Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Improbable Story of the Sons of Bob

The Sons of Bob Clockwise from bottom left:
Ted Canning, Jim Polisky, Jim Beatty, Rob Gaudagno
Chances are you have never heard of the Sons of Bob. After all they were nothing more than a local rock band that played the New Haven, Connecticut scene throughout the '80s. There were glimpses of U2, The Fixx, and Roxy Music in their sound, but otherwise the music they created was uniquely their own. They used the same pedals and guitar effects that the other bands of that era used, and also in tune with the times, relied on a heavy dose of keyboards. They were better than average but not great - It's not like the record companies were beating down their doors. Nonetheless, they built a tight and loyal following as one of the favorite college bands on and around the campus of Yale University.

Sons of Bob consisted of Ted Canning (bass, vox), Jim 'Mertz' Polisky (drums, percussion), Rob Guadagno (guitar, keyboards and vox) and James 'Crash' Beatty (guitar, keyboards, vox). As the band name suggests, all four members of the Sons of Bob have a father named Bob, or Robert. While that in itself is a fun coincidence, there really wasn't anything that separated these guys from anybody else... Until August 12th, 1989.

On that date, the Sons of Bob pulled off a feat that most bands don't even dream about, because the likelihood of it happening are so remotely impossible, especially for a band that on a good night might pull 75 people in to see it's show.

On August 12th, 1989, the Sons of Bob played in a bar, as the supporting act for the legendary Rolling Stones.

It almost didn't happen, for many different reasons. But whatever stars were aligning that night over New Haven, Connecticut, their presence was was enough to conduct a magical spell of sorts, and like a wizard sprinkling pixie dust on a golden toad stool, a rare and strange series of events started to happen. The Stones were set to kick off  their world wide Steel Wheels Tour on August 31st in Philadelphia, and they were looking for a warm up gig to get a test run. Toad's Place in New Haven seemed like the perfect spot... It was just big enough to pull off an unannounced concert, and it had the sound system and the hidden entrances that would be required to pull off such a bodacious act. Still though, the Stones camp warned those at Toad's that if word got out that they were playing, or if there was any sign of a pending riot, they would forfeit the gig and forget about the entire thing. So when the owner of the place, Mike Spoerndle contacted the Sons of Bob about playing there, he wasn't able to tell them that they would be opening up for the greatest rock and roll band in the history of the world.

The story of what happened next is as legendary as the opportunity itself, and it's fun to note that the Sons of Bob almost said no to the gig because they were scheduled to play at another venue later that night.

Instead of laying it all out to you in the third person, I thought it would be better if I let the guys in the band tell you the story themselves. After all, they were there on that incredible night, and for me to try to put their account into words would seem frivolous. So I contacted each member of the band and asked them to tell me their version of what happened, and they jumped at the chance. For the first time ever, all four members of the Sons of Bob are sharing the story together...

So tell me about Sons of Bob... How and when did you form, and before that fateful night when you opened for the Stones, what was the biggest event the band was a part of?

Ted Canning: Well, three out of four of us lived in the same neighborhood in North Branford, CT and initially a conversation on the school bus in high school got Rob and I together in a southern rock cover thing, it was 1979 after all. Rob got smart and skipped out on the cover thing and started doing original jam session with Jim Beatty. Not long after that I decided to try that out since the cover band thing was getting boring. So, we were about 14/15 years old when it got going. We just knocked out power chords and laid down some heavy rock stuff initially calling ourselves the Warheads. We started playing the usual house parties and dances. Then when we were around 17 we fell in with Jim Polisky on drums. We started playing a punk club called Brothers III at age 17. Brother’s III later became New Haven’s The Grotto. Mark Mulcahy, of Miracle Legion and solo fame, was booking the Grotto and took a liking to us in the mid 80’s. Mark had us opening for Miracle Legion at least a few times on Saturday nights which helped get us some exposure and we opened for other regional bands like The Neighborhoods from Boston. The Grotto was a great place, truly underground, and would get people like John Cale from time to time. The biggest night we had prior to the Stones gig was when Mark and Miracle Legion, who were friends with REM, invited REM to come over to the Grotto when they played New Haven. We got to hang out with REM and Miracle Legion since we opened for Miracle Legion that night. Peter Buck and Mike Mills played through our gear when they joined Miracle Legion when they jammed to The Doors “Roadhouse Blues”. That night we found out being a little known opening band can have its perks!

