Tales From The Road – The Bodyguard

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The bands of my childhood suddenly turned the corner and became classic rock bands. Where did the time go? Instead of touring on a new release they were now starting their reunion or farewell tours. Many of them couldn’t stand each other but also couldn’t turn down the paycheck. Lots of sexy money makes people able to put their differences away for 10 hours a week and share a stage. Many of them had fragmented management, also. Each member could have their own personal manager and every decision made by the band manager had to be run by them first. Fragmented management meant that individual members could have their own staff and crew on the road with them. One extreme case I worked with included each member having their own chef, trainer, bodyguard and assistant with them at all times.

One tour I was involved with required me to be bodyguard for a guitarist that stood to earn a huge bonus if he could stay sober (on show days) for the entire tour. His personal manager hired me to make sure that bonus was earned, no matter what I had to do. I almost didn’t take the job as he tried to structure my deal to be bonus heavy, too. I refused and took the sure money. I had worked with this guitarist briefly a few months earlier but knew he would have no memory of it once I showed up at the airport hanger where production rehearsals were taking place.

My first memory of showing up for work was that I was the smallest bodyguard there. These mothers were huge! The average was about 6’6” and about 300 pounds. They had about 3 inches and almost one hundred pounds on me and my one hope was that my guy didn’t start anything with any of their guys. This was a new role for me and I was quickly finding out it would not be a walk in the park. Some of the other crew filled me in on his tricks- where he would hide drugs, who he would call to deliver drugs and how he collected any drug thrown at him while he was on stage. You have probably seen the security that runs on stage to grab members of the audience who made their way up, I would be the guy running out to pick the drugs off the stage before he could get to them.

The first month of the tour was a breeze, I only had to intercept one shipment of guitar picks that sounded way too much like pills. He seemed to be intent on keeping clean and making life easy on me. The second month saw him starting to get bored of life on the road and looking to shake things up. He wanted to have in-room parties but his manager banned anyone outside of family from entering his room. He began trying to bribe me, offering me a grand to take a night off. They had 4 months left and I knew there was no way he would be earning that huge payday.

About halfway through the tour we hit my hometown and I had friends meeting me outside the hotel. We got off the bus and my guitarist began signing autographs for the dozens of people that were there waiting for him. He seemed to be in a great mood. I walked over to say hello to my friends and let them know I would have some time to hang out when he got picked up for a TV interview. One of my oldest friends told me something fishy was going down behind my back. He said the guitarist just put his case down, signed a few autographs and was now walking towards the door with another guitar case! The fucker had a contact try the old bait and switch right there in plain sight! I quickly made my way over to shadow him into the elevator. I asked the fans who were trying to get in to take the next one and they obliged. Once the doors closed I told him he would have to give me the guitar case. He laughed and handed it over. This was all a game to him. A game he would lose a week later when he had his then girlfriend surrender her stash to him.

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