Road Tales

These are true stories of the lighter side of my years on the road. The stories cover many different bands I've played in. I've not mentioned names in most cases to protect the guilty.

Making an Entrance

After several auditions I landed a gig with one of Toronto's top progressive rock bands. We rehearsed long hours since the band was based in Hamilton. The Keyboard player and I had to commute to Hamilton from Toronto. We'd break for dinner and usually head out to one of the local restaurants. Usually, the guys in the band were recognized by the waitresses and as a result we ended up getting free meals half the time. When my band mates told the waitress that I was the new bass player, she would say something like 'I sure hope you can play as good as the last guy.


Our first gig was at a club in Hamilton. When we pulled up to the club there was a line up that actually went all the way around a city block. Inside the club, it was jam packed, standing room only. Most of the people had come to see if the new bass player could cut it...... no pressure there.


The house lights dimmed. A follow spot hit the M.C. who was an announcer from one of the local rock radio stations. During his rap to the crowd introducing us he told the crowd to watch out for the new bass player. Our sound tech put in a tape of some very dramatic music and cranked up the P.A. system. A follow spot light hit us at the very back of the club. We started running towards the stage which was at the front of the club. Our road crew and the clubs bouncers cleared a path through the crowd for us all the way to the stage. The guitar player and I both had our axes strapped on us as we ran. I was the third guy in the line up.


At the front of the stage there were 4 steps. Of course, I tripped on one of the steps and totally wiped out. I landed face first, bounced a couple of times before coming to rest completely sprawled out on the stage. True poetry in motion. Our drummer, who was directly behind me quickly stepped around me to get to his kit. The last guy in the line up was our guitar player who, rather than stepping around me, used my butt as a spring board to do a graceful ballet leap half-way across the stage. Our roadies rushed over to me and helped to pick me up and dust me off. I unknowingly played the entire first set with our guitar player's foot print across my butt and yes, I was wearing white pants so the foot print really stood out. Do I know how to make an entrance or what?


All About Bob

Bob was a great guy, he would give you the shirt off his back. Problem is he rarely got his shirt back. Bob lived with his girlfriend Suzie and he was totally in love with her. He never cheated even though he had lots of opportunities. We had just got back from touring Quebec City and Montreal. Suzie was going to do Bob's laundry so she was emptying his suitcase. At the bottom of the suitcase stuck to a pair of Bob's briefs was a very used crusty pair of panties. Poor Bob had no idea how the panties had got there. No matter what Bob said, Suzie was not buying it. Bob spent six weeks sleeping on the couch for that one.


It was a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon in Toronto. I had to meet the guys at the hotel for a sound check for our upcoming gig there. The hotel had a large semi-circle driveway with a massive concrete canopy overhanging the entrance to the hotel. As I drove up to the hotel on Lakeshore Drive, I saw Bob sitting on the curb of the hotel's driveway, rocking back and forth with his head between his knees. Then I noticed our five-ton rental truck. It was wedged way under the hotel's canopy with three quarters of the roof sheered open like a giant can opener had opened it. Fortunately none of our gear was damaged.


Since Bob was the one who rented the truck and was driving it, he was the guy who had to return it to the rental company. I can still picture it. The guys at the truck rental company looking out their window at this truck coming down the road with three quarters of the roof sheered open and flapping majestically in the breeze behind it. The guys at the rental company chanting "Please don't be one of ours. Please don't be one of ours." Can you picture the look of horror on their faces when Bob turned in to their driveway? Bob didn't have insurance on the truck either. The guys at the rental company were not amused.


Front men should never close their eyes

We got the worst gig in Winnipeg, playing the National Hotel in the heart of Winnipeg's skid row. We had to play a 2 set matinee every afternoon plus 5 sets every night for a week. This was the kind of bar that when there was a bar fight (which happened at least once a night) the entire bar got in to it. Very much like the fight scenes you would see in old western movies with chairs and beer bottles flying through the air.


One evening we were in the middle of playing a very slow song (we had a male and a female singer fronting the band). There were two girls waltzing with each other on the dance floor. They were really loaded. At one point they stopped waltzing and staggered up to the front of the stage. Our male singer was really in to the song and had his eyes closed while he was singing. The girls on the dance floor reached up and grabbed his crotch. Our singer's eyes almost popped out of his head (like a cartoon character about to fall off a cliff) and he just about swallowed the mike. The girls would not let go of his crotch and were undoing his pants so they could remove them. Our female singer ran behind our drummer for protection. The girls on the dance floor had our singer's pants down to his knees and were going after his briefs until the bouncers intervened and dragged the two girls away. Ahhhhhh the life of a front man, they get all the hot girls :-).


Young and Dumb

The first band I was in was offered an audition to appear on a weekly teen dance show on T.V. The show's producers gave us the sheet music, but since none of us could read music, we didn't go to the audition. Years later, I heard that the band that did get the gig couldn't read music either but they had gone out and purchased the records and learned the songs. At the audition they pretended that they were reading the sheet music. What can I say? We were between 13 and 14 years old. Young, dumb, and full of cum. BTW, can anyone tell me how to remove a palm print from my forehead?