James 'Crash' Beatty: For me it was several years and different bands before I was lucky enough to finally hook up with the rest of the band, and finally become what was to be the most fun and creative relationships of my life. Unless it was just because we all had dads named Bob and fate took it's course.
Toad's Place: 300 York Street New Haven, Ct.
"Where Legends Play"

Tell me about the 12th of August, 1989. Was your gig already scheduled, and then you found out that the Stones were going to be playing, or exactly how did that entire scenario go down?

Rob Guadagno: First off I have to say that opening for the Stones that night was the single most incredible thing that ever happened to me in my life! It still seems like it was a dream to me. But really it was a dream come true... I am a big Stones fan but especially love Keith.

James 'Crash' Beatty:  We originally had another gig planned that night but cancelled that one for the opportunity to play Toads and the party.

Jim Polisky: Maybe a week before, I spoke on the telephone with (then Toads Place owner) Mike Spoerndle and he told me we "really should take this Toads Place gig instead, it is a birthday party for Jim Koplik" (a huge concert promoter) adding, "It should be a good gig for you guys". Mike always seemed to like our band, my father was friends with him.

I hung up, and talked it over with Sons Of Bob - it was so casual, like, 'hmmm, which show should we do' kind of a thing. I called Mike back and basically told him ok, we would do the Toad's Place show instead. We never had a clue at this point, and I swear if we had taken the other gig and missed this one I would have stopped playing, burned my drums, and kicked myself until my eyes fell out.

Ted Canning: We thought this was odd as we only played original tunes and actually told Toad’s we had another gig that night and asked if we “COULD GET BACK TO THEM”. Of course the Stones gig was under total secrecy so they couldn’t tell us to “just say yes you idiots!” They demanded we give them an answer in an hour. Jim Polisky and I were there for that call. We hung up the phone and within a minute said “what the fuck are we doing not saying YES to a gig at Toad’s on a Saturday night for Jimmy Koplik”. We called right back and said, “Yeah, we’d like to play that night we will work it out with the other club”. We actually planned to play Toad’s, which we were told was ‘early” and then we were going to drive over to 127 West Club and play that gig, needless to say we never made it over to 127 West! Our friends from Boston – The Thorns - drove down to open for us at 127 West and I am sure they are still a bit pissed that they got stuck there while up the road we were opening for the Stones, no cell phones back then and all phones inside were disconnected so we couldn’t call anybody once we were in at 4pm on the day of the gig.

James Polisky: On the night before, my father told me he wanted to grab some pizza with me. We went out, and over dinner he told me something really cool was going to possibly go down at Toad's that next night, and he knew of this because of his friendship with (owner) Mike. I pressed him on it, and he eventually cracked. He told me we might be opening for the Rolling Stones, it was in the works, but if any word got out, or if anything went wrong with the planning or whatever, it was not going to happen. And there was apparently an excellent chance it might NOT happen.

The Stones were about to kick off a major world tour, and if there was a crowded riot atmosphere outside, or inside the club, the show was off for them, as they had way too much at stake.

I went back to the band house we all lived in later that night, our guitarist Rob was the only one home. I needed to tell someone in the band, so I told him what my father had told me. I do not recall his reactions, but I do know I eventually went to bed, probably after a few beers. I told Ted the next morning, and I think the 3 of us decided to not mention it to 'Crash.' I think we thought it might make him too nervous? At least I never told 'Crash', maybe someone else in the band did.

We rehearsed, but there was really no need to. We were always dead on when we played live, one of our many strong points. And anyway, how do you rehearse with a clear head knowing you might be opening for one of the greatest rock bands of all time in a handful of hours? I do recall going through the set list a few times in the basement, I guess it helped pass the time.

On the night of August 12, we drove up and double parked our SUV in front of the club and a number of Toads Place staff came outside and helped us load in our gear from the street. This was kind of strange. As a local band and having played Toads numerous times before, we were always treated very well by the Toads staff. Always had a good sound check, received a little cash, and always received a few drink tickets, the usual stuff a band got at the time for playing the local bar scene.

But staff helping carry gear into the club? Who helps a local band load in?

