Rock Accountant

Month: June, 2021

God’s Will be done

I don’t believe God has

a firmness of purpose.

Otherwise, you would notice him

milling around more often.

I think God gave us his will,

as a going-away present.

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The Who make their move on the Vatican

Keith Moon was out on the street, working as a doorman/bellboy at the Navarro Hotel in New York City between shows at Madison Square Garden because he was running out of money.
I got him that job thinking it might be a character-building experience. It also relieved, for a little while, everybody’s constant anxiety over where he was.
The hotel manager, Mr. Russell, a personal friend of mine, arranged it because he felt obliged. After all, the band had rebuilt three of his hotel rooms over the last two tours. I always turned to the word ” shredded” in reporting what Moon had done to them.
It was August 6, 1978. I think.
We were in one of the suites playing scrabble and waiting for something to happen when Mr. Russell called to warn that Keith and his entourage were heading upstairs and that he was carrying two bags from a new guest that he had forgotten to leave in the lobby.
The initial shock of having their taxi door opened by a rock star wearing a six-foot-long Indian headdress had worked itself out in the manager’s estimation.
He was sharing his gratuities with other regular bellhops conscientiously though he got ill-tempered with the division math. It has, in fairness to our drummer, been my experience that no rock star can count.
In minutes the drummer blasted into our room like a one-person Apache raiding party. Behind him trailed our security guys, five groupies, two hotel porters, and I guessed from their suits and ages the people chasing their stolen bags.
” Have you heard the news?” he was nearly moaning with excitement. “Some Pope is dead! “
Feathers whipping in his breeze, he whirled on Anne Wheldon, our publicist who lives in a barely suppressed nervous hysteria, ordering her to ” get me someone on the line right now from The New York Times and Billboard Magazine!”
He started to wring his hands like an early Adolf Hitler slavering over a defenseless prewar France.
“Go right to the top, Anne, tell them I am throwing my hat into this Papal ring.” His eyes had an almost religious luminescence.
She had the entertainment editor from the Times on the phone within minutes.
He straightened his feathers and hunched over the desk phone. The room grew silent. We hung on his side of the conversation.”
“That’s right; I have wanted to leave the band for years,” he confirmed to the guy. ” “Given this emergency, I believe that moment is ripe.”
He listened, and his face seemed to droop.
“No, I am not Catholic,” he paused, perhaps sensing his tactical error.” “But I am a quick study, ask Pete Townshend,” he attached smoothly.
“And don’t let that motherfucker Mick Jagger hear about this. He is the devil, you know,” cunningly racing to blot any competition immediately.
We were rolling on the floor by this time, and Anne was standing next to him, trying to get his attention, waving her arms and mouthing that she had Rolling Stone on the other line.
He put both hands over the phone and, in confusion, shouted at us,” Fuck, he wants to know what I think qualifies me to be the next Pope.”
Ever quick, Bill Curbishley, his manager, shouted back to him”, Tell him twenty-five platinum albums.”
We learned later that he was not considered. But then neither was Jagger.

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Peter Gabriel, Genesis, and the Insult

It would be hard to argue I didn’t have fun touring with rock bands. Better phrased, I had the best life of anybody ever.
My professional success secured me as a competent specialist in people who do not evacuate their jealousies quickly. Except for right here and right now, I have mostly remained silent about my life. It is compassion in my particular Buddhist way.
I know I can relieve people of their envious distress if I want to, but two of my substantial character flaws get in the way. Firstly, I am Irish, so forgiveness is uncommon inside me after an insult of any kind.
With me, “Well, fuck you then,” can surprise people by its permanence.
I don’t fight little wars.
One such battle occurred with Peter Gabriel and me on my first tour with Genesis. I was their tour manager for a very long time. Peter and I left the band at the same time. His departure had more impact.
In his defense, I wasn’t very good at the job. I was always lost, particularly in Europe. Finding places was important.

I was also expected to be in charge of our road crew.
England’s maritime captains had been throwing guys like these, unconscious ( conscripted from pubs), into their ships against their wills as sailors for five hundred years.
These dumb fuckers did the job with Genesis willingly.
I was the only American, and I traveled with the band, not them, which did not sit well.
The English have a fixed internal caste system that India copied to invent Hinduism. So the crew figured they could abuse me because I did not fit with the band, who, except for Phil Collins, was severely upper-class.
They also knew I grasped nothing about setting up the sound gear for the shows.
In those days, the Genesis sound equipment looked like home stereo hookups except that there were thousands of wires, and only one guy knew how to plug it all in. We will call him ” Nick.”
Now Nick took a particular interest in me. He never listened and openly mocked me for much of my first tour through Europe. He knew he was more valuable than me to the band.
One afternoon during a soundcheck in Spain ( around 1971), he threw a balled-up strip of gaffer tape at me, which I dodged, but in doing so, I hit my head on the hinge on a door.
I don’t remember if he was unconscious, but I saw both his feet leave the floor because it was an uppercut.
He immediately gave the band an ultimatum; it was him or me.”

Peter Gabriel called me into the dressing room to ” discuss it.”
On a good day, talking to Peter was exhausting. None of the crucial parts of his face played well together. His most critical thoughts spent most of their time trying to locate his mouth. We didn’t know each other that well then, which did not help. Having worked with mostly English bands, I eventually got how emotionally insecure the entire island is. Of course, it was always my advantage, but I was new to rock bands.
I appreciated what I had done. Nick was powerful, and his leaving put the shows in jeopardy, but I resented Peter for even trying to discuss their choice with me.
I don’t pretend this story has held your interest, but this is where it turns cute.
I, in so many words, told Peter to go “fuck himself.” Gabriel, now confronted with emotion out in the open, did Lord knows what after I stormed out.
In the background, one trucker, out of a little-known Texas sound company called SHOWCO, who had a low-level job moving equipment around, offered that he knew how to connect all our shit.
We put this guy in a room with all our gear, and in one day, he rewired everything—Goodbye, old Nick.
Postscript: I stayed. Gabriel and I became close friends, and I, the godfather of his first child.
Showco, over my long career, made millions from my friendship.
A road crew never rechallenged me.
Here is the last known photo of “Nick.”

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No photo description available.
No photo description available.

What good is the marvelous?

Every death
comes with its particular novelty.

While birth plods into life
with a ill deserved and sloppy exaggeration.

Tumbling incoherently through
the thick, sticky afterbirth
of the womb.

Each one shackled to incomprehension.

Still, we guess birth to be miraculous
while it’s endgame, death,

is reviewed as a misfortune,
conducted by a chorus of “if only’s.”
and the tardy howls of losing.

Of what good is the marvelous,
if you can’t, watch?

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