The Groupie Shuffle

We were gigging at a club in Quebec City and staying at a hotel in the old part of Quebec City. Each of us had our own rooms next to each other on the same floor all the way down the east side of the hallway. Another band we knew from Hamilton and had partied with many times was playing a different club in Quebec City. They had all of the rooms consecutively on the West side of the hallway.

Just a bit of background. Our singer/front man was amazing with the ladies. Every night he scored at least once. Quite often he scored a couple of times on the same night with different girls. All the girls he got it on with were total knockouts. Not one average looking girl in the pack.


Our band was very popular in Quebec City and we always had major line ups at the clubs we played, which means lots of groupies. One evening we were all coming back to our hotel from the gig. Every one was in their rooms except for me and our singer. Our singer opened the door to his room and screamed HELP!! I knew he wasn't fooling around by the tone in his voice. I peeled off down the hall to his room. Once I got there I looked inside his room and saw two of the most scariest, fattest, butt ugly women on the face of the earth. And yes they were totally naked spread eagle on his bed. These girls must have weighed over 400 lbs each. How the bed managed to hold all of that weight is beyond me. Apparently they had tracked down where we were staying and bribed the night desk clerk to let them in to our singer's room.


Here was our macho singer, who consistently got the hottest babes night after night, with the ugliest, scariest, fattest girls spread eagle on his bed.


Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes :-).


I was laughing so hard I almost wet myself. I did the pee pee walk to my room. You know the walk when you really have to go but can't and you walk with you knees together and on the balls of your feet slightly bent at the waist. Just as I reached the door of my room our singer was bodily removing the girls from his room. They were still naked. I heard the elevator doors open and the band that was staying across the hall from us walked off the elevator. I asked them if they wanted some groupies to party with. Their eyes lit up and I swear that I could actually see their tongues hanging out of their mouths a bit. I nodded with my head kind of pointing down the hall way to the naked girls. I went in to my room and closed my door.


The next morning I headed to our singer's room, which was at the end of the hallway, to see if he was ready to go downstairs for brunch. I knocked on his door. Just as he opened the door, one of the doors across the hall opened. We saw the two girls leaving one of the other band's members' room. About a minute later four of the guys from the other band exited the same room. They didn't see us as we were at the far end of the hallway and they were walking the other way towards the elevator. For some strange reason, our singer and I both decided that we needed to loudly clear our throats at the same time. The guys from the other band turned around and saw us standing there with these big grins on our faces like the cat that just got the canary. They had this look on their faces like a kid who just got caught with both hands in the cookie jar. They knew they were busted and there was nothing they could say to get out of it. They begged and pleaded with us not to say anything to anyone about it. We did keep their secret but we had a lot of fun at brunch that day, making inside jokes that only the guilty would get. There was a lot of squirming at the brunch table but not by us.

What Goes Around.....

We had just finished spending several weeks gigging in Montreal and Quebec City. It was a lazy Sunday and we planned to take our time heading home since we had the upcoming week off. Then we get a phone call from our manager. He told us he had booked us in to a club in downtown Toronto that night. If we really pushed it we would only be about an hour late. So we kicked it in to warp speed packing our suitcases and throwing them in the van. Our gear was already packed away in the truck.


We were all sitting in the van waiting with bated breath for our keyboard player to join us. Finally, he saunters out of the hotel almost in slow motion. He knew we were in a panic to get going but he decided to play us. He slowly bent down and put his suitcase on the sidewalk. Pulled out his comb and slowly combed his hair, totally ignoring our demands for him to hurry up. Then he did a long slow stretch looking way up at the clouds. As he was in mid-stretch, a dog walked up to him, which he didn't see. The dog lifted his leg and let go all over our keyboard player's leg. It took about twenty seconds or so before our keyboard player felt the wetness. Around the same time he heard us falling out of the van in hysterics. He look confused as to what we were laughing at then he looked down, the dog was looking up right in to our keyboard player's eyes. The dog finished his business and slowly strolled away like nothing had happened. Our keyboard player just stood there frozen with this look on his face that was part shock, and part defilement... Ain't karma a bitch?


Hittin Da Road

We were asked by a local bike club called the Los Bravos (they merged with the Hells Angels recently) to play at their club house for a party they were going to have. We thought it would be a blast so we accepted. The bikers were actually surprised we accepted as most of the local bands were afraid to play for bikers. Their club house was about 30 miles out of Winnipeg on a farm.


We loaded the truck with our gear. The truck was a 3 ton open box truck. The back was totally open except for kind of a wood fencing that went around three sides of where the box normally is on trucks. After we loaded the truck, we climbed in the back with our gear and proceeded to get ourselves loaded as well.