The club interior had alterations done to it for that night. The stage was extended both in length and width, made obvious by the raw unpainted wood newly constructed and attached to the worn black painted existing stage. There was also a large black curtained off area to the left side of the stage where Stones roadies were attending to gear, and all the pay phones had been duct taped to the wall.
When we got inside (club owner) Mike comes over grinning ear to ear, and basically tells us we were opening for the Stones, but we could not call anyone, and we could not leave the club.

None of us wanted to leave, by the way. I am guessing it was around 4 or 5 in the evening at this point.

Ted Canning: We had been playing Toad’s several times that year as we luckily got a cassette tape into Mike (the owner of Toad’s Place) Spoerndle’s hands through Jim Polisky’s father who’s name is Bob like all four of our fathers. Well, Mike Spoerndle actually liked our cassette tape and got us in to Toad’s on a Monday night initially. He came to our first gig at Toad’s in late 1988. He came up on stage as we were breaking down our gear after our set and said “I really like what you guys are doing; you remind me a lot of U2 when they played here. I am going to get you guys to open for a bigger name, see if we can get you some exposure, press and stuff”. We were thrilled to have the support of Mike (sadly he died a few months ago). Of course he had no idea at the time that nine months later the Stones would ask to play his club.

Until they arrived at Toad's Place, Sons of Bob
Had no idea what was in store for them that night.  
Rob Guadagno: The gig was a scheduled Toad's gig for us but not as the opening act for the Stones. There was never any mention of the Stones when we were originally asked to play.  It meant playing at Toad's again which was always a great thing for us and to be playing a local music promoter's private birthday party made it even better. So it was going to be a big night for us already (but not as big as it would become as we now know). I still feel bad for the few friends and family that decided to go to that other bar instead of our Toads gig.

Once all our cars were unloaded and our equipment was up on the stage ready to setup for a sound check, Mike the owner pulled us all aside for a quick group meeting. We couldn't have guessed what he was about to lay on us. "Guys, do you know who you're going to be opening for tonight?" We all shook our heads no. "You're opening … for The Rolling Stones!" I think at that time our mouths collectively dropped to the floor.We went into shock. I'm still surprised none of us fainted. We were truly blown away!! I'll personally remember those words for the rest of my life. It was so unbelievable but so real at the same time.

Then Mike proceeded to tell us how it would all go down. He told us we could make no calls out to our friends because this was a secret Stones gig. Remember this was 1989 so no one had cell phones.And I remember looking at the pay phones that were in the club and they were all taped up so you couldn't use them. He also told us that we only had 30 minutes for our full set list and not a second more. He stressed that this was very important. It was a specific request by the Stones. We had planed on 45 minutes so we immediately adjusted our set list to not run over 30 minutes. He also said that we could not leave the building.We would be there for the duration. So any friends and family coming to the gig would be in line like anyone else and would be allowed in on a first come first serve basis. Lucky for us (and them) most of our closest friends and family that regularly come out to see us were able to get in.

According to reports, there were 700 people there that night. Did you guys draw that big a crowd, or was there other factors that accounted for that many people to show up?

James 'Crash' Beatty: We definitely drew over 700 people....in our career as Sons of Bob.

Jim Polisky: We never drew a crowd of 700, more like 70, or some nights 7.

Rob Guadagno: The Stones playing at Toad's that night was absolutely a secret to the general public including us. I assume that the Stones organization and Toad's Place ownership all knew but I'm not aware of anyone else knowing.The only thing that I remember finding out was that Keith had bought a house in Washington, CT and that the Stones may have been rehearsing there for an upcoming album and tour. But I never heard anything about a club gig to start off the tour. Definitely nothing about the Stones playing Toad's Place.

Ted Canning:  A big night for us prior to that was maybe 100 with 3 bands pulling people through the door! The show was under TOTAL secrecy because the Stones camp made it clear to Toad’s that if “it was a mob scene” when they showed up they would just keep driving and not play the show. Toad’s was in a tough place to keep it secret and they did such a great job that by 7:30pm there were only about 100 or so people there. At that moment, from what I am told, the club called WPLR radio station and leaked the story.

Jim Polisky: I seem to recall Toads held approx 750 at the time, and I heard they crammed in well over 1,000 that night. I also heard the guest list was long and established, packed with recording execs, established national musicians, your basic who's who of music industry folks.

