OK, all you lovers of everything RPMHD. Let’s play a new game: it’s called, “Did Ya’ Know?”
No worries. It’s simple, straightforward, and fun.
But please…no wagering.
Here’s how it works: I’ll give you a few facts about a current NHRA driver. Your job? Just try and figure out who it is.
Told ya. No worries. You got this.
But again: no betting. No need to lose the kid’s college fund or anything over this. It’s just a goofy game.
Anyway, here goes:
Did ya’ know that this driver:
-competed in Freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling?
-studied computer software for four years in college?
-is a longtime member of the Screen Actors Guild, and is allowed to vote on the Oscars?
Alright, your turn. Give it some thought. Go easy. No reason to strain ‘yo brain over it.
C’mon, just a little more thinkin’…
Okey-dokey. Made your selection? Think you’ve got it, huh? Well, boys and girls, the answer is…
The one and only…Ron Capps.
Yep, the NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car drivin’, 58 career event-winnin’, 2016 FC Championshippin’, guy who loves California livin’, is also a bonafide rock star on the NHRA circuit. Fans flock to his pit area in hopes of an autograph and a moment of his time.
And speaking of rock stars…
Did ya’ know that Ron likes to rock?
Wait a minute. That’s not true. Actually, Capps LOVES to rock. A lot. And, he knows his stuff.
Ron can bring the rock ‘n roll 411. Dude needs his own Sirius radio show where he discusses the topic.
So, when trying to locate guests for our “Getting Off Track” series, this one was a no-brainer. Sitting around, we thought, “We have to have Ron.” It was so obvious! It also became easily apparent when someone in the back of the room called out, “We have to have Ron.” Lots of deep introspective thought there….
Anyway. Ron was located. Ron called. Ron talked. And…
Ron was amazing!
Talk about stories! Dudes, we ran out of room!
After compiling all the info, it was obvious. “Getting Off Track” had our very first two-parter.
Yep, the following is Part 1 of “Getting Off Track” with Ron Capps, with Part 2 to follow next week after the completion of Thunder Valley.
Hope you dig it. Man, we did.
You’ve been elected the President of Music. All decisions regarding anything to do with the music industry go through you. As President, what are your two very first decisions?
“Hmm. Man, that’s a great question. Let’s see…(Pause, then he laughs) I can’t even think of the first thing I’d do, there are so many. I’ve gotta be careful because I have friends that like different kinds of music, but there’s some rap that I think shouldn’t even be sold. (Laughs) I listen to some of it, and I go, ‘This is making a million bucks?’ But, I guess it’s like that in every genre of music. Let’s see…man, that’s a good question. I can’t think of two things!”
Tell you what. Let’s try another route. Since you’re the President, who would you have chosen as your Vice-President?
“Hmmm. I would have to say…I’ve got a friend of mine named Tucker Williamson who used to work for Warner Brothers that turned me on to a lot of bands. When I met him, he was handling Van Halen, and he also found the Goo-Goo Dolls and brought them to the record label. To me, he’s always had ‘that ear’. He went out on his own, he left Warner Brothers, and I kept in touch. He comes out to Pomona. He follows me every weekend. He would be the guy that I would trust his judgment on a lot of music, and so my buddy Tucker would be my running mate.”
OK, so you’re the President, which means you have to host an inaugural ball. Who is going to play at yours?
“That’s gotta be people obviously living, right?”
“Ummm…hmmm. Man, it’s hard to pass up having someone like the Stones play, I mean, while they’re still around and playing together. I’d say that would probably be the dream ball to have the Stones play, ‘cause there’s not a bad song in that bunch. Plus, it’s a party, and you know all those guys, they are not shy about partying.”
Talk about the first album you ever bought with your own money.
“Hmmm. The first one I actually bought with my own money was Kiss “Destroyer”. Ummm…I got “Kiss Alive 1”, but my mom actually bought it. “Alive 1” was the first one I actually got, but ‘Destroyer’ was the first one I got with my own saved-up money.”
Do you still have it?
“No, I wish I still had it.”
Can you remember how much it cost?
“Gosh. I would guess about…I would have to guess about $3.99 or $4.99, something like that.”
One more. How about where you bought it?
“Yeah. I grew up in this little town called San Luis Obispo, and they had a place called Boo Boo Records. It’s been around forever, and…great place. As a matter of fact, not too long ago I visited my mom and dad, and it’s still there. It just had such great selections of everything. You could find obscure stuff, you could find, umm, Japanese pressings of, you know, Y&T…yeah, stuff that you couldn’t normally go find. I had a lot of friends in the business and they could turn me on to things, and that was a place you could go get it instead of driving an hour-and-a-half or two hours down to LA. Through the years it stayed open because it was such a cool place. San Luis Obispo was a college town, so it survived a little bit longer. I’m heading back up there this summer. I go back there every year so I’m going to go look for it. Tower Records was obviously the place you had to go in a couple of hours when we could hit Los Angeles.”
Have you ever worn a band’s shirt under your driver’s suit?
“Yeah. Yeah, yeah.”
Any particular one that brought you good luck or wore more than others?
