It started with a shirt.

In my world, friendships usually do.

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In the world of rock n roll fandom, your shirt, and specifically the band on the said shirt, says a lot about you. When you are going to a rock show, it becomes all the more important who you choose to represent. Is it the headliner you will be singing along to every song with? Maybe it's that opener that you think should be bigger than they are. Should you be so brave, it may even be your buddy's local band who had to sell 50 tickets to play a 30-minute set before the legends.

There is another option. Sometimes when you go to the show, you wear that band you love, regardless of how big or small they are. And you proudly wear those colors to every show you go to. They are your favorite band, and you want everyone to know.
That's how I met Stan.

1999 to 2003 was a neat time to be a rock fan, bands that had spent much of the late 90s flying under the radar were beginning to resurface. And they were playing a lot. Unfortunately, many of their fans were in different spots in their lives from the first time they cranked them up on the cassette deck of their cars and drove around all night. While those who would show their faces at the clubs just a few years later were getting married and having babies, people my age were getting to experience these bands for the first time, and the faithful, like Stan, would be there to welcome us to the party.
It was attending such a show with my sister at the Webster Theatre in Hartford that I first saw the guy in the Lizzy Borden shirt. Lizzy was a kick-a** band full of theatrics and soaring vocals and riffs. Sadly, they were not one of the mainstream bands of the era. So, seeing someone wearing their shirt let me know that this dude was cool.

We didn't talk to him that night. It wasn't until the next concert at The Webster that we saw him and his friend, whom we affectionately referred to as Gary Busey, ready to rock out again. That same Lizzy Borden shirt was front and center. This time we had to say something. I don't remember the full contents of said conversation, but through a mutual love of Lizzy, Stan made us young folk feel like part of the club.

Hyde/TSM
Hyde/TSM
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We would have other run-ins at shows and even hung out a time or two outside of the hallowed Hartford halls. There was the time he invited us to hang out after a show at a hotel room and he desperately was looking for someone who could sing the Lizzy classic "American Metal" while he played it on acoustic guitar.

Then there was New York. 3 nights of Def Leppard at The Beacon Theatre in April 2003. Stan and I had discussed starting a Lep tribute band and we knew he was a fan. There was an extra front-row ticket to be had for Night 3 and the offer was made. Stan hopped on the train and met us outside the Beacon before the show. Of course, being Stan, he had a story. He had arrived early enough to witness the band arriving at the show. Armed with his film camera, he managed to find someone to take a picture of him and drummer Rick Allen. This was the most Stan thing to happen. At the show, the band played a bunch of rarities and many times during the show, he thanked us for inviting him along. A bootleg of this show exists, and you can see us all plain as day right in the center of the first row going nuts.

Part 2 coming tomorrow.

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