Saturday, June 03, 2006

My Heavy Metal Enabler

A Tribute to The Man Who Rocked Me

I've often wondered how young people get into heavy metal music. After some thought, I've come up with an idea. I call it the enabler theory. In the jargon of counseling, an "enabler" is sometimes defined as one who allows others to progress in their unproductive patterns of behavior. If the heavy metal lifestyle isn't an unproductive pattern of behavior, I don't know what is!

My enabler was my cousin Vinnie Policastro. He's the fellow on the right in the picture below. That's Winger guitarist Reb Beach on the left.



In the late '80s and early '90s, Vinnie had a business called Ground Zero Custom Guitars. He had specially built the axe in the above photo for Reb Beach and gave it to him in the hopes of getting the guitarist to sign on as an endorsee. No such deal ever came of it.

Vinnie gave me my first guitar--a very cheap, nameless thing--and was really instrumental in aiding and abetting my heavy metal habit. He showed me how to play Black Sabbath's "Iron Man," the finger-tapping passage from Eddie Van Halen's "Eruption" guitar solo, some Yngwie Malmsteen stuff and more.

Though he was some 10-15 years older than me, he never minded me hanging out around him. I would frequently spend hours just absorbing the rock vibe in his bedroom in the basement of my grandfather's home in the working class town of Union, New Jersey. Vinnie was always very kind to me and for that I remember him fondly to this day.

5 comments:

:P fuzzbox said...

That is a great story. Everyone needs a mentor. Vinnie sounds like a great one.

Theodore said...

Thanks for your comment. I like how you put a positive spin on it by calling Vinnie my "mentor."

I encourage you or anyone else to write in with your heavy metal mentor story.

I think we all had older friends or relatives who we kind of idolized and tried to emulate in whatever way we could.

Incidentially, I forgot to mention that Vinnie also showed me how to play Van Halen's "Jump" and the intro to Europe's "Final Countdown" on keyboards!

MDM said...

I also had a guitar built by Vinnie
back in 1987, It's a custom ESP body with a Warmoth ( upside down head stock ) maple neck & ebony fingerboard. He did his own white with black zebra style(paint job) Great recessed routing for the floyd rose system, I still have the guitar. I must say, His set up was stellar. I met him at a small guitar shop in Cranford, NJ & also hung out with him in his basement. Hell of a great guy ! Great work ! His old " Ground Zero " business card is still on the back of the cover of my guitars electronics cover. Best playing guitar I have ever played !!!

MDM said...

This is what the guitar sounds like :)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MenaceDemENACE?feature=mhee

Bill Daniels said...

You spoke of him in the past tense. Has he passed on?

I bought a guitar from him in the 90s or maybe early 2000s, a Kramer stage master with a bit of a story behind it.