A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 21, 2008 03:52PM
Any encounters with well-known musicians (if not outright stars) that you remember fondly, and like to talk about?

Rhett's stories about his encounters with Fishbone and Jonathan Richman made me think of this.

Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 21, 2008 04:03PM
I interviewed Rick Wakeman over the phone for a magazine a few years ago. Say what you will about him and his band's music (and I know most of this board hates it), but he was quite possibly the nicest, friendliest musician I'd ever talked to. He was happy to talk, didn't put on any airs at all, was keenly interested in then-current bands like Radiohead, Air and Super Furry Animals (all of whom he considered prog), and offered backstage passes to my wife and I.

When we went backstage, he bypassed a lot of his other well-wishers to come to talk to us. (My wife was a huge fan of his solo work and was thrilled.) Very down to earth, again, very friendly.

Ironically, he was also the biggest and most successful of all the artists I interviewed.

Before an in-person interview, I once took Lou Whitney of the Skeletons to a local bank to cash the check from the previous night. And then he bought me breakfast. I was planning to pay, but he insisted. He was a fun interview. (Though his bandmate Joe Terry, who was also present, told me not to believe half of what Lou told me.)
Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 21, 2008 05:17PM
Well, since it was my silly stories that are to blame for this thread, I guess I'm obligated to share a couple more:

I met Wolfman Jack in the Greenville-Spartanburg airport when I was about 8 in 1976 or thereabouts. My mother's then-boyfriend was a soundman for some local bands and some got word that Wolfman Jack was coming to town. So of course we had to go to the airport and accost him.

Around that same time, I was taken to a Black Oak Arkansas show and while I was rocking out on my mother's shoulders to that southern-fried groove, Jim Dandy Mangrum tried to get me to come up on stage with him. To my everlasting shame (or perhaps relief), I was petrified and refused to go up there.

I also got to hang out with Roger Miller backstage after a Birdsongs of the Mesozoic show in Atlanta in 1986. He was a really nice guy and seemed proud to discover an 18-year-old Mission of Burma fanatic who was willing to risk using his terrible fake ID to get into a 21-and-over club just to see his new gig. We shared a chuckle over how, on his then-current solo album, he had covered the other Roger Miller's "King of the Road" and so it was humorous that all of the songs on the album could be credited to Roger Miller.

On one last goofy note, the band I was in when I was a high school senior played a show in Athens in 1985 and it was one of those depressing gigs where the only people in the audience are the couple of friends that you brought with you from out of town. However, during the set, a dude and a girl came in and danced up a storm for a few songs (they were the only ones dancing). Afterwards, our guitarist said "Holy shit - how cool is it that Michael Stipe was digging on our stuff!"
Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 21, 2008 05:37PM
Viva Voce played St. Louis about 3 or 4 years ago at a little club which was located in a neighborhood best described as "transitional." (i.e., it was on the edge of a fairly rough part of town, so Wash U students could afford to rent spaces to open clubs or galleries). The street the club itself was on was reasonable safe but one didn't want to venture too many blocks away on either side. As I was arriving, Kevin Robinson was unloading his drum kit from the van. Suddenly there were several booms from a couple of blocks away which were pretty obviously gunshots. Kevin noticeably paled at hearing it, but I told him that it was fireworks from Busch Stadium that went off when someone hit a home run. He accepted the explanation, Viva Voce played a great show, and apparently lived to record a couple of albums after that.

Hopefully they didn't listen to the radio on the way out of town and learn that the Cardinals had actually been in Houston that night, as they might have been pissed.

I also once got to hold Don Dixon's notebook and drink while he went to the bathroom.
Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 21, 2008 11:42PM
I had a longish chat with Willy Vlautin when Richmond Fontaine came out here, he's a really nice guy. I had a hard time convincing him how great a band they were but he just kept on saying they were very lucky and that Uncut magazine had given them this instant massive following in the UK.

When I was about 15, I did work experience (everyone in Year 10 has to do it over here) at this radio station 2CH which is basically what your grandparents would listen to, Doris Day, Roger Whitaker, Sinatra, Bing and the like. Anyway I was coming back from lunch and my boss for the week got into the lift with Harry Belafonte and introduced me to him. He seemed to have a serious kind of scary vibe about him which was much at odds with his Muppets Show appearance.
Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 22, 2008 03:08AM
was on a date around 1990 with this girl who claimed she lived with johnny thunders. we hung out at alphabet city went to a dive and alas johnny is playing. she waves hello to him and he gives her the biggest go f yourself look you ever saw and than proceeeds to look at me with the same look.
when his set is over , he is still giving me a dirty look . so i tell him hey i think she is a asshole as much as you do , what do you want from me.
he than warns me she is a bad seed and i should stay away.
when johnny thunders warns you , it must be true. its like hitler calling someone anti semitic. we than proceeded to laugh at her expense while she was coming back and it was obvious to her we were laughing at her.
we shook hands and we wished each other good luck.

met springsteen at a steve earle show which was in a earlier post.
Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 22, 2008 12:02AM
i once scared the shit out of john cale on a street in lawrence, ks and sent him running away. he sort of waddled actually.
ian mcculloch tried to steal my date late one night. and neil halstead sat down next to me on a bench after a lush show once. i'm pretty sure he was trying to steal my date too.
Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 22, 2008 12:23AM
Please post pictures of your dates.

