What I did not expect most from Dolly Parton was being called Mr. Boff.
I explained that she could not fill the concerts I had for her without help. She took this in stride. I suggested Merle Haggard might be perfect as an opening act, and she dispatched me to get him with her approval.
Getting hold of him wasn’t that easy. He didn’t seem to have a manager or agent, so I had to go through his drummer.
Haggard was a convicted felon. He had spent a good deal of time in 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 big deals himself and I was a big deal for him. Not often a fool, I know that thieves attend pleasantly to people who have money. I did not expect this would be hard, so I was annoyed at having to meet him. I headed down to one of his shows in the South. It was a small show where he headlined.
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 partially hairless animal cuddled next to him. I suspected 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 stage. As eyes play on a face, his were the only participants that were not wrinkled and mean. I liked him instantly.
We both knew I was paying him too much money, so it could not have been called a real 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 says. “Not much, he just agreed after I told his guy that the “Good Lord” Dolly Parton was on the phone.”
“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
Drubbing? My recollection is somewhat different. Pretty evenly matched, and I had to lug huge volumes of Websters and The Collins everywhere we went to prove I wasn’t lying and neither were you about the spelling of certain words. (I was not popular with Dick Parry.) I even remember one of the words you came up with was ‘homey’, I challenged, Bill became very aggressive and that was why we carried the dictionaries ever after.
I play Scrabble online with strangers now and would have loved to be able to play with you, but it’s not available in the land of the free. I’ve even ‘gotten’ used to playing in your language.
I arrived in London today and it’s freezing here. I’ve got my coat wrapped around my feet as I write. Can’t wait to scurry off to Barbados in a week or so. When you say you ‘saw the boys’ do you mean you got to talk to them? xx
Women do not fight like men. When a man does fight like a woman, men will beat him up just because he did so. Men must and most often do exercise good sense when dealing with this predicament — the media and the less experienced benefit by harping on our occasional mistakes. We men are generally accepting nowadays of this unfairness.
Traditionally men can forge great friendships in the aftermaths of bad fights. We fight quickly and most times with little provocation.
When a woman fights, the battle is already over in their minds. There can not possibly be reconciliation.
We are superior to women in this way. Men have been fighting longer and hence have vastly more experience tactically. Even while we are beating another man to a bloody pulp, we see a variety of endgames. The outcome, death, is most often way down the road for us.
Keith Moon’s last tour was more about adhesive tape than music.
His headset, sticks, and shoes were held hard fast with gaffer tape.
He resembled more a sarcophagus than a drummer. The roadies were nailing his stool into the stage. Two guys spotted him like a gymnast in case he fell off his seat during the set.
There are sounds in showbusiness that connect to failure. The preeminent is quiet during a performance. That’s the worst.
Towards his end, every show was dodgy. We could never be sure he would make it.
During much of the evening, I would be on the other side of the area, settling the contracts. In case we forfeited, I would demand so much in cash that police with shotguns stood around inside the box office while I counted it. If the sound stopped, I would bag as much as I could carry and race across the stadium or venue with my cops so I wouldn’t miss the plane. Missing a flight would turn my life to shit.
Often the band after an encore would be in the limos before the house lights went on. Motorcycle police would shut down intersections to get them out and to the tarmac. If this went unsmoothly, the band would be stuck until the entire audience drove home.
On my first tour, I got backstage, and the band had gone without me. They left a car. When I finally arrived at their jet, it was snowing and windy, and I was sick with dread. I learned later that Bill Curbishley, ( their manager) and Townshend had fought because Pete wanted to leave me.
Standing in front of the stairs to the plane were the motorcycle cops waiting for their tip, which of course, they were not allowed to accept. I would always palm a couple thousand and sneak it to them.
Well, on this particular night, I had the money in my hand but didn’t factor in that the head cop was wearing bulky gloves, so he didn’t “feel ” the cash. The wind did not help. When our hands separated, the money took off everywhere. The police fired up their motorcycles and chased it.
I began up the steps without even bothering to watch the pursuit. I did look into the plane’s windows to see everyone in the traveling party peering out, laughing, and laughing.
Fifty years ago, my generation was sent to Vietnam to die. We took over the universities when we returned, determined that our government would never do that again to our children. So we tried to teach our children that America was to blame for everything. And here we are.
I grew up with Polkas playing on my dad’s radio.
Unlike rock, Polkas, never benefited by having its own signature drug. Having traveled through old Czechoslovakia, I have tied one or more on with “Slivovice,” that transparent brain reducing eastern European alcohol. But it is neither heroin or LSD. Let’s face it.
Remember, I spent twenty-five years going from one concert to another where bands played the same set. Drugs, for me, were a way of taking that music out of my head, not enhancing it.
All the fabulous new forms of sexuality have arrived on the scene at just the right time as far as I am concerned. I had no appreciation for how traversed heterosexuality had become. Two women, together who would have imagined?
