Sometime around 5th grade, my older brother influenced my taste in music and I started listening to hair bands like Twisted Sister, Ratt, Quiet Riot, etc. We also watched a lot of MTV and listened to plenty of radio as well. I had one friend, Bub (aka Rodney) who exposed me to lesser well known metal bands like Nuclear Assault. Headbanger's Ball was like candy for us.
By 6th grade, I added even more hair bands to my rotation like Motley Crue, Poison, Skidrow, Trixter and Scorpions. I also gained a new best friend that year who also shared my taste in music. We used to carry around a little boom box and bad mitton rackets and pretend we were rock stars. Yes Brandon, I just ratted us out! Pearl Jam and Soundgarden rocked our world about this time, too.
Also in 6th grade, my parents bought me my first bass (electric 4 string kind). It was nothing to write home about. Plywood body, white paint, short scale P bass knockoff with a guitar tuner on the G string. We bought it from my friend Mike, who primarily played guitar. My friend Brandon was a drummer and his drumset was made from whatever buckets, tins, etc we could scrounge around our homes. We called ourselves Urge of Destruction. I had no musical background as I was just learning to play trumpet at school. Unfortunately, Brandon was a Marine brat and had to move away to Cali at the end of the school year.
I think it was fall or winter of 8th grade when I started taking bass lessons. My instructor was my brother's friend Jay, who also happened to be the bass player for the high school jazz band. I'm sure my plywood knockoff gave him the heebeegeebees and wouldn't you know it but I scored my first real bass that christmas, a 1983 Ibanez Roadstar II, medium scale P style bass that he had restored/refinished. The first song I learned was 18 and Life, by Skidrow. He also introduced me to Dream Theater. All in all, I took lessons for about a year. He eventually started studying at Berklee College of Music up in Boston. He is still kickin' it up there in various bands last I checked. I still have that bass, too. I gave or sold the plywood knockoff to my friend Dagen and eventually helped him give it a rockstar death on the street (aka bashed it all over the road).
Around my birthday in 8th grade, I started hanging out with my next best friend, Frank. He introduced me to Black Sabbath with War Pigs and Pantera with Walk. It was like a slap in the face. I promptly gave all of my hair band music to my older brother and I never looked back. Pearl Jam stayed with me and I also kept my Tom Petty, Wildflowers album. Frank also got me into car audio, you know, lots of loud bass, rattling trunks and what not. I never cared for the bass CDs which exercised the subs, but cranking rock and metal through them sure helped me hear the bass player!