“Actually, I just mentioned Y&T. I wore one of theirs. I had Dave Meniketti out… (Singer/songwriter and lead guitarist for Y&T) I tried to invite him out to a race in Sonoma. I knew he lived in the area and I got ahold of a friend of mine, Scotty Ross, who was like the tour manager to the stars. He was actually the tour manager for Montrose, Sammy Hagar, Van Halen. I met him at Van Halen, but he’d been around. I think he’s out right now with Taylor Swift, believe it or not. He’s been with everyone in the world. Scotty…everybody knows Scotty. Well, I called him up. We were getting ready to race in Sonoma, and I said, ‘Scotty, I’ve been trying to invite this guy. I’ve been a huge fan. I’ve seen him so many times, probably more bands than any other when I was growing up…Y&T. He says, ‘Hold on a second.’ He hangs the phone up, he calls and gets ahold, and he says, ‘Yeah, Dave would like to come out Friday or Saturday’, and I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’, and it turns out, Scotty was one of their first tour managers, ‘cause he’s from the Bay Area, and it was right after Montrose that he became one of their tour managers for awhile, so he knew him real well. So, he called Dave Meniketti, and he and his wife came out. So, I wore that shirt that Dave had brought out and gave me at that time under my suit a couple of times.”
You’re throwing out some names such as Montrose. A lot of folks may not know much about them, but those guys could bring it.
“My friends and I, we would have to drive to LA to Gazzari’s or the Roxy…the Cathouse, places like that to see the bands we were into, because they wouldn’t come up to our small town. Plus, that was where…where the 80’s bands…at that time I’m in high school, it’s the early 80s, so that was the Mecca, and so you’d go down there. I remember seeing Motley Crue play before they were even close to being Motley Crue. But, I remember going down…actually, my son is taking guitar lessons now, and he’s 15, and I pulled out some old Kodak pictures I had of my friends and I when we went down and saw…we saw Ronnie Montrose open for Lita Ford and Y&T. Montrose came out and his guitar was a rifle with a scope on it. That was what his guitar was. He brought it out the first time at a show in Santa Barbara that we were at. Back then I had a throwaway camera because we didn’t have cell phones or anything, and so I found those pictures where I was two feet away from him, and I snapped some pictures of him coming out and playing. So I showed them to my son. I said, ‘Check this guitar out’ and it’s a .30-06 or whatever it was, and it’s got a scope on it, and we’re watching Ronnie Montrose two feet away, playing all the great hits. That was pretty cool.”
What did your son think about the pictures?
“He couldn’t believe it, because he’s into guns, too. So I said, ‘How about this?’ I played a couple of Montrose songs and then I told him, ‘This was like a young Sammy Hagar singing’, which he couldn’t believe either. So, I blew his mind in about eight different ways with just one picture.”
Yeah, look at Sammy Hagar. The dude is 70 years old. Seriously? There’s no way!
“Yeah, and the thing with Sammy is…I’ve been around him so many times…(Laughs) he’s timeless. I don’t know what he’s doing to stay as young as he does, but…I remember just hanging out with him. I met Michael Anthony from Van Halen and he went on to play with Sammy. Just being around Sammy and…he’s just like a big kid, you know? He invites you down to his house in Cabo…he’s just a big kid. He gets up, he wants to jam, go play some music, go to the beach, hang out…a couple of shots of tequila in the afternoon…(Laughs) just everything someone would want to do if you were a grown kid. You do not have to have any worries. And what are you going to do for work? You’re going to go up and at 7 o’clock you go on stage and play awesome music in front of a lot of cool people that are…you know, he’s just one of those guys you want to be around all the time.”
Sounds like he’s the real deal. What you see is what you get.
“Yeah…yeah. If you read his book, he’s pretty cool, man. He grew up boxing, actually, but he’s just a tough-nosed guy, and just loves life to the fullest.”
You’ve been to many, many shows. Can you remember the first concert you ever attended?
“Aww, man…you’d think I’d know that. Ummm…the first real show I went to…the first real show that I went to that I snuck off with my friends…we drove up to the Bay Area to the old Cow Palace. It was Ozzy Osbourne’s tour with a band called Axe that opened for him. In fact, I think their guitarist filled in and played a little bit when Randy Rhoads died. I remember going up there and watching…I think…it’s hard for me to remember because they blend in, but within a couple of weeks of each other, I saw Judas Priest play there, and I saw Ozzy with Axe. I couldn’t even tell you who opened for Priest. I remember walking in the place, and I remember watching Rob Halford (Judas Priest vocalist) ride that Harley to open the show, and this is gosh, probably…1982 or so? That might’ve been the first real concert I went to.”
Folks, I gotta tell ya. At this point, we were only 13 minutes into the interview, and we had only just begun. And if you can believe this, it only gets better. Tell you what. Forget driving the Funny Car. I say that Ron needs to be an author, ‘cause he has more rock ‘n roll stories than you can possibly imagine, and his book would absolutely kill it on any Best Seller list. (OK, all you hard-core Capps fans…I’m only kidding. No haters, please. There’s absolutely no way Ron exits the hot rod early. You’ll have to drag him away from the strip…)
So, that’s Part One. Next week, we conclude our visit, but just in case you’re interested in a little preview, here are a couple of teasers:
-We’ll hear about the band Ron would go on tour with, even if meant he had to serve as a member of the incredibly hard-working roadcrew. His answer will definitely surprise.
-Ron names the three musicians he would love to invite on a weekend road trip.
-We play a word association game, where Capps is asked to provide one-word responses to iconic music words and names.
-Finally, Ron answers the world’s most difficult rock ‘n roll question ever posed to any music fan. His response? Immediate, with no hesitation.
Yep, make sure you come back and visit again after Thunder Valley, ’cause the next time we roll with Capps…it’s gonna rock!