On my last leave from the Army before my discharge, I came running back to Norfolk to see if things were as I remembered them. I went straight to City Hall Avenue and straight up the stairs to Bell's Peppermint Lounge. Through the smoke and behind all the sailors and the huge ceiling umbrella and sparkle ball was a four piece combo doing songs that I practiced every night on my Army bunk in Georgia. The bassman wanted to take a whiz and dance with a new flame so I sat in. After the tempo change at the beginning of "Stand By Me", I could relax and I noticed a strange humming noise, completely unrelated to the song coming from behind me. Behind a huge riveted ride symbol, singing away in a world of his own was the drummer Hoot Gibson.
Nobody knew Hoot's real name but he was a seasoned pro in the Norfolk Sailor Bar scene. After the set he ask if I would give him a lift to a new place on Hampton Blvd. He played one more set while I studied and waited and afterward, we toured the whole Norfolk music scene, some twelve live band places in Ocean View, Down Town Norfolk, and on Hampton Blvd outside the Main Gate of Norfolk Naval Base. Hoot got us in free, introduced me to all the local musicians and before leaving each club, I felt I was one of them.
After I was discharged Hoot and I always seemed to be in different bands, but one night I gave him a lift home after a particularly bad night. All the aircraft carriers were on a cruise and we were worried about getting fired. I ask Hoot how long did he figure we were going to be able to live in this musical dream world. He said for him it was going to be forever, because when he got too old for Rock he was going to kill himself. I laughed and said that people change their minds when they actually get that old.
I married one of the dancing girls and after five years, as slowly as possible, drifted into the real working world and played only part-time. Hoot had started driving a cab part-time I heard, but one night they found Hoot dead in his apartment with a note on the bed, his pistol in his hand and a hole in his temple.