Every year in May there is the annual Grant Johnson Memorial Concert at Lebanon High School.
The following is a transcript of the Larry Page address at the 2005 concert
Larry Page at Grant Johnson Memorial Concert
May 14, 2005
INTRO- Josh Head- LHS Band Director
We have a great present this year in that we have two special guests. In the band Grant Johnson's Blue Boys back in the sixties, there was a guy by the name of Larry Page. He played guitar, he played keyboard, he played a lot of things.
Larry is now a professional musician in L.A. You can find that in your program, as well. He, luckily, has been kind enough to grace us with his presence. To come up here, to fly up here to Lebanon, and come out and just talk a little bit about Grant and about the experience of being in that band with him and he's going to play some tunes on his guitar. I will give the band a little bit of a break. Here he is, Larry Page.
That's perfect. I was kind of hopin' the band would stay on here. I wanted to talk to them. First of all, my name is Larry Page. I was one of the original members of Grant's Blue Boys, originally called Grant and the Blue Boys. I want to say thank you to Maryland and Don Johnson for having me here this evening and for doing this every year. To remember Grant and to honor these musicians, because music was an extremely important part of Grant's life, as it was mine. And I just wanted to talk to you a little bit tonight and try to make a little connection between what's happening now, thirty-eight years later, and what was happening then.
We had a great time. We were freshmen in high school. It's kind of a memorable moment for me right now. There are certain things that happen in your life, when you start to think back on events. For me, in the last year, I turned fifty-five. I can't believe I'm fifty-five. I've been married twenty-five years now. I've got two sons that are out of high school and in college, but, one of the things that happened that's very memorable for me, happened right here. Right here. It was forty years ago, in the spring of nineteen sixty-five, that six, sort of frightened, timid, anxious freshmen came out on stage, and, we were very creative in those days. We called ourselves the Six Freshmen. That's what you come up with. We came out here and we did a couple of songs from the northwest bands, and the one I remember, of course, the one we finished with was a classic called "The Witch," by a Northwest band called the Sonics.
What I remember about it, is that when we finished, this entire auditorium, full of high school students, stood up, and just applauded and screamed. For a fifteen year old kid, that was life changing, and you're a freshmen in high school. Can anyone out there tell me what fifteen-year-old boys are thinking about? If you're saying fifteen-year-old girls, you're right. So, when you're in nineteen sixty-four, when you're fourteen, fifteen years old and you're not a jock, and you're trying to figure out how to find out your identity, and how to be special, and how to be unique, which is all a part of that very difficult time known as high school. You just don't know where to go, then all of a sudden, out of England comes:
"Well she was just seventeen, you know what I mean. And the way she looked, was way beyond compare." (Song Lyrics from the Beatles)
It was the Beatles, and that changed everything for us, because now you could be a musician and meet girls, the most important thing. There were two middle schools. There was the uptown kids, that was the other end of town where the old middle school used to be, and there was the Seven Oak kids.
We got together when we came to high school, and Grant and Steve Carter came from Seven Oaks, and myself and Dan Daly, and a person named Dan Backer who was part of the original group and Steve Holbert came from the middle school. In those days, let me try to give you a real quick picture of Lebanon, Oregon. When people asked me where I'm from, I very proudly say I'm from Oregon, and I'm from Lebanon, Oregon. And they go, "Really? What so great about Lebanon?"
Lebanon, Oregon, in nineteen sixty-four, was Norman Rockwell America. It was American Graffiti. It was, the downtown was filled with family owned businesses. They would set up the Strawberry Fair in the streets, from Main Street. The theaters were thriving. The town started with the Dairy Queen at one end and ended with the Motor-Vu Drive-In at the other end, and every body was very involved in everything that went on in town. It was a wonderful place to grow up, and I feel that we all have a very solid base coming out of this town.
And, so in 1964, there were a lot of things going on in the World. We lost a President. There were some rumblings going on in a place called Vietnam. We were listening to folk singers like Joan Baez. And then, out of England, comes this band. The first boy band. And, the, all of a sudden everything changed. You realized that you've been playing music and that was a place to express your passion.
Well we got together in that freshmen year, and what they used to do, which I'm sorry, is no longer the case, I understand. But what they used to do is every class put on a class assembly, and you would get all kinds of talent together, and you would put on a show at the end of the year, and then some class would win. It was always a very exciting thing. Everybody looked forward to it. We spent hours and hours and hours of being together, and we decided to put a band together.
Now, Grant loved music. Now, let me just talk a little bit about Grant. Now, I only knew Grant Johnson from freshmen year until December of 1967. That was the time we spent together. But, that was a lifetime let me tell you, that was a lifetime, because of all the things that we did.
