Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tales From The Abyss Pt. 3 "Madness In The Euro-Sheds, Damned By The Arch Bishop and The Flight From Hitler's Airport"

The ground rules were now set! Godspeed were going to do whatever they wanted, hijack our tour bus and our right to privacy. In such close quarters it's hard not to step on someone's toes occasionally but these guys took that concept to the moon. It was inevitable that some shit was going to go down!

Our tour bus made it to Dover for the morning crossing over to Belgium. It was a welcome break from the insanity that had ensued all the way from our final show in the U.K.. We were able to split up and get away by ourselves on the ferry and for me and old English breakfast was in order! Fried bread, eggs, beans and that incredible sausage all topped with a little side of mushrooms and a dab of H.P. Sauce. Man, I was in heaven even though my arteries were in the hospital!

I made it back to the lounge only to find Asbury Park's finest once again drinking it up. Godspeed were obviously binge drinkers and somehow they thought it made them more rock and roll but in reality it made them look like hooligans. Their insecurity about their own musical talent was telling. Their leader "Tommy" was like one of those kids that spent his entire youth in reform school for skinning all the neighborhood cats and hanging their pelts in the branches of their owners trees.

We finally got to the coast of continental Europe and got back on board the bus. We then made our way to Brussels. This is when we finally broke the ice with Godspeed and Gaz was the first to stand up to their madness as they had taken control of the tape player with their entire collections of Flipper, M.D.C. and Dead Kennedy's tapes. They were a walking frat house party and it was time to stop them! Of course amongst great protest, Gaz just simply ejected their hard core punk tapes and gave them back. He then slipped in Amon Duul II. What a master stroke!

Those guys looked like someone had just pissed in their cornflakes! This just didn't go with their plans of usurping! They thought that they were going to call all the shots for 3 f**king months. At this point we ramped it up and we all got our tapes and CD's out. We were listening to High Tide, Clear Blue Sky, Blue Cheer, Quartz, Kiss you name it! The Godspeed camp all of a sudden went very quiet! I hated it but we were going to have to raise these guys like little children and educate them a bit about being on tour and learning to share.

The show in Brussels went well but unfortunately for me my nerves were shot from traveling with people that never slept and continuously partied. I was not in my right mind and susceptible to my own bad judgment. I was outside of the venue when Black Sabbath was doing their last number. I was right at the end of the front walk out to the street from the main entrance when I saw this guy crouched down on the sidewalk rummaging through a bag in desperation and then he said "Ah Ha!". He had pulled out a huge bag of crystal meth and asked me if I would like a snort? I said to him that I didn't do "crank" but that at one time in my life I had occasionally dabbled in cocaine. He said, "Coke?" "I've got lot's of coke!" "You want some?" I said well maybe a little bump. At that he put out a line 12 inches long heaping on the concrete and said hurry up and do it the doors are opening and the audience is heading this way! Like an idiot, I'm on the sidewalk snorting this gigantic rail fit for an elephant with the fans and the concert goers who had just seen me on stage in all my glory now walking around me as I was on my knees on the ground reduced to life in the gutter snorting drugs! Some of them even commented as they walked by, "Isn't that the drummer for Cathedral?" "Man, that's disgusting". They were so right!

After all that, it was time to hit the road towards our next show in Paris. I was totally tweaked and confessed it all to the guys and apologized for my stupidity. I think after my confessions of sin everyone kind of blended together better as we were all misfits in one way or another.

Our gig in Paris was at an old theater located at the bottom of the hill from where Jim Morrison was buried. I had played there once before with Raven on our tour with Kreator in 1989. I remember them having a strict noise ordinance that turned a lot of bands away from performing there. So what were they going to do with 2 of the world's loudest bands in the house?

Lee Dorian and Gaz were now detaching themselves from the rest of the band as they had now become the only Brit musicians on the bus since Godspeed arrived and they decidedly didn't like our American sense of humor. As rough around the edges as Godspeed were, they were trying their New Jersey best to fit in with Victor, Scott and I. So on this night of the Paris show we slipped out during Sabbath's set and checked out the Parisian night life with them. They were cool and we started getting along. This definitely brought the anxiety level down, at least for a while. Still, Lee and Gaz wanted no part of them and now us. At some point I lost the Godspeed guys in a disco and went looking for them in every bar and pub that I could which led me in to a bar that was actually a brothel. This place was dripping with red crushed velvet and old ornate golden hanging chandeliers. There were these chicks right out of Moulin Rouge on the laps of every guy with a 3 piece suit on. Some at the bar and some in little private booths with scarlet curtains. You just knew for these guys, that there was a wife and kids at home waiting for them all! As soon as I approached the bar to ask if my new found pals had come through for a drink I was told to, "Get out!" "We don't let your kind in here!" yelled the 300 pound Madam! She was a poor imitation of Divine in John Water's "Pink Flamingos"I yelled back"I'm glad I'm not your kind you sleaze bags!" All of a sudden the french bastards with suits on and messed up hair and ties are outside threatening me as I'm throwing one of them in to a parked Renault on the street! I took off running as they were yelling for the Jon Dam! You would have thought Jack The Ripper had come calling the way they were making such a fuss!

