't working his regular job. When we lived in San Diego from 1959 to 1963 our bookings were few since there wasn't much show biz activity in that area, but through constant practice we honed our act into a top notch club passing act. After we moved to the Chicagoland area in late 1963 we signed on with one of the top Chicago agents and soon we were working regularly on weekends.
During the summer and on a few rare occasions during other times of the year my father would take work vacations so we could work brief stints on the fair and shrine circus circuit. I grew to love the lifestyle and the thrill of performing. In my fanciful thinking I wished that we could live on the road working the show business life all the time. My parents dreamed the same thing, but the practical side of my father told him to keep his good job with a guaranteed income--not as much fun, but it made far more sense.
Still, a desire for the call of the road and the roar of the crowds was luring me to some future in the world of show business.
While I was still in junior high school I began to dream about the act that I would create for myself. At first I came up with an idea of a chair that I would balance on the two rear legs and then have a ladder which I would climb up while it was balanced upon the balanced chair. It would all be a prop with a mechanical gimmick that I had meticulously planned in my mind. No actual balancing would be involved regarding the chair or the ladder and the greatest danger would be falling off. Perched atop the ladder I would perform various stunts like handstands, prop balancing, and juggling.
This all seemed like a pretty good idea, but then I decided to make it all more flashy by using a large five pointed star prop instead of the chair. I would mount the star and balance it on one point while using the top points for attaching the ladder and other gimmicks. As I envisioned it, I could decorate the star or even install lighting within it. There were all sorts of possibilities that began to enter my mind.
As I considered the tricks that I could perform and the routine that would incorporate those tricks, I also imagined the music I would use in my act. The song choice was immediately obvious. I would use the song "Look for a Star"--it would be perfect. Picturing myself performing atop a ladder balanced on top of a giant balancing star as the song "Look for a Star" played, my stage name jumped out at me. Ricky Starr!
Maybe the name came to me as a mash-up between Ringo Starr and Ricky Nelson, but I thought it rocked and was very appropriate to my dream image of the act that I would one day perform at fairs and circuses across the country and maybe even around the world.
Ricky Starr. I liked the sound of it.
That balancing act dream never came to anything other than passing time in my junior high classes looking out the window and fantasizing. Even occasionally in high school I would sometimes daydream about it. I drew up the plans for the prop that I would one day have built for me. But it never happened.
However it wasn't a totally impossible dream. I did go into show business and toured for many years as a juggler, performer, and show manager. The road, the roar of the crowds, and show biz life all became a reality for me.
In my dreams I was looking for Ricky Starr, but in the real world I found myself.
What dreams about your future did you have when you were young? How many of your childhood and adolescent dreams have you achieved? Does any part of travelling with a circus or carnival appeal to you?
For more memoir visit my other blog Wrote By Rote