Saturday, November 12, 2011

What Ever Happened To . . . Schroeder?

Dear Readers:

Time is short right now, and I haven't been as attentive to Blogland as I have been in the past.  So, until things slow down a bit, enjoy this re-run of one of my favorites.

In his childhood circle of friends, Schroeder was "the quiet one". Never caused any trouble, didn't want to be the center of attention, he preferred to spend his time practicing the piano and listening to his beloved Beethoven. His only pet peeve was a girl named Lucy Van Pelt, whose unwanted attention and infatuation with Schroeder drove him to distraction.

Lucy's affection blossomed into full-fledged stalking by the time they got to high school, and during his junior year, Schroeder and his parents were forced to file a restraining order against her. That was also the year that Schroeder gave up the piano.

"My love of music never left, but I found out pretty quickly that piano players don't get chicks," Schroeder told Rolling Stone magazine. "At least, not NORMAL chicks. And Beethoven's cool, but after you've played Fur Elise a thousand times, it gets kinda boring. When I was sixteen, I heard my first Hendrix album, and I knew right away that my future was as a guitarist."

With his perfect pitch and natural talent for music, Schroeder took to the guitar immediately, and formed a band called Lucy's Obsession. The band had a distinct sound, blending hard core punk rock with the neo-classical and Romantic elements of European music. During the late '70's, Lucy's Obsession climbed to the top of the charts with their eponymous debut album, featuring the top ten single I Gotta Rock. Schroeder talked about their first bona fide hit in a 1979 interview with Circus Magazine.

"That song (I Gotta Rock) came from my childhood. Every Halloween, a bunch of us would go trick-or-treating and we'd talk about what kind of candy we got at each house. 'I got a candy bar, I got a caramel apple,' stuff like that. Well, there was this one kid with a huge head, I can't remember his name, but he was a total loser. For whatever reason, at every house we went to, all of us got treats except him. He kept getting rocks. So when we showed each other what we'd gotten, he kept saying, 'I got a rock . . . I got a rock.' The phrase just stuck in my head, and it ended up being our biggest hit."

Between 1979 and 1993, Lucy's Obsession recorded seven albums, including the Platinum Psychiatric Help, Five Cents, which was released in 1984. Although the band never really caught on with the mainstream music world, they did receive a lot of attention in 1986, when Schroeder filed a lawsuit against an up-and-coming alternative band called Jane's Addiction.

"Yeah, Jane's Addiction hit the scene right about the same time that the Five Cents album came out," Schroeder recalls. "It was such an obvious rip-off that our lawyers suggested we do something, so we filed the suit. We let them keep the name, but let's just say that some money changed hands."

Jane's Addiction lead singer Perry Farrell could not be reached for comment.

When asked about Lucy Van Pelt, stalker and inspiration for his band's moniker, Schroeder became agitated. "She really made my life difficult in high school," he said. "When we were little, she was just annoying, but as we got older, she pretty much freaked out. She'd send me articles of clothing in the mail, follow me home from school, peek in my bedroom window at night. My parents eventually went to court and put an end to it. She still shows up at our concerts sometimes, though. I think she's got a thing for [the band's drummer] Steve now."

Confusion still remains as to whether "Schroeder" is the guitarist's first or last name. Rumors have surfaced claiming that his real name is Heinz von Schroeder and he is actually descended from Nazi war criminals. Other sources claim that his name is Schroeder Reinhardt, and that he is a relative of jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. There has been no clear evidence either way, and Schroeder himself refuses to tell. "I've heard the rumors, of course, and they're all wrong. And now that the band and I are famous, I kinda like the mystery. There are lots of one-named musicians. Sting. Bono. Slash. So that's just who I am. Schroeder."

Lucy's Obsession reunited in 2008 after a fifteen-year sabbatical, and is currently touring the U.S. opening for Lady Gaga.


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