Beds,brothels and a bevy of brie eating babes!

I managed to get back to the gig before Black Sabbath's last encore and just hung out in the dressing room with Gaz and Lee telling them of my little adventure. We heard Sabbath come in to their dressing room next to ours and some harsh words were being exchanged over the set that they had just played. We kind of slipped out of there before anything else happened and prepared to spend the night in town.

The next day Cathedral's manager, Paul Loasby met us at the bus with a car and took us to The Louvre and the Eifel Tower. Unfortunately Victor ran off with Godspeed to another watering hole and missed out on this once in a life time opportunity. This was great fun and it took us away from the rock and roll madness for a day. It was also good to do something together as a band besides playing and talking about music as we were still trying to get to know each other.

Seeing the "Mona Lisa" at close range was indescribable as was seeing a mammoth painting of a coronation that needed a warehouse to contain it! When you got close to it you could actually see woven threads in the clothes of these giant people in the painting. Magnificent! This was something I will never forget for the rest of my life as I'm a painter and illustrator also. This was the grail of fine art.

Paul Loasby took all of us in Cathedral to the Louvre as a special treat for a job well done. Seeing the exquisite art in the Louvre will stay with me the rest of my life!

After our trip into the world of fine art we headed to the Eifle Tower and got a ride up to the top in the worlds scariest elevator! We stopped half way up and realised the enormity of the structure. We were wondering if we should continue any higher as we were already high above the city. We chose to proceed. It was becoming windy out by the time we got to the top and the huge World's Fair relic started swaying in the breeze and was most felt in the top section. We all got one good Kronenburg down our necks when we decided that it was time to get back down to the street.
We said goodbye to the beautiful city of Paris with a trip up the Eifel Tower and a quick beer!

Our next gigs were in Germany and we were to spend a day and night in Cologne for our days off. I remember seeing the giant cathedral set in the center of town from almost 11 miles away as it was so massive!
We parked our tour bus down by the waterfront along with all the tourists visiting that lovely city! We decided the best plan of action was to find a pub that sold Guinness. This time Lee and Gaz decided to come along for some adventure. Our road crew consisted of 2 guys, Rudy from Scotland and Lug from Newcastle. Lug had been a life long friend to Cronos of Venom and was one of the people responsible for smuggling in black powder in his carry on luggage to the states for the pyro show at Venom's infamous 1981 show at the Paramount Theater in Staten Island, N.Y. . Nowadays he would have been a candidate for "Gitmo"!

Lug and Rudy decided to come with us for the festivities. After the first 3 beers the day became a fog as we rolled in and out of every bar and pub in Cologne. Around 9:00 pm I staggered back to the bus only to find Godspeed's manager Mick totally shit-faced drunk. Scott Carlson was also on the bus and had also decided enough was enough as he was as broke as I. Everyone of us had blown their food money on booze.

Mick the tour manager suddenly started acting crazy and shouted out to the bus driver to leave! I asked him, "What the hell are you thinking?" "The rest of the guys from both bands are still out and about in the city!" Mick wouldn't have any of it and shouted even louder for the bus driver to leave and then suddenly the engine kicked on! This guy was fast becoming Captain Bligh from "Mutiny On The Bounty"! Those of us who were in the bus managed to wrestle his drunken ass to the ground but it was too late as the bus started moving! Next thing we knew we were out of town and missing 11 people. We had already crossed the bridge out of town and it would be very difficult now to double back much less find the place where we had parked the bus earlier.

Mick the road manager lost his mind and had the bus driver depart Cologne leaving behind most of Cathedral and Godspeed! We had to wrestle him to the floor and threaten the bus driver with an ass beating if he didn't go back for them!

I told the bus driver that I would personally throttle him if he didn't turn around and wait for the rest of the guys to return! I finally talked sense in to him and we returned to find all of the lost orphans of our entourage waiting in the parking lot where we had been earlier. It seemed to me that one person after another was falling victim to some kind of unseen panic syndrome. This , I later found out was true and it wasn't just exclusive to the Cathedral/Godspeed camp either!

Our next few gigs were kind of a blur as the entire group of us were partying all night every night after our gigs and I had to purchase a couple of small Jager Meisters from the freezer of a vendor every night and down them in order to get any sleep through the madness!

I remember playing in Berlin and it was very cold. It was also the first chance that I had to call home since I had arrived in Germany. Victor was becoming depressed over some personal issues and Lee and Gaz were playing head games with him a lot when they should have been backing off. This always seemed to happen on our days off as well. I couldn't wait for days "on" as everyone had something important to do other than drinking themselves to death.

We set out over night for the city of Erfurt. All night I was tossing and turning with a sharp pain in my back. I figured that a piece of luggage or something to do with the bus had poked through to my ground bunk. That morning I found the culprit! It was a high heeled woman's shoe belonging to one of 2 Japanese girls who had stowed away on the bus right before we had left Berln! It seems that Gaz from Cathedral had found these girls and while they were in the toilet he snagged one of their shoes and stuck it directly under my mattress heel up. Finding Japanese female fans on your bus is a very common thing on tours. You will glance up to the front of the bus and see 2 or three dark haired little girls hiding in the front like mice. They are so quiet and sneaky about it that you can harldly tell them to get off the bus when they've been so clever about it and haven't bothered anyone! Anyway, that morning when I awoke with that shoe in my back I yelled out "I've been impaled!!!!" Everyone on the bus died laughing.

