A Cub Koda Story
submitted by Bill Verkuilen
This guy didn’t just ACT like he liked the music,
he was obviously a fan of it like me!
Back in my “wonder years” (1972-’74),
I had to tolerate some of the worst pop garbage ever to hog the airwaves.
I mean, it was a constant battle: Michael vs. Donny vs. whatever flavor of
the month happened along (whatever happened to Tony DeFranco, anyway?). In
the midst of all this, some good Rock tunes came shining through. The one
which I considered to be The Unofficial Anthem Of Edison Junior High (here
in Milwaukee) was “Smokin’ In The Boys’ Room”. Now,
I was never a smoker, but I knew guys who were, and I’m sure they could
relate to the song better than I could. Still, there was that rebellious
ring to the tune that I always dug. I didn’t own a copy of the record
until years later when I started seriously collecting records – I think
I finally acquired a copy around 1978.
Fast forward a couple years when I
started buying Goldmine magazine on a regular basis, and I noticed this recurring “Vinyl
Junkie” column written by this Cub Koda guy. Somehow I found out he
was the voice behind “Smokin’…” and a couple other
Brownsville Station hits I remember, and finally I could put a face to a
voice (which goes to show how often I bought albums in my teen years…).
I loved his attitude toward the music he was writing about and his style.
This guy didn’t just ACT like he liked the music, he was obviously
a fan of it like me!
Now, fast-forward again to 1991: I’m in La Crosse,
WI for their Oktoberfest and I happen to notice that there was going to be
a big “oldies” concert in town that weekend. Among the performers:
Cub Koda. Cool! I can finally see this guy in person! That Saturday night,
I grabbed my camera, headed down to the arena, paid my seven bucks (or whatever
the admission price was) and walked in. The seating was “general admission”,
so I staked out a good seat right away. The first “name” act
was Len Barry, who I knew well from The Dovells and his couple solo hits.
He was pretty good, but Cub was next, and in comparison just ROCKED the joint.
I got a few good pictures, then after his set, I thought “Hmmm… what
are the odds I’d be able to get backstage and say hello?”. I
managed to find the stage door, told the guard who I was there to see, and
after a wait I was finally told, “You can come on back”. I got
to meet Cub and shake his hand, and started into talking about his latest
Goldmine article on Link Wray. One thing led to another and we started rapping
about records in general, and in time we exchanged mailing addresses (I had
promised him I’d make him a couple cool compilation tapes). I was so
excited by the experience, I forgot to go back to the concert and catch the
rest of the show! We corresponded for a couple years after that, trading
tapes and records, and we met again at another show here in Milwaukee (since
it was so poorly attended, my buddy and I got front-row seats). My last letter
from him congratulated me on my upcoming marriage, and after that, I guess
I was too busy to write anymore. It wasn’t until early 2001 that I
heard the news about his passing, and my reaction was something like “What?
He CAN’T be dead!” It just seemed so sudden. But I was glad to
have gotten to know him and I still think he was the coolest “star” I
have ever known. I miss ya, man.
(If you have a story about Cub, something funny, how you met,
etc., please email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
so that they can be added for others to enjoy!)