About Me... Adolfo Valencia!
Off the cuff… about me and the guitar...It all started Winter of 1963 with the Beatles American Debut album: Meet the Beatles "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and puberty…"My God". This song was talking about initial step of getting to "First Base!!!!"...Of course my older brother and two older cousins decided to start their own band called The Silverman (I have no idea why that name and neither do they to this day). Anyway I wanted part of this band only to be told I was too young and too short "The Nerve!"...Mind you all this band had was a one stringed (E 6th), hole in the center of the body Spanish guitar our uncle, my brother's godfather, had given him (which my uncle had used in a wedding brawl), my cousin Albert’s Sear Silverton guitar, and cousin Richard’s promise he would soon have a guitar.... This was the band...Right.
By summer of 1964 I had saved enough paper route money to purchase an acoustic Westbrook guitar (only costing me $35.00)... on my way to fame! My first lesson was to learn how to tune the darn thing, which I did by matching string for string off a guitar a much older neighborhood college kid had. Once knowing how to tune the thing I would play an album's song, listening to leads over and over on a portable recorder player, until figured it out note by note the best I could... I'll show them (my brother and cousins) ...
My first great lead
accomplishment was the intro to "Day Tripper"...Thank you Beatles.. and "Oh yeah", the chords to "Louie, Louie" by
the Kingsmen... (which
my brother could only play on ”that” one string). Now my cousins and brother told
me I was allowed to join their band..."Too late boys! I'm on my
own” Thinking of my accomplishments I purchased the first available Beatle
song book on the market. I couldn't read the musical notes but I could
follow the positioning of the chords drawn above the words which led to
learning rhythm and timing.
By this time I could watch someone else play and figure out the chords and fill in the leads all without knowing how to read music…"I'll show them." (By this time I meant the whole world of non-believers). Unfortunately, my father being the main non-believer in my life, an old world Mexican (wannabe accordion player in his head oompa oompa “rancherito” band) hated American evil rock and roll and would actually physically punish me if he heard me playing such demonic sounds. Defiantly I carried on buying what I could afford, then a Kingston electric guitar and a Crown amplifier (not the Gibson SG electric guitar and Marshall amplifier of my dreams).
One year later in 1969 in a quick sale I scored a 1966 Fender Pro-Reverb tube amp and a Mosrite electric guitar (I was told the type the Ventures used). I used to carry both guitars in case and very heavy amp 19 blocks to practices and 19 blocks back….such dedication.
By this time I was getting good enough to actually be invited to play in real bands in clubs and bars…Unfortunately not 18 yet and still under the rule of an old world tyrant I was not allowed to participate and missed many opportunities to play with some well known San Francisco musicians of that time. Now I don’t even have the heart to write them down. It would just piss me off.
Thinking back now maybe it didn’t matter. In 1971 a draft lottery (the only lottery I ever came out on top of)… came out in the Call-Bulletin newspaper which showed 365 days of the year and birthdays corresponding to each day. The higher the number your birthday was listed 1 thru 365 the less likely you were to be carted off to war...My brother’s birthday March 29th was listed as the 364th day He got a good laugh out of it…My birthday October 28th was listed as the 10th day…That was not funny…Thinking with such good luck so far in life, when the time came for active duty I turned down the Army and choose the Marines. Thinking I probably wouldn’t be coming back so I gave my guitar and amps for people to take care of or keep depending on the final result.
When I returned back to the hood I acquired what was left of my equipment….In the next 40 years life had different paths for me…Today I play for relaxation and I’m always pleased to pass on my skills to those interested.