We were headed to the town of Erfurt when we were informed about this particular show and 2 others in the near future. It seems that the Arch Bishop of Fulda, Germany had officially damned the Black Sabbath tour and that if we played the three towns of Erfurt, Offenbach or Fulda that all of us would be cast in to the pit! Apparently the Arch Bishop himself had been on the radio for weeks protesting our arrival in Germany. He had even managed to have the concert posters censured and new ones had to be put up with Godzilla jaws in place of the burning wings of the angel on the original poster.

I do understand someone's concern about a show or idea attempting to discredit our Lord as I and other Americans are witness to atheists and scientologists doing this blasphemous act every day! I, being a Chritstian have an aversion to inverted crosses, satanic imagery and satan worship. This however, does not give me the right or the power to damn someone! That lies exclusively with God the Father and not any one human including the mistaken Arch Bishop of Fulda! If anyone was committing blasphemy it was him! For him to curse us would be tantamount to voodoo. There were several of us Christians on that tour who knew the difference between reality and show business. Apparently he didn't.

We arrived in Erfurt for our concert on an unusually warm day for that time of year and we all went about our day's business. The caterer went to market as usual to buy food for the bands and crew. We all tended to the things we needed to make the show go on and then took a break to eat our meals. Suddenly none of us felt very good after dinner. In fact all of us had felt strangely all through the day. I remember it being extremely hard to breath anywhere in the venue. Could this have been the Arch Bishops curse? I sensed worry from the Sabbath camp about this show and the threats made against us all. Tony Iommi was even hanging around our dressing room door kind of feeling out how we were dealing with it. On my way to the stage I waved hello to him and prodded the other guys with "Hey , let's go do this f**king thing! " We played our hearts out and totally entertained the audience. Black Sabbath then later did the same. The trifecta of the damned was now one third over with and as we were loading out, we found the 2 little Japanese girls in the company of Godspeed and I spotted the girl with one shoe. I told her where she could find the other one and that was the last I saw of them for the rest of the tour.

Erfurt, Germany was the first stop on the "gigs of the damned" trio self described and ordained by the Arch Bishop of Fulda! Funny though, how difficult it was to play that gig and the other 2 to follow as well!

We next arrived in Hannover at a circus tent venue that fit inside of a massive old factory building that once pumped out Nazi U boats in WW II. The allies never discovered it's location and it was never bombed. It had catwalks all the way up to the ceiling. You just knew that Das Fuhror had at one time walked these steel catwalks with his cronies. Now in 1994 it was Tony Martin walking the steel path overlooking the proceedings in the factory now turned concert venue/cable warehouse. I had also played this venue before with Raven on the Running Wild tour in 1990. To give you an idea about the size of this place , when you got to the top of the catwalk and looked down at the giant circus tent that was the gig, it appeared to be the size of a small coin held at arms length tucked in a corner of this behemoth of a structure!

Black Sabbath as I said earlier were having their own disagreements about things but on this night everything was running smoothly and all of us were laying back and just enjoying the event. Our guitar roadie "Lug" was testing the guitars on stage and each one he picked up he would plug in to the amp and play his horrible rendition of "Symptom Of The Universe" in front of the waiting crowd. In fact he had been doing this every night on the tour. Sabbath's road manager Bob Ward pulled him aside and politely asked him to not to do this anymore as it was upsetting to the guys in Sabbath. Lug was one of those guys that can't leave well enough alone and stuck his head inside Sabbath's dressing room to appologize. They were cool about it and just told him to lay off sound checking with Sabbath songs as it was unprofessional to do so. Lug in his child like way then asked, "Well if you don't want me to play your stuff do you have any requests?" Needless to say they broke out into uncontrolable laughter. Lug was an one of a kind!

"Lug" taking time out for a snapshot with Victor. Lug was a classic Geordie from North Shields and had a great sense of humor . He died a few years later from grief over having his child taken away from him in a custody battle. It made the British papers with a clip saying "Sabbath Roadie Dies From Grief"Rock and Roll tends to cut some of it's finest people down like dogs! You'll be missed "Brother"!

Tony Iommi came by our our dressing room to say hello and have a few quick laughs with us before he went on stage as did Geoff Nichols and Tony Martin. All the bands went down well and this is when the members of Black Sabbath began speaking with the other bands a little more. The ice seemed to break for a short time but this was also a volatile mixture of people and situations that would soon come to an uncomfortable impass! But for now, things were good.

Over the next 2 weeks we played a few identical sports hall gigs that all look the same and are no big deal. Godspeed trashed the dressing rooms night after night leaving wet towels all over the floor and leaving water running and trash heeping in their wake! Their fearless roadmanager Mick once again lost his mind and blamed all the carnage in the dressing rooms on Cathedral. He went to Gloria Butler and Bob Ward from Sabbath about it and also told the people promoting the rest of our shows in Germany and Switzerland that Cathedral was at the root of all the problems on the tour and that we should be kicked off! This guy was a real "prat" and unfortunately for him, the truth always prevails as you will see later on the story!

