Billy Zoom's Jet Set

Johnny Hit and Run Paulene


Billy -

I work in a huge office building in Washington, DC filled with Investment Bankers and Lawyers. It is not a place one expects to hear music, let alone rock music anywhere. As I got into the elevator after grabbing some lunch 10 minutes ago, I heard this song loud and clear through the speakers in the elevator. A couple of suits were on with me and basically freaking out about the possibility of their clients hearing this music.

I was freaking out in another way, the music made me so happy I could barely stand it. It was Johnny Hit and Run Paulene from the first X album. This was the first song I heard by X. A buddy played Los Angeles for me, the record was purchased by me within hours. This was the first song of yours that I worked out on my guitar, but of course it took me a while to get it right (I was 16 and became a huge fan pretty much instantly). Up until Under the Big Black Sun, I attempted to learn every song you did. Other guys were trying to learn Page and Van Halen, I was studying you.

Also, I was the only guy in my high school with a Gretsch ('59 Double Anniversary, cost my dad $250). Other guys thought I was nuts, plugging a "Jazz Guitar" into a cranked Tweed Super (also something we could easily afford at the time - A "used" amp with ripped cloth covering).

Anyway, I was down in Washington, DC probably a year later and saw you play at the 9:30 club. Best show I had ever seen excepting the Ramones (How could you not love those guys?). When I saw the Silver Jet, it was stunning, Hands down, it was the coolest guitar I had ever seen - And, it was a Gretsch! Maybe it seems silly, but to a kid seeing the guy whose guitar parts he has been trying to learn for ages playing a Gretsch, boy did that make me feel great. I just couldn't believe you played one. When I saw you with that silver guitar and getting that absolutely colossal sound, it was the single best memory I have of seeing bands as a teenager. That was the last time I ever felt self-conscious about playing my big Green Guitar when everyone else had Les Pauls and SG's. Also, you were playing through a Brown Concert. I don't know what you did to that amp although I do know you hot-rodded it big time.

Fast forward to now - The first side of Los Angeles is playing. It appears that somebody is doing maintenance in one of the many locations which can pipe audio into the building's emergency PA system, and nobody from management has been able to track him down. The music is not only coming out of the speakers in the elevator but all over the building. This is probably the most amusing thing that has happened to me at work in a long time. Anyway, just wanted to share. Have a great summer.


This is a great story! Thanks for sharing it. I hope Billy Zoom reads this. For me this story illustrates one of the reasons I wanted to create and play music in the first place.


Very cool story - and a great (albeit disturbing) song.

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