So, I’m standing in front of the hotel waiting for the shuttle to pick me up to take me to the stage where I’ll be playing tonight. I’m playing a celebrity golf tournament after party. I’m smoking a cigarette and making small talk with another guy waiting for the shuttle.
Our management told us to prepare a couple of songs because Don Felder from the Eagles would be there, some guy who is famous south of the border and one of the guys from Survivor. Strangely enough they told us to only plan a couple of tunes, One for Felder and one for South of the Border. Nothing for Survivor.
“Oh I’d have to be really drunk to play with you guys?” laughed the Survivor guy.
So this guy and I strike up a conversation
“You waitin’ on the bus” said the dude.
“Yeah, you too ?” I replied
“I’m Sammy Roan, I’m in the band tonight,” shaking hands.
“I’m *Joe Blow (I can’t remember his name as I write this) I’m the guy from Survivor”
“Great to meet you. Are ya gonna hop up a play a tune with us?”
“Oh I’d have to be really drunk to play with you guys?” laughed the Survivor guy.
My inner musical ego just got pimp slapped from some dude who sings lyrics like;
I’ve been holding back the night (how is this done exactly and how will this affect your current romantic situation?)
Piercin’ eyes, like a raven *translation. You have bird eyes, just like the crows eating out of a dumpster
… eye roll. 80’s pop crap….
“We aren’t THAT bad dude, It’s not like we couldn’t whip out freakin’ “Eye of the Tiger” I replied with righteous indignation.
The guy starts laughing his ass off and says “Man, I’m from the TV SHOW Survivor.”
So I made an ass out of myself to a stranger. I played Johnny B. Goode with the guy who wrote Hotel California and I drank beers with some dude from Survivor. Don hit on our guitar player’s girlfriend and that’s about all I remember.
The moral of the story; Everyone who is from Survivor can not necessarily play Eye of the Tiger.
I felt my first twinge of depression this week. I haven’t felt any since returning to California. Scared the shit out of me. What if it gets real bad again? What if I start fucking up, what if I lose my job, along with other various fears and over reactions.
I work in a part of town that is populated by the super rich. I see more Porsches in a day that I have my entire life. Being a white-trash, non practicing Rockabilly, I would swap the Porsche for a rusty, E flat, rat rod with a four foot gear shift, dually tires and blowin’ enough black smoke that there is a permanent hole in the ozone over it.
A few times a week this guy with one arm comes in. British dude. Always is cool, buys a couple of tall boys and makes some chit chat and gets on his bicycle and leaves.
Last Saturday he comes in late and, said he just got back from LA and was glad to be home. It’s just me and him. He knows I’m a musician and he says he and his wife are putting together a group and wondered if I might be interested.
“Depending on the music, maybe”. He said it was Americana stuff, and I said “Hell Yeah, lets do it!” We talked about music a bit, we swap numbers and I finally ask “Hey man, what’s your name? I’m Sammy” He replies “Rick.” then he turns around and walks out of the store and says on his way out “Ya know the band Def Leppard? One arm drummer…”
Holy shit! I had a poster of this guy on my wall as a kid. I loved the album Pyromania. It was one of the first tapes I bought back in the day.
In case you didn’t know, Rick Allen is the drummer for Def Leppard. His story is inspirational. In between albums Rick was in a car crash and lost his arm. His band WAITED on him to recover. They wouldn’t replace him. He was going to have to quit.
Rick ended up putting together a drum kit where he could play with one arm and had foot pedals that would play the parts that his missing right arm used to play. He got up to speed and joined the band as they put out Hysteria, and became the biggest band in the world at the time (88-89)
What an amazing show of friendship from the guys in Def Leppard and what an amazing drive to not let his handicap stop him from drumming. Both admirable traits. Even though my Def Leppard years were way behind me, ya gotta respect that.
They needed a slide guitarist. “Sure. I can play slide” maybe exaggerating a little… so I stopped by the hardware store on my break and had them cut me off a piece of copper tubing the length of my third finger, went home, tuned the guitar to open D and looked up a few slide licks stolen directly from Duane Allman.
“Sure. I can play slide” maybe exaggerating a little… so I stopped by the hardware store on my break and had them cut me off a piece of copper tubing the length of my third finger, went home, tuned the guitar to open D and looked up a few slide licks stolen directly from Duane Allman.
I figure three licks will be enough to pass myself off as a real slide player….
I figure three licks will be enough to pass myself off as a real slide player, the rest I’ll learn later. (I have played slide guitar before but only on a basic level) I got them down and was ready to stop by the studio. Filled with excitement I kept that slide in my pocket everyday. This could be a great gig playing with Rick Allen.
