:: Shorty's Portion - True-To-Form Tracy ::
Shorty's Portion was centered around singer/composer Steve Salazar. Steve was born with a hole in his heart, and underwent 2 corrective surgeries by the time he was 5. Unfortunately both surgeries went awry and doctors gave him only a couple of years to live. Steve beat the odds and stayed alive despite the dire predictions of his doctors, but was not able to enjoy physical activities like other kids. He was brilliant though. He excelled in school and proved to have near genius intelligence. He was the oldest of 5 kids in a very tight half Hispanic, half Armenian family. The Salazars lived in a big old Victorian house in South Pasadena, CA, and despite Steve's pessimistic prognosis, they were a very positive, happy bunch. Steve's siblings all looked up to their big brother, even though by the time he was fully grown he was barely 4'10" tall, and weighed about 80 lbs.
Steve took piano lessons at an early age. Of course he discovered rock music by the time he reached puberty, and he admired artists like Neil Young and Todd Rundgren. But when he discovered Frank Zappa, he went into hyper-drive and began writing not only pop songs, but also complex, near symphonic musical pieces with sardonic, self depreciating lyrics. In high school, he soaked up music theory classes, and was quite popular with the other "music geeks".
He attended USC on a scholarship, and eventually achieved a Masters degree in musical composition. The Shorty's Portion album was recorded during his USC stint, and the band was comprised mainly of other music majors. Steve had high hopes for a career in music. He had an almost equal passion for film, and especially loved film music. About half of his massive record collection was comprised of soundtrack albums, so if given the opportunity, I'm sure he could have easily segued into composing film music ala Danny Elfman or Randy Newman. True to his quirky nature, he often said that if he made some money, he'd like to open a liquor store in Beverly Hills, and sell booze to rich people.
Shorty's Portion did occasional shows, but it was mostly his many friends and supporters that showed up. Andy Gonzalez was Shorty's drummer and a good friend of Steve's. I knew Andy from high school and we began hanging out during a time when Shorty's Portion was inactive. Along with a couple of other high school buddies, we came up with a concept for a band, based on our recent exposure to the Sex Pistols and Devo. None of us were song writers though, so Andy thought of Salazar. Steve was a bit reluctant at first, but after we loaned him "Nevermind The Bollocks", he came up with a song called Long May She Wave, intended as an answer song to God Save The Queen. We loved it and he was in. The band was called The Skabbs.
Salazar was the perfect addition to the band. His bizarre physical appearance, and outrageous stage presence, combined with his high, fragile voice made for a strange mix with this aggressive, stupid band blazing behind him.
When Salazar began writing songs for The Skabbs, he realized that being forced to write in a simpler style was good for him, and the years of absorbing music theory had filled his head with too many musical rules. Writing and performing with The Skabbs freed his mind, and in his mid-20s he finally started doing a lot of things he was afraid to do before because of health concerns. He had a steady girlfriend for the first time ever, had a warrant out for his arrest (mostly for parking violations), and moved away from home to the South Bay hamlet of Lomita (home of the Alley Cats). Life was good, but unfortunately short. His bad heart finally got the best of him and he passed away at age 27.
In our brief moment in the smog, The Skabbs recorded some demos, played a few shows (enraging and confusing hippies and punks alike) and at various times performed as many as 40 Salazar originals, but never made a record during our 1 year run. The Shorty's Portion album is the only slab of Salazar vinyl in existence, but I'm afraid it doesn't really do him justice. Steve probably would've said this track is commercial crap (although he plays a mean ARP Odyssey). Still, if you listen hard enough, the genius comes through loud and clear.