I once almost ran over Johnny Bench and Mario Soto driving past Busch Stadium after a ball game - poor guys were crossing the street to a hotel and I rounded a curve perhaps a little too speedily and they froze in the middle of street like deer in headlights. The guy riding with me was a big Reds fan, so it was a bit of a thrill for him to be in a car that almost ran down a couple of his heroes. (It was the night before Bench's last appearance at Busch Stadium, if I recall.)

I also saw Doc Severinsen sitting in a limo at a stoplight in downtown Sacramento. And I saw Jay Farrar in line at a frozen custard stand.

And I remember mentioning on this board once before that I saw James Iha at a Renoir exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago, and he looked like he was about to cry.
Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 22, 2008 12:57AM
while both were noteworthy, from what i understand, mcculloch hits on everything that moves. but it was actually after an electrafixion (spelling?) show, so he wasn't quite as, um, alluring. they actually covered "smells like teen spirit" that night. and i caught his guitar pick when he threw it into the crowd. i was eighteen.
Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 22, 2008 10:09PM

James Iha thought bubble:

( No more Smashing Pumpkins )
( sniff, sniff )
Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 22, 2008 12:25AM
I grew up going to church with Eric & Julia Roberts, although neither of them are musicians, are they?

My oddest brush with greatness would have to be the time I was waiting for a flight from NYC to Atlanta with Posdnous (Plug One) of De La Soul in early 2002. We had a very meticulous pilot, who decided to search everyone personally before allowing us to board. This took quite awhile. I never thought of anything witty to say.

Michael Stipe handed me a Dukakis flyer on election day, 1988. His efforts didn't get the job done, God bless him.

The Beastie Boys' Ad Rock complimented me on my shirt while I was waiting in line for a beer at Lollapalooza in the early '90s.

I ended up sitting next Jonathon Richman, watching Adrian Legg, at Atlanta's Music Midtown about 15 yrs. ago. Around 7 yrs. later, I met Pat Dinizio (of The Smithereens) and Mark Farner (of Grand Funk) within 10 minutes at the same event, on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 22, 2008 02:10AM
I met Larry "Bud" Melman from David Letterman waiting for a bus in Brooklyn many years ago..got off the same stop he did just to see where he lived.
Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 22, 2008 12:13PM

when johnny thunders warns you , it must be true. its like hitler calling someone anti semitic.

Well played, sir!
Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 23, 2008 10:41PM
oh... and i know a guy that threw a punch at a member of the strokes... because he said nirvana sucks.
Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 22, 2008 02:55PM
I've been lucky to meet a lot of bands, mostly from years doing radio (& interviews) - I did one of the first interviews with The Sugarcubes when they finally made it to the States (visa troubles delayed their first tour by months) - they could barely speak english and Bjork was soooooo smokin' hot. Also I've worked or had friends run clubs - my buddy ran The Heidelberg in Ann Arbor and bands usually crashed at his or often my place - Nirvana for instance when they were OPENING for Tad - Nirvana were total dicks, I didn't like any of them. All the exposure definitely removes the mystique or fandom angle for the most part, but there is still an occasional experience that gives me a groupie jones.

The first time the Breeders played live was in London around 90-91, at the T&C I think it was. It was around the time that 4AD did their Warners deal - they produced a cool hand-made compilation called Lilliput for the occasion and they were doing a number of big shows around London that summer to celebrate. Anyways, I got to the show late (long story) and only saw the last 2 songs, but there was a big after party. I knew Vaughan Oliver probably the best of anyone at 4AD and was hanging out with him mostly, but nearly the entire 4AD roster was there that night - Pixies, Muses, Wolfgang Press, Cocteau Twins, HNIA, Lush, etc... in one evening I was meeting nearly every artist I loved over the previous decade and never had a chance to see live Stateside. It was a great time - I was getting pleasantly pissed, while Vaughan and Chris Bigg were giving me shit because they thought I looked like Michael Allen from WP (I didn't really see it). At that moment a really scruffy looking guy comes up to us and Vaughan introduces "Robbie" to me and they start in on some football. After a few moments I finally realize it's Robbie Grey from Modern English. In spite of what happened to I Melt with You, I'm a huge fan of their stuff straight through Ricochet Days. So we finally start talking and he graciously shared stories of the day, and how it felt to go from playing shitty bars of about 30-50 people to their first gig outside the UK, which turns out to be Mtv Spring Break just as I Melt with You is hitting huge via the Valley Girl OST. He told me they were still wearing heavy woolen trench coats when they got off the plane in FL and to the beach to play to 15,000. The whole event sounded more traumatic than exciting for him, and he really told the story well. He never really got his mind around that side of the business and he dropped out years later to pursue a PhD in English Lit I think it was. As the pints flowed into the evening I heard a number of good road tales that probably shouldn't be repeated and it ended with me sharing a car with a certain red haired singer that I still have a crush on - sometimes life really smiles on us. =)

Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 22, 2008 04:44PM
I went w/Barrence Whitfield to see Brian Wilson's SMiLE in Boston on October 2004. We bumped into Brett Milano of the Boston Phoenix & author of Vinyl Junkies and The Sound of Our Town & also one of the band members, Nelson Bragg, who was originally from the North Shore (MA) area. Before the concert started, Barrence had to take a whizz break & when he came back, he said he bumped into someone he knew from the Boston Globe. The following appeared in the next day's Globe:

Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 22, 2008 04:24PM
Mike Watt (Minutemen/fIREHOSE) story: after a solo gig in Burlington VT he and the band crashed at my place. Watt, being a little weird, slept in our bathtub. My (now) wife had to pee in the middle of the night and had to do it in the washing machine. After the boys left in the morning she noticed a big turd streak in the toilet, so Watt was known as 'shit-stain' in our house for some time.
Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 22, 2008 08:32PM
Some pretty good stories here. How cool is that, to commiserate with a rock star over a girl you've both dated.

I spent some time in the '80s doing stage lighting in clubs, mostly for local cover bands. But we did get hired occasionally to do lights for a name act. Those included The Members, Translator, Rank & File, Modern English, the Greg Kihn Band, Berlin, and George Clinton. Greg Kihn was the only one of the above whom I didn't actually get to meet. Biggest brush with fame? Hanging out with Stevie Ray Vaughan before his set.

Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 22, 2008 08:52PM
Way back in 1974 me and my junior and high school buddies Neil and Joel were friends (maybe I should say aquaintances) with Deep Purple. We met them by being in the front row for every show in the month of May in 5 cities on the east coast (having ducked out of school and travelling in my 1966 Mustang!)

As a result over the next couple of years they often gave us backstage passes and even on a few ocassions hotel rooms and trips on their private jet to the next city!

One time in 1976 when Deep Purple were appearing at Radio City Music Hall, we were in an elevator with none other than John Bonham ( a giant man, btw) who was absolutely hammered. Somehow my friend Joel (5'6") and him got into some kind of disagreement and Glenn Hughes (DP bassist at the time and also not a big guy) had to physically stop "Bonzo" from trouncing him!

Over the years I've befriended other "Rock Personalities" most notably members of Blue Oyster Cult and befriended (and still keep in touch with) Don "Buck Dharma" Roeser who produced our unreleased "Man-Ka-Zam Goes Surfin'" album, but I think having Glenn Hughes intervene during a drunken "bonzo" beating is the biggest "brush with greatness" I've had.

Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 22, 2008 10:02PM
I interviewed Al Bouchard of Blue Oyster Cult at a horror movie convention. He was great; very friendly and down to earth. I told him that youse guys are much more than Don't Fear The Reaper, and that Nosferatu was one of the best songs ever written. He was glad he met me and autographed my Spectres CD.
Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 22, 2008 10:41PM
I'm trying to decide if I want to hop in the car in the morning and drive up to Springfield, IL to see Obama name his veep. It's only 70 miles away, but it'll be a nuthouse and Springfield is a pain in the ass to get around in on the best of days. A maze of one way streets all named after presidents, but not in the right order. So it'll be even crazier than usual. But what the hell, it might be historic.
Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 25, 2008 01:28PM
had many......
my favorite is when James Best used to live by me and I would see him at the Home Depot sometimes on the weekends and talked to him about his TV appearances and playing rockabilly guitar. We asked him to come to one of our local gigs and we gave him a band card with the date of the gig, e-mail contact info, etc. Later that week we got an e-mail requesting $6,000.00 for his appearance at the upcoming "concert".
Re: A brush with greatness (or what passes for it)
August 29, 2008 05:02PM
I was a soundman in a small bar here in Eugene, and late one night after Cheap Trick had played at our county fair, in walks Robin Zander with some bum he met out on the street. The band that was playing that night was an instrumental pseudo-jazz skronk outfit. Sax, bass, and drums, I think. Anyway, in between songs, I started asking the band to play some Cheap Trick. Robin was sitting about 6 feet in front of these zonked-out hipsters.
In between each song I would yell out a Cheap Trick title or just say "Play some Cheap Trick" Robin was getting a kick out of this because the band would always respond with, "Cheap Trick Sucks!!!". They had no idea who he was because he looks a little more grizzled now. I told some drunk at the bar who he was and the drunk goes over to Robin and says, "Dude, you wrote The Dream Police!" Robin acknowledged who he was and then the band caught on, too. I've never seen such backpedaling, they were apologizing and also trying to say they knew who he was the whole time!
We ended up talking and drinking and other stuff with Robin until 4 a.m. in the alley behind the bar.
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