He was barely 18, and his career had just started. He was being
called the new Rock Star of the Century. Needles had no idea how Greatchen had seen him playing in that out of the way Stawell
Pub. He was young, tough, mean, and almighty hungry. He would have sold his very soul for another drink.
He had a mean talent and a mean look in his eye, even at that
young age, a look that drove the local chicks wild and wilder, when he returned their adoring gaze with a small wriggle of
his pelvis. He could not understand it himself, when he looked in the mirror and saw this unkempt wildness staring out of
his very eyes. It was the size that got them, and the way he could use his eyes to look deep into their hearts as if he was
ripping them apart, which is exactly what he wished he could do. Yes, he hated his fans, whilst he survived on their love
like fodder for the pigs.
If they say the soul is mirrored in one's eyes, his must have
been pretty mean, as even he recoiled from the hate and hunger that was there at times.
He felt like Dorian Grey, and considered changing his name to Dorian, but that chick with the dough had other plans.
They took his raw sexuality and created a monster...
It was not always like that. He started life as Norman Clarence
Jones. He started life in the small country town of Rochester, situated in the Dairy and Fruit areas of Victoria, and he lived
with his father in this tumbledown cottage that he did not realise was tumbledown, until the day that new city teacher used
a picture of his home as a topic for their writing lesson.
The students in huge delight pounced on the new words such
as ‘squalor’ and 'abject poverty' and it was Tom, the rich kid, who ridiculed him the most. He earned the nickname
'Pauper' until someone started calling him 'Needles', because he was so prickly, and they never knew what damage they had
done to a very sensitive soul.
He turned his endeavours into his Music, and his rugged good
looks, and strength and virile leanness, kept everyone at bay, whilst it also haunted and taunted, and it was only his hate
that kept him surviving those hateful, hurtful school days.
He started playing local gigs when he was 14, and he was tolerated,
only because of his hard hit music that made him an instant hit wherever he went. He drifted away from school and lived wherever
he was currently playing. His music was hard and harsh and full of his pain and anger, which was interpreted as passionate
love, and either way, he couldn't give a damn what others thought, as long as he was able to eke out a sort of living playing
for next to nothing, and living and sleeping with his guitar and his hate.
Time rolled by as he lived his lonely existence, playing in
dirty bars and seedy clubs, while he watched musicians with half his talent rise to the top and become icons. His hatred and
paranoia grew and festered, until he contemplated suicide on a nightly basis. Only the drugs and the music kept him going.
The music was his life, his soul, and the drugs were his muse. The rock star of the century was slowly dying deep inside the
soul he never had. Being drafted and sent to Vietnam probably saved his life.
In a drink and drug-induced stupor he spent each night alone,
nearly always falling asleep with his guitar across his chest, and a pencil in his hand, trying to write that one big hit,
that he knew was hidden away deep in his subconscious. He though the drugs and alcohol would help bring it out of the depths
of his being, but it never seemed to happen.
That was in the sixties. Free love and Marijuana were the buzz
words of a new generation, flexing their wings and testing the waters of life. Anti-war protests, love beads and hippies,
were the ingredients of his songs, and while the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and a plethora of other rock groups blasted the
anthems of their generation from radios and turntables, he played for tips in the dives of Sydney's Red-light King's Cross,
and sometimes Carlton and wherever the work was. He followed the bands, and was always there on the side, and often on the
He made a living, and had a cult following, but that wasn’t
enough. He hated the silly songs patrons requested each night. He sometimes left the stage in a fit of anger when asked if
he knew some Beatles tune, or something he considered not his scene. When Kennedy died he wrote an epic poem and set it to
music, about the life of a President. He was sixteen. Nobody would listen to it, not because it wasn’t good, but because
he was a sixteen-year-old everybody called Needles.
In 1970, at twenty-two he found himself in a rice paddy somewhere
in Vietnam. The war was going badly. Barely out of his teens, watching too many comrades die in pointless battles. His guitar
was still his best friend, but a radio pack was strapped across his shoulders, as they plodded through the jungles in search
of Vietcong. He still wrote his songs, still held to his principles. While another generation of performers built bridges
over troubled waters and honoured the Green Berets, he wrote of real life and death situations, but still no one would listen.
They said the Army made a man out of him and that it did, but
only while in the Army. He managed to hide his anger and shame as he regularly beat the other recruits and soldiers on the
track, in the marches and on their training. He was so fit from running from place to place, that the army sergeants could
never wear him down. They tried again and again. They screamed at him, they harassed him, they gave him constant duty, but
Norm managed to survive the three years they had him without losing his cool once.
