Friday, October 26, 2012

Rock and Roll Disses: My Personal Top Five

When Henry Rollins scolded me for knocking on his tour bus door a couple of weeks ago, it generated response from quite a few people, many with different opinions. Of course there is the unwritten rule that one doesn't impose on others, especially, God forbid, a rock star who is enjoying the quiet comfort of his climate controlled mansion on wheels.

It goes without saying that I was probably in the wrong to bother Henry as he meditated - or whatever it is that he does - to prepare himself for his spoken word show. But I did want to give him a Bigfoot Diaries t-shirt, so in a way I felt justified to knock. As we now know, that move backfired horribly, as he most likely will never wear the shirt I gave him. About the best I can hope for is that he is using it as a towel to wipe sweat out of his armpits after one of his vigorous weight lifting workouts.

But that's not the first time I have been dissed by a famous musician. In fact it's happened more than a few times in my long and illustrious career as a concert connoisseur. I thought I'd share my Top 5.

5. Willie Nelson (December, 2008 C.Y. Stephens Auditorium Ames, Iowa) Technically he's not a rock and roll star, but this encounter deserves mention. It was freezing cold while I and a few other people waited outside Willie's bus before this show in hopes of meeting him and perhaps getting an autograph. At one point he came out of his bus, only briefly, and we called out to him. He waved and said that he would be out in a few minutes to meet with us. Well, we waited. And waited... And waited.

Willie was much warmer inside the auditorium.
(Photo by Bigfoot Diaries, Click this and all photos to enlarge)

Eventually, after about an hour of waiting in the frigid temperatures Willie did come out, only to be whisked inside the auditorium by security. Apparently it was showtime. Again we called out to him, and again he waved. But he never came to speak to us.

Note: Billy Bob Thornton came out and said hi (his band, the BoxMasters was the opening act). He was very polite and patiently signed autographs and posed for pictures in the freezing snow.

4. Henry Rollins (October, 2012 Outside Wooly's Des Moines, Iowa) You know this story well by now. If not, you can read about it here.

3. David Gilmore/Richard Wright (May, 1988 UNI Dome Cedar Falls, Iowa) Shep and I attended the Pink Floyd show at the Dome and were more than a little bit addled as we spent the afternoon tailgating in the massive parking lot. For the majority of the day we sat behind Shep's yellow Nova with the Grateful Dead's Aoxomoxoa playing over and over, blasting out of his car's cheap speakers.

Pink Floyd at the UNI Dome
(Borrowed from IBOotlegger's Creed Blog)
At one point we decided to wander, and we walked up towards the Dome. Pink Floyd's road crew was enjoying some leisure time, and were half-heartily involved in a game of softball. They had white paper plates set up in a diamond that they were using for bases, and one by one they would take turns swinging at the ball while a few others from the crew would play the field. It wasn't really as much of a game as it was just guys taking swings and others fielding the balls as they were hit. Suddenly, about 3 feet from us stood David Gilmore. Shep noticed him first; he was wearing a pink tuxedo style shirt and black slacks. In his hand he held a red velvet towel. He kind of looked mesmerized, as I'm sure we did too, and then he unfolded the velvet towel and a small but very shiny pile of crystals was exposed, which seemed to glow in the afternoon sunshine.

Shep said, "Hey... It's Gilmore."

Gilmore looked at us, folded the velvet back over the crystals and said, "No. I'm his twin brother."

We couldn't get close to him as he was flanked by two very large body guards who's menacing glances kept us at bay. Gilmore stood there for a few minutes, watching the softball action then was escorted back inside. Immediately after that, Richard Wright appeared. While I don't remember body guards surrounding Wright, I do remember him ignoring us at all costs. We'd try to get his attention, say his name, whatever, and he did everything in his power to not acknowledge our presence. I am wondering if he even saw us, even though we were right there in front of him.

2. Neil Young (April 1993 Farm Aid Ames, Iowa / March 2004 The Mark East Moline, Illinois) I have actually been dissed by Neil Young twice, and once involved knocking on his tour bus door. It was at the Farm Aid concert in Ames at Jack Trice Field. I had secured a backstage pass from the bass player in Black 47 (another great story) and immediately prowled the backstage area looking specifically for Neil Young's bus. I ran into Bruce Hornsby, with whom I had a great conversation, The Kentucky Headhunters who were walking towards the stage for their set, and Lou Diamond Phillips, who actually pointed me in the direction of Neil's bus.

"You can't miss it," he said. "It's got a Volkswagen Bug attached to the top of it, and it says Buffalo Springfield on the side."

I found the bus (there were so many but Neil's was obvious) and without really thinking twice about it, I knocked on the door. I'm not sure what I was expecting - I guess to meet Neil and maybe get an autograph - but he didn't answer the door. Instead another person did, and he looked at me quite surprised.

"Hi," I said. "Is Neil around?"

"Yes, but he is sleeping. Can I help you?"

"Um, no..." I didn't really know what to say so I said, "Just tell him that Troy stopped by."

While that really wasn't a dis, I figured it deserved mention because it involved me knocking on a bus door. Neil Young DID blow me off  several years later when I saw him at The Mark in East Moline.

Crazy Larry and I attended the concert together, and in a situation that really makes no sense, he and I and one other person we didn't know had this entire section of the auditorium to ourselves, right next to the stage. The entire night we were a mere 10 feet away from the action, and had a great view of the concert from stage left. Of course it was a rocking show, and having spent a few hours at the Bent River Brewery before hand, we were pretty wound up. As the show ended, Neil and his band mates came walking right towards us. I said something along the lines of "Great show Neil!" and offered him up a High-Five. He looked at me, at my hand held high, and walked right past, totally ignoring my friendly gesture.

In hindsight, I shouldn't have been surprised. It is Neil Young after all. He doesn't really seem like the type that does a lot of High-Fiving.

I had no problem taking this shot of Jerry Jeff Walker, but Robyn Hitchcock
threatened to punch my lights out if I snapped his pic. See below.   

1. Robyn Hitchcock (SXSW, Austin Music Hall Austin, Texas 1998) Of course I had to save the most dramatic rock star dis for number one. I was in Austin for the South By Southwest event in 1998. I was all over the place, checking out as much of the live music that I could, bouncing from venue to venue to auditorium to city park to venue and so on. It was three days and nights of rock and roll heaven, and I took in as much of it as I could. I really wanted to see Jerry Jeff Walker who was playing at the Austin Music Hall right after Nick Lowe. Nanci Griffith played also, and while I was watching her sing a duet with Jerry Jeff, Robyn Hitchcock walked right past me. I only recognized him from having seen him play the night before at the State Theater.

"Hey Robyn!" I said to him. "Can I get a picture with you?"

His reply actually shocked me.

"No!" he said adamantly. Then something along the lines of, "I hate bloody photographers! I'd just as soon punch you in the face!"

Stunned, I stood there, as he glided past me. To this day I wish I would have snapped that picture. It's not easy being a rock and roll junkie.


 Pertinent Links:

IBOotleggers Creed Blog (Including '88 Uni Dome set list)

Neil Young at The Mark in E. Moline '94 Setlist


No comments: