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Old 12-30-2017, 09:39 PM   #1
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Cool The View From Behind

I've been asked by a couple of people on this forum to discuss some of the things I recall from my time (1971-1976) working as a roadie and technician for this band.

A caveat: I was not privy (nor did I wish to be) to the inner workings or thoughts or emotions of the members of The Eagles; I was an employee and worked on tours, and occasionally assisted on studio dates. Although I spent considerable time with the principals, I'm not qualified to comment on personal issues relative to them.

Well, the view you get from backstage is of… butts. I've grown so used to this over 40-plus years of working for groups and concert promoters that I feel uneasy being out in the audience, seeing the faces of the performers.

I got into all this because I got really tired of waiting in line at concerts for food, sodas, using the restrooms, etc. This all came to a head at (as I recall) a Moody Blues show at Hollywood Bowl. I was all of 17, but I knew that standing in line for mundane stuff line taking a leak was not something I wanted to repeat every time I went to a show.

And I saw a LOT of shows. Remember, this was L.A. in the late 60s and early 70s; great musicians playing all over town, in big venues and small. You'd have to be careful walking down Sunset Blvd lest you be struck down by a random Flying V or Dan Armstrong lucite bass.

The week after the Hollywood Bowl date, I drove down to the offices of L.A.'s most prominent music promoters - I think it was Avalon Attractions in those days - and presented myself as a seasoned, albeit young, stagehand. Sure, sure - done lots of shows, know my way around amps and gear and…

Well, they bought it, possibly because I had a good line of BS, but more likely because at that time being a band road crew member was hardly a glamorous job, and because it paid about $25 for each date, which covered maybe 12 hours of hard, physical work. Guys (all men back in the day) would work a couple of shows, realize they were working for about two bucks an hour, and quit to do something more profitable, like dealing dope.

But I stayed on. I really liked live music, and here was a way to see it (mostly backwards, but, hey…) without having to stand in line for every little thing. And, to be honest, the perks - mostly good, potent weed and friendly banter from outrageously beautiful Angelino women - were hard to turn down.

OK, enough for now. We'll return with Part 2 (maybe) if anyone finds this interesting...

Last edited by peneumbra; 12-30-2017 at 11:02 PM.
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Old 12-30-2017, 10:56 PM   #2
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I'll be waiting for part 2...
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Old 12-30-2017, 11:45 PM   #3
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Me too! How exciting. Did Randy have a bass tech?
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Old 12-31-2017, 12:51 AM   #4
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Certainly interesting to me. Waiting for more.

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Old 12-31-2017, 01:41 AM   #5
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Count me as another one waiting for part 2. It's interesting to hear about a different side of the music.
"You only live forever in the lights you only hear the music when your heart begins to break."
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Old 12-31-2017, 02:32 AM   #6
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"You Can Pick Your Friends, You Can Pick Your Nose, But---

Can You Pick Your Friends' Noses?"

- Overheard in backstage conversation, circa 1974

On with the Show, or at least Part Two.

I worked all kinds of L.A. shows as a stagehand (AKA "Amp Ape"): everything from glam bands to ZZ Top, at venues such as the Santa Monica Civic, Shrine Auditorium (more of which later), and our steady every-weekend hall, the Hollywood Palladium.

And, speaking of ZZ Top, I learned something about the illusionary nature of show business: I'd noticed, when dragging gear in from the truck, that ZZ Top had a wall of custom, leather-covered, logo'd high dollar Leslie speakers. This was before the band had hit big, so I mentioned to their equipment guy that they must've spent a ton of money on their sound system.

He smiled at me, and said, "Come around back." He pointed at one of the cabinets, and I saw a little metal tag which read "Hecho En Mexico." They were fake Leslies, obtained from a shop in Juarez for a very reasonable $100 each.

At some point in all this frivolity, I worked on a Rick Nelson And The Stone Canyon Band date, at the Paramount Ranch in Calabasas outside the San Fernando Valley. This was the kind of concert where you saw a lot of "L.A. cowboys," guys like myself with long hair and cowboy hats and boots, who spent their nights at places like the Topanga Corral and the nearby Sundance Saloon, drinking San Miguel Dark and dreaming of friendly, tanned women wearing faded flannel shirts and tight jeans, while they tried to figure out how they were going to make a living raising herds of cosmic heifers that gave Bailey's Irish Cream instead of milk.

I remember fondly lying on my back in the dirt of the parking lots of these rustic outposts after closing time, peering hazily up at the innards of my vintage International 4X4 truck, trying to remember how to get it to start. Sometimes I'd get lucky, and one of those friendly cowgirls would be seated in my truck; I'd look over from my supine position and see her long, denim-clad legs and dusty bare feet there a few feet away. On nights like that, the possibilities were endless.

But I digress. One sunny Saturday, I was sitting around backstage at a Rick Nelson And The Stone Canyon Band gig, listening to the music, and I began conversing with this longhaired guy smoking a fat hooter. Over tokes, he told me that he was a guitar player originally from Detroit who'd come to California to Make It Big. Said he was getting his own band together with some drummer from Texas, and another guitar picker who had been in one of my favorite groups, the Flying Burrito Brothers. My new amigo turned out to be Glenn Frey, and of course he was talking about Don Henley and Bernie Leadon. His new outfit was going to be called The Eagles.

Well, I told him who I was, what I did, and by and by we killed off that joint (someone had to). I handed him an overdrawn account notice with my name and number on it. "Yeah, give me a call when you guys are ready to roll," I said. "I'll be ready for a tour gig by then." Then I had to go back to work.

In the following couple of months, I saw Frey again at the Troubador taking in some of the talent passing through town. I had forgotten about the whole thing until, one day, I got a phone call from a guy named Tom Nixon. He explained that he was the road manager of Glenn Frey's new band, and was I still interested in spending a few weeks moving equipment for a short West Coast tour? Things were slowing down after a frenetic summer of dates around L.A., so I said, yeah, sure - just give me a couple of weeks' notice.

Now, it happens that I'd heard, sort of, of Glenn Frey and Don Henley. They were in a band that played small venues around L.A., a band called Longbranch Pennywhistle. I'd done a gig with John Stewart, at the Ash Grove, and he'd said something about how good these guys were. Shortly thereafter, I discovered that their bass player was Randy Meissner, who had been in Poco, another band I was into big time. All of a sudden, this was starting to sound pretty interesting…

Enough of this for one night. I'm gonna go sit in the hot tub.
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Old 12-31-2017, 10:55 AM   #7
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You have a great narrative style, peneumbra. Looking forward to more!
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Old 12-31-2017, 11:25 AM   #8
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enjoying reading your posts ... keep 'em coming

a few of us gals on the board probably would have enjoyed that view from behind
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Old 12-31-2017, 02:52 PM   #9
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Default Re: The View From Behind

"You Can Pick Your Friends, You Can Pick Your Nose, But---

Can You Pick Your Friends' Noses?"

- Overheard in backstage conversation, circa 1974

This cracked me up !
ZZ Top played at my college graduation weekend. I had no idea who they were back then - lol. Not my kind of music.
Keep it coming - I love your stories !

Last edited by New Kid In Town; 12-31-2017 at 08:26 PM.
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Old 01-03-2018, 06:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: The View From Behind

peneumbra, I have enjoyed reading your stories as well. Would love to hear more when you have the time to share with us.
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