Ted Canning: Within a half an hour the road was closed and the club was filled and the streets were filled, so 700+ in the club and probably a couple thousand outside by show time. Notable people who were there, insiders who were told, were Joey Ramone, Darryl Hall, Tommy Mottola, Ivan Lendl, and family and friends of the Stones. Mottola should have signed us but he was too busy chasing dolphin-like singing chicks.

Jim Polisky: Basically our friends paid the cover to see us, and then a crowd of people started to come in as well. Did word somehow get out? Did possibly loads of limos start dropping A-list people off in public view, and this added to rumor frenzy? I heard local television stations were outside, and there was security everywhere, including the roof of Toad's. Did the general mass public see all this as well and think something was up? I can only guess yes.

Rob Guadagno: I wish I could say that we were able to draw that many people to come out to see us. But in reality only a small percentage of the people that were at the show that night actually came there just to see us. I had heard at the time that there were 500 people there in the club and maybe a another hundred or more people out in the street once the Stones started to play. When the Stones started their set the club opened their doors and people started to gather outside in the street to catch a glimpse of the Stones or at least hear them play.

Not sure about exact numbers but what we were told was that the Stones had a guest list that had about 200 people on it.Maybe 300 hundred. So the remainder that got into the club were coming to see us or were just coming early to catch a show then stay for the Saturday night dance party that Toads regularly had.

Jim Polisky: Toad's is located downtown New Haven, in the heart of Yale University. So I think rumors spread quickly that night, Toads got packed, and then more guest A-list people started coming in, so Toads was then overly packed. We had been placed in our own dressing room, a large boiler room below the stage, because the normal dressing room was off limits to us, with a cold case of Heineken. (Jackpot - imports!) We barely stayed in the boiler room, mostly hanging upstairs in a now ridiculously over crowded club. The night and crowd at this point is fucking electric to say the least.

So maybe it is now 8 or 9 pm, we were told to be ready to go on. To be honest, I do not recall saying anything to anyone in our band, but we were introduced and went on stage. The crowd, possibly expecting the rumored Stones, gave up a rowdy cheer instead for the local band Sons Of Bob. I remember my drum set being set up in front of the drum riser that Charlie Watts drum set is sitting on, and putting my hand on top of his kick drum, thinking "wow shit, is this really happening?". I think we played our standard original 10 song set list, having our usual great time onstage. After every song, a very loud thunderous applause from the (lucky to be watching us) crowd. Our set, no doubt, rocked.

After our set we go down this flight of stairs, and roadies take down our gear for us. (Again, a rarity) All bands normally go down this set of stairs after playing Toads to get to the dressing room. So there we are, post-set, I have my back to the stairs, and I swear to God I hear Mick Jagger's voice coming down the stairs, as he is having a normal conversation with someone. I quickly spin around and HOLY SHIT MOTHER FUCKER, Mick Jagger is walking right next to me, and the rest of the Stones come bounding down the stairs as well.

I yelled "Yo Mick" (its the only thing that came to mind) and he turns and walks back three steps to me. We shake hands and introduce ourselves. Then Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Billy Wyman, all are standing there. I greet them as if I have known them all my life. "Hey Keith, Hey Ron," I say as we shake hands. I never saw Charlie Watts come down the stairs. I have no clue as to how or why I missed meeting the drummer of the Rolling Stones.
Official poster commemorating the night
How did the night go... Did you play a few songs and then The Stones walked onstage behind you, or did you finish an entire set and the crowd thought that you would be out for a second one, but instead it was Mick and the boys?

James 'Crash' Beatty:  We were told ahead of time to go out and play our set, there was no guarantee that the Stones were showing up but if or when they did, our time was up. So we played our set and went back stage, and suddenly there they were. I'm putting my stuff away and I here "Hey Mick", turn around just in time to catch the rest of the band and meet them.

Ted Canning: We were told we could have a half hour set, so we were able to play six songs in that time. The crowd definitely knew what was going on that night by the time we hit the stage, but we were under clear orders not to mention the Stones when we got on the stage, we didn’t. Obviously we were nerved up and I am thankful the crowd put up with us knowing the Stones were coming after us, I have read that Prince, Iggy Pop and Meredith Brooks were ALL booed off the stage when they opened for the Stones. No booing thank God! So, we played our half hour set and then the Stones came on and played 11 songs, you can find it out there on a bootleg called “One Down 55 to go”.

