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
Bill Curbishley, on the right, is the manager of The Who. If he had chosen to, he could have managed The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Lynyrd Skynyrd as well. He quietly changed the live music touring business, but what he enjoyed most was robbing deli’s with me on off days.
Keith Moon was out on the street, working as a doorman/bellboy at the Navarro Hotel in New York City in 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 Moon 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 confusion of having their taxi door opened by a rock star wearing a six-foot-long Indian headdress was working out in the manager’s estimation. The regular bellmen seemed please at the increase in tips coming in. He was also sharing his gratuities with everybody conscientiously though he got ill-tempered with the math. It has, in fairness to Moony, been my experience that no rock star can count. In minutes the drummer blasted into the room like a one-person Apache raiding party. Behind him trailed our security guys, five groupies, two bellmen, and I guessed from their suits 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 quickly. By this time, we were rolling on the floor, 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.”
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. This career success made me 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. I was also assumed to be in charge of our road crew. England’s maritime captains had been throwing guys like these, unconscious, into their ships against their wills as crew 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. 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 a million home stereo hookups. 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, 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 because it was an uppercut, I saw both his feet leave the floor. He quit and gave the band an ultimatum that it was “him or me.” Peter 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 got how insecure emotionally the entire island is. It was always my advantage. 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 crew member, 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.
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 late 1970s. He was bawling that we were not paying him enough, a not unfamiliar theme.
It can be exposed now that concert promoters never got what they said they did on deals with the Who. Usually, we took most of the money in exchange for our permission to lie about it for face-saving.
Predictably Graham’s negotiating tactics relied chiefly on whining and 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. No cell phones.
In Graham’s standard, and there are pictures, we put the phone on a coffee table between us and could still hear him screeching.
He was a formidable adversary. He controlled San Francisco. Few promoters had the courage 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. He was infinitely and deeply kind.
The other variable was that the band (The Who) loved him, so we never really fucked him. No doubt, he did them many favors too early on.
The conversations about these shows actually went on and off for years, Always breaking down somewhere.
We had settled on the Cow Palace in San Francisco for two shows.
The contract between us was one of a kind. It was one sheet of paper because we could not agree on anything.
The shows represented at least 250,000 tickets( most likely far more, I can’t recall), to be sold at an agreed ticket price.
Our biggest apprehension was that The Grateful Dead wouldn’t leave the stage when the Who were set to begin. They sometimes just played and played, on and on.
The contract read, ( and I still have it somewhere), The Grateful Dead can commence their show anytime after dawn and must leave the stage at sunset.
The Who will guarantee The Dead X. 50% payable on return of contract. That was it.
These were fabulous shows— in the sun in a beautiful football stadium. Everybody had a backstage area, The Who, The Dead, the press, self-important assholes, various Indian tribes, and bicycle gangs. Nothing could have been more fun.
They indeed started very early and played all-day. Everybody was nice to each other.
They were a fabulous band. I seldom knew an individual song unless it was about trucks, cocaine, or Uncle John’s band.
In the greatest trick ever pulled by a rock promoter, without telling us, Graham raised the face ticket price ( which he printed) one dollar, hoping to keep the money.
When confronted, he replied nearly in tears,” But you were stealing from me” — again at the top of his lungs.
One of a kind. We took the money.
Much of my career, such that it was, depended upon the reasoning that rock bands needed their money defended. It would be hard to argue that I was not good at it.
I watched ticket prices grow over the years. I can remember shouting arguments over raising The Who’s ticket price from sixteen to seventeen dollars, one dollar.
Thinking back on it now, we taxed the kids based on how much they loved art. And it was art.
There was also some formula involved that was always hard to describe. The pain of the price diminished as the size of the venue increased. It was almost as though the fans did not mind getting fucked as long as tons of others did too.
When The Who reached the point when they could play as many stadiums in each city as they wanted, the morality of ticket pricing utterly vanished and was replaced seamlessly with making certain that we did not cheat whole cities out of an opportunity to see them play.
Through it all, I remained loyal to their money.
It is time for another Israel in the Middle East only much bigger. Perhaps in Mexico as well. Life in these two geographic regions has been a miserable proposition for a long time. The West did not cause it. The Kings, Mullahs, and oil-rich chieftains kept their people in poverty and allowed them only God as comfort for hundreds of years. In Mexico, the poor were supported only by our tourism, our insatiable need for drugs and the Catholic Church.
Bringing these people here is moronically ill-advised.
We should use our weapons and military to carve out new Edens for the suffering instead of destroying everything to catch a few.
Perhaps this is what God would do if he really cared.
We are entering a new century of wars conducted by swarming immigration. Water always flows downhill. Immigration will replace the nuclear weapon in the coming age.
People always move to where their life is better if they can. They will not neatly stay in a place where their children are in danger. I think human beings with stop short of treating each other like locusts, destroying intruders on mass. But one does have to recall Hitler.
The problem with our Southern border is manageable. Europe’s dilemma may not be so easy.
I think Trump is correct that we need to document people who come here, that’s only common sense. The Democrats don’t support this because they see human beings as voting blocks. The Republicans see immigrants from Mexico as vermin.
To me, our solution is simple and has been historically validated. We just annex Mexico and make it a nice place to live again. Tidy.
How can a photograph be copyrighted when it’s confined to the public domain by definition? A song comes out of nothing. A painting is as much the hand on the brush as it is anything inherent. Movies manipulate atmospheres and the medium simultaneously. A camera’s image becomes art only when interpreted in the aftermath. Could it be that photographers are more critics than artists? Could it be that there are no artists at all, only reviewers?