Suddenly all kinds of privelages were cut off from us. We were denied dressing rooms, phone calls and guests in our dressing rooms. Sabbath's crew and especially their light man/stage manager Keith went out of their way to distance themselves from us. I remember Keith screaming at us during our soundchecks to "Stop playing that shit and get off the stage"! When we were going up the ramp to play our set he was standing there on the side of the safety rail with his maglight telling us if we didn't hurry up that he would stop our show all together! That's when I got in his Irish face and told him that I would rip every limb off hs body and flog him with the bloody ends if he ever entertained that thought again! I never heard another peep out of him. Besides he was just pissed off along with the rest of Sabbath's crew that none of them had yet recieved pay through their bank accounts and the tour was now close to half way through.

Victor Griffin was having a very hard time with the fact that Pentagram wasn't on this tour and that he would have to suffer the indignity of supporting his childhood heroes, Black Sabbath in a sub-par doom metal band like Cathedral. I continued reminding him that for now we were in Cathedral and that this was their gig and that we would have to do our professional best for them. We were after all, very lucky that they had invited us along. I also thought that Cathedral were pretty damn good for young guys. Victor had also gotten news that his father had been diagnosed with cancer and it didn't look good for him. I was also saddened as Mr. Griffin was like family to me. I think Lee and Gaz knew down deep how Victor felt about Cathedral and offered to feature a Pentagram song in the set that Victor had written. We were now going to add "Evil Seed" to the set list. This cheered Victor up for awhile but his drinking got evermore out of
Victor had problems back home and was stuck on a major European tour with others equally troubled. Unfortunately his only outlet for his frustrations were found in a bottle which ultimately made everyone nervous.

We once again arrived in a town in Germany that I'd never heard of to play yet another identical sports hall gig. It was a beautiful spring morning. I got up at 8:00am and had the bus driver come with me for a scotch whiskey breakfast. When I arrived back at the bus Victor's girlfriend Anne had flown in to be with him as he was going through troubled times. I was glad for him but knew that once she had to fly back that he would snap under the pressure he had been going through.

Our roadies Lug and Rudy were outside on blankets with some cute young German girls that they had met and they were smoking a little hash and having a picnic while listening to The Black Crowes. Cathedral's manager Paul Loasby had also flown in to be with Lee and Gaz. He took them to a hotel to get away from the rest of us. They obviously didn't say anything good about the tour to him and sighted Victor and I as the problem. That came as no surprise to me as that's the way they operate no matter who is in their band. It's always been Lee and Gaz against those guys!

Word got out that Victor was drinking Black Sabbath's crew's beer and tension started developing once again between the bands and Paul Loasby found out that Cathedral were now playing a Pentagram song in the set and that we hadn't rehearsed any new material for the upcoming headline shows in Ireland after the Sabbath tour was over. Paul blew his top and started setting up our gear in the middle of the hall while the crew were trying to set up the staging. He wanted us to start rehearsing now! We all knew that this would go down terrible with Sabbath and Sabbath's crew. We were between a rock and a hard place. Finally it took Scott Carlson to speak up for all of us and he told Paul that it would be an impossibility to do what he wanted as there were others in the hall that wouldn't be happy and that it wouldn't look good on the band!
This was equivilant to telling the master of the workhouse in Olliver Twist that we wanted more
Pourage. Paul snapped like a twig and walked off. We didn't see him again until end of tour.

After getting through a tough gig and a tough day we headed for Stutghart with Victor's girl Anne in tow. We found out when we got there that MTV was filming 3 songs from each band and that there would be an interview after the show. We had a few hours to kill and Lee Dorian had been going on about a killer used record shop in the downtown area so we went. It had all kinds of goodies for people like me who love 1970's heavy blues rock. I remember buying the gatefold version of "Jane 2" by the krautrock band of the same name. I also found a copy of Slade's rarest and heaviest album. "What Ever Happened To Slade". When we got back to the venue Geezer Butler was blocking our way in to our dressing room and asked me what records I had on me so I showed him the Slade album. I knew that he certainly must know who they were as both Sabbath and Slade were from Birmingham. He said, "Do you really like them?" I told him, "Man, this album is the holy grail". He just shook his head.

I think Cathedral's show went down good and we got decent reviews for it as well. The interview with MTV was also cool as they mentioned Pentagram for the first time in their history! They filmed 3 songs from the band, "Ride", "Midnight Mountain" and "Autumn Twilight".

MTV filmed 3 songs from each band in Stuttgart and Kerrang Magazine also documented the event with favorible reviews for Cathedral.

Later after Black Sabbath's set Bob Ward and then Geezer got in a shouting match with the caterer of the tour about a sandwich that was usually provided after the show for Geezer with his name written on the plastic rap that had seemingly gone missing and the caterer had locked up her kit for the night. She got so wound up by all of this that she now was threatening to pull out of the Eastern Block section of the tour and leave all 40 of us to finding our own food and preparing it ourselves . This would have been tragic as everyone knows they boil rocks for soup where we were going!

