This is something that I discuss with people all the time. This brings me to share the reason I love travel so much. I had worked in an industry that allowed me luxury of travel and living in and out of hotels I had traveled to many places around the world.
Once upon a time, I worked in the music industry on the road. My life lessons were learned while I worked in various aspects on the road. They included skills such as an audio engineer,stage hand (Winterland), road manager and a roadie. I quickly learned how travel comfortably in various modes of travel from sleeping in a non-temperature controlled truck, tour bus ( that may or not have a temporary infestation), and or on the airlines. I had the pleasure of sharing time working with the most quick witted people you ever had the pleasure of traveling with.
Our schedule on the road meant either a 6 week to 8 week tour or longer. Every town began to look and hall looked the same. Our itinerary was designed by someone at William Morris Agency putting a string on a dart. Aiming the dart across the United States and that is where we would go. Blasting from one town to another. Usually never in anything that resembled order. It was the old saying,” if its Tuesday it must be Odessa, Texas.”
I developed a pattern of road-mode for laundry and just staying sane. When we would tour on the bus all types of things would occur that I am not at liberty to discuss as it is a matter of well breaking the honorable code of see no evil, say no evil, and well you know the rest.
There would be times that we would enter into the venue without seeing the light of day. More than once the tour bus was right by the loading dock.The semi-trucks would roll up. The gate lift would go down and like a big rubix cube we would unload the truck. Unlatching the road boxes and setting up on the stage. Only to do it all again at the end of the night but in reverse pattern.
It was a usual slow down in most of the arenas where there were union crews. No offense to the union crews but, each person could only do one job. There were the riggers for setting up the rigging points for the trusses. The union electrician which you had to explain at times what was being set up. The stage hands helping (or not )setting up the equipment and then there were the union breaks. No one was allowed to touch any equipment if it was break time. Hurry up and wait. Then load out if the show went over it was Golden Time for the union and they did not like that one bit.
Setting up the equipment did take time. Storing the road cases was another thing. I usually worked in audio so I was one of many setting up the sound system. The sound towers needed to be stacked. At the time we still had the usual set up with the monitors, house console,mic stands, various collection of Sennheisers, Shure and wireless mics to set up besides the band equipment.
On occasion there would an accident or 2 during the tour. The crew included some of the most talented unsung heroes.. Peter Price was a wonderful man from England who graced our tour. Taco Madrid was the audio guy with David Carroll as the monitor engineer. Mark Brown was the guitar roadie and so many people we remember and some we forget. One tour I was on with the Doobie Brothers was literally call the “Tour of the Walking Wounded.” We printed up T-Shirts with the logo and all. Showco was the sound company and all kinds of gremlins followed us along the way. One of the lighting truces fell over and injured one of our tour mates. All I remember is his name was JD. I remember he was from Texas and worked for Showco.
Then after all the tweaking and set up the band would come in for a sound check. Check one, two, check, check one, two. They would prance away to either their hotel room or some interview and we would be the workers left behind. We would play “Beast of Burden” Rolling Stones version to remind ourselves what we were doing.
Break for lunch or dinner. The food would be provided by the promoter and at times it was not too shabby. Of course the back stage access became a zoo when the show was on. Everyone who wanted to believe they were someone did show up. The show was on and we were on point. The band played. The audience roared and we rested while watching for anything that went wrong. You had to work quickly. Live shows are live after all and you needed to know your equipment and where everything was incase of a mishap. Such as when Radar kicked out the electric from Golden Earring in Denver stadium. Now that was really wonderful
I recall on one instance while acting as a road manager having to move everyone along from a record company due to the fact I was working some other band. The band did not want anyone back near their dressing room. Ah, good times.
I will share one more story that is my all time favorite. I was in LA working for TASCO Sound. I worked for an English sound company. I worked with a brilliant electronics maven his name is Steve Dove. Steve was a self declared boffen. He had just come off the AC/DC tours. Great stories. Davey Kirkwood the Scotsman from Glascow. He was their top audio engineer. He knew it as well. Sometimes he was well he is a Scot and proud of it. There was also Brian Kelly another Scottsman. Great people. I wonder what happened to them???
Anyway, Andy Truman was from London. He was my boss at the time. We were located in the Paramount Lot in Hollyweird, California.. Fleetwood Mac had their office near by. Mick Fleetwood would show up at rehearsal in the sound stage with an oxygen tank at times. Steve Nicks was well Stevie. There were so many people who moved thru the sound stage. Some of the best shows were in rehearsal. Robin Trower just to name a few.
See Factor Lighting had Tony Mazzuchi ( I am sorry if I spelled the name wrong) working with us at TASCO from time to time. He had just came back from a tour. Tony told the story to me like this. Insert heavy New York City accent and use a lot of hand gestures while you imagine this story.
“So, here I was in Tucson, Arizona. We were doing a college gig. I needed to drop a cable from the roof.I needed to hang the lights. I think to myself I need a strong kid to work with. I look around and see this kid who is helping the crew. I say to him, “Hey kid, take this cable carry it up the ladder walk across the cat walk and then drop it down to me.” So, the kid does this I shout up to him ‘Drop the cable.” What does the college boy do? He dropped the whole #$@%&*^ cable at me feet. 30 feet in the air he he drops the whole thing! I yelled up at him. Hey genius if I wanted the &*^%@#$ cable at my feet I would not have had you go up the rafters go across the cat walk to just drop it.”
I still smile on when I think of that story. Well that is it. That is what I think of when I travel. I remember some of the good times and the places it has taken me to. I have just come back from California, the Bay area to be exact where I made sure I saw friends that I used to travel on the road with from back in the day. I even stopped to see Bruce Cohen’s Vineyard in Napa. He is still the Doobie Brothers manager. It brought back a lot of memories. Some I am able to share and some well are better left for another day.