I think it's fair to say historically, dads have been screw-ups when it comes to their children. Leaving mom to raise them. I have to be honest, I'm guilty of being M.I.A for one reason or another over the years. In my case, it was either my music or emotional baggage. Yet, I've been a major part of my children's lives.
"Being a dad has been a source of joy in my life. It's also been a great source of pain!"
When I think of my father. My brain goes in all different directions. From a physical standpoint. I think of a big man. Handsome and very tall! Seriously, when he walked. You heard and felt impact trimmers! It's how my siblings and I knew when he was coming!
He was a disciplinarian, yet he was kind and gentile. He took no crap from anyone, not even "his" mother!
My dad was an original, creative and talented person. There were many weekends you'd find him with the four of us making candles, polishing rocks, coloring, drawing or blowing glass to name a few! One weekend he had us making wine. It ended up as grape juice and grape jelly.
Our dad loved animals! It was he who bought us four dogs over the course of our childhood, a snake, an alligator, parakeets, assorted mice, gerbils hamsters, aquariums and all of the accessories to go along with them.
He gave me the most difficult time of all! I think it's because I reminded him of himself when he was a child. I was the child, that he (and my mom) felt could end up heading towards the street and other craziness in the world. I never saw or felt that within me!
He locked me down! He had me doing all types of housework, cleaning the basement, putting up the fence around the house, mixing cement, turning over the lawn, re-seeding the lawn, replacing broken tiles in the bathroom, painting, plumbing, and that's the short list! My dad's work program for me started when I was ten years old, and continued until was eighteen!
I hated it! I swore I'd never do that to my children. Looking back on it, I wish I had. I think not doing it was a mistake.
My dad and I did not agree on many things, especially how I should go about pursuing my music career. He thought I should sling my bass around my back and hit every night club in NYC begging for a gig. That worked great during the 1940s and '50s, but by 1980, much had changed.
“"Being a dad has been a source of joy in my life. It's also been a great source of pain!".”
In the fall of 1984, I raised money to open my first recording and rehearsal studio. I worked on it for months. On Christmas day. I wanted to surprise him and show him my accomplishment.
My wife and I drove him to the studio. He was impressed! He looked around shaking his head, yes. Then he asked, "where did I get the money to do all of this?" I said, "Investors." That's when his facial expression went from "wow," to "ugh!" His questions kept coming, "how much is the rent David?" “$750!" "What's your marketing budget?" "What's marketing?" "How will you tell musicians you're open for business, David?" "I'll put out fliers, I'll go through my musician address book. I'll have my band members tell their musician friends." "It's not going to work Dave!" "Yes, it will," "ok, if you think so!" We walked back to the car. I dropped him back home and that was that. I was so disappointed!
In January 1985. I found myself closing the doors to the studio that never opened! The rent was due. I didn't have it! Dad was right. It didn't work!. I packed up all the gear and brought it into the basement Tracy and I were living in.
Later that spring I was visiting my dad. He said, "Oh, I'm glad you're here, come with me!" He grabs his tape measure and his blue chalk string and we go into the basement.
He asked me to hold the tape measure. He marks off a section of the basement floor with the chalk. Once he's done. He turns to me and says, ”How's that?" I said, "how's what?" He said, "the size?" I said, "I guess it's ok." He said, “cool," I'll buy the two by fours and sheetrock. You and Tracy come down here and build a new space for your recording studio business! My face lit up!
I never once thought I'd watch such a big, strong, and talented man whether away before my eyes. When his doctor called me at 12 am on August 6, 1990, to tell me he died. My life fell apart. It has never been the same ever since.
That's the power of a dad...
Sad, these are not the original recordings. O.C. Smith re-recorded these songs. They lack the original energy and creativity!