Somebody from Kerrang Magazine happened to be present and the problem in progress became leaked to him. The next article written in Kerrang about the tour was entitled "Sandwich Bloody Sandwich" ! It featured all the problems and tribulations facing the tour and posed the question , would we be able to finish it before a Chernobyl type meltdown occurred?

The next day we were headed to Docks in Hamburg but not before Victor dropped off his girlfriend, Anne at the airport to return to the states. Victor was poised and ready to have an emotional breakdown. His little bit of safe time from the tour with Anne was now over and he was going to have to face the rest of the grueling schedule without her. The next 2 nights were going to be in Hamburg set in the notorious Reeperbahn.

The venue in Hamburg was Docks, situated along the notorious Reeperbahn next to strip clubs, peepshows and brothels. Disneyland it was not! We spent 4 days of debautury in this slime hole along with U.S. sailors, pimps and heroin addicts !

After our first night I headed to some bars I knew of from past tours through Hamburg. I mistakenly brought 2 guys from Godspeed with me which set the tone for a dangerous night out!
We went to a bar that had been the actual site of The Star Club's stage. The original club where the Beatles and Jerry Lee Lewis had played was long since burned down in a fire and only the stage area was left. The club owner always took good care of me in my times at his bar and requested an autograph from any touring bands in town on one of his ceiling tiles. I had already done this years before and now Tommy from Godspeed was doing it. After that it was free drinks!

The owner of the bar decided to take the guys and me out to one of his favorite bars in town but the Godspeed boys were starting to get out of hand when we got there so after some funny looks from my old friend, I grabbed the Godspeed guys who had not stopped picking on each other and wrestling since we started having drinks and headed on foot back to the tour bus.

When we finally got back we found the rest of our 2 bands and the crew wanting to hit the town also. They were planning to take taxi's to another bar I was familiar with that catered exclusively to the touring bands. All you had to do to drink for free was to give up a stick on backstage pass! We had hundresds of them!

I got in the taxi with Victor, Lug, Lee and Gaz. Mick, Ian, and Scott Carlson jumped in the other and off we went. Victor was acting really strange since Anne had left and had already been trying to drink it off. I tried to tell him that he should relax and enjoy the tour because this was a big one and that these opportunities rarely come more than a few times in a musician's life! He kept saying "I know, I know, but you just don't understand! I'm trying but I just can't keep it together." I said to Victor, "This is the third European tour I've been on and you will learn to love this if you only give it a chance!" It seemed that no matter what I said to him, he was going to make our special time out to be a doomed effort.

We arrived at the club and there was my old friend Jurgen who owned the bar and it was a triumphant return home for me and him! Everyone gave him their passes and or drum sticks, guitar picks and anyththing else considered as tour paraphenalia to be promptly displayed behind the bar so that the free drinking could commense!

Black Sabbath's guitar techs were there and some local Hamburg recording stars. We were all having a blast and unwinding from the gruelling schedule of the tour with some much needed laughs about the whole situaiton.

I recognized the guitar player from Helloween sitting in a booth and sat down for a chat with him. I had met his other band mates through members of Running Wild when I was editing a Raven video in Hamburg a few years earlier. He was nice enough until I mentioned that I had trouble getting paid by Cathedral earlier on in the tour and now it was time for my next paymrnt and it too was late! The guy turned to me and in his best Jeckyl and Hyde, said, "That's the trouble with you Americans, you only play music for money! Us Germans do it for honor!"
I turned to that guy and said, "Hey Mack, that's the biggest line of horse shit I've ever heard in my life!" You just knew by looking at him that he would be the first person to cry "Uncle" if he wasn't paid properly. This guy was a true "Jerk Off"looking for trouble! Well, he got it!

Helloween's guitarist and resident big mouth, Michael Weikath decided to have a go at me for my philosophy on getting paid for my services as a musician! I later spotted him being chased down the street like a little girl in Hamburg by a pissed off Victor Griffin! That one was on the house!

The second before throttling this Helloween idiot, Victor comes to our table and he doesn't look amused. I said, "Hey man, this is my friend Victor. He's a huge fan of your band and I'm sure you both have a lot to talk about!" Then I sat Victor down with him knowing that he was now going to converse with a time bomb! I full well knew that their friendship was going to last half a second! Out of nowhere, Wham! Victor was chasing that guy down the streets of Hamburg in horror! It was beautiful!

Victor came back and told me what had happened but the incident left him wrung out and disoriented more than he should have been. He asked me where the toilet was and I pointed him in the right direction. I started talking with Tony Iommi's guitar tech about Tony's stage gear when everybody in the bar was interrupted by loud banging in the toilet and a lot of yelling. This continued for some time until they dragged out the culprit and it was Victor! He had pulled the toilet out of the wall with his bare hands and destroyed the partition among other things. Geezer Butler's bass tech, Charlie, managed to get him outside and calm him down. I came out and asked if he was OK and Charlie said "I've seen this before with Zack Wylde in Budapest. He destroyed a whole club and came back the next day to help clean up his carnage." "Victor", he said, "was just suffering from touring pressures especially since it was his his first!" Charlie was an understanding guy and got my respect immediately for seeing the problem for what it was. Jurgen, the club owner also invited Victor back in the club if he could control himself and all would be forgotten. We later found out that he had done $2000.00 worth of damage.

