Way, way back in 1974, before almost any of you were on the planet, I was singing and playing guitar in a cosmic cowboy band, at a Puyallup, Washington honky tonk. (Pronounced Pew-allup; you’re welcome.) My Daddy had been a cowboy entertainer/radio disk jockey who went by the colorful name of Cowboy Pinkeye. I named our band after him. I thought it had a crazy sound to it.
Well, playing in Cowboy Pinkeye was a lot of fun, a lot of laughs. We were a rough and rowdy quartet of young stoners, who just happened to be really good at performing country, and country-rock music. You can bet we never played a show without being at least half-stoned on weed. We drank a lot of beer, too. Hell, it was free! Yep, I don’t know why, but back in the day, part of the deal that came with playing a bar was — free alcohol. So, we would basically spend our breaks out in the parking lot, toking up, and then, while playing our hour-long sets, we’d be drinking up. This type of behavior tended to keep us in a real good mood. To the point where we found nearly everything funny. But some things really were funny. Take the tavern’s owner for instance.
Dang! I forgot to tell you the name of this big, out-in-the-sticks, honky tonk. It was known as the Blue Streak. The owner was a big, I mean huge, man. Not young at all. But so big. He was in his mid-late 50’s, but very tall, and heavy-set, with a beer gut. I’d say 6′ 2″ and 275. His name was Bud. — OK, it’s been 43 years. I don’t remember what the hay his name was. I’m gonna call him Bud. Bud had a great big laugh, which went well with his great big sense of humor. We got along famously with Bud, because, just like him, we four loved to laugh. Like I mentioned, we found nearly everything laugh-provoking.
That said, we knew better than to mess with Bud. We saw him get mad a time or two, like when a patron would have too many beers, and get out of hand. Bud would, well, nip that right in the bud. So, while he had a great sense of humor, he also ran a somewhat tight ship. He was there to provide a place where good, down-to-Earth country people could perhaps meet the opposite sex, dance, and drink schooners of beer, or little glasses of wine. I think they had like three kinds of wine. — And one kind of beer: Rainier! — You thought I was gonna say Bud…. Bud wanted his place to be welcoming, fun, and safe. He was his own bouncer. — Didn’t need any help.
We, the dudes of Cowboy Pinkeye, happened to be playing the Blue Streak when the crazy Ray Stevens novelty song, “The Streak”, hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. I can assure you, that record found its way onto the jukebox of every country tavern in America. And it for sure was on our big old Wurlitzer, which cranked out the latest songs during our breaks. — I always made a point of making friends with, and teaming up with the bartenders and barmaids wherever we played. At the Blue Streak, when we pickers took our breaks, since I was the bandleader, the barmaid would give me a bunch of quarters, and have me feed the jukebox. I could pick out my favorite songs, which would play while we boys went out to the parking lot to get high(er).
Well, having that bigger than life personality, that bigger than life sense of humor, Bud just loved “The Streak”. Maybe it was because his tav was called the Blue Streak…. He never got the name of the song quite right; but when he’d see me feeding his jukebox, he’d always yell out, “Hey Randy! Play The Streaker! Play The Streaker”! Then, he’d let out with a roar. This happened night after night. Same routine. Every break. — “Play The Streaker! Play The Streaker”! Well, we were sick of that song. We just thanked our lucky stars that Bud didn’t make us learn it. It was bad enough having to play “Proud Mary”, “Knock Three Times”, “Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog” (not even its real title), and “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” every single night…. But having to play “The Streak” would have really sucked. (The worst song I ever had to play in a bar? — Hands down, “Elvira”. My grief, how I loath that song, with its “Giddy up, oom poppa, omm poppa mow mow”.)
[A short bit about streaking: in case anyone is too young, and missed out on it, or simply has been living in a cave, streaking involves removing all of your clothing, and running through a public space. In front of total strangers, your day-job boss, or all the random folks who just happen to be in the area. — Have I ever done it? Discretion is the better part of valor, so I’ll never tell.]
Let’s get to the gist of my grisly tale, which is part funny, part sad. One warm, Puget Sound spring night, when my band-mates and I had just hopped off the Blue Streak bandstand to enjoy a break, we noticed a big ruckus happening near the barmaid’s station. We ran over there just in time to see Bud the owner, going after a naked guy wearing long red hair, a beard, and nothing else. Apparently, Bud was dealing with…. a streaker! Bud was yelling at this young dude, calling him all the words he learned in the military, while whipping him with his big belt. Shouting, “That’ll teach you to streak in my bar!”, Bud then proceeded to kick the crap out of the man. There was a little set of stairs leading from the seating area to the big, wood-clad dance floor. Bud kicked this poor guy down the stairs, then he kicked him up the stairs. He yelled, “Get the hell outta my place and never come back!”
I soon saw the poor soul, naked and bleeding, shakily get to his feet and slink out the Blue Streak’s side door. — I never, ever saw him again. We went home that night, in our beater car, and as per usual, we discussed the events as they had unfolded during our night of work. All four of us found it amazing that Bud, whose favorite song was about a streaker, would kick the h-e-double-toothpicks out of a guy who actually dared to try it at his tavern. — Hard to wrap one’s brain around that….
Well, the very next night, when our merry little band of musicians took our first break, and the barmaid gave me a fistful of quarters to feed the jukebox, Bud yelled out, “Play The Streaker! Play The Streaker!” And he let out with a roar.
Now, if you’ve read a few of my tales, you know I try to include a relevant YouTube song when possible. This was so, so easy (well, I could-a picked “Elvira”):
See my eerily similar (and equally true) story, “I’ll Take My Gretsch White Falcon”, for more down and dirty tales of the honky tonk crowd, circa 1970’s. Just type that into a search engine along with my name (Randy Bowles).