We have been at this for 8 straight months. When this tour started the band was stuck at 125,000 units sold and going on first on a 5 band package tour. 5 months in radio jumped on their second single and they were the toast of the town. The six month mark saw the album hit two million sold and they were headlining theaters. Life was great, or at least should have been.
I was close to the guitarist, he had an interest in the business and wanted to learn. He spent many night at the front of the bus with me talking shop. He saw a future in the business beyond his 15 minutes as a performer and I always was there to lend a hand, as other did for me.
Things started to get weird when we hit Pittsburgh. He was staying in his bunk during the long drives and avoiding the rest of the band the rest of the day. We got an early check-in at the hotel and he took off for his room. He was on his own until 7pm that night, one of those rare days of rest. His tech would do the sound checks on the days the band had a chance to rest so I didn’t notice something was up until he didn’t make lobby call. He answered his door seconds after I knocked and let me in. He went right back to bed and started playing on his laptop. I had never seen this before. He had shut out the outside world yet answered the door. I asked him a few questions but he wasn’t answering. What the hell am I going to do? I sat in the chair facing the bed and watched as he tuned me out. He then turned the screen towards me and I could read I WANT TO GO HOME on the screen.
I have seen this before but never to this point. There was a week left on the American leg and then the band was scheduled to do 3 weeks in Europe. I can’t give him the usual pep talk that we are almost home and he didn’t seem interested in hearing it anyway. I was at a loss so I decided to try the obvious, I told him to get out of bed and that it was time to go to work. Fuck, it worked! I walked him down and into the waiting van. He spent the drive looking out the window and not saying a word.
I had a van waiting to take him back to the hotel once the show ended. There was no use in keeping him in the environment for a minute longer than needed. We had a day off tomorrow so there was no immediate panic. I put a call into management and we agreed they would come out on the next flight so they could access the situation themselves. I was not going to be the one pulling the plug on the remaining dates, that is what they were being paid for. Who knows, I could be overreacting but I wasn’t willing to wait a few days to see how it went.
The manager got in at 1:00pm the following day. I met him in the lobby and gave him the little info I had. He asked if I wanted to sit in but I told him it should be private, unless I was asked for. By 2:30pm the manager was back down in the lobby and letting me know that they agreed to cancel the European leg of the tour. He feels he would be able to stick it out and complete the American dates knowing he had an end date in sight. They also agreed that he would go visit with his mother once the tour ended. She was a nurse and would be able to get him any help he needed.
The tour was completed under a sombre tone and he was able to go home and relax for the next 2 months. All further touring was cancelled and the band would return to the studio to record the next album. I was put on retainer for 3 months and decided I would do what the band ultimately never got to do in their career – I headed to Europe. It was 5 weeks before I got word. He sent me a long email thanking me for my support and that he felt like himself once again. 15 years later we are still close friends and he, thankfully, never experienced that low again.