Rock Accountant

Category: Rock Bands

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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Where was I?

I spent my evenings for twenty-five years in auditoriums, arenas, or stadiums that held between 1000 and 125,000 other people. Every goddamn one of those people remembers the day, and I can’t recall the year.

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How I dressed with The Who

Below please find a photo taken of me as I dressed during my years with The Who.

I early on impressed the band with my natural self-discipline.

Though Keith Moon once did confide that he thought the bracelets were “too much,” he spent much of his time aping my understated appearance.

Particularly in his off-stage outfits.

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Got Blue Eyes

From a Bob Dylan interview

One of the most fascinating bits comes early on when Flanagan asks Dylan about the time he and Bruce Springsteen were invited to a dinner party at Sinatra’s house and whether Bob thought Frank had ever heard his songs.“Not really,” Dylan says. “I think he knew ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’’ and ‘Blowin’ In the Wind.’ I know he liked ‘Forever Young,’ he told me that. He was funny, we were standing out on his patio at night and he said to me, ‘You and me, pal, we got blue eyes, we’re from up there,’ and he pointed to the stars. ‘These other bums are from down here.’ I remember thinking that he might be right.”

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“The Who” get infected

All that remained of the band’s all-night security detail was Jim Callaghan, who was shifting nervously from foot to foot in front of me. He was wearing one shoe.
I ignored him.
Keith Moon was stretched out in black nylons and a blue silk kimono behind a tea service set for him on a small Victorian table. His hotel suite window showed whichever lake was next to Chicago. It was early morning, sometime in the late seventies. He was wearing Callaghan’s other shoe.
At mid-tour, he was worn and beginning to look like an unshaven Judy Garland during her last difficult years, but I kept this to myself.
“Spot of tea, Regis?” he offered, not caring there was not a second cup. “Did you take in some theater before you rushed here to help me?” he jabbed.
“I wanted to pick up more cash,” I offered, working to deflect him. The band still made me nervous in my first years.”
I learned early that rock stars had no concrete understanding of cash, they liked it, but it stalled and confused them.
This drummer viewed me as a magically tall money fountain and understood vaguely that I needed a refill on occasion. It was our primary working link.
“We have disturbing confidences to consider you and me,” he began slowly, almost like an accusation. “I have met the wrong woman.”
He paused here, investigating our faces for sympathy. None came. But we didn’t laugh either.
Days seemed to pass as I was blank for any response. Callaghan cracked first,” He’s got the clap.”
“Quiet!” Moonie shot at him in a shrill hiss, “this is a grave intrigue; no one can ever know.”
” I’ll find you a doctor,” I swiftly convinced him, and then after brief but genuinely stupid pleasantries, I headed off to solve the problem.

I could make anyone do anything for Who tickets and cash.
An Indian doctor arrived at his suite in under an hour to take a culture. Soon after, Keith understood he had an especially hateful strain of Vietnamese gonorrhea.
That afternoon I headed back up to his room with the doctor and his bag in tow.
We found him with his intimate friend Dougal hunched over the suite’s dining table with pens and paper resembling Hitler and Goebbels plotting a North African tank campaign during WW11.
I made my first mistake while the doctor got ready.
I asked: “Should we let the girl know?”
“Girl?” he sniffed as though I had demanded the definition of a two hundred letter word. They both snickered at me; he said, “Reg, there are constellations of girls, and we are connecting those dots as you can see on our chart, pointing to the table.
With that, he turned back to his diagrams with Dougal, who was now so stimulated about the probable sexual connections he was practically drooling.
They were tracing who they had slept with and who else had been there. The enrollment grew and grew like a virus. No one, at least in the imaginations of these two, could be innocent. ( Except me, of course, because I would be paying the doctor.)
There is nowhere on earth like a rock tour when it comes to women. And yes, occasionally, the odd girl might have a condition of one kind or another. It did happen.
But groupies get a bad whack in music mythology. Commonly they had far higher IQs than the road crews, the traveling staff, and the band members they coveted. Most of the famous ones are ambitious, conniving, and breathtakingly forward advancing. Sometimes it is sad, but only rarely.
I understood that innocents were fingered, caught up as they were in Moon’s fabulously infectious net. Many were wrongly doomed that afternoon.
Dougal and I called nearly everyone on tour that day, and the glum suspects marched in to get their shots. Even some of our lawyers succumbed to the flimsiest of evidence. Still, the English are reliably the last to guess at a lie. They will nearly always misjudge what to do in favor of caution.
It was just good unclean fun, after all. With sick looks on their faces, they dropped their pants.
This doctor was now working for me full time. He made a small fortune and walked away with enough tickets to start another Ticketron in Chicago.
Everyone hung around all day and into the night—a major party.
A photograph exists of everyone standing or kneeling together in that suite at night’s end.
It resembled a U.S. baseball team card.
The Indian doctor was sitting in the center, holding a lap-full of Who tickets and syringes. I don’t know who has that photo today.
I would pay for it.

r/OldSchoolCool - Twin sisters and rock groupies Laura and Lynn Sanchez in San Francisco, January 1968.

