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IF YOU FIGURE 4.8 shows a week for 50 weeks for three and a half years, plus 18 Annual Farewell performances, including house turns . . . well, maybe it hasn't been a thousand times, but the words, "LADIES AND GENTELMEN - - THE BIG FELLA" have been followed by the first four bars of "Sh-Boom", that incandescent grin as wide and bright as the sun itself, and the mile a minute patter of that platter pushin' papa, The Big Fella aka Bob Sarlatte more times than we can count. With ciggie-butt in one hand and spinning 45's in the other, the Big Fella mugs and the background singers croon "life could be a dream sweetheart". A pause for applause, the flash of a smile, the phone rings, and without another breath its "Hello Baby", and we're off into "Chantilly Lace"

After the Guatemala run, Craig and Laz announced that they could no longer wait for their ship to come in but would row out and meet it and, thus, left for Europe with the blessing of all. The two beanstalk bookends were replaced by one Bob Sarlatte -- all night D.J at all black radio station KSOL in San Mateo, former Cal football player and future Mr. San Francisco (the personality, not the body builder).

Bob SarlatteThe Big Fella was created in an intimate dimly lit room, with dark wood-paneling, soft music, a piano, a huge bed and a fully stocked bar - Bob's bedroom since age 10 -- better known as DE's (after "Dirty Ernie" Sarlatte, Bob's dad, who saved all of the Dutch women during WWII) set in the basement of the Sarlatte home, fully accessible at all hours without disturbing the rest of the family upstairs - DE's would be the creative hub of the Glass Packs for years to come. Just don't show up during the daytime and disturb the sleeping Mole within -- DE's is closed till dark.

O.K., so no one at DE's writes music or reads it for that matter, but we know what we like when we hear it, and we've pretty good sense of what is funny. The solution was simple -- we'll write our own jokes, steal other people's songs, strip, chop and repaint them and run them at speeds and in places where they were never meant to go, like musical stock car drivers with rodeo clowns for a pit crew. We'll package them in comedy sketches - blend current cultural references into a day in the life of character types we all grew up with -- use the lyrics to drive the plot, work the plot around the lyrics, interrupt the flow with seemingly unrelated sketch material, sing the songs the way people want to hear them, reverse expectations, fill the space between songs with instrumental passages - no dead air - and tie it all up at the end with "Graduation Day". We will make these songs come to life; we will become the songs. Bob will be Moose, Gary will be Lance the nerd, the Mighty Quinn will become cool as Steady Eddie Sullivan, Julio and Bruce will remain Julio and Bruce.

A formula was born - a musical comedy magazine blending the old with the new, thematically bound in the center by the Glass Packs' revolving costume changes. Part stand up comedy, part stage play set to rock & roll music.

But to do this right, we needed more musical muscle. We had already added a new guitar player before the Guatemala trip, Mike Haggerty (featured in the Teen Angel Video). Hag went to Sacred Heart in the City with the Family and was the lead guitarist of the Humans, Laz' teen club band. From the moment the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, Hag did nothing, and we mean nothing, but sit in his room and play by ear what was on the radio. Eight years later, Hag was more at home with B.B. King and Jimi Hendricks; but when the Glass Packs' logo flashed across the San Francisco Skyline, he realized that down deep he was one of Chuck's children, so Hag picked up his blonde Fender Telecaster, joined the band and played "Johnny B. Goode" every night like only one other.

But to do this authentically, no two ways about it, we needed a sax and keyboard man. However, we were on budget, so we hired one soul survivor to do both. At age 20, Karl "Cheesecake" Young, was already a jazzman slumming, as he viewed it, with what would still be regarded by today's standards as a jam up jelly tight three sets every night, six nights a week club dance band. Karl's audition began with a near tumble off of the upper deck at Candlestick cheering on Willie Mac as the guest of the Glass Packs. These jazz guys are really sophisticated.


  © 2005 Butch Whacks & the Glass Packs