by Jason Willis

Around 1991 I was working at a record store in Kansas. It was about an hour 'til closing and I wasn't really doing much; just talking with my co worker Kristen while my boss Zippy hung out in the back, sleeping or playing his banjo or whatever he did back there. A few people had been shopping around, but I hadn't really been paying much attention until this vagrant looking guy came up holding a large stack of used Nazareth albums. He dropped them on the counter in front of Kristen, assumed a sort of "cocky" stance and said "I'm glad to see that you're stocking our product". She seemed pretty unsure of what to do and I really didn't have any idea of where he was coming from either, so we both just stood there staring at him. "See?!" he exclaimed, pointing to a tiny photo of someone playing guitar, "that's me! I'm Manny Charlton!".

The guy in front of us looked pretty bad; he was missing a few teeth and he spoke with a funny little accent that made him sound like a cartoon drunk, but it wasn't THAT hard to imagine that it was him on the record jacket, and why would anyone want to pretend to be some has-been from a shitty band like Nazareth? Johnny, the other guy who worked at the store, certainly believed it and quickly starting talking to him with the kind of interest usually not accorded to a toothless dope, and the more they talked, the more apparent it became that this really was THE Manny Charlton. Nazareth, still together, were going to be doing some upcoming shows with Skid Row somewhere in the area and Manny had "nothing better" to do than hang out and go record shopping, blah blah blah. By this time Kristen had called Zippy out of hiding and he was giving Manny a real first class shmooze, having him sign a ton of records (he wrote "Keep on Rockin'" on every one of them) as well as the wall of the store ("Keep on Fuckin' Rockin"). In the time it took Johnny to put on a recently autographed copy of "Hair of the Dog", Zippy had already asked Manny if he wanted to get stoned, and together they quickly vanished into the back.

After about five minutes of hedging, I finally decided that I wanted in and called Zippy's line begging him to let me come back and join the "party". I smoked a lot of pot at the time and this seemed like too good of an oportunity to pass up - - my first celebrity drug bonding! I was soon to be sharing a pipe with the man behind "Love Hurts" and "Razamanaz"! Apparently however, Manny wasn't quite as excited about the prospect of getting stoned with me, and when I walked in the room he immediately started mimicking me saying "Oh please, let me get high tooooooo" while Zippy packed what I assumed to be their second bowl of his primo "Okie Smokie". I took a big hit, feeling it almost as soon as I exhaled, while Manny started "talking about" his hometown of Edinborough, Scotland. This basically consisted of him repeating the phrase "Edinborough, Scotland" over and over, each time with a thicker "Scottish" accent, until he was completely unintelligable. The pot was stronger than I though it would be and by my third hit I was pretty fucked up and starting to feel like maybe I wanted to get out of there. Manny wouldn't stop with his accent thing and I began to space out; staring at the posters on the walls while trying to think of anything I could possibly want to know about Nazareth. The next thing I know Manny is confessing to us that he thinks Sebastian Bach is really hot and, you know, next to Rod Stewart in his prime, Sebastian is one of the only men he'd want to fuck. Some horrible Uriah Heap album has been put on in Manny's honor and it hits me that I really don't want to be stoned out of my mind with my boss and some latent cock rocker who's music I barely know, so after feeling uncomfortable for what seemed like an awfully long time I announced that I had to "uh, you know, uh, get going".

I awkwardly made my way out to the front, but Manny followed me and started asking all of us what our names were so that he could "send us tickets" for the big upcoming Nazareth / Skid Row concert. I couldn't really concentrate too well, but by this point everything he was doing seemed simultaniously comical and sad, and the more I looked at him, the more he resembled some sort of mangy bridge dwelling troll who might lure us all into his lair and eat our bones. He made a big show out of writing everything down in his little notebook and then suddenly he was off, pumping his fist into the night and shouting something along the lines of "allllright!". We all got a pretty big kick out of it once he was gone, but our collective amusement concerning the whole thing wore off pretty fast when he showed up the next day and hung out for about three hours, playing air guitar to his personally selected and seemingly endless stack of the worst albums imaginable. We couldn't wait for him to leave, the "tickets" never came and I ended up selling my autographed copy of "Nazareth's Greatest Hits" for $1.