We were cruising down the highway doing around 60 or 70 miles per hour. The right front tire blew out. Our roadie lost control of the truck. The truck was swerving all over the highway. We skidded and tipped over. Even though we were doing between 60 and 70 miles per hour it was like it was all happening in slow motion. All of our gear being spilled out on to the highway, taking us with it. I landed on top of one of our P.A. speaker cabinets (an A7 cabinet), straddling it and riding it like a horse as it skidded down the highway with my hair blowing majestically in the wind. Fortunately no one was hurt, and outside of a few scrapes and severe road rash on our gear, everything was fine.


We eventually got to the bikers' club house and played all night long. It was a major blast. The bikers treated us with respect. We actually made a few friends there. A couple of the bikers ended roading for us. Amazing how we never seemed to have a problem with bar owners not paying us and getting beer after closing hours when our roadies were there.


King Herbert

I heard King Herbert was looking for a bass player. For those of you that haven't heard of King Herbert, he was extremely well established in the R&B/Funk scene out of Toronto through the 70's to the 90's until his passing in 1995. I managed to get an audition set up through his manager.


At the audition, we were halfway through the first song when King stopped the band and said "You're hired!" King left the room to make a phone call to his manager. When he came back in to the room, he told us that he told his manager to cancel the remaining bass player auditions and our first gig was in three days.

My audition turned in to a four hour rehearsal. These guys had been playing together for years and knew hundreds of songs. They showed me their song list consisting of around 70 songs, none of which I knew. For the next the 3 days, we covered each of the 70 songs at least 3 times.


Opening night, the club was packed. We were all on stage, King looks at me and smiles then chuckles. He then calls out a song that I'd never heard of before and definitely wasn't on our song list. As our drummer was counting the song in, I quickly whispered to our keyboard player and asked what key the song was in. Just as the keyboard player answered, the song started. The rest of the night was very much like that, I think we may have played around ten or twelve songs from the list that we rehearsed. The rest of the songs, I'd never heard of before. King loved to throw us in the deep end with a big rock and chuckle about it.


One night we were in the middle of a James Brown tune and I heard a trumpet player playing along with us. Then I saw this big black guy in his late 60's walking through the crowd heading towards the stage blowing two trumpets at the same time (this guy was a killer horn player). Turns out it was one of King's old friends and he joined us on stage for the rest of the set. We never knew what was going to happen at the gig or who would sit in with us. Playing with King was the most fun I've ever had gigging.


King decided we were all going to have matching stage outfits made. So he had his tailor come down to one of our gigs and measure us up. About a week later the tailor showed up with our new "uniforms" about a half hour before we had to hit the stage. Everyone's outfit fit them very well and actually looked pretty sharp. Mine fit me like I was one of the seven dwarfs. It had two left sleeves. The pants were 5 sizes too big and 6 inches too long. As if being the only white guy in the band didn't make me stand out enough, I had to hit the stage looking like Dumpy of the Seven Dwarfs.... Man do I know how to blend or what?



As we left Montreal on a fall day, every one was in T-shirts and cut-offs. We were headed for northern Quebec, a town call Rimouski. We had to take a ferry across the St. Laurence Seaway, about a 3 hour ferry ride. It was very stormy that day and the ship was heaving heavily from side to side. Most of the guys and the road crew had this green aura around them. They were all on their knees praying to the porcelain throne. Our keyboard player and I were fine so naturally, on a ship that rocking violently, we head to the bar. The bar took up the entire width of the ferry with floor to ceiling windows on each of the outer walls. I could see nothing but clouds, then nothing but water, then nothing but clouds and so on as the ship rocked from side to side. Fortunately our road crew really knew how to pack a truck, our gear was fine.


We finally arrived in Rimouski. There was tons of snow. All you could see of any of the stop signs were about three quarters of the red hexagon sign. The rest was buried in snow. During our first set at the club, two waitresses came up on each side of stage and placed two buckets containing bottles of champagne. It was the bar owner's way of thanking us. They were not used to having bands of our caliber there and he knew that for the next two weeks the club would be packed. It's so rare to be appreciated by a club owner.


Hardly anyone in Rimouski spoke any English, only French. We didn't speak any French. We met a guy who spoke both languages and he ended up doing a lot translating for us. Turned out he had two cousins that played and wanted to jam with us. The guys in the band just laughed it off. I took them up on it. My band mates looked at me like I was crazy. Since the club was closed during the day, I had the owner let us in during the afternoon. My band mates drove me to the club. When they dropped me off, they were all chuckling and sarcastically said have a good jam.


One of the cousins played bass and he was at about the same level I was. The other cousin, who was all of 14 years old, played drums. He was AMAZING!!! A young Lenny White only with more energy. Neither spoke any English but we managed to communicate anyways. We had an afternoon of killer jams sessions. During one of our jams I looked out into the club and saw my band mates, who were there to pick me up. They were just standing there with their mouths hanging open and their eyes bulging out. They couldn't believe it. Guess it was my turn to chuckle. Just goes to show that major talent can be hiding anywhere. Never pre-judge.