The next 2 days were spent in the streets of Hamburg. For me, there was no place to go but my bunk as I was severely broke and hungover. Everyone else was out an about at the peep shows and strip bars of the Reeperbahn. It became incredibly hot out for that time of year and we had no showers so when we showed up in Offenbach 2 days later with hair of grease and stage clothes of death we were informed that there were no showers and no dressing rooms as the available space was now being used for yet another f**king Sabbath production room! After all, they needed that space to house more photo copiers and laptops! I finally exploded in the venue in front of everyone and said "This is the biggest Mickey Mouse tour I've ever been on if you can't provide a dressing room for these tired people who need to get out of the bus for a while! What would you guys do if we refused to play your f**king show? Suddenly with the help of the caterer and my regretful outburst, we got a dressing room! Apparently the caterer promised to stay on with the rest of the tour if they turned over the extra room to Cathedral and Godspeed. This was totally unexpected and she was a real peach for doing it!

With all that being said, the hall had major power problems and every time you would play with the lights there would be a loud crackle over the P.A. system and the amps. We now had to wait for generators to be delivered from the adjacent town of Frankfurt that the lights would be plugged in to. The show was 2 hours late and the crowd outside was getting pissed off! It suddenly dawned on me that this was the Arch Bishop's second cursed show!

The show finally went on, and to our surprise it was a great one for Cathedral! Gaz had managed to get someone to video the show with his camera. The footage we later saw on the bus was killer!

The next day we headed for Munich to play Terminal One which was Hitler's airport in WW II.
It was also the site of his last speech. When we got there we saw the giant art deco clocks that all of us have seen on the walls in old newsreels about Hitler's last speech. They were now turned into tables for the patrons of the massive club. Quite frankly after exploring this hall I was left with a creepy feeling! Cathedral did a photo shoot out on the old runway in very foggy conditions. Nothing about this gig was pleasant. I remember watching Black Sabbath"s set from the back of the room and them playing their namesake song and thinking , how fitting for such a miserable place!
Terminal One was the creepiest destination on the 'Cross Purposes" tour as it was the location of Hitler's last speech! From there we departed into the eastern block for the next week.

Don't miss the next and final installment of the story in "Tales From The Abyss Pt. 4 Dishonorable Discharge, Chernobyl Chickens At Wounded Knee and There Is A God!"

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tales From The Abyss Pt. 2 : Cathedral, Black Sabbath And The Marquee de Sade!

Tour Schedule for the U.K. dates of the "Cross Purposes" tour. When I got one of these I knew we were going!

The Manchester Apollo was the first gig on the Black Sabbath "Cross Purposes" tour. I spent my first hours waiting for ever in a fish and chips shop for sound check to happen. It was a beautiful sunny day but blustery cold with the wind howling at times. Victor, Scott and I had arrived on the tour bus with our opening act, Godspeed from Asbury Park, New Jersey. They were already drunk and trying to play king of the sand box with us. At first they were an annoyance but later through the tour would become a living nightmare to deal with. One of their "two" bass players was already suffering from a broken ankle received the night before from one of his own band mates. There would be many other broken things to come. At the time though, we were only concerned with pulling off our gig with a slightly under rehearsed Cathedral.

Me in front of the marquee for The Apollo checking out the billing.

I entered the venue through the stage door and went to work on some adjustments I had to make on the Premier drum kit that I was using for this tour. In 1990 the rep from Liechester told me that there wouldn't be a problem getting a kit for me on lend if I was ever doing a high profile tour in England and to call him anytime if I needed Premier's services. Well, it was now 1994 and they made us buy the bloody kit! That was strike 2 against me after Victor and I missed the first flight to London. Paul Loasby was not amused!

I was changing out certain drum heads with better ones behind the back line when I saw these black shoes coming in to my field of vision and walking up right in front of me. I looked up as I was tightening the lug screws on a bass drum when I noticed a smiling face with sun glasses belonging to Tony Iommi. He was shaking his head in disbelief that I was working on my drums behind their amps. I got up real fast and offered him my hand shake and introduced myself to him. I told him that I was looking forward to the tour with him. He shook my hand and said absolutely nothing, then walked off! The only thing missing was the black cape , black helmet and resperator sounds!

Photo taken behind Tony Iommi's amps with the weathered SG and spair guitar.

Black Sabbath began their sound check as Victor and I sat in the auditorium. They sounded good as they had just finished up the American leg of their tour. They went through all the set pieces involving the heavy keyboard parts of their show. Bobby Rondinelli was drumming for them and was having to watch a metronome light to hold back from speeding up. It also kept Bobby from pulling out any fancy fills making him just any other drummer. I had played a show with him in 1981 when I was drumming for the Boyz and we opened for Rainbow. He was full throttle back then! It was a shame seeing him being restricted like this.

All day long a fog machine sprayed out it's mist to give the entire venue a smokey atmosphere so that the lights would show their beams better. It suddenly hit me that we were playing in an awesome old time theater. The Apollo was the most ornate theater I had ever been in with it's gilded gold trim and fancy scrolling wood work . The ceiling was full of beautifully colored stars and moons outlined in gold and the seats were upholstered with fine valuer. I should have brought my opera glasses! I could tell by Sabbath's sound check that it was going to sound great in there too!