Here is their set list:

1.Start Me Up
3.Tumbling Dice
4.Sad Sad Sad
5.Miss You
6.Little Red Rooster
7.Honky Tonk Woman
8.Mixed Emotions
9.It’s Only Rock And Roll
10.Brown Sugar
11.Jumping Jack Flash

They sounded great that night and for a bunch of 40 something’s at the time, well, Ronnie was in his  30's and they put on one hell of a show. I mean really, the Stones in a small club in 1989, you can’t beat that.

Rob Guadagno: Once it was time for us to start playing the Stones had still not arrived at the club yet. We walked up from the basement where the dressing rooms were. Ours was the broom closet and the regular dressing room was reserved for the Stones. Once we got onto the stage we realized the club was packed wall to wall. We were all very nervous knowing how important this gig was, especially to us. The biggest we had ever played until then. The promoter Jim Koplik introduced us to the crowd. We wished him happy birthday and gave him one of our band t-shirts as a gift. Then we threw out a bunch of our band t-shirts to the crowd. We had brought a bunch of t-shirts to the gig with us like we usually did at the time. The crowd was electric and enthusiastically greeted us. Most of the crowd knew what was coming up after us and the word started to spread by then so the crowd was super excited for the show to begin.

Before we launched into our first song we goofed with the crowd by saying that we were opening up for Elvis. Then we started to play.I can't say it was a flawless gig but it was the most exciting gig I ever had the privilege to play.

Jim Polisky: The black curtain area I mentioned where the roadies had Stones gear was also a deceptive way for the Stones to come in from the street, through an outside door, behind this hanging black curtain, and down the stairs, (the location we just met them) They were somewhere outside in an SUV or something, not a tour bus, to keep it on the down low, and they crept in quietly and I swear no one really saw them come in. So it was never apparent that they were ever inside the club.

I think that was part of the coolness of the evening. No one really knew if it was really going to happen.

Rob Guadagno: The crowd was very cool to us and seemed into it. So we were pumped and played our asses off. The crowd seemed to appreciate it too. We played through our 30 minute set and when we said good night the crowd erupted with applause. It was exhilarating! We then walked off stage and back down stairs to our broom closet dressing room. We were psyched that we pulled it off.

While we were down stairs the Stones had entered the building through a back door lead by body guards.The crowd was unaware of their entrance.They weren't there during our performance but what came next was even better then them seeing us play. While we were standing in the hallway we heard a voice with a British accent. Our drummer 'Mertz' recognized it and said "Hey Mick!" Sure enough there's Mick Jagger and he's coming right toward us. He politely said hello and proceeded on to the dressing room with a couple other of his people surrounding him. Then came Keith Richards. Being the big Keith fan that I am I had to say something to him. So I said the first thing that came to my mind, "Keith! We just opened for you guys. You missed us! "He replied, "Oh shit!" in a funny tongue-in-cheek way. So very Keith. Then I put out my hand and we shook hands before he proceeded on. An absolutely amazing moment for me that I will never forget. Then came Ronnie Wood who also was very nice and said hi. I did not see Charlie Watts or Bill Wyman come by. They might have entered through a different entrance. Still not sure about that.

Once they passed by us we only caught one more glimpse of Mick as he passed us with the tour photographer to do a quick photo shoot before they played.

Rob Guadagno: We then went back up stairs to see the show. Once up stairs I saw where my fiance (now wife) was standing, got her attention, and had her come up to the side of the stage with me. We stood right against the stage in front of the Toad's Place bouncers. And that was were we stood while the Stones got up on stage and played their 45 minute set. It was unbelievably exciting! They were phenomenal and we were absolutely blown away!

The Rollings Stones performing at Toad's Place
What was the scene inside the bar like when it was apparent that the Rolling Stones were in the building?

James 'Crash' Beatty: Crazy!

Jim Polisky: Maybe a half hour after our set, owner Mike Spoerndle and promoter Jim Koplik took the stage, and each announced a line... 'Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones" The crowd goes fucking wild as they walk onto the revised yet still small club stage.

Keith launches into the 'Start Me Up' guitar riff, and I think the ceiling was blown off the club. Besides the Stones, there was a keyboard player, maybe a horn section, and a few back up singers crammed on the stage, The Sons of Bob were allowed to stand in this section right at the front of the stage, a little to the side, and from a distance of about 2 feet away watch the Rolling Stones rip into a set list in a small Connecticut club. The night was indeed good.

