Leif Garrett made his name in the 1970s. But throwing on the bell-bottoms and sparkly duds and breaking out the blow dryer to rekindle his career in the ex-teen idol motif isn't part of the plan, as the actor-rocker prepares to go on tour to promote his newest CD, F8.
Garrett is getting serious about rock ‘n’ roll and wouldn't entertain the thought of hammering out his disco hits "I Was Made for Dancing" or "New York City Nights," from the 1977-78 era.
"I thought about it for about five seconds and then thought, 'You couldn't pay me enough.' Do I want to be the Monkees? I'm not here for nostalgia," Garrett said.
F8, a five-song CD from Garrett and his band, also called F8, has a rock ‘n’ roll sound that he remotely aligns with Led Zeppelin. "It's real rock ‘n’ roll," he said, but added that "I Was Made For Dancing," did reach No. 1 in Australia and Japan.
The CD has all the elements of hard-core ‘70s rock ‘n’ roll, with guitar, drums and cymbals mixed in with loud vocals on some of the songs. The first song, "Symptoms,” mixes Led Zeppelin and early AC/DC, while the second song, "Still I Wish" starts out with a Pink Floyd medley, blending into a Black Sabbath sound. Lyrics like "Still I wish to be with you again, still I wish for tomorrow" are reminiscent of 8-tracks, turntables and long hair.
"Alive" is a rhythm guitar piece slow enough to make the heavy sound seem distant, but the CD wraps up with "Just Like Me," recorded live at the Whiskey, previously known as the Whiskey a Go-Go, a West Coast rock venue made famous by Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix.
The title comes from a seat Garrett sat in at a theater, Row F, Seat 8. It could also mean fate, the exit button on the computer or F-stops on a camera, he said, "Several different things.”
GARRETT'S ONSCREEN credits goes back to “Nanny and the Professor” (1970), “The Dating Game” (1971), and “Walking Tall” and its sequel, where he played Buford Pusser's child Mike (1973 and 1975). He was also featured many times on the Teen Beat magazine circuit. "There's a couple of cheesy films I did," he said.
In between there were years featuring a bout with heroin and a motorcycle accident, which were topics on VH1’s "Behind the Music.” He doesn't keep in touch with anyone from that era but has fond memories of “The Odd Couple,” in 1974, where he played Leonard, and "The Outsiders," with Matt Dillon (1983).
Kareen Lawson of Burke remembers Garrett from those days. "I loved Leif Garrett. My favorite episode of ‘CHIPS,’ he played a bad boy. I had a big poster. I can remember in sixth grade, we used to do the hustle and that was one of the songs"
Springfield resident Jane Blake was part of the hysteria as well. "He was the cutest of all them," she said.
He still dabbles on the screen, though, in addition to music. The F8 release tour begins in Louisiana, as soon as he's done on a film set in Hollywood. "I've got one more day filming the movie with David Spade called ‘Dickie Roberts, Child Star,’” Garrett said.
He insists the movie is not about his earlier career, although his group does perform a song called "Former Childhood Star." Garrett added some firsthand experience to the song, but not the movie. "The lyrics to the song are [autobiographical] because I wrote it, but the movie’s not. I wouldn't know who the character is based on," he said.
Other childhood stars of the ‘70s could serve as a model for the movie’s title character, though, Garrett hinted, including Michael Jackson, Donny Osmond or a combination of several people. It's scheduled to be released in the summer of 2003.
With David Spade of "Saturday Night Live" fame in the starring role, Garrett hinted at the content. "It's not a Christmas release movie at all, it's really funny," he said.
A stop at Jaxx in Springfield is scheduled for Sept. 27.