I remember it like it was only yesterday. It, of course, was not; it was years ago, the late 1980’s to be exact. I had been working at the live music hot spot for just a short while. Long enough to lose just a little hearing in one ear and long enough to become just barely accustomed to all the Aqua Netted hair, ripped jeans and leather, and that’s both the women and the men.
It was a big night; a promoter was bringing the hottest new band up fromL.A.The band manager had originally made her name managing her ex-husbands band, a relic from the 1970’s that had achieved some notable success. Divorce has a way of changing partnerships, both domestic and professional.
Bobby Badd (not his real name) was going to be the next big thing. And he certainly looked the part; red headband, skintight leather pants, slightly effeminate good looks, he could have been any lean chiseled Rock God you could think of. Axl Rose, Bret Michaels, Stacee Jaxx, he was all of them, only he wasn’t really any of them. At least not yet. He was a Rock God in the making, and gods unfortunately need their homage. So we the staff endured an extended sound check, one in which every note seemed to end with Bobby requesting:
“More me in the monitors.”
And he wasn’t saying please.
Over the next few hours the club positively buzzed with excitement. It was very much like the club scenes in the current movie Rock of Ages complete with groupies, velvet ropes and rabid rock fans galore. In addition our little club was positively packed with local rock royalty. The drummer and guitarist for a hugely successful heavy metal band sat over there, the bassist from the pre-eminent local hair band stood with an entourage of what appeared at first glance to be platinum blonde women with enormous tousled manes. They, of course, weren’t women but I digress.
The phone rang; “Is Tommy there?” asked the female voice on the other end of the line.
“Who’s Tommy?” I asked.
“He has long hair and an earring,” she said.
I looked around at the swirling mob.
“Does he have a leather jacket too?” I asked facetiously.
“Yeah, that’s him.”
“Lady you just described 90 percent of the people here,” I said slamming the phone down. My customer service skills would improve once I switched to bartending at fine dining establishments, but back then they were what they were.
“Things have to be perfect,” said the manager/promoter after ordering a sparkling water. One had the feeling that this might be Ms. Promoters last shot; clearly she had invested what remained of her entertainment integrity into this little endeavor. As a result, she badgered the sound engineer, she cajoled the front door security, she glared at the cocktail waitresses and she kissed up to the local luminaries. She managed every conceivable variable.
After the popular opening band finished their set, Bobby arrived. Only it wasn’t the same Bobby who had left. Sure he had the same straw cowboy hat, the same leather pants and the same headband, but this Bobby was, for lack of a better description, a drooling idiot.
He could barely stand. Much less saunter like any good rock god should.
Clearly Bobby was under the influence of something, and more than likely, quite a few somethings.
His hired gun band burned through the instrumental part of a blisteringly hard rocking opening song. No doubt selected to create a sense of impending excitement. The lights came up in blinding whiteness.
Bobby stepped up to the microphone, the band paused for dramatic effect, and the raucous metal hungry crowd held it’s collective breath for one anxious second, ready to anoint their newest god.
The second lingered. Then Bobby muttered something incoherently and fell off the stage. His band of professional musicians stood around awkwardly wondering what to do.
Five more minutes of Bobby muttering and falling, and the club manager pulled the promoter aside roughly by the arm.
“You’ve got to get that piece of crap off of the stage,” yelled the club manager.
“That’s no piece of crap,” she cried. “That’s my new husband.”
Bobby never did become a Rock God and I never heard of that promoter again. Eventually I went on to fine dining establishments and better customer service. But I have never forgotten that moment, the instant when one promoter’s Rock of Ages crumbled.