Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stagefright


I spent the latter part of my adolescence in the Quad Cities, and after having been really removed from the music scene in Ava, MO it was nice to live in a place where performers came to once in a while. While the Quads were not Chicago or St. Louis when it came to destinaton cities, there were acts who came through regularly. I saw REO at the Racetrack with Queen opening for $1.50, stuff like that. My first concert was in 1972, when Rare Earth, Sugarloaf along with Flo and Eddie appeared at the Rock Island Armory. I took my at the time girlfriend and we sat way the hell up and way the hell away from the stage. It seemed the sound bounced all over the place and then finally nestled into my feedback laden ears. After that, it was Rare Earth again I think with a very young, very young skinny three piece band named Rush opening. I remember because they had a sonng called "Working Man" that was deafening. I then started to attend shows on a regular basis, and each show was usually opened by a goon who would come out, introduce himself and then read a list upcoming shows. He would normally end his spiel with something like...."you guys fucking ROCK!"
My friend Jay "Stoneman" Stone being THAT guy.
The crowd would go wild for a nano second and he would exit stage left.
I always wanted to be THAT guy.










You don't have to ask me why I remember the very first time I did this. It was at "the Ranch" in Port Byron Illinois in 1977. Doucette ("Mama Let Him Play") was the headliner.
This was also the very first time I ever did cocaine, maybe that's why I remember it so much.
Doucette was Jerry Doucette, a very talented guitarist who had a minor hit in the midwest with a song "Mama Let Him Play"...featured here..



I was working at 99+ in Muscatine (this show was about 60 miles from there but we were they only station within 75 miles playing the song), plus my Mom and Dad lived right down the road, so I could crash and then get up the next day. Since this is my first time doing this, I get the premise but I'm not sure on the procedure yet, so I go digging around and I end up backstage with Jerry and his band.

They had just arrived and were feeling pretty ok. I asked him how he wanted to handle the whole thing as far as time and that. He looked at me and asked right out loud if had ever done cocaine.
Now, let's put this in context...in 1977, cocaine was GOOD for you. It helped you focus, it filled you with energy and it wasn't addicting.
"Sure", I said, "lots of times."
"Cool, this is really good stuff so don't waste anything, but for building me up on stage I'll share..."
I had never even seeen cocaine before, but I knew this would be no problem and I couldn't wait.
He promptly took a professional looking kit out and lined up some very "healthy" lines.
"You good?' he asked,
"I'm cool" was my reply.
I proceded to lean down ever so low over the "healthy" line and so not knowing what I was doing snorted it in for about a nano second before everything came back up through my nose and all over everywhere with a gusto. Once the coke got to the inner workings of my nose, it rejected it all over the "healthy" lines, completely obliterating all traces of blow that was on the mirror.
Nice move.
I thought I was dead, my short radio career over for having wa$ted a lot of blow from the headliner.
I looked at him in horror and he back at me with disgust.
"Rookie. Now, let me show you how to do this."
So, he did.
Let's cupple this with the adrenaline rush of getting up on stage for the first time ever to be THAT guy in front of a rowdy crowd of about 300 people approximately 20 minutes later.
Yikes.
All I remember from that night was the manager of the bar telling me to "clean up my act", Jerry Doucette breaking into "Hey Jude" during the solo in "Mama Let Him Play" and me playing the announcer on "Live Bullett"' by getting up on stage and yelling "DO YOU WANT HEAR SOME MORE YOU FUCKERS? COME ON NOW DO YA?" when he was clearly out of material.
He asked me to  "get off the fucking stage."
By the way, I drove all the way back to Muscatine that night and was ready to go for my on air duties at 5am. Probably had a killer show.

I've introduced some epic shows. I did announcements at two "Summer Jams" in Kansas City in front of at least 50,000 people. I've had the pleasure to say ..."ladies and gentlemen, the Allman Brothers Band". I also came full circle as I've introduced Rush at Kemper Arena, Rare Earth at the Uptown. I was there Shooting Star in Denver and the Moody Blues at Red Rocks. Robin Trower, Robin Williams. I always volunteered for that duty. That guy.



So, if you're going to be THAT guy, the guy who does stage announcements, keep this in mind...don't give an audience a chance to boo you. They will. I did the announcements at a Judas Priest/Molly Hatchet show early in my career that went like this..."Hey everybody thanks for coming, my name is Randy Raley from KY 102......" The boos started rolling in from the back of the arena to the front and I wasn't quite sure what was happening. Then I was. It was a Judas Priest, Molly Hatchet show for God's sakes. I quickly got off the stage.

Better way..."Hey everybody, I'm Randy Raley from KY 102...you guys FUCKING ROCK!"

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