Chapter One - I Was A Roadie - Page 9

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The rip-offs were routine, the cheque often bounced, and hollow promises were thick on the ground. There were bikers, fires, fists and guns. Hookers and dealers, groupies and managers, record company staff who really thought they wrote the songs, and booking agents who lied for a living. Dope diesel and degradation. Then there were the rock stars.

Amongst the struggles, drugs, fatigue, violence and the egos, there were some people who were complete utter bastards, who practiced the art of duplicity and who just didn't care about others. A few still work in the industry and are well-avoided by those who remember—most of the rest are dead.

I smelled the turning point in 1984 and got off the road, a road that peaked with Whispering Jack shifting twenty-four platinum records several years later. Somehow we faded as our audience grew up and had kids.

AIDS and random breath-testing took the fun out. Bolivian marching powder—cocaine—and speed made people crazy. How would you feel? You're tired, jaded, trying to do your gig, and a guy is yelling spittle into your face for no reason, or trying to take a swing at you? Telling you that you can’t do this or that, turn the PA down, just being ridiculous. Refusing to load out after the gig—the list goes on. I remember them all. Sometimes the best response was a microphone stand over the head. Take a nap, sunshine.

I carry enough scars, enough broken teeth, and like most old roadies I have a back injury that flares up when it is cold. And I’m half deaf, with a liver that's suffered more than most.

We fought, we struggled against the authorities, we exceeded our limits, and we had a burning passion for the music. Ours was a generation with a big gap between us and the confused pre-war generation who parented us. These weren't the good old days at all, really; these were bad times with flashes of brilliance.

I used to cringe when someone called me a roadie. Now I’m proud of it.

You should have seen that damned Clipper coach ...

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