Victor and I went on an expedition to meet some of the crew and people we would be working and living with for 3 months. Right away I ran into an old friend named "Sunshine" who once used to come to my early shows with Death Row at the infamous Happy Pickle. She was now the wardrobe mistress for Black Sabbath and was regularly working with Deep Purple also. When I met her years ago she worked for Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. It was great to see her as we had both had a slight spark for each other in the old days and it was good to see her happy and successful. I also ran into an old friend from my days in the Kim Simmonds band named Charlie. He was Geezer Butler's bass tech and then the ultimate surprise was meeting Bobby Rondinelli's drum tech, Wade who i recognized immediately as the drummer that I replaced in Leslie West's band back in 1976!

This was a real small world and it became a kind of full circle for me but with all the old friendships and aquaintences present, it still wasn't enough to make this beast of a tour comfortable or friendly for any of us in the end!

Time came for Cathedral to sound check when we got word of a terrible traffic jam from London all the way to Manchester. Lee Dorian and Gary Jennings were in the manager's car en route from London. They were hopelessly stuck in traffic so Godspeed got up and did their sound check until they were told by Sabbath's stage manager and light man Keith Olsen, to knock it off!

It got later and later until it was showtime and still no sign of the rest of our band. Godspeed did their thing and then it was time for Cathedral and still no Lee or Gaz! We told Sabbath's people what was happening and apparently Geezer Butler's wife was also stuck in the same traffic jam, so they understood. I was flipping out! It was opening night of the tour and a load of press were there to report the happenings of the evening and set the tone for the shows to follow. It almost came down to the wire whether we would play or not and suddenly Lee and Gaz showed up and plugged in. We only got to play 4 songs but it was a killer show despite that fact. It looked like the rag tag team up of Pentagram and Cathedral members were going to work out fine together as the new Cathedral!

A lot of problems beset our first show at the Manchester Apollo but it got favorable reviews in Kerrang Magazine .

A moment that really sticks out in my head about that night was when Black Sabbath started the beginning of "Iron Man". Victor phoned his nephew back in the states from a pay phone that just happened to be on the stage at stage right and pointed the receiver at Black Sabbath so that Greg Turley , his nephew could here it live on the phone! This was a moment in time that young Greg will never forget!

A rare photo of the guitar titans of doom, Tony Iommi and Victor Griffin

The agreement Victor and I had made with Cathedral weeks before we left the States required them to wire money to our accounts before we flew over and during certain parts of the tour at specific dates, more money would be wired so that we could pay our bills at home while we were on the road. I especially needed this as I was a new father with my new born son, Joseph Jr.. There was no one home working as my wife had her hands full with a newborn. Here we were on the second show and we still hadn't been paid and my wife at the time was letting me have it on the phone because the utilities were being cut off at our house for non-payment. I knew that we were going to have a hard time with this as Paul Loasby, Cathedral's manager felt that Victor and I weren't worth the money agreed upon. It was obvious that he was was trying to convince us of that as he avoided our phone calls and disappeared when he knew that we would corner him for money!

On this night we were playing the legendary Hammersmith Odeon in London. This was to Victor, Scott and I the equivalent to playing Madison Square Garden would be to a Brit. So when I had to play a game of financial chess with Paul Loasby with the chance of ditching the gig, I was really saddened! This was a battle that I had to win because there was no other alternative. My family came first!
Me, in front of the Hammersmith, now called Labbat's blocking the doors form anyone entering the venue!

Early that morning I rang up "Hammy" from Peaceville Records who was putting out Pentagram's "Be Forewarned" and told him the situation. He agreed that this was the time to strike if I wanted to get paid as all the other gigs didn't mean near as much as this Hammersmith show would to Paul. So Hammy agreed to buy 2 tickets on British Airways back to the states for Victor and I for the following day and that we could use this as leverage! If Loasby didn't immediately wire the money to our families then Hammy would send a car for us before we went on stage leaving the whole concert package in a lurch! If he decided to pay then Hammy could refund his money for the airline tickets in time and no one would be the worse for wear.

I was elected to be the heavy in this matter and confronted Paul at my dressing room door. I told him what I had planned and that my wife had still not received the money wire. I told him that my family came first and that I couldn't give a fat rat's ass about his bullshit or this tour if I didn't get paid. He said to me in his starchiest London accent, "You...You...You're having a go at me aren't you?" I said "It's funny you mentioned the word "Go" because that's exactly what I'm going to do!" I then said"I'm going to call my wife in 2 hours and if I don't hear that the first part of my payment is in my bank account, a car will be sent over to pick Victor and I up to be taken to an undisclosed location to be be later put on the first plane out of here and back to the U.S. .

