The last night of a tour usually means someone is getting pranked. Crew usually find a way to get the band, the opening band may prank the headliners, members pranking other members – anything can happen. I have seen people streaking, animals brought out on stage, singers getting kidnapped and replaced by a little person for a song and, my all time favorite, super glue on the mic.
The other side of these last nights are the goodbyes. It is generally the last time that group of people will ever be together. Crew members change, band members change, I compare it to the end of a season for a sports team. Usually, after 6-8 months of being together you need a break from the same faces but are still sad to see it end.
Some goodbyes are final goodbyes. While you are “road friends” with many of the artists, your interaction ends when the tour does. Crew members tend to keep in touch a little more, mostly because everyone is always looking for that next job. There are times that the band may but you on retainer but you are generally jobless once the tour ends. You may have a loose agreement that you will be back when they tour again but with the understanding that you will take another offer if it comes up. I had a loose agreement with one of my favorite artists, unfortunately I never had the chance to take him up on the offer, or say my final goodbye.
I should qualify favorite. Ninety percent of the time I can separate the artist for the person. I can remain a fan of the work while not being a fan of the person. This guy was one of those, a jerk. He was a jerk to his crew, he was a jerk to most of his band and he was a jerk to many fans. When I first started working for him I was told about the crew guys he fired for trying to engage him in conversation. I never experienced his wrath first hand, I actually had a good time with him. I also probably turned a blind eye to his drinking and gave him the benefit of the doubt more than I should have. I was told he had mellowed in the last decade but still was known to go off when he got loaded.
I missed the final goodbye because of his drinking. We were in Moscow and he was being fêted like a king after the show. Drinks were flowing and I could hear the anger start to build in his voice. Crew members were stopping at his table to thank him for the opportunity and say goodbye and he was getting angrier with each one that approached. Instead of sticking around I took a new friend up on her offer to show me the sights, a two hour tour of Moscow I will never forget.
We had one last crew breakfast the next morning before heading back home. He had already left Moscow earlier that morning, slipping out without anyone knowing. The crew were filling me on on how bad things got the night before, which is probably why he didn’t want to face anyone in the sober light of the morning. I’m glad I left when I did since that was the last time I would get to see him, he died 4 months later. I saw the slightly angry tipsy legend instead of the angry drunk.