He was billeted to Tom, a Young Socialite, and after their
first encounter, Norm instinctively realised he had a gentleman who would never belittle him, and keeping ahead of the pack
so Tom would be pleased became part of his routine. He also became a strong support
and pillar for Tom and together they formed a formidable team that kept both of them alive throughout the whole Vietnam War.
Norm came back with medals he promptly despised, and Tom went
back to do his preliminaries, as he was studying to be a doctor, but he never quite got there, as Greatchen found him first.
She just steadfastly clung behind and around him, watching Marilee on his arm, but she was not there for long, as Greatchen
led him to Serena and the Rock scene, and used finance from the very person who would have traded all her wealth for a simple
marriage with Tom.
Somehow, through luck or skill, even he didn’t have a
clue which, both managed to survive in their own way.
When he came back he began working in bars, almost immediately.
The first night on stage he looked down into the audience and there at a table, next to the stage, sat Greatchen. She was
as beautiful as the day he had met her, in 1967. He had aged ten years in four. She, if anything, looked even younger than
when they first met.
“It’s good to see you made it back,” she
said, when he joined her after his first set. “I was afraid I’d never see you again.”
“I guess I had an angel riding shotgun for me over there,”
he said. “Because none of the other guys I went over with came back alive.”
“You did, Needles,” she assured him, “You
“They don’t call me that anymore, Honey,”
said the singer, “I kicked the habit when I went into the service. I’ve been clean for almost four years.”
“I know that too. I know a great deal about you Norman.”
“How did you know my real name was Norman?”
“Would you rather I called you Dorian Grey?”
“I never told anybody that I thought of using Dorian
Grey as a stage name. How did you know that?”
“I already told you. I know a lot of things, but don’t
worry. I’m on your side Norman. I’m here to help you.”
“Help me how?”
She smiled at him, perfect, white teeth shining in the dimly
lit bar. “I want you to meet someone. She’s a friend of mine. We both want to help you.”
Another woman perhaps even more beautiful than Greatchen seemed
to appear, as if by magic, walking toward them across the smoky pub. She had flowing, raven hair that sat like a mink stole
around her shoulders and a walk that exuded confidence with every stride. She sat at the table, took out a silver cigarette
case and lit a smoke. Reaching across the table, she held out the gleaming case to Norman. “Care for one?” she
asked in the sexiest voice he had ever heard.
“Greatchen addressed the woman. “Serina”
she said, “this is the friend I told you about. His name is Needles, but now we call him Norman now.”
“Hmm, said the raven haired beauty. We’ll have
to do something about that name Norman. Nobody will buy tickets to see Norman Clarence Jones. Let me see . . . ah yes, we’ll
call you Normie, yes, Normie B Goode.”
Within the year, Normie B Goode had a huge recording contract,
within another year he had dropped the B Goode and stayed simply Normie. Within
three years his name became a household word. Everyone was talking about the ex-soldier who sang such heartfelt songs. As
Normie, his nights were no longer lonely. He shared his bed with the beautiful Greatchen, and with the beautiful Serina, and
sometimes he couldn't even remember who was who. They were there night and day. Together they took the music world by storm,
and created a legend. Normie married Greatchen, secretly, because she insisted on marriage to ensure her financial rise with
his career, but he still spent nights with Serena, and the odd fan, and Greatchen learned to stay busy if she wanted to have
a slice of his stardom.
Soon Normie had a following of fans, larger than he had ever
dreamed of. Women by the dozens pounded on his hotel door, hoping for an autograph, a word, or dare they hope the chance to
spend the night with him.
Then one night Greatchen wasn’t there. Normie went to
bed alone. The next night she was back, but she was gone more and more often over the following weeks. Finally Normie began
to look at the groupies in a different light. He noticed their heaving breasts, their short skirts, their passion for him.
He was in the throes of passion with one of them, that night, when Greatchen burst through the door. She was enraged. A terrible
scene ensued, with Greatchen storming out of the hotel suite, vowing to never come back.
She cursed all the way down the elevator and through the lobby,
before exploding out of the front doors. She climbed into a jet black Porsche and screamed off into the night. There was no
one there to see the smile on her lips as her tail lights disappeared. No one, that is, but another beautiful woman. A woman
“We’re finished here,” said Greatchen, to
her long-time partner. “We made it. He is a star regardless of what we do, and the money and contracts are pouring in.
Tom is also doing well, and we can have some fun. What do you say to having a jet organised to take us to New York?"
And that was exactly what they did, whilst Normie wondered,
for exactly as long as it took him to get another date, where his wife, and girlfriend, had disappeared to.