The Student Teachers
ABOUT The Student Teachers
In the fall of 1977 at a John Cale concert at CBGB the opening band was the Mumps. Sitting in the front row was the president of their fan club, Bill Arning. He was 16. A couple of other teenagers named David Scharff and Phillip Shelley, who came in from the suburbs to see Cale, arrived early to get good seats. They sat at the table next to Bill, and ended up befriending him.
A week or so later they saw each other again, this time at a Patti Smith poetry reading. Bill was accompanied by his friends Lori Reese and Michael Alago. They became fast friends. Soon they were planning what shows they would see, and when they would see each other.
Before long they decided that the easiest way to continue going to all of the shows they wanted to see would be to start a band. Bands could get into the clubs they played for free, you see, and so soon they joined ranks and decided to become the Student Teachers. Bill and Lori brought in their friend (and Bill's schoolmate) Laura Davis. Alago decided he would rather photograph than perform. Now all they had to do was decide what instruments to play. Only Bill had an instrument, an electronic ELKA keyboard he was practicing on. Phillip wanted to play guitar. Lori and Laura decided to become the first girl rhythm section in a mixed gender band. That left singing for David.
Bill and David used some saved funds to sponsor rehearsals, second hand instruments were purchased for Phillip and the Girls, and they started taking lessons from the guys who rented them their rehearsal space. Songs started spilling forth - "The Quake" based on the religion of the Quaker school that Bill and Laura attended, "Captain Kelly" about a failed fire alarm, "Zero Cool" inspired by Roddy McDowell's catch phrase in the hipster cult film "The Cool Ones," "Realworldfun" about being submerged in the world of kitsch television reruns, "Channel 13" about the surreality of everyday life, "We're All Damaged" about exactly what it sounds like, and "Christmas Weather," about a real-life car accident that the band survived together on the way to Max's Kansas City.
They played their first public set in the Gym at Friend's Seminary, the Quaker school on East 15th St. where Bill and Laura attended. They invited their scene friends The Blessed, a teenage punk band who had been likened to a Jr. High incarnation of the Dead Boys. They were loud, nasty, fun and a little retarded...and they had a strong and growing following in the downtown NY music scene. The Blessed liked the Student Teachers set so much they invited them to play that (Easter) Sunday at Max's in one of the opening sets.
The Student Teachers played their first gig at Max's on March 26, 1978, without having to endure the audition process. Two weeks later they were able to book an opening slot at CBGBs (also without auditioning). They were added as an opening band for Teenage Jesus and the Jerks by Lydia Lunch herself. They were on their way...soon getting booked without favors at both clubs...and even breaking the unwritten rule about not playing at one club within two weeks of the other.
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