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Purple Heart: Did Dave Get One?


Billy K.

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When John Kerry was running for President, there was much to do about what he did during the war.

Since the campaign, there has been a nagging question in the back of my head......with Dave

Smalley being a veteran of that era.....just wondering if he got a Purple Heart or what actually happened with him at that time in the military.

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I've wondered about that myself. The Vietnam vets I know are often very reluctant to talk about their experiences, and I've never heard Dave go into that at all. Maybe I could ask him privately if I knew him well personally, but I kinda feel like it's intruding for us to do it in an open forum. That said, if he's willing to talk about it, I'd still like to know.

Another Dave topic that might be a little sensitive, but that I'd really like to know more about, is the switch from guitar to bass between the 1st and 2nd Berries LPs. What did he think of that? Was it because Eric has more of a tendency to jump around on stage and that leads to occasional lapses in the "remembering to hit that note" area, which is especially noticeable when it's the bass? Or was Dave more "into" playing bass all along? Or what? I know that Eric's bass parts on the first LP are much busier than Dave's on the 2nd & 3rd. But I like 'em both.

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A Purple Heart is awarded to someone wounded in combat. I may be mistaken, but I don't believe Dave was wounded.

The reason I always heard regarding the switch is because Dave made some gaffes on stage on guitar. Not that bass is any easier. On the contrary, it's harder to sing and play a bass line at the same time than play rhythm guitar. That may also have played a factor for Eric to switch FROM bass.

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Dougjack, it took my Dad years to open up and start saying things about being in the military.

In fact, right before he went in for heart bypass surgery, a number of years back he then started talking about it.

And yes, Barb, you are right, Purple Hearts are for the injured.....my Dad got his in South Pacific duty during World War II.

As for the guitar vs. bass issue, there are a number of schools of thought there...essentially depends on the combination of the vocal and the instrument. Some combinations are harder to synchronize than others.

In the case of the Raspberries, really hard to tell why. Bass is often not the first choice of instrument for many people, and whenever there is a surplus of guitarists, but a shortage of bassists, some people take up bass as a ticket into a band.

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If I remember correctly the reason for Dave playing bass was due to the changes that had to occur on stage when Eric switched to playing piano.

The first rendition of the Raspberries had Wally on lead, Jim on drums, Eric on guitar and piano and John Aleksik on bass. When John left the band and they became a three piece group before Dave came back from Viet Nam Eric started playing bass. Upon Dave joining the band Eric continued on bass and Dave on rhythm guitar. When Eric needed to play piano then Dave would take over on bass. This meant that Dave had to make a guitar change as well as Eric moving to the piano. When they switched back, Dave would take off the bass and switch to rhythm guitar and Eric would go back to bass. Believe it or not this became an issue with the stage show. Dave found that he enjoyed playing the bass and a decision was made for him to play bass on all of the songs. This meant that the changes became minimal.

Just for the record, Dave is an excellent guitarist and has become extremely proficient on the bass. There is no lack of quality when Dave plays bass or rhythm guitar. Remember, Dave writes his songs on the guitar, not the bass. Additionally, Eric is a very good bass player as well as guitar and as everyone knows piano.

Lastly, if I remember correctly when Eric, Wally and Jim played as a three piece and Eric was on piano I think Wally played some bass on a couple of tunes.

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