October 4,1965, El Paso, TX — Johnny Cash is arrested for smuggling amphetamines across the border from Mexico. Meanwhile, in the thriving metropolis of Philadelphia, Skip Heller is born.
HartfordRaised in and around the City of Brotherly Love, he develops an early interest in music, largely the result of seeing John Hartford on the Smothers Brothers and Glen Campbell television shows. At age 4, he buys his first record, EARTHWORDS AND MUSIC, with money he got for his birthday, thus beginning a lifelong habit of running to a record store every damn time he has money in his hand.
His school years are uneventful. There's a brief bout with piano lessons. Also, he discovers rockabilly music at age 8, and decides he wants to play guitar. His grandmother takes him to see an Elvis Presley concert at the Spectrum (the local sports arena), and in effect seals the deal. He loses all interest in piano lessons (since none of what he's being force-fed has anything to do with Elvis, Ricky, or even Jerry Lee) and starts screaming for a guitar
As his little mind is being progressively warped by early rock'n'roll and some big band records he comes across at his grandmother's house, he stumbles onto the weekly Dr Demento radio show, and is exposed by this to a music from a wide variety of periods and American cultures, including everything from the klezmer comedy of Mickey Katz to the iconoclasm of Frank Zappa. Demento also plays John Hartford. If Skip's parents have anyone to blame for the questionable musical and sociological development of their eldest son, it is Dr Demento.