I stopped off one day at the studio and met the owner for the first time. He had put together a band for Rick (that didn’t include me. He didn’t even know me.) He said they were doing original material for gigs around the area. Come by tomorrow and meet the rest of the band.
I grabbed a thumb drive and popped on three of my finished songs plus one that was music only, no lyrics, if she wanted to write to it, and a song by my friend George Ozier called “Question Is.” I had a hit song for them with “Question Is” put my five song demo in my pocket and was ready. Between myself and a group of friends I have access to enough great songwriting to keep them busy for years. I was on pins and needles waiting for this. Stomach in a knot.
That same day I got some really bad news about a close friend. His days are numbered. I have shared a million miles of road with him, dozens of concerts, nights out on the town and best of all listened as he told story after story. A natural. Cumberland County’s Mark Twain with a button on his shirt that read “Question Authority” and the greatest concert and band t-shirt collection ever. He is supposed to leave me those in his will we joked years ago. I never thought that he may need one soon. Heart broken and sharing stories with old band mates who also love this guy, we are all at kind of a loss. Hope I don’t have to go to court to get those T-shirts. It was a verbal agreement.
Cumberland County’s Mark Twain with a button on his shirt that read “Question Authority”
The same knot was there just the reasons have changed. My close friend is dying.
The next day I took the slide out of my pocket, stopped by the studio listened to a couple of songs and met the band, handed Ricks wife my five songs and said, “I gotta go to work”
Everything had come into focus. I don’t want to play slide. Even after hearing them I wasn’t blown away by the music, not that it wasn’t good but I played with George Ozier, Matt Poss, Isaiah Edwards, Tommy Dunn. THESE GUYS CAN WRITE A SONG!! I can write a damn good song. Great musical ideas, clever, funny, poignant… you name it, they have written it. I have to bring my A game when I play my material for them.
I’ve played with drummers like Kent Aberle and Brendan Gamble. Two drummers who’ll put that kick drum right up your ass while laying the smack down on the snare. I’ve never played with better. Jim Thompson never failed to bring it. Great player.
I stood toe to toe with guitar god George Lynch and held my own but Wally Hooker, Jon Clarkson can play that shit, and I played with them for years. Garrie Carlen is the most underrated guitarist in Illinois. Doug Evans is still my favorite bass player and we started together in a garage. Bobby Reynolds is the best slide player I know and most of America knows. I can call him anytime.
The horn players in Dr Wu are unbelievable musicians and writers. Pat Lee is a lot like me. He’s not schooled like the others but he has that Jr. Walker style of sax playing down. That’s what I want to hear anyway.
One of the top 10 concert/shows I have ever been to was hearing J.B. Faries’ band, Huck Fate, play a set at The Top Of The Rock in Charleston Illinois. The power and performance that came from that band hit you in the chest like a freight train. Awe inspiring. It was THAT good.
So yeah, it would be a notch in my belt to say I played with a guy from Def Leppard, but I have and still play with the best. It may not impress the neighbors as much, but the circle of players I have worked with blow most of the famous ones I have played with away or are at least on that level.
The knot is gone and if they call that’s cool but the people that I want to impress are the same ones I want to have beers with, talk about old times, great gigs, bad gigs, and who I love way beyond their talent, which is as mighty as anyone you have ever heard.
“Time is Tight” as Booker T and the MG’s said. My heart isn’t into it. I have a friend who I’m concerned about, I’ve decided to write and record a new album, and I’m still getting used to my new city. Once I realized this, the depression subsided, I feel great again, and am just going to do what I want to do and not worry about impressing anyone but the people I mentioned before.
My resume as a musician is long and has many high points on it. I’m very proud of it. I’m not going to waste what took me all this time by pursuing a gig I don’t really want. It’s not fair to Rick’s band either. I think I’ll suggest we just have some beers instead of jamming. After all, I know what he likes to drink.
New album coming. I have about half of it written. I have a sound in my head that I’m going to attempt to capture. I’ll also lay out thoughts on fear, sadness, love, and great times. Just so someone can say “This is a piece of crap” and toss it away. Fuck em. I bet I don’t like your band either.
Stay close, know that I am fine and through my friends and family, I’m getting stronger everyday.
If you hear of anyone needing a three impressive licks on slide guitar have em give me a call. But don’t let them listen too closely to the Allman Brothers Statesboro Blues.
Here is how I did it… Ya gotta love YouTube