The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #14997   Message #131729
Posted By: Michael K.
04-Nov-99 - 12:39 PM
Thread Name: BS: Brushes with Greatness
Subject: Brushes with Greatness
How many of the Mudcatter's here still currently gigging or retired from years of gigging, have been in situations where they've met/played with, or hung out with names, or famous musicians? Tell us some of your ''brushes with greatness'' as I call them and your impressions. (I hope this thread hasn't been covered before.)

Some of the people I've met were real nice and down-to-earth, others I was less impressed with. (All of those I did meet were people who happened to stop in for a drink or a meal, in the room within the hotel we happened to be playing at or during the course of a gig somewhere else.)

To start things off (and without going into long, long stories),over an 18 year career of gigging (retired from gigging now) the following came to mind and all took place in Toronto and Ontario between the mid 70s and 80s:

Partial List: (and not intended in any way to gloat or brag.)

a) Met and drank with (for the better part of an evening) with Eric Clapton, along with two regulars from the bar. They invited me over to their table, with this cool English fellow that they didn't recognise, and of course he only introduced himself as Eric. It was after he left two hours later, that I informed them of who he was. They were in shock and had no idea. I stayed mum on his identity although I recognised him straight away and we all just made idle chit chat and exchanged some very raunchy jokes. Very nice, classy, soft-spoken fella. (He had just finished a concert in town and was staying at the hotel we were playing in, and it was a dead night in the lounge.)

b) Met and had a drink with Tony Bennett.....very sweet and classy guy.

c) Met Gino & Joe Vannelli. Very paranoid and uptight. I didn't hang around too long....although Joe was cool.

d) Bill Medley sang ''I've Had the Time of My Life'' with the singer in our band, while he was on tour with the Dirty Dancing thingy. He just voluntarily rushed the stage when we started into the opening vamp. It helped that we did the tune in the same key he recorded it in with Jennifer Warren...and it was a dead on lift. Very nice guy. (Brought the house down, as this was the closer for the evening. Did an encore with us, so we did ''You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling''. A moment that I'll never forget and gives me goosebumps as I'm writing this!)

e) Aretha. (Met backstage at a corporate event. Very nice and very down-to-earth.)

f) Anne Murray. (Met backstage at a Variety Club Telethon. Very nice and down-to-earth. What you see is what you get.)

g) Frank Zappa (met in Ottawa at Chateau Laurier Hotel after he finished a gig at the National Arts Centre)..very soft spoken, sincere, and an acid wit as you can imagine.

h) Burton Cummings. Interesting story here. When my wife (who was also the singer in my band) got married, we had a short civil ceremony at City Hall, and we were on a steady engagement and had to play the same night. Got to the hotel early and had dinner. While having dinner the P.R. lady (who knew us well and who we were very friendly with) sent over a bottle of Champagne and informed us Burton was in the dining room having dinner as well, and maybe we'd be gracious enough to let him come up on stage and sing a tune or two? We had no problem with it. Finished our dinner, and we went up and did a jazzy dinner set, and Burton howled and clapped louder after every tune, than anyone else in the room. He was also starting to get rather shit faced, as the waitress was bring him trayfuls of Creme De Cacao shooters.

When we started our second (dance set) he came up to me and asked if it was cool to sit in and ''groove along with us''. I told him it would be an honour (and I knew all the Guess Who tunes having been a fan for a long time). It also helped that I had an L-shape keyboard setup on stage, with a baby grand piano, and a bank of synths in the Burton sat at the grand, and I stood beside him, and I could also see what his hands were doing on the keys. ''Stand Tall'' had just been released so he started the set with that one alone...and then we did 2 sets of ''Guess Who'' tunes with him. ...all the while, waitresses are bringing him drinks to the stage. As loaded as he was, his voice sounded great, and he never hit a bum note on the keys. The house went nuts as you can imagine...and to this day, we tell people that Burton Cummings played at our Wedding!

(I could go on....but it's time to give somebody else a chance...)