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Musician/Songwriter

 
Welcome friends to my music and story website. I began writing songs in 1969 as an Army brat in Killeen, Texas. I now reside in the Houston area with my wife, Eileen, and my cocker spaniel, Maya where I play assorted instruments and record my songs at home. I have so many "Forest Gump' moments where I touched history as you can read in my stories from true life experiences.
 
I am semi-retired from an engineering background where I had a hand in designing projects for NASA, oilfield drilling tools, ocean exploration, reverse osmosis watermakers, maritime vessels, pollution control systems, and other ventures. I am currently working at NRG Stadium as an usher at the Houston Texans Football games as well as many concerts and events. You can even occasionally catch me at a local open mic night.
 
My website is now featured in 45 countries! Thank you for listening to my songs and stories. Come back often for updates and don't forget to let me know how you like them. calvinlunaballi@yahoo.com
 
 

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The Stones...My Story

By Calvin Luna Balli

April 9, 2020

The year 1964 was an important year for me since I was eleven and growing up quick. As an army brat who had already traveled very much in my short lifetime, I had experienced a vast variety of foods, cultures, and especially music (Japanese, German, USA, and Texas). My brother, Arthur was only 11 months older than me but he always seemed to be so grown up. We were close at that time and had developed similar musical tastes since my dad always had the record player spinning tunes in our house. We loved watching mom and dad dance and often joined in! My parents were always attending the NCO (non-commissioned officers) dances at the army bases we stayed at.

Three years earlier, while stationed in Bremerhaven, Germany, my dad encouraged us to watch a new band called The Beatles on local television. They were on the nightly news playing nearby in Hamburg. My parents' jubilation on seeing the lads from Liverpool, England was very instrumental in shaping mine and Arthur's fondness for music. From that very moment, I was hooked on good ol' rock and roll!

My mom was very eager to satisfy our curiosity about The Beatles with their music, fashion, and talent. The modster kids (including us) wanted to cut their hair in cool shaggy styles and wear Beatle boots. The Fab Four had a classic suit and tie look (you know, the good guys), but there was another side of music with a bad boy charm, rough cut hair, and a bawdy style. The Rolling Stones were trailing right behind with an earthy Delta Blues sound that was so infectious.

My brother and I read teen magazines such as Downbeat and Hit Parade. We loved to see what was happening in England's music scene since they were dominating the world with their distinct sound and fab musicians. All the cool music was coming out of Britain, but years later we heard stories that these blokes were inspired by American Mississippi blues. They were listening to black music such as Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, and other old blues players. I loved The Stones' renditions of this wonderful music genre and was really inspired by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards almost as soon as I was by The Beatles.

In 1965 while traveling to a post Quito, Ecuador, my family stayed at Fort Clayton, Panama to get shots and check ups. My mom gave Arthur and me an allowance to pick up some cool records at the PX. I bought my first album Meet the Beatles and Arthur got 12 x 5 by The Rolling Stones. For the next three years we bought a lot of records and loved to share our music with other kids at the local teen parties. My mom would order our English style clothes from Sears and Roebuck and Spiegel catalogs. I loved the flowery shirts, corduroy pants and jackets, and Beatle Boots. Arthur was inspired by the pirate look that The Stones and Jay and the Americans were wearing. Mom would also buy us vertically striped pants like Mick would wear. Yes indeed, we American kids loved the fashions these motley looking musician lads were wearing. By then, I was really getting into the Stones' groove since 'I could get no satisfaction' with only the Beatles. Both bands had great songs and musicians to idolize.

My favorite Stones songs from 12 x 5 are Time is on My Side, which was played the most, but I loved their rendition of Under the Boardwalk. It had a New Orleans dream-like sound about it that still resonates with me today. My all time favorite album by The Rolling Stones is Now, which is a bluesy 1965 album. All the songs are fantastic! Mick Jagger became the iconic singer and harmonica player the world was needing while performing Heart of Stone, Down the Road Apiece, Little Red Rooster, Off the Hook, and so on. What a great album it is! The mid sixties to 1970 were the best years for English rock and we teens really dug it.

In 1972, I paid 20 dollars to see the Rolling Stones with Stevie Wonder as back up at Hofheinz Pavilion in Houston, Texas. The Stones were promoting their new album Exile on Main Street. It was a tour de force show with a lot of players. What I really remember was how badly the Stones were playing. They had Jack Daniels bottles on the amps and many of the musical gods (including Keith and Mick) were lit up and playing terribly with slurring words, off-key timing, and general stumbling around. The only bright spot was that Mick Taylor played lights out lead guitar and was simply incredible!!! I know I got my money's worth that night during the Stevie Wonder performance. He had a fantastic big band and a show I will never forget. He blew the Stones away!

Through the years I bought all the Stones albums and loved to hear Mick sing. He truly is the best lead man of any group in the world. Keith has said many times that Mick is the best harmonica player ever and Mick really delivers on harmonica on Now from 1965. It's tough to pick but my favorite song harkens back to their beginnings. On the 1997 Bridges to Babylon album, one song called Out of Control, really moves me.

Last year in July, I was working a security gig at the Rolling Stones No Filter Tour concert at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. An hour before the show began, a group of us gathered at the entrance to the stadium floor where I could hear The Stones rehearse. They played a song that made the hairs on my neck stand up. I was carefully listening to every note and could hear Mick ask questions about the sound during the microphone check. Ronnie Wood was playing his wah-wah pedal and I could hear Charlie Watt's and Ronnie's laughter in their friendly communication. Out of Control was inspired by The Temptations song, Papa was a Rolling Stone. I could hear the great sounding bass part. Mick was playing his unbelievable harmonica riff and after he stopped I could hear Keith say, “Wow Mick you sound really good.” “Thanks Keith!” I couldn't wait for the show to start!!

I was assigned to the VIP section in front of an extended runway ramp jutting out into the audience.

Oh my goodness!! With his signature moves, Mick strutted out to sing and dance with the band's musical cadence. It was truly a moment I will never experience again. I was very fortunate to be so close to the one and only Red Rooster.

They came out and delivered a fantastic show! The original concert was scheduled in 2018 but was canceled because Mick had heart complications. Only weeks before the show in Houston, Mick had surgery then in time, got himself into shape. Obviously, he was already in great shape and it didn't take long to see how fantastic he looked and danced. (His 75 year old body can run circles around my 65 year old one and then some.) I was mesmerized by seeing my old heroes play their songs so close to me. The sound was OK being that it was a huge stadium and at times Keith's guitar would blow your ears out...like the song says, Out of Control!

This was my third time to see The Stones live and was my all time favorite show. I mean, how can you beat it! They are the Rolling Stones!!! I was so close to the stage that on several songs, Mick, Ronnie, Keith, and Charlie sat at the end of the runway right in front of me to sing, play on classical acoustic guitars, and tambourine. I was only 25 feet from them!!! Thank you Mick Jagger for reaffirming to me that your troupe is indeed the greatest rock and roll band in the world. The only thing that would have made it better was if my brother Arthur was alive to see the show with me. After all, it was him that turned me on to the Stones way back in 1964. It's now 56 years later and their music will never fade and is now as popular as ever.

Here is a link to a video of Out Of Control made in Havana, Cuba played for 1.5 million fans in 2019. It is the same No Filter Tour I saw in Houston. Yeah baby, they can rock!!!