What: BSA making an impression! Where: Centerline, MI When: Spring 1977
Nothing beats the feeling of a great live stage show. The energy is electrifying! After seeing Kiss play live, I decided it was time to step up our stage show by adding some explosive flash cans for our next gig at the Centerline High School auditorium. I had no idea what I was doing, but that has never stopped me in the past. I did some research (at a strange place called the library), and found a diagram of the parts I would need to build my flash cans. I will confess, I do skip printed pages that look boring, or start with the word “Warning.” I set out to buy some flash powder, wire, filaments, and some switches. It was actually pretty simple, you just get a coffee can, drill two isolated screws into the bottom, connect a filament across them, then run wire to the switch that will deliver the 120 volts! When you flip the switch it creates heat, burns the filament and lights the flash powder… sounds so easy!!!
I was a teenager at the time, still living at home. My mother would periodically scream out for no real reason… “Gary, be careful!” Well, at this moment it paid off, as I was putting together this contraption downstairs in the basement. Heeding her words of wisdom, I moved to the garage to test the creation. I added a little flash powder, flipped the switch, and, BAM, IT WORKED!!! I only tested one more time, as I wanted to save the flash powder for the big show.
While setting up our equipment at the auditorium, I positioned my newly created flash cans on each side of the stage. I added a lot of flash powder. Then, I added a little more. I was concerned the flash would be small, and I would be embarrassed, so I added a little more. At that point there was hardly anything left in the bottle, so I decided to finish it off, and added a little more. It was all set - our lighting guy was ready to throw the switch at the end of our closing song. This was big time! I was hoping we would make a huge impression. Though I did wonder… maybe I should have bought two bottles of flash powder.
Well, from the picture you can see that it really did make a big impression! Needless to say, I got a serious lecture from the school authorities, who repeatedly told me I was lucky that the stage curtains didn’t catch on fire, or the entire band didn’t lose their hair.