Not surprisingly, that night changed everything for Lowrie. Hal survived and his wife was sent away for psychiatric treatment; whatever conventional father-son relationship there was between Lowrie and his dad was over. The son had saved his father's life; now they were blood brothers. Equals. And with Lu gone, the Lowrie men could do whatever they pleased-and they did.
Hal was a backslapping good ol' boy who ran bars in early '70s Colorado. He was a born salesman whose charm more than compensated for his limited education. Lowrie followed his dad on the job, quietly watching as Hal commanded center stage. Lowrie always knew he'd take over his father's business. At 5 years old, he'd sit by the register and count the money. By kindergarten, he says, he knew what an MBA was and that he wanted one. Back then, Hal's joints were just regular drinking holes-until one night when a bartender at the Aloha Beach Club on Federal Boulevard took off her top and brought in the bar's best take ever. Hal saw the easy money. Zoning laws were undefined, and Hal put up strip clubs wherever he could. First in metro Denver and ultimately in St. Louis. He became a club fixture. His philosophy: Create the best party in town every single night. He'd see to it himself, grabbing the microphone to get the party started. And after last call he'd often keep his friends around and keep the good times going. The business was built on his charms, which held appeal for both sexes. Of course, Hal had always been a ladies' man. He'd left Lu for another woman, which is why she'd unloaded the pistol on him. After the shooting, after the divorce, the partying only intensified.
And Lowrie now spent plenty of nights by his father's side at the bars. Sometimes, after enough cocktails, Lowrie would again take care of Hal. "There were times where it was like I was the dad, carrying him home after a late night," says Lowrie. Finally, when Lowrie was 22, he took an official role in the family business. That kindergartner who'd once sat next to the cash register had brought home his MBA from the University of Denver, and Hal arranged for him to manage Glendale's Shotgun Willie's, then a Lowrie property.
Lowrie was instantly anointed as Hal's right-hand man. Immersing himself in the family business, he managed the club by night and accompanied Hal to meetings by day. Lowrie even bought the house next door to his dad, and the men took out the fence to create one big backyard. Father and son ate dinner together every night. By now the differences in their personalities were apparent. Hal could sit at the bar and drink with his customers all night; Lowrie could eyeball the bottle and tally lost profits. Still, during this time a little of Hal rubbed off on his son. Lowrie had some minor scuffles with the law, including a fight outside a Taco Bell when he was 18. Inside the clubs he sampled the inventory. He even married a stripper. It was a short-lived marriage that lasted a year, and all Lowrie will say about it now is that it was a confusing, messy time for him.