Tales From The Road – Saying No To A Legend


I thought it was the summer of 1997 but it turns out it was the summer of 1999. Either way, it is the time I made a choice that has nagged me since. I don’t live in the land of regrets, I accept the life experience as a whole as opposed to a series of good or bad decisions. Hopefully, by the end, you have a couple more in the good column.

I had just finished a job that last 11 months and drained me like no job did before. I was barely holding on to my twenties and starting to feel burned out already, I needed something different. I decided to take a job that started in mid-August and would be more of a residency than a tour. It also meant I had 6 weeks off. I decided to spend a few weeks back home visiting family before heading back home. It was during this trip home that I got a call from a new contact that I met a few months back in Los Angeles. He was the manager of a legendary rock act as well as a few baby bands. He had brought me in to consult with one of the baby bands and help them work within the tour support their label was offering them. Things went well and he told me he would be in touch in the future if anything came up that he thought would be right for me.

The legendary band he managed was in town that night and he wanted me to meet with the leader of the band. He called it a preliminary meeting and to see how we got along. I had done quite a few of these interviews disguised as preliminary meetings before so I knew I may not hear back from them for months, if ever. I told him I would be there at the time we set and hung up thinking that I was not sure if I wanted to work for a legendary band. To me legendary meant nostalgia and I always enjoyed working with bands on the way up as opposed to those hanging on. I didn’t want to be known as the guy that was attached to nostalgia acts. Yeah, I was a dick. It would turn out that the best jobs I ever had were for nostalgia acts and my thinking back then can only be attributed to youthful ignorance.

I was my usual 15 minutes early when I walked right by the local guys hanging by the load-in doors and made it onto the stage without once being stopped. Sound check had juts finished and I asked a guitar tech where I could find the tour manager. He pointed him out and I headed over to let him know I was there for a meeting. I didn’t recognize any of the people on this crew which led me to believe they were together for many years. I was met with a smile and a handshake, two things I was not expecting because his would be the job I thought I was there to take. He told me he had been briefed by the manager and he took me down the steps to the backstage area where I would be having my meeting.

We didn’t do much talking on the walk there but I do remember him mentioning I seemed a little young for my resume. I guess he really was briefed, maybe to make him feel comfortable in his role in case he recognized me or caught wind of my line of work. I met him again years later and he told me he first thought I was a pretentious dick… but that he thought that of all the “young hotshots” that came along. He told me to hang out in the ante room while he went to see if my meeting was ready to begin. He was back out in under a minute and waved me over. I walked into the room and he introduced me to the rock star I would be meeting with.

We shook hands and he asked me what I was drinking. I told him I would stick with the bottle of water his tour manager had given me. I remember him muttering that he never trusts a man who doesn’t have a drink. I was off to a great start. Thankfully the conversation from then on was natural and not forced at all. We sat there for close to two hours discussing different elements of touring, recording and marketing. It was a bit of an ego boost having this legend interested in my opinions and picking my brain. The tour manager came in and told him it was time to head to catering and asked if I would join him. I ended up spending another hour talking with him before he excused himself to get ready for the show. The tour manager handed me a pass and tickets and said I should stop by after the show for a few minutes. I told him I would and headed back to my car to see if I got a ticket and to meet up with a few friends who were coming down for the show.

I waited for a few minutes after the show ended and headed back to say my goodbyes. The tour manage walked me right in to the same room. I was met with a warm smile and handshake. The last thing the legend said to me when I was leaving was that he looked forward to seeing more of me real soon and that I better start drinking something stronger than water.

That would be the last time we ever spoke. They did offer me a job but I was already to committed to another one and I turned them down. The job I took over them lasted less than 3 months before the tour was canceled due to the flavor of the week not being able to sell any tickets. The person they hired instead of me spent 16 years as part of that amazing family.

road dog