Kelly McCoy is a veteran Atlanta broadcaster who writes about the days popular music only came on vinyl records, which often were stored in crates.
I recently had some dental work done, and the young dentist was the same age as my son, attended the same schools as my son, from elementary through high school. He even knew my former dentist in Sandy Springs.
The office/reception area was very nice. The lovely, masked assistant led me to a cool hip room with state-of-the-art tooth toys. One really nice touch was a flatscreen for music with the titles, and artists. Not videos, but photos of whoever was playing.
When all of us, as children, were taken to the dentist, it’s more than likely we heard tunes from recordings by Mantovani, Bert Kaempfert, Ray Conniff or The Lettermen, who did soft “covers” of the original hits, softly playing in the background while we awaited our turn.
“A Summer Place” by Percy Faith or the “Theme from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” by Hugo Montenegro would have been familiar hits that made the lists because they were “easy listening,” and not intrusive to the calm, relaxed environment.
This Dentist Office Music was there to soothe any fears for those like me who were terrified of what could be happening to my mouth.
After being led to where the dental procedures were to occur, a paper towel with things resuming alligator clips and a chain was placed around your neck. In those old chairs, you had round spittoons with whirling, twirling water to expel whatever needed expelling from your mouth from a tiny paper cup you were given for rinsing.
There was no continuing suction like the kind that comes from a small device placed in your mouth these days. You prayed you got enough Novocaine. My childhood dentist was kind and sweet, but his hands were so large my face would be disfigured and numb at the same time when I left his office.
Things are different now. There’s a much-improved selection of music when considered against the super dull, and boring stuff I mentioned earlier. While in the chair at my new dentist I heard artists from today like Panic at the Disco, Imagine Dragons, Twenty One Pilots or My Morning Jacket.
The sound was a little different from the stream of Eagles, Commodores and Gloria Estefan that I’d played while at B98.5, the soft rock station I’d worked at. We were big in dentist offices for many years.
I have to wonder if in the future people will hear Lil Kim, or Lil Naz X, or Lil anyone else. Nas X sounds like something the doctor would use if the one of the other medications didn’t work.
I nicknamed my dentist from Sandy Springs “Dr. Numb Gums.” I first experienced nitrous oxide under his care. He knew how anxious I was, and when he saw what needed to be done, he knew it was going to take a while. I think he bought a new Datsun 240Z courtesy of my mouth.
We became friends, so I invited him to a concert that happened to be at the Agora Ballroom. I can’t remember who we were going to see — maybe Dr. Hook or someone very familiar, but Dr. Numb Gums wasn’t exactly a rocker. I was glad about that because who wants a hungover rocker with a drill, “numbing needle,” and more tools to not on his “best game” while repairing your teeth. I’m also fairly certain it was the first time he’d smelled weed.
The Agora was the former Alex Cooley’s Electric Ballroom. It was located in the Grand Ballroom of the Georgian Terrace Hotel, very near the Fabulous Fox Theatre.
The Electric Ballroom was in business from 1974 and 1979 before it became the Agora. A lot of amazing current and future stars performed there. It was big enough for decent-sized crowds and small enough for a bit of intimacy.
Acts from Bow Wow Wow to the Beach Boys, REM, early Prince (who performed part of his second set of the show wearing only a jockstrap), Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and many more performed there. You get the variety.
The Agora closed in 1983. The structure burned down in 1987. Another great venue is Atlanta’s storied music history that served its purpose and is now in our rock and roll memories. There are more to remember, and I will in future columns.
Thanks a whole lot for reading. Don’t forget to floss.
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Credit: Reporter Newspapers
Credit: Reporter Newspapers
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