Pete Townshend and me

From a letter: written by Jackie Curbishley, (Bill’s wife) about me and Pete Townshend. “You’re right. He was easy to love, but so difficult to trust. I never quite knew whether he was about to spit at me or kiss me. He was totally in awe of you and so jealous of you that he could hardly articulate when you were around. I have vivid recollections of the night you poured the whole jug of orange juice over his head. I’m pretty certain that nothing like that had ever happened to him before. I had to admire the way he recovered – getting his stash out of his top pocket and with those big hands spread out in front of him saying “Look what you’ve done!” as he held out the dripping little package. It was in Salt Lake City. Remember that? Jackie

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Bill Graham and The Who


I saw this picture of Bill Graham posted by Lisa Seckler- Rhode this morning, and it grabbed a memory from that section of my mind that is usually only aroused by drugs.
We were doing a deal with him for The Who to play San Francisco sometime in the 1970s. He was bawling that we were cheating him.
Predictably his negotiating tactics relied chiefly on shouting or screaming. When doing deals with him in the old day’s, Bill Curbishley, the Who’s manager, would be on his suite’s phone, and I would be in the bathroom on an extension. In Graham’s case, and there are pictures, we put the phone on a coffee table between us and still hear him screeching.
He stubbornly believed he was singled out for disadvantageous treatment by God himself every minute of his day. He was a formidable adversary. Few promoters dared to stand up to certain bands — the Who had become too big to lose. That said, when I started with Genesis, he did me endless favors, which he did not have to do.
The other variable was that the band (The Who) loved him, so we never really tried to fuck him. No doubt, he did them favors too, early on.
We had settled on the particulars for one show, maybe the Cow palace in San Francisco.
After the contracts were issued, Graham returned his signed copy.
His shows represented at least 100,000 tickets per performance ( most likely far more, I can’t recall), to be sold at an agreed ticket price. Graham would get his percentage cut from that.
He raised the face ticket price ( which he printed) one dollar, hoping to keep the money without telling us.
When confronted, he responded, “but you were stealing from me” — We didn’t let him keep the money but with our admiration.

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A Happy Man

Between the years of 1972 and 1991, 78% of all rock shows used B.B. King as an opening act. I saw him perform at least 22% of those times. 99% of those audiences were white, and 99.95% of them were impatient to have him leave the stage to get to the headliner. Only 45% of the headliners had ever heard of him, and the remainder adored him because they thought he made them look cool and because he came cheap. B.B King would have played to a herd of sheep if he got paid and the sheep would have been the big winners. He was the greatest of all things. A happy man.

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Dolly Parton

I did not expect Dolly Parton to call me Mr. Boff.
She couldn’t fill the venues I had for her without the help of a strong opening act.
She took this in stride. I suggested Merle Haggard, and she dispatched me to get him with her approval.
Getting hold of Merle wasn’t straightforward. He didn’t seem to have a manager or agent. I had to go through his drummer.
Haggard was a convicted felon. He had spent a good deal of time in the San Quentin prison. His band, “The Strangers,” was irregularly populated by musicians who happened to be on parole when his tours began.
Asked once what his biggest mistake in life had been, he blurted slyly, “Pulling my jobs in small towns.”
Merle did his own deals. The money I was offering him had his attention.
Not often a fool, I know that thieves attend pleasantly to people who have cash. I did not expect the negotiation to be hard, so I was annoyed at meeting him first.
I headed down to one of his shows in the South. It was a small show where he was headlining.
After he finished, he sent a guy who put me on his bus.
The drummer introduced me, and there it was again, “Mr. Boff.”
We sat in his living room. A hairless animal cuddled next to him. I assumed it was a dog. It growled and snarled non stop at me.
He wanted to make me feel he saw through me. It was the same look he projected from the stage. He had removed his black hat, so it did not work.
Everything about him was wrinkled and mean. I liked him instantly.
We both knew I was paying him too much money, so it could not have been called an authentic negotiation.
What he said to me caught me off guard, “I’m sorry, Mr. Boff, I would like to do it, but I can’t.”
I needed him, and I pressed for why. He said,” I don’t believe the Good Lord means for a man to open a show for a woman.”
I went home.
I called Dolly and told her what happened. She said she would call me back.
She got back to me quickly to say Merle would do the dates. I asked what he said?
She said, “Not much, he just agreed after I told his guy to tell him that the “Good Lord” Dolly Parton was on the phone.”

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No meat Rock and Roll

I have worked with and loved vegetarians. They are not better people and are easily frustrated by irregularities like leather belts and shoes. On rock tours, they grow weak during the midwest portions in America because they can’t find anything to eat but mutton, gizzards, and rhubarb. They can not play Germany.” ( 1976 ) Regis Boff

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