Editor’s note — This is the fourth of a multipart column about the author meeting famous rock and roll stars:
A few years ago I had a rather interesting experience involving Beck. Here’s how it went down:
A buddy of mine used to work for a company in C-Bus that provided concert workers. You know, to take tickets, stuff like that. He asked if I’d be interested in working one of the shows and I said sure, what the hell, might be fun. So, he talked to the folks in charge and they made the approval. Didn’t know me from Adam, but that didn’t seem to bother them.
A couple of weeks later I got the call – Beck was playing Veteran’s Auditorium and they needed extra workers. Cool. I mean, at the time Beck was one of the biggest rock stars on the planet, a darling of the critics. Anyway, we get there, are given the yellow T-shirts with “security” on the back, and then the head guy comes in to assign jobs.
He went down the line, grabbed my buddy and his wife, and told them they’d be assigned rows to help people get seated. Awesome. They’d get to stand there and watch the show. He looked me up and down and said, “I’ll need you in the back,” then walked away. Damn. My friend looked at me and said, “Sorry dude. Looks like you’re out at the back door or back gate or something. Sorry you won’t get to see the show.”
Oh well. I took a shot, right?
Finally the guy came back for me and said to follow him. I do and we ended up in the “back,” as in “backstage.” He said, “I want you to stand right here. Under no circumstances do you let anybody through this door.”
I looked up at the door that said “Beck” on it and asked rather wittily, “You want me to guard Beck’s dressing room?”
And he sure enough did.
Just me, who’d never guarded anything in his life, as the only thing between Beck and the hordes of lunatics wanting a piece of him.
I stood there for a couple hours trying to look menacing, the opening act started, and finally some guy walked out the door — Beck’s drummer. He sat on the floor across the hallway from me and we proceeded to shoot the breeze. A few minutes later another band member came out and sat down as well. Long story short, pretty soon the whole band was out there, including the man himself, Beck, and three backup singers.
I eventually sat down because they asked me to and I figured it was OK. The only time I froze for a sec was when the drummer asked me what I was currently listening to. I really didn’t want to look like an idiot so I said, “The Eels.” I breathed a sigh of relief as that answer was met with approving nods all around. Sweet. At that point I believed, perhaps irrationally, that I’d earned instant credibilty.
Eventually, they all went back inside to get ready, and upon their return I was invited by the drummer to stand at the side of the stage and watch the show. Very cool. To top off my evening, afterwards Beck looked at the men assigned to escort him to his bus and instead requested that I do the honors, which I did. Dude must have thought I was a trained professional or something.
Maybe the best part was later, when I met up with my friend and he asked how it was in the back. “Well,” I said. “Let me tell you about it…”
A Monkee and me
Many of you have read about my serendipitous encounters with rock stars and Monkees, most notably David Crosby, Todd Rundgren, Jeff Lynne and Beck. Hey, I even shared a cold brew with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith on one memorable occasion.
There’s another encounter I had, however, that didn’t occur face-to-face, but rather over the phone. Here’s what happened:
Back in the late ’70s I was perusing the back of Rolling Stone magazine and came across an interesting little ad. It was in regards to The Monkees, the wildly popular band from the ’60s that had pretty much disappeared over the prior decade or so. Hey, but at one point Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, Davey Jones and Michael Nesmith were household names. They even had a TV show and everything.
Anyway, the ad basically said something along the lines of, “Wonder what the Monkees have been up to? Call this number to get a rundown on their latest activities!” It then explained that you’d be connected to a recording that would fill you in.
Being a big ’60s music guy I was sort of interested to see what the boys had been up to, so I thought what the hell? I’ll give the number a call.
Remember kids, this was before the internet and to get information you had to, you know, work for it and whatnot.
I dialed and was listening to the phone ringing on the other end when I got a surprise — somebody answered! What the hell?
Being the witty guy that I am, I said the first thing that came to mind: “Who is this?”
“Who’s THIS?” came back over the phone line.
“Well, I was trying to call the Monkee’s hotline to see what was going on. I found it in an ad in The Rolling Stone,” I said.
“Oh yeah. You called the right number. The recording is down so I went ahead and answered,” the voice on the other end said.
At this point I figure I’m talking to some secretary or something and am ready to hang up. But then the voice said, “What do you want to know? This is Michael.”
Wait. Michael? As in Michael Nesmith?
Yep. Sure enough was. The one who always wore the skull cap, or toboggan, if you will. Long story short, he filled me in on everything, from Davey Jones and his work on Broadway to Peter Tork’s addiction problems. But what has stood out over the years was what Nesmith told me he was doing: “Yeah, I’m really into making music videos. That’s going to be the next big thing.”
Huh? Music videos? Why the hell would anyone want to watch that? I had no idea what he was talking about. Of course, MTV started a couple years later and everything became clear to me.
And Michael Nesmith? He ended up producing, among others, the music video for the Lionel Richie single “All Night Long” and the Michael Jackson single “The Way You Make Me Feel”.
Music videos? Who knew?
Turns out Michael Nesmith did.
Dave Shoemaker is a retired teacher, athletic director and basketball coach with most of his professional years spent at Paint Valley. He also served as the national basketball coach for the island country of Montserrat in the British West Indies. He lives in Southern Ohio with his best friends and companions, his dogs Sweet Lilly and Hank. He can be reached at https://shoeuntied.wordpress.com/.