Ted Canning: Oh, the place was mobbed, packed beyond capacity and they flung the doors wide open so people in the street could hear the music. It was the biggest, wildest party scene I’ve ever been a part of, lots of New Haven police volunteered that night for the extra crowd control duty.

Rob Guadagno: The crowd seemed electric for the whole night. But once the Stones hit the stage the place erupted into a frenzy of cheers.That was the first time that the crowd realized the Stones were in the building and they were sure of it. Everyone applauded, screamed, and sang along throughout the whole 45 minute set.

Did the Stones watch your set, and if so did they make any comments to you about it? Assuming that you actually had interaction with the Stones, what was that like?

Ted Canning: This is one of the coolest parts of the night. Nobody else other than the Stones crew was back stage other than us, the little Sons of Bob local group! Even the owners of Toad’s didn’t get to come backstage to hang out with the Stones. Security was unbelievably tight and we had to get ultraviolet stamps to be backstage. The Stones at that time hadn’t played live since 1981-82 and they were off the tour scene for a good 7 years. They weren’t in the audience to catch our set, but when we came off stage we had a few minutes to catch our breath and drink a few beers and do a few other things. All of a sudden the band members one by one start coming down the stairs. We spent a good 15 minutes or so hanging out with Bill Wyman and Ronnie Wood. What I remember most is that Ronnie Wood was really nervous about playing the gig that night, maybe it was the 7 years off they had. He asked me “Do you think they’re going to be into it? Do you think the crowd will like us?” To which I said, “Are you kidding? They’re gonna tear the fucking house down!” To which he gave that quintessential Ronnie Wood chuckle and nod of approval and said “Good, Good!” Then Keith Richards came sauntering down the stairs while we were all at the base of the stairs with Bill Wyman and Ronnie Wood. Bill Wyman says, “Keith, these are the guys that opened for us tonight” and he shakes all of our hands with fingerless gloves in the hot August weather, odd memory. Then he asks, “Did you guys go on yet?” To which our guitar player, Rob, says scoldingly, “Yeah, you missed us man!” To which Keith replies, “Awwwwwww, SHIT!” To which everyone laughs like hell. You can’t beat that!

Rob Guadagno: Unfortunately they did not see us play. They arrived once we were finished playing and they were escorted into the building through a secret entrance. The only comment I got was from Keith when I met him and I told him that we had just opened up the show for them and he missed us.  His humorous response was "Oh Shit!"

James 'Crash' Beatty: Previous to arrival, Rebel Yell, for Keith, and M&M's, no green ones. It was all memorable. Talking to Keith backstage, seeing them play live, if I was any closer I could pluck the strings of Keith's guitar.

Were the Stones accessible to the crowd at the bar, or were they elusive as if it was a regular concert? Better yet, were they a part of the crowd?

James 'Crash' Beatty: They came, they rocked, they left.

Ted Canning: The Stones were not accessible to anybody and we were pretty much the only ones to see them off the stage. They basically came to the club a half hour before they hit the stage and left pretty much after they played. At the end of the night Joey Ramone walked right past us all 6’5” of him with this tiny little guy and we say “Hey Joey” and he said with his Queens accent “Nice Job”…does it get more surreal than that?

Rob Guadagno: They were not accessible to the crowd.They were much more elusive like a regular concert.They were ushered in and out through secret entrances by body guards. Besides our band there weren't many other people who interacted with the Stones.The closest people got was when they were on stage.

Opening for the Stones helped you to land a gig at the legendary CBGBs... How was that?

Rob Guadagno: We were just psyched to be playing there because of how historic a club it was.  Some of the bands that came through there were big influences on us like the Talking Heads and the Ramones.  So just to have the opportunity to play there was a big thrill.  Can't remember exactly how we landed the gig except that I think having the Stones gig on our resume was a big help.  NYC was always a very tough place to play. You had to have a following big enough that it would guarantee the club would make money.  Or you would have to sell your own tickets and the club wouldn't pay you anything.  It was like a factory.  You had a time slot to play and when your time was up you were kicked off stage for the next band to start.  CBGB's was pretty much the same thing.  They did not know us so they put us on an off night in an early time slot.  We knew it wasn't the best situation but we were still psyched to play hoping we could impress the booking agent and we would land a better slot in the future.

