This is my first blog post since back surgery. It’s not like my memory turned to Swiss cheese or anything like that. I just got busy with other things like learning how to get out of bed, learning how to get into bed, and trying to get comfortable while in bed. But as for being cool, it had to wait. Well the wait’s up…
So it’s the spring of ’81 and the band is making its way to Texas. Before we left for this set of shows, we had been offered a show opening for Cheap Trick at a Texas baseball stadium which the band decided to pass up as there was only a few hundred dollars offered and it would never cover expenses. Everyone figured our album would be out soon enough, the record company would back us and there’d be plenty other big opportunities. All we had to do was record an album. Patience fellas, patience.
Now here’s where it gets fuzzy. I know there were three gigs booked and Houston and Dallas were on the docket. The other was either in Austin or Lubbock. Those potholes on Memory Lane will get you every time. I suspect it was Lubbock because there were definitely some tasteless Buddy Holly death jokes. I don’t recall anyone singing Don McLean’s “American Pie” though. That’s a relief. I’ll resist the temptation to make “Chevy” and “levee” jokes though.
Now, again, here’s where some fuzz sets in between the ears. As I recall the club in Houston was in a dumpster when we arrived. Then, when we arrived at the supposed gig in Dallas, we found out that it was actually the night before. A certain, “party hard” band member had received the call from the booking agent about the change a few weeks back. Unfortunately, he was full of post gig alcohol and had an added distraction having to do with his Chevy and some female levee (Sorry: the temptation was just too great to pass up on that low hanging fruit). Anyway, you know what they say about men who think with their gear sticks….The message was never communicated to the correct party. See, you don’t have to be old to have potholes on Memory Lane. Just drunk and horny.
Finally, we play in Lubbock (I’ve now convinced myself that it wasn’t Austin). But, the luck of Texas continued as the band vehicle broke down a few miles short of the gig. After contacting the club, they sent two vehicles, which were enough to take us, the gear and our luggage to the club. I had the pleasure of riding in the back of a pickup truck, which in spite of being in the south was still freaking cold in March.
The uneventful gig was played and the question was “now what?” Luckily, it was the last gig of the tour, but we had planned on driving back to New York. With no van and little money, we were left with limited choices. We found a cheap motel and waited until the vehicle damage could be assessed. The report came back that it would take up to a week for the parts to arrive. We were stuck in Texas for the time being.
Barry and I had other ideas though. He being the older, responsible one, and me, being the youngest and a momma’s boy, both knew we could cobble together enough shekels to get plane tickets back to NYC. In keeping with our character descriptions, he called his girlfriend. I called my parents. All we had to do was get to the airport and the tickets would be there awaiting us.
When we get to the airport, I show some ID and my ticket is granted. Barry though, had no ID. This is something that may be hard to comprehend in 2015, but in 1981 this seemed to make perfect sense to Barry. My guess is he’d been mugged enough times on the streets of New York to not want to replace his driver’s license once again. As I didn’t drive, I had no worries. But, the ticket agent wouldn’t give Barry his ticket. We showed him drum sticks, a guitar and a tour itinerary. Still a no go. What I recall finally worked was Barry showing him a copy of the band’s 45 with his picture on it. The agent begrudgingly relented but made Barry promise he’d send him an autographed copy of our LP when it finally came out. In a post 9/11 world, this could probably never happen again. You gotta have ID….and what ticket agent under the age of forty would want vinyl records anymore?
Relieved that the tour is finally coming to an end, we take our seats on the plane. As I recall we sat in the last row, right near the bathrooms. Once the seatbelt sign is turned off, I decide I should shave before I fall asleep. Perhaps I had visions in my mind of adoring fans welcoming us at the airport ala the Beatles flying into Kennedy Airport in 1964. It was probably just to break up the boredom. Nonetheless, during this pursuit, the plane starts jerking. I rush through my shave, and get back to my seat only slightly bloodied. In the meantime the turbulence is getting pretty bad. Everyone is ordered to stay in their seats and keep their seat belts on. Before I can say “bebop a lula” an overhead compartment opens up, carryon luggage falling to the floor. People are starting to freak out. The curse of Texas is apparently still upon us. I assume the end is near. Am I really going to be a rock and roll tragedy? I’ve no discography and I’m not twenty-seven yet! Well at least I have ID so they can identify my body. They’ll have to check Barry’s dental records to figure out who he is. Curse you Texas!
It must have been when we got out of Texan air space when the turbulence subsided. The rest of the flight was uneventful. When the rest of the band got back to New York a week or so later, they started talking about firing the booking agent and the manager. Obviously, it was their fault that the van broke down. I think I chimed in that they caused the turbulence too.
So, you want to be a rock and roll star?
© Curt Weiss 2015
One thought on “I Am the Coolest Man on Earth Part 18”
Cheap Trick band was a hit in 1979 LA Colloseum World Music Festival (a. 3 day event) not opening for them in 81′ for “a few hundred bucks” was probably a bad career move. But I know, that’s 37 yrs ago. Cheap Trick is still in our bar juke box and I’d bet could pack many venues even today.