The Band called Child
by Randall Kent Whited (aka Waldo)
I had been hired to work in the Governor's office by the Secretary of State Keith Miller, who became governor of Alaska after Wally Hickel was made Secretary of Interior of the Unites States by Richard Nixon. Wally's claim to fame was that he was fired by Nixon, which some say is an honor. I was in charge of the state ballots.
Anyway, the reason I was eager to return to Jersey is next. Tinker together with some other surfers, and I had build a surf truck in 1966, put about twenty boards in the super rack on top, and headed for the east coast where we felt there was a better market for selling surfboards. We had originally been Challenger Surfboards located in Mission Beach (San Diego) California. But the west coast sales were not sufficient so we decided to do the east coast trip. We became Challenger Eastern Surfboards after that trip, and located the shop near Asbury Park, New Jersey (spring of 1967). On that trip we traveled from New York to Florida to Texas and back to southern California. We decided to place the shop in New Jersey because it was a fairly central location. There are ads and pictures of the Challenger Eastern Surfboard crew in Eastern Surfer Magazine during those years (looks like a wild California rock band). Also there are photos of us surfing on the east coast at times in that magazine.
Anyway, the surf shop in New Jersey is where Bruce and his band Child would practice. It was quite a shop. Tinker knew lotsa people in the music business, and they would stop by and even practice in the shop (it was a huge building where we made about 40 custom boards a week). The drummer even slept in the "band room" (a room where they kept their equipment and practiced). I remember he really liked junk food like twinkies. Tinker knew James Cotton (A band member of Muddy Waters at one time) thru their sax player at that time ("Stomach"). Stomach and I would go surfing a lot when they were in town. The band, (Bruce et. al.) wanted me to teach them to surf but we never got around to it. Vinni was the only one who didn't care that much for surfing. The band Child, it was eventually decided by Tinker and the bands, would be the opening act for The James Cotton Blues Band. I remember that once Bruce, Vinni, drummer Steve, and I drove to the University of Virginia at Richmond for a gig. They were to open for The James Cotton Blues Band there. Tinker and Stomach took the instruments in the surf truck. We all met there and the show went on.
The kids at the university were stoked on Child but not as stoked on the blues band. I remember Bruce breaking a string at that gig. He worked them hard. What I remember about Bruce is that he was kind and considerate and did not party like the rest of us from California. He did not drink or smoke as I recall. Quite the healthy one … which was not the norm in those wild sixties. That came a decade or so later. New Jersey was a bit strange to us compared to southern California. I remember once the entire surf shop crew (shaper, sander, glasser, glosser), except for Tinker, were thrown in jail for not having a shirt and shoes on! We had watched the 4th of July fireworks and were walking back when a cop stopped and arrested us. We only had our baggie surfing trunks on … like we always did in southern California. That was illegal there! Tinker came down the next morning to the jail and bailed us out, because he couldn't make boards without us. We gave him a 5 cell salute by flushing all the toilets at the same time when he came in to look at us in our cells. He laughed til his huge mustache was bouncing up and down. We got a $10 fine and that was the end of that.
I remember going to some of the local bars or taverns where the band would play. Child was contemplating going on the road with Cotton's Blues band and they wanted me to be the road manager. Tinker was always the big manager. I declined since I could not spend much time away from surfing (the beach and ocean) in those days. Tinker said "these guys are going to be big" and I said I don't care, the surf is going to be big. Tinker was literally a rocket scientist at JPL a few years before I met him, and he was right on in his calculations usually. He was right that the starving band would eventually make it big. At the end of that season I returned to Alaska. I lost contact with all the Jersey folk, got married, and raised kids. One day I looked at a time magazine (early 90's or late 80's) and Bruce was on the cover. The article mentioned Tinker and that he and Bruce had had a falling out. I hadn't known about that. I think they must have resolved it because, in his rock and roll hall of fame speech, Bruce mentioned Tinker as the fourth person (after dad, mom, a fellow that supported him at age 15, and then Tinker) in the hierarchy of those who had helped him make it.
This site is a part of Castiles.net (The history of Bruce Springsteen)
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