Grant came out of Seven Oak. He was a very talented piano player, an extremely talented saxophone player. I can still hear, very clearly in my head, Grant walking through the house, playing " Harlem Nocturne". Those notes would just float. He was very talented. He was very talented. He was Grant. He was just who he was. There are very few people that you meet, who are very comfortable in their own skin, and he always was, from the very beginning.
He was exactly what you saw, and he loved being with musicians, and the picture they have of him sitting out there with the keyboards, just kind of looking down and playing. That's what he did. While the rest of us were jumping around on stage making fools of ourselves. Grant was focused on music and listening. He had, he had an excellent ear for music. He was really just a very solid person, a wonderful person to be around.
So we started playing as the Six Freshmen. One month later we were at the Strawberry Fair, and we were now called The Cavaliers, and we came up with Grant and the Blue Boys. Now some people say, "How did you come up with that name?" Well, in the sixties, in the Northwest, the bands were Paul Revere and the Raiders, Don and the Good Times, Paul Bearer and the Hearse Men, there's a creative one, and so we had to come up with a name. Well, fortunately we had a guy named Grant in the band, right. So, we had Paul Revere, Raiders, Grant, you know, Civil War. Just out of nowhere, that's where that name came from.
So we started playing together, and we had some tremendous years, and, just. What it was, is that moment when we played in the class assembly, everybody stood up and applauded. Everybody, all six of us knew, that this is exactly where we wanted to be at this time, and that this is what we wanted to do for our lives. It meant that much to us.
Now, when I left high school, graduated in '68, and I spent another seventeen years of my life in the music business, it's been a very big part of my life. I've always thought, and I think about it every day, "Where would Grant have gone? What would he have done?" I truly believe Grant would have left us, and I say that in a very positive way, because Grant was, too good. He was just that talented. He would have gone on and found either a jazz band to play with or gone on with groups that would've challenged him, and, I just have know idea how far he would have gone, because, he was just that good. But, we enjoyed every moment together. We would practice every possible moment we had. We were together as friends, every moment of the day. We had wonderful evenings at three in the morning at pizza parlors over in Newport after we had played a dance just talking to people, having a good time with our lives. But what was, what was the glue that held it all together was the music.
Now, there's a couple of people, perhaps on stage tonight, that when they play a note, or they hear that chord, there's something down here that just clicks. That makes them feel all warm inside. It makes them feel like they're exactly where they need to be. And there's a couple of folks, not many of them, because not many people feel that way, that will go on with their lives and they'll participate in music because it means that much. That's what Grant and the Blue Boys had. That's how we felt. Every time we played "Louie, Louie", or whatever it was, it always just felt so good to us, and we just loved every moment of it, and to me, that is what this concert is about, in that I know that Marilyn and Don knew how much Grant loved his music. What that passion was, and if there's something you can do to draw that passion out of a young person as a musician. If you can let them surprise you. Let them amaze you. Give them the opportunity to go out there and show you what they can do. That's what this is really about. We're recognizing these wonderful musicians up here, and they sound darn good, they absolutely sound darn good. And I love that little drummer from Seven Oaks. Isn't he something? Man I tell you. Woo! That's, that's what this is about.
I know, I know if we want to remember Grant, and support that we do, and that's why we do this every year. And I'm sorry Maryland and Don that it took me thirty-seven years to get back, but, there will hopefully be someone coming out of this group and every year, in order to keep that fire burning in that one rare person that loves this so much. Because as we become X's and O's in this world, as we become more digital. As we become more attached to our cell phones and our computers, we cannot afford to let go of the audience. We cannot afford to let go of the human side that is part of all of us. And I feel that's what this is, and I feel that that's what this is dedicated to every year, and that's what Grant would've wanted. I absolutely believe that.
I'm going to stop talking here. I could talk for hours about this. There's one more thing I wanted to say. I was digging through all of my old memorabilia boxes, trying to find things from Grant and the Blue Boys. I found one little tiny tape. It's a little tape, been tucked away in a box for, what it's been, almost forty years now. And right over here in this choir room, which still smells the same, doesn't it. We recorded a song. It was a cover of a Beatles song, and it was the only recording that I know of, that we have of Grant. There were no video cameras then. There were no real tape recorders to tape things, and we just think that we want to have those things years later, and I'm very sorry that we don't, but we do have that one little song, and I'm going to do it for you now:
"I give her all my love, that's what I do And if you saw my love, you'd love her too And I love her
She gives me everything, and tenderly Her kiss my love will brings, she brings to me And I love her
A love like ours could never die, As long as I have you near me
Bright are the stars that shine, dark is the sky I know this love of mine, will never die And I love her."
The Beatles- "And I Love Her"
Thank you very much.
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