I was listening to Billy Idol in the car this week, for the first time in ages. That’s how I decided to share this sample. The man identified in the text as Jim Beaton/Jimmy Paris is now deceased … and this all happened a very long time ago.
Theatre of Sheep had played their set and I was hanging around in my “primo” position at the front of the stage. I’m 5’1” in my stocking feet, and I hate not being able to see the band. Anyway, I was standing there minding my own business and watching the roadies set up for Billy Idol’s band. Someone bumped into me from behind, and I turned around.
“Excuse me,” he said as I looked up at him, and I do mean up. Jim was 6’5” tall. He was also one of the hottest looking guys I’d ever seen, with his Black Irish coloring (fair skin, thick-lashed blue eyes and a shock of dark hair) and a pouty mouth “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I responded.
We shook hands, I swear to God.
“You live around here, Sharon?”
“On the other side of the bridge.”
“Yeah, I just moved back here from San Francisco.”
He may as well have come from Mars. San Francisco was impossibly far away and exotic to me.
Jim took off his black leather jacket, revealing tattooed arms; one of them had a nasty scar that I would later learn had come from a knife fight.
We chatted about this and that. I know that I told him about working with The Van Goghs and that I had a day job. He was the same age as me, 18, but a couple of months younger. He was studying welding and metal work in the Job Corps. He seemed nice enough.
Once Billy Idol started playing, it was too loud to talk. I really liked his sound, and hated the fact that I’d have to cut out early to meet my friend. I snagged one of guitarist Steve Stephens’ used picks from the stage; one edge was deeply ridged from sliding it up hot strings. (I eventually drilled it and hung it from an ear wire so that I could wear it.) I lost track of where Jim had gone; I later learned that he’d been thrown out of the show.
Anyway, when I came out of the Pine Street to meet my friend, Jim saw me.
“Hey,” he said, pressing a slip of paper into my hand. “Call me.”
He kissed my cheek and I got into the car.
“Who was that,” my friend asked.
I unfolded the piece of paper, on which was scrawled a name and a phone number.
“Jim Beaton, apparently.”
Want your own copy of Music, Mayhem, and Bad Decisions? Here are the book blurb and purchasing links.
During her teenage years, award-winning author Sharon E. Cathcart dreamed of working in the music business. She lived that dream for seven years, beginning at age 18.
Unfortunately, she learned that dreams can turn quickly to nightmares. Sharon found herself in a world of not only of music, but also one of domestic violence when she got involved with an undereducated youth she met during a concert. In this book, Sharon tells the unvarnished truth about experiences for which her sheltered upbringing left her unprepared.
Originally published as You Had to Be There: Three Years of Mayhem and Bad Decisions in the Portland Music Scene, Sharon has updated her memoir with new information about those early days.
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