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Paul Zila


I've been a Pretenders fan since 1981. I became friendly with a few people from the restaurant that I was busboy at. I was 16 and heavily into music. I went to concerts as often as I possibly could and spent hours in my room under the headphones. Anyway, my new friends were HUGE Pretenders fans and I had only known them for "Brass In Pocket" and "Mystery Achievement". When I heard the first chords of "Precious" I thought "Wow, this shit is cool, I've never heard anything like it". Then, I heard her voice.....I was never so captivated by a voice in my life. I had never heard anyone so sweet and so tough at the same time. From that point on I did everything I could to get my hands on her sounds.

A few months later my friends took me to my first Pretenders concert. New York City, 1981, The Palladium, General Admission. We were the first people on line and withstood a driving snow-storm for over 2 hours before we were let in. Our reward was "spots" (no seats) in the front row. We stood through the opening band (Rock-a-billy) and waited for them to hit the stage. I was so blown away to be that close to the band and to be able to see them create this incredible music. The only boundary between the audience and the band was two steps. That's it. No walls, no moats, no photo pit...just two wooden steps. Of course, it took all of my being not to jump up there and start freaking out but I knew I'd get tossed. Well, anyway...at that time in my life I was experimenting with drugs and smoked pot. We decided to roll a joint and throw it up on stage for them. We did and Chrissie spotted it and picked it up, put it in her mouth and WALKED RIGHT OVER TO ME. I fumbled for the lighter in my pocket and she leaned over, cupped my hands and pulled on the joint. She was cooler than ELVIS! She stayed right there as she inhaled and then exhaled the smoke right in my face! Now I know why all those girls fainted over the Beatles. Anyway, she passed the joint around to the other band members and then back to us in the audience. Don't know what ever happened to it but I still have that lighter.