"Hey! Could I get a blue spot over here?"
"He's gonna cut you four different ways."
grew up just south of Chicago -- the home of the blues -- in a place called Wilmington, Delaware. T-Bone didn't have it easy growing up. He was the youngest of five brothers and, like all baby brothers, spent his early years dealing with verbal abuse and hand-me-down clothes from his older brothers. (Of course, as one of the foremost blues bass men to come out of Wilmington in years and the recognition that goes with it, his brothers now wish they had treated T-Bone much better when they were growing up.) However, T-Bone learned how to cope with his older brothers and, with loving parents and 3 squares a day, he had a good childhood. So he didn't learn about the blues at home. No, no. It was the mean streets of Wilmington that taught him -- and taught him well -- what it meant to live the blues.
T-Bone lived through the dangers faced by all the kids growing up in Wilmington at that time -- station wagons speeding up and down his street, Hot Wheels sliding out of control on the sidewalk, loose handlebars on your Sting Ray bike, and backyard cookouts turned ugly. But T-Bone's solid upbringing served him well. Unlike many of his generation, he survived everything the mean streets sent his way. Everything save one, that is. That's right, you guessed it -- Pac Man. It all started innocently enough. A quarter here, a quarter there. He could quit any time he wanted, or so he thought. But soon the downward spiral took hold. Soon, every nickel from his paper route went to feed his habit. He was cutting school, spending his days in the game room at the mall, hanging with all the other lost souls. When his paper route money ran out, he had no choice but to turn to petty crime. At first his mother didn't miss the quarters that disappeared from her purse. But she began to get suspicious when occasionally she noticed a dollar bill was missing. T-Bone's string was about to run out.
One day, T-Bone's mother was at the mall shopping and walked passed the game room. The boy feeding dollar bills into the change machine looked strangely familiar to her from behind and she wondered why the young man wasn't in school. Just as she passed, the boy turned around and there was T-Bone, face-to-face with his mother. He was busted. If T-Bone hadn't been raised to respect his parents he wouldn't have cared. But T-Bone was better than that and he knew he'd done wrong. On one hand, he was glad it was out in the open. Perhaps now the nightmare could end. But on the other hand, he was embarrassed. How could he face his family now? Had he had a few more years to mature, he might have been able to handle it. But, owing to his youth and diminished self-esteem, he panicked. He quickly turned and ran down the mall, past the Food Court and the Gap, and out the door. Quarters and dollar bills trailed behind him. It would be some time before he would see his family again.
T-Bone never planned to run away from home, so he was ill-prepared for the life that now confronted him. He spent the first few nights sleeping underneath the stands at the University of Delaware football stadium. But after a few days of being cold and hungry, he decided to hit the rails heading south. Suffice it to say, T-Bone's life on the rails was eventful. His experiences were far to numerous and colorful to relate in detail here, but the short version is:
His first stop was Baltimore where he found a job at the Club Boom Boom on Baltimore's infamous "Block" sweeping out the dressing rooms. It was there he met his first true love, Misty Melons, a stripper with a heart of gold (isn't that always the way?). However, T-Bone's silicon allergy soon put an end to their romance. In spite of the heartache, T-Bone was relieved that the rash was due to the allergic reaction and not something else.
When he realized that Misty and he would never have a life together, he hit the rails again, this time stopping off in Lynchburg, VA. Here he landed a job with the local pro wrestling circuit. His stage name was the Delaware Dog Boy. He wore a spiked dog collar and fur trunks. He would come into the ring on all fours and growl. The kids loved it. One night, while growling at the crowd, someone tossed a T-bone steak into the ring. T-Bone picked it up with his teeth and ran out of the ring. A nickname was born that night. Unfortunately, this was before the WWF and WCW took off, so T-Bone gave up his pro wrestling career. He was convinced that there weren't enough people in the world without a life for it to ever take off in a big way.
Giving up on pro wrestling, T-Bone headed west to the Big Sky country -- Montana. His resume -- strip club maintenance and pro wrestling -- was too thin to land him a good middle management position. And he himself was too thin to go into calf wrestling. He thought about working on a sheep ranch, but he wasn't that lonely yet. Luckily, he did finally land a job as a rodeo clown. T-Bone was convinced he'd found his life's work until an unfortunate accident involving a runaway bull left him walking funny for quite a while.
Once again, T-Bone hit the rails -- this time to Memphis.
More to come...homeless on Beale Street, T-Bone finds his calling as a bass man.