1974 – 1978 Many shows…
I could write a very entertaining book about all the events that took place at some of the backyard parties Rayge played, but I have to finish this part of the web site and go make another record. I can’t resist to tell ya at least a few, though.
The last summer before I left for Berklee, I needed some money to go to school so I had to cut my practice routine down and get a job. I decided to do something I always wanted to do since I was a little kid — drive a Dolly Madison ice cream truck. It was great. I weighed 192 pounds, really. It was wonderful at weekend parties because we would use the freezers on the truck to stash our beers and keep them cold. When all my friends would get the munchies we’d have an ice cream & candy party.
On my first day of work, I wrecked my car and almost got killed. On the last day of the job, well….
That night we were at a party at this very very rich girl’s mansion (her parents’ mansion, actually) in Old Westbury. I had my ice cream truck parked in the backyard. Now one funny thing about this truck was it had a very high-strung first gear. If I put it in high and repeatedly jabbed the pedal with my foot, I could get the truck to do a series of bouncing mini-wheelies. I would wave my hand out the window, violently shake my head like a mentally retarded person and ring the ice cream bell all at the same time. It looked ridiculous, sort of like a demented cowboy jerking off a Jurassic Park-esque metal horsie.
So I’m at this party and I’m in the middle of this little demonstration of mine and the place gets raided by the cops. I tried to sneak away with my ice cream truck tucked between my legs but I was stopped on the front lawn by an astonished police officer. I stopped the truck, opened the little serving window and said, “Can I help you?”, as I would to any customer. With a disbelieving look on his face he said “What is an ice cream truck doing… forget it. Get out of here”.
I tip-toed to the driver’s seat and was thrilled to slink away at 5 miles an hour. There were two rather steep dips on each side of the driveway that I encountered at an angle. The truck rocked so hard that it threw me out of the seat and all the way to the back. I came to laughing hysterically, covered in candy and puke. Mmmm.
Later that night at about 4:00 am, my friend Joe Despagni and I partook to that little after-party ritual in my kitchen that was so ceremonious to us…tuna melts. Oh God, would we pig out on some outrageous concoctions. Try tuna fish with a ton of mayonnaise and mustard, splattered on some Italian bread, covered with a pound of Velveeta cheese and bologna. Bake to a golden crunch and devour before bedtime. Oh it was good. We savored every last morsel as if it was God’s reward to us for having such a righteous time and escaping the police unscathed. But then again, in the condition we were in, we could have eaten broken glass and enjoyed it.
I woke in the morning feeling awful. I mean, wow. You know the feeling when your brain feels like wet bread? I crawled out of bed at 8:00 am because I had to return the ice cream truck that day. I was sitting in the kitchen and my dear old beautiful Mom says “If you’d like me to make you some lunch later Steve, there’s one can of tuna left.” Hmm. “Sorry Mom, Joe & I ate it last night” I replied. “You couldn’t have, dear. There was only one can left, and it’s still there”, she called upstairs. I walked over to the cabinet and opened it. There was the lonely little can of tuna sitting on the shelf. If this was the only can, I pondered, then what did Joe & I eat last night?
It was at this precise moment that my eyes spied the trash can to find an empty cat food tin staring back at me.
I froze in disbelief as my stomach started doing the wobbly. Shaking, I dashed to the refrigerator to get a cold drink of something, and that’s when I saw a wine jug filled with iced tea. This was no ordinary iced tea either, this was Mom’s special hung-over iced tea that in the past would bring my friends from all over town to drink in an attempt to relieve their throbbing heads.
I reached for that holy grail and took the biggest longest chug of doom imaginable. Now, I believe it was the very second that it hit my mouth that I realized it wasn’t Mom’s special iced tea at all. The phlegm-like texture sloshed down my throat and thudded in my stomach before I could even pull the bottle away from my mouth. That’s when I noticed, much to my chagrin, that I’d just taken a monster swig of pure cooking grease. I have to tell you it was so disgusting it was unbelievable. I could barely make it up the stairs to the bathroom before that slime raced through my entire body and rocketed out of my ass.
I sat on the toilet for 30 minutes. It must have looked kinda funny too. There I was sitting on the toilet with my feet barely touching the ground and my head in the sink as my hands were ripping my own hair out.
Oh, my kingdom for a video of this. If I had one, you know I’d put it on the web site and you would be watching it right now, wouldn’t you? Yeah, you can’t fool me. “Hey look at this, it’s 17-year-old Stevie Vai and he’s puking and shitting at the same time, heh heh, heh heh.”
That day was the last day before I would leave for Boston and Berklee College Of Music. I left the house feeling so sick I couldn’t even hear. I had to return my ice cream truck for the last time. I loved that job and that truck. I made my way nostalgically through the town and decided to stop at the village drive-thru convenience store. I approached the order platform with the idea of showing off my ice cream truck to my friend who worked there.
The next thing I know I hear this huge BANG! and I’m covered in glass and the truck is at a dead stop. I get out in a bit of a daze, wondering what happened. I noticed the roof of the drive-thru was bent all the way over and the owner comes out with this look of our shock on his face. “What the fuck happened????” he screamed. “I don’t know”, I replied honestly. “You dumb fuck”, he yelled, “You knocked the roof off my drive-thru with your fucking truck!!!”
He was right. I did knock the roof off, and I was a dumb fuck. And a hung over one at that. I called Joe Despagni (who just got to sleep a couple hours earlier) and I say “Joe, listen, I need your help! I’m here in town and I knocked the roof off of the Dairy Barn and the owner is going to kill me!”
Joe looked at the phone and hung up.
I called back. “Joe, you gotta help me! I knocked the roof off of the Dairy Barn!” Well, after much persuasion, I talked him into coming down and we sort of straightened it out. The next day I left for Berklee College Of Music, only imagining what I was in for.