Twenty naked women smell a certain way.
“He wants money,” Tiny said.
“Do you have him?” I asked. It was seven hours after The Who show. “Buttoned down, he doesn’t want to get away, but you better come; he’s been pestering for you.”
I palmed a couple of hundred dollar bills as I got out on Keith Moon’s floor in case I ran into any police sniffing around.
Teenage girls wandered the drummer’s closed hallway like confused chickens. They cocked their heads towards the sound of my elevator, alert for any flying corn, they were disappointed because I was a grown-up.
One of Jim’s security guys was standing at the door to the Moon’s suite, being sturdy and earnest.
“What’s he doing?” I asked.
The likable tough shrugged like muscular people imagine they can, “He’s been ringing up hookers for the last couple of hours with Jim, Tiny, and Dougal.”
The living room was empty except for Tiny, who was standing sentinel at the bedroom door.
Tiny was a monster. An ex-New York cop who was shot and lived on a pension. It was his story. He irregularly carried The Who’s only gun keeping it on his ankle where he could not reach it without a chiropractor. He had greasy black curly hair and an uncut testicle sparse beard. He reminded of a fat black bear who had been smacked by a high school custodian’s wet mop.
Tiny bathed, as the tour joke went, only before major surgery.
And he was naked in front of me except for his laminated security pass that hung around his neck.
“You’re a picture,” I said, passing him to knock on the bedroom door.
Callaghan answered with too big a smile, “No clothes, governor’s orders.”
“No,” I said,” then undressed except for my case and walked in.
Moon glances up at me from under a private sea of breasts on his pink bed. Seven naked girls are surrounding a Scrabble board placed in the center. I lose his attention as he turns back to the board.
” Well, where the fuck have you been?” He attacks.
“You better be winning,” I challenge him.
“Well Regis, you’re in time enough, I may need to buy a vowel,” he loudly confuses our two most important American letter games, Scrabble and Wheel of Fortune, which must have had a British equivalent somewhere in his past.
“Come sit, he patted the bed beside him, shoving a blond to the floor. I cover my lap with my bag and sit.
“I have these ladies of the night on the run, but the field of play is getting crowded, the board is very condensed.”
I glanced down, seeing that three words had found their way into the contest so far, but none of the little wooden squares forming them were touching each other.
“You guys ever play this game before tonight?” I said to the girls. One or two expressed vague confidence.
A stunning black girl with bruised blood-colored hair and long bone earrings heaved in a dark voice, (like a lonely cow’s moo), “I got one,” carefully laying down “dog,” forever impressing four of the other girls who I judged to be on her team against the drummer.
So Moon kicks the board into the air in a losing hissy fit and banishes the poor black girl off the bed. She promptly goes from pride to tears, her spelling days over and in tatters.
He pushes himself up to lean on the silk headboard beside me. I don’t sit touching naked men regularly, so I start to sweat. It goes unnoticed because the whole room is already glistening.
“Can I hold it?” he draws my eyes with his to my crotch then gives a begging look. I hand him my case. He flattens it to his balls and says brightly, “Does it have lots of tonight?”
“You bet,” I said.
He tosses the bag to the middle of the bed, and the girls lunge on it like it was a jungle musk genital pouch. Except for the ones pinned down by Jim and Doughal, the room’s women are now circling the bed, treating my briefcase like an exotic animal.
I was half thinking of how early I could get hold of a spray bottle of Fantastic from housekeeping or a new bag.
Moon, his mouth now on my ear, says in his whispering British spy voice, “I have my eye on that little blond down there.”
I have this job owing to two strengths; I am trustworthy with money, and my reality was not easily overwhelmed by the unreality of anybody else’s.
I offer, “she has not taken her eyes off you.” Meanwhile, she is gnawing on one side of my case; he seems not to notice that or was happy with my reassurance.
Jim and Dougal know their call girls.
“Girls, the case,” putting his arms out like the prongs on a forklift.
“I will need quite a bit tonight,” now back to me.
“How much?” I said.
He began gravely calculating, employing his taxing ” pin the tail on the donkey” arithmetic.
“Twenty-thousand might cover it,” he said, immediately giddy with relief that the stress of the mathematics was finally over.
Opening the case, I counted out twenty packets, handed it to him, and made him sign for it, which he did, dramatically sweeping my pen in semi-circles like a crashing propeller plane before landing close enough to the dotted line.
He threw all the money at Doughal, who couldn’t disengage his hands fast enough from women’s body parts, so most of it hit him on the head.
Jim and Dougal sprang for it before the girls got it, which would have resulted in a hooker /security fistfight. These girls would fight.
On my way out, I told Jim to pay the girls himself, if he could, and to drop the balance back to me at the next show.
None of it ever comes back.