I can understand if you’ve never heard of the Electras. It’s not like they ever had any Top 40 hits. There’s only one album in their catalog, and it was recorded when the teenaged members were all in a private boarding school.
But you might definitely have heard of at least one of the bandmembers. He had a nice post-band career.
Some guy named John Kerry. Yes, former Senator and Presidential candidate John Kerry.
The Electras were formed at St. Paul’s School, a boarding school in Concord, New Hampshire. John Kerry played bass in the band, and the group eventually recorded a custom-printed LP. Five hundred copies were produced and sold, mostly to family and friends and classmates.
Eventually Kerry moved on to other endeavors – war hero, activist, senator, Cabinet member, Presidential candidate…
And that’s where I come into the picture.
I was working on my second record collector’s guide, and came into possession of a copy of the LP. I could trace the provenance of the LP; the previous owner, a St. Paul’s School classmate, wrote his name on the front cover. I used the LP’s cover as a last-minute entry into my record collector’s guide, which was only days away from its publishing deadline.
Okay, now I have this LP. I listened to it a few times… and it sounded like a group of high school friends who got together at the local recording studio, cut a few tracks, and printed up this vanity project. And none of them ever realized that forty years later, one of their bandmates would be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.
What did that mean for me?
I could be in possession of a goldmine. If Kerry became President… this record would be worth some serious change.
So, a few days before the Presidential election… I put the LP on eBay, with a headline “President John Kerry was in this band.”
Yeah, I also voted for Dewey over Truman.
Kerry lost the election, and the album went unsold.
Undaunted, I went to Plan B. I sent the LP to Kerry’s Senate offices, asking if he would be kind enough to autograph the LP. If nothing else, I could give the record to my Aunt Elaine, who besides running an antiques store in New Hampshire, is also a collector of political memorabilia.
I sent the LP to Kerry’s office in 2004.
In 2007, the LP was sent back to me. Kerry did sign the album. I framed it and gave it to my Aunt Elaine the next time I saw her, so it’s now in her possession.
But it just goes to show you that even the earliest moments, the most unexpected moments in time, can produce a connection to something great. And it also goes to show you that I cannot predict a Presidential election. Trust me, I still have my “Don’t blame me, I voted for Ross Perot” bumper sticker somewhere.
And ten years later, I remember the LP and how it crossed with my journey in this life.
Gotta make room for it in the casket. 🙂