Welcome to day 26 of a 30-day tribute to the history of Duluth's favorite
How do you begin to describe Hot Rod Heartthrob? How would begin to talk about Mick Jager? Or Paul Stanley? Axl Rose? Or maybe Kevin DuBrow?
Hot Rod is the oldest child of two school teachers, raised in Forest Lake, MN. This author can't profess to know much about his formative years, only that won some spelling-bee once and that there is clearly something in the water there, so you might want to bring your own.
Hot Rod came into the lives of Richie Gunns and Double Barrel in the spring of 1999 while living in the Oakland Apartments on UMD's Campus, and Barrel knew this guy was trouble right away.
Hot Rod and Richie became fast friends and would stay out all hours of the night, after starting drinking at noon. The two were inseparable and Hot Rod practically moved in, leaving behind a trail of clothing, toys, food, and stupid knickknacks (including an inflatable Goldberg doll). Double Barrel even designated a cardboard box in his apartment specifically for Hot Rod's droppings, forcing him to take it back up to his own place and empty it when it became too full.
When (and why) they all decided to move in together that coming fall is a bit of mystery, although it was likely negotiated during the early morning hours when the alcohol had full hold of their better judgment. What followed has been documented here already though, so it's time to focus on Hot Rod the man.
Hot Rod is perhaps the bravest man to ever grace a stage in the name of Rock n' Roll. He was the odd man out when Bone Appetit chose their respective instruments to play, having nothing on stage to hide behind. In an age where record numbers tune into American Idol to watch other people humiliate themselves trying to sing, Hot Rod represents a rare breed. He stood in the brightest spotlight he could find, told everybody to fuck off, and gave 110% to the songs that followed.
He embraced his role at the front of the band amidst upturned noses and lampoons, verbal and written, clearly aimed at him. He could do this not because he is oblivious, or suffers an inflated sense of self, but because he simply loves Rock n' Roll and loves being a part of the party. As Hot Rod has memorably stated, "If you don't act like you belong on stage, than you probably don't."
He certainly doesn't carry the weight of artistic pretentiousness, or worry about his credibility with the in-crowd. Hot Rod wins fans and friends alike with an infectious desire to have a good time and make others have a good time as well. Sure he could be crass at times, dress like a mother's worst nightmare, and smoke, drink and cuss like a sailor; but underneath it all is a guy with a heart of gold who spreads fun faster than Hepatitis on Spring Break.
Hot Rod is and will forever be the face of Bone Appetit. He's their best spokesman, best interpersonal promoter, and best bullshitter. He'll tell it like it is and make you flinch, make you laugh with boisterous and impossible promises, but most importantly make you believe that his band is the greatest in the world, if only for that night. He also tips really well too ... and loves Urkel.
Without Hot Rod there is no Bone Appetit. There would be no race car for "Drive Away", no girl-troubles for "Alyssa", and no unapologetic fists in the air during "That's Rock n' Roll." His signature is on everything Bone Appetit does, and his unlikely presence at the helm of this band can probably only be interpreted as an act of fate.
Love, Lust, and Rock n' Roll
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on Friday Night, May 5th
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