We were coming down from New Haven, CT so we rented a U-Haul in which we packed our equipment, our girlfriends, and a few other friends that were up for an adventure.  It's about a 2 hr drive normally so we made sure we gave ourselves enough time to get there and find a place to park.  I drove as far as I remember.  At least one way.  I was usually designated driver or 'Crash' would drive if I didn't.  This was the first time for me driving a U-Haul box truck (not a van) through NYC.  What an experience that was!  No GPS or smart phones at the time.  But after making a few wrong turns we finally made it.  There was that famous sign we've only seen in Rock Scene magazine with our favorite punk rock stars standing in front of it.  We were pumped!

We unloaded our equipment into the empty club and then I had the opportunity to try and find parking for the Truck.  It took a while but finally did it.  There were only a hand full of people in the club, us, our friends and friends of the band that was before us now just getting up onto the stage.  Once they were done with their set they were hustled off the stage and we were hustled on.  No sound check, just start playing.  We played our 30 minute set (that's all the allotted for each band) and felt pretty good about how we played. We totally got into it!  Then we were hustled off the stage and the next band was hustled on.  Yup, a factory.  We were still psyched to have played at the legendary CBGB's but it was pretty anticlimactic in the end.  We stayed to see the next band then packed up our stuff and headed back home.

The trip up and back was probably just as much fun.  The U-Haul had no windows in it.  I'm still shocked no one barfed during the trip getting "sea sick" in the back of that thing.  We even loaded a couch into it from our house to make our friends a little more comfortable during the ride.  Pretty funny thinking about it now.

CBGB's itself was kind of a dump really. With a lot of graffiti on the walls, especially in the bathrooms if I remember correctly.  It was definitely our kind of place.  We loved it!  It was so New York.  And the sound guy and others that worked at the club were not very warm and fuzzy either.  Exactly what we expected so no surprises there either.

Mick firing up the Toad's crowd

Anything else you wanna add about that fateful night?

Ted Canning:  Here are a few odd and ends related to the show. We ended up taking the drum riser built for Charlie Watt's drum set and after using it in the house we rehearsed at. It later got broken apart and we used it to fix stairs in that house! We have been mentioned in a few books about the Stones and there is a commemorative poster that somebody is still printing that our friends see from time to time all over the world. We get calls from folks saying, “I saw your poster of the Stones gig in Caribbean, Key West, San Francisco, Middletown, CT….etc etc”. Also, we got some guitar/bass picks off the stage that night that the Stones used which are pretty interesting…the one I have says “The Roly Stokers” on one side and then says “Billy Wymold” on the other.

Rob Guadagno: Every time I think about that night I can't believe it happened. It gives me goosebumps!

James "Crash" Beatty: It was an evening of a lifetime. You know when you show up for a gig, and the first thing you see is a bunch of people coming to help you carry equipment in, something really weird is up or they're stealing the equipment. Go inside and Toads is buzzing with people, unlike any other time you've played there. Someone says you can't leave, no phone calls, they even disconnected the payphone. Would be alot harder today with cell phones, etc. I remember saying to myself constantly,"Who the hell is ever gonna believe this?" I wasn't sure myself. Once the (Steel) wheels were set in motion, everything just seemed flow, playing our set, meeting the Stones, standing on the side of the stage to watch them play. Next thing you know it was over, scrambling around to the stagehands getting picks and the set list. All very surreal. Luckily some of our fans who were planning to see us that night at our other gig instead got to be part of that fateful evening. I couldn't have had 3 better people to share this most precious moment in my musical career than Ted, Rob and Jim. I started playing and learning music when I was 7 years old but the most influential and creative years were as a member of Sons Of Bob.

Jim Polisky: In the coming weeks Sons Of Bob received mention in Billboard and Rolling Stone Magazine, as well as a slew of national newspapers, and also were mentioned in the Official Steel Wheels World Tour Book the Rolling Stones sold at their stadium shows. I also received two free guest tickets to see them play at Shea Stadium in NY on the same tour, and although it was fun, it was just not the same.

Maybe they should have let us open for them on the entire world tour... Just my opinion.


Anonymous said...

bloodhound journalism...love it! -Deege

Unknown said...

One of the best nights of my life! I had my first kiss with Mertz, the Son's of Bob drummer and we were married less than a year later!