Saturday, 4 May 2013

Jack Wagner: All I Need through the decades

Passing time on the bus
Every day like clockwork, I rode the bus to school in the morning, and back from school in the afternoon. I was the first one on, the last one off. For almost 12 years.

One of the best things to happen was when we finally got a bus with a radio. Maybe we just finally got a bus driver who turned it on. At first it was all country music, all the time, making it marginally better than no sound at all. Finally, Lorne Kruszewski, one of the older students on the bus, changed it to 1090 CHEC on his way off the bus one afternoon. CHEC was a top 40 station broadcasting out of Lethbridge that played rock and pop.

Then one day it happened. It was the fall of 1984 and I was in Grade 10. I was just beginning to discover music. This song came on the radio that sounded familiar, but I just couldn't figure out where I had heard it before. It was a ballad that really touched me deeply. No one on the bus was even really paying attention to ask.

That night I waited anxiously for CHEC's top ten show at 7 p.m. It was a countdown of the days most requested songs. I had taken to listening to it in a spare bedroom that had been my sister's before she went off to college. At 7 p.m., they began to count down the songs. I had heard them all before.
Then it finally came. I'm not sure if it was number one or two, or even three, but there it was. The deejay said they had been getting calls all day requesting the song. He hadn't heard of the singer or the song before. It was a fellow named Jack Wagner and the song was "All I Need".

Jack Wagner's debut album.
I ordered it through Columbia House
The sounds of General Hospital
Sure enough, it was the song I'd heard. Now I had a title and artist, but where had I heard that song before? Back then, with three channels on peasant vision, no magazines, and not much entertainment news, it took a couple weeks until I finally found out.

It was on the bus. The song came on again, and I asked Mat (that's with one "t") my friend and neighbour if he knew who this was. He shrugged. Then Katie, another neighbour who was a grade ahead of us, and much more in the know about such things leaned back.

"He's Frisco…from General Hospital."

That was it. Frisco Jones.

At that time, the teen heartthrob on General Hospital wasn't Jack Wagner, it was John Stamos. He played Blackie, a rebellious musician who led his own band. Frisco was the lead singer. I recall being home from school one day, and tuning in General Hospital. Blackie was trying to impress an agent or promoter of some kind, so they played a song. It was called "Sneak Attack", and I had never heard it before. I was taken aback slightly because I thought, for whatever reason, Blackie was lead singer. Instead it was this guy named Frisco I'd never seen before. I definitely didn't know his name.

Well, everyone seemed to have the same reaction I did to "All I need", because it flew up the Billboard charts. It was Entertainment Tonight that kept me updated on the music charts. Anyway, it made it all the way to number two on the Hot 100, but could not displace Madonna's "Like a Virgin". However, the single did top the adult contemporary chart for a couple weeks.

A few months later, I joined Columbia House and "All I need" the album, was in the first dozen I ordered. When the box arrived, I made another interesting discovery. Not only was "All I need" there, but so was "Sneak Attack", and "Lady of my Heart", another song that pulled at the heartstrings.

Because he did his best work while I was at school, I kind of lost track of him.

Jack Wagner in a recent episode of Castle, where
he played a drunken, washed up professional
golfer suspected of murder
All I need through the decades
Jack Wagner became synonymous with soap operas. Beyond General Hospital, there was Santa Barbara, and The Bold and the Beautiful, then he migrated to the nighttime drama where he was Heather Locklear's love interest on Melrose Place. Just recently, General Hospital celebrated its 50th anniversary, and Jack Wagner resumed his role as Frisco Jones. He even sang "All I need" on the show.

Wagner has also had guest spots on various shows, including Castle, where I last saw him. He was playing a drunken, washed up professional golf player.

I have always had a soft spot for Jack Wagner. So many different memories are tied up in "All I need", whether it's riding the bus, Columbia House, or soap operas. He can be described as a one-hit wonder, but boy what a hit it was.

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