We had 8 hours before we had to go on and that gave him plenty of time to start honoring our agreement. I called home after 2 hours and "Wa - Lah!" Our money had arrived! Paul hated our guts after that and I really didn't care! He was wrong and got called on the mat for it from someone who's been through hundreds of situations like that in the past! My first encounter with that type of greed almost landed a switchblade in my back when I was 16 years old! I'm no stranger to people trying to see how much they can get away with whether they be small time or big time. It's all relative! Strike #3

We were scheduled to go on in 15 minutes. I noticed that Lee was getting a case of nerves as it was a prestigious gig with Black Sabbath recording a live DVD and probably the most important showing for Cathedral as a true arena act. I kept giving Lee time updates every minute as to play on his stage fright. "You have about 3 minutes now to play Hammersmith" ding... ding! All I got out of him were these anxiety ridden moans like a wounded animal! I was nervous too but I was looking forward to this gig of a life time while Lee was agonizing over the prospect of it! I realized right then that these guys were "green" and I had been falling for their guilt trip about whether or not Victor and I were good enough to play with "them" ! They were now proving to be the amateurs and not us.

Needless to say , the show went down a storm and got favorable reviews from the press. After the show Victor and I found the upstairs lounge and met the gals from Girlschool and had a blast downing a few libations with them. Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden was also there talking to me about his new upcoming solo effort. The evening ended up nice but Cathedral was now becoming divided and stayed that way throughout most of the tour except when we were on stage. I don't hold it against them as they were young then and did what their manager told them whether it was right for them or not.

Our next gig took us to Wolverhampton in a nice large auditorium. We were scheduled for a photo session at 3:00pm so I got up early and went to town looking for Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet paraphernalia. I found a vendor that had everything I was looking for. When I made it back we were told that the photo shoot would be in the back of the hall by the load in next to the flight cases.

The photographer knew what he was doing and captured some great shots that stayed with us in the magazines for the whole tour. It was strange though because I think that he took it that I was the lead singer because I was told to be in the foreground in all the shots! "Strike #4"

Pictures from this photo shoot in Wolverhampton ended up being the main photos used to promote the tour in the magazines.

When the photo shoot was over we all took off running like madmen towards the front of the hall! I was in the front and ran down the stairs at the side of the stage heading for the hall when "bam!" I knocked this big grizzly bear looking bloke with funny shoes and a fuzzy beard down the stairs but managed to catch his fall! As I kind of dusted him off, I told him that I was sorry and that we were acting like stupid kids running around like that. He said, "Pay it know mind lad, I'm OK".

That night everyone seemed to play a great set and it was a tremendous success. Black Sabbath was going to host a meet and greet in the lounge and it was rumored that some of the guys from ELO would be there. I was in the dressing room getting changed an chilling out when Scott Carlson came upstairs and said "The guys from ELO are hear including Bev Bevan and you won't believe who they brought with them!. They brought Roy Wood!" In case any of you don't know who Roy Wood is, he was the founder of The Move and later formed ELO before going on to a solo career and forming Wizard. Roy was one of my biggest childhood heroes and influenced me enough to become a multi-instrumentalist like himself.

Without hesitation I bolted down the stairs to the meet and greet and then Scott pointed Roy out to me. To my horror it was the same guy I had accidentally knocked down the stairs earlier in the day. I was looking at them but they were pointing at me and Roy didn't look too happy either but Bev Bevan was laughing his ass off. I felt that it might be inappropriate to say any more to him as I had said and done enough to the poor man!
Roy Wood, When we played Wolverhampton I literally ran into him!

Our night liner pulled out of Wolverhampton and made it's way to Newport, Whales under the cover of darkness. The Godspeed guys were acting up and whispering a lot of stuff about us behind our backs. They were real jealous that we had the slot before Black Sabbath and not them as they were managed by Gloria Butler, Geezer's wife. Godspeed was not a metal band nor were they a punk band, but somewhere in between. One thing was for certain, they had no good intentions for anyone that got close to them. They had made a recent video for MTV in America for their song "Houston Street" (pronounced Howston) and were promoting the new album. They were the kind of kids that in no way should have been thrust into such a large tour. Someone was going to lose and in the end it was everyone!

The show in Newport was excellent for all the bands and the audience got their money's worth! This was the last time Godspeed's management would be around until we got deep into Germany. We picked up their tour manager named Mick for the Europe shows. Unfortunately he let his band act as shitty as they wanted to. They would break something or make trouble with the promoters and Mick would report back to Gloria that it was all Cathedral's fault. Meanwhile these little animal fucks from New Jersey were holding hard core punk karaoke every night on the bus while fighting and smashing bottles and everything else that wasn;t nailed down. This would last long into the morning and no one got any sleep for the next day's gig. These lot were the worst! Unfortunately we were stuck with them on the bus for 3 months!

What happened next will expose how unglamorous the life of a rock star can be! Don't miss the next installment of "Tales From The Abyss" Part 3

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tales From The Abyss Pt. 1: Pentagram, Lee Dorian And The Serpent's Gold

Here's one that I have been holding back for some time. This is my personal account of my experience on the 1994 Black Sabbath tour for their album "Cross Purposes". This 3 month romp through Heaven & Hell was an extremely noteworthy one and is not likely to exit my brain anytime soon as I sacrificed much and gained very little. In hindsight I would not have missed it for the world!

It was Halloween night 1993 and my old band Pentagram had made it's 3rd attempt at re-forming due to public response for the re-releases of "Relentless" and "Day Of Reckoning" on Peaceville Records now part of Music For Nations. We had just played our first show back on the circuit in Northern Virginia a month before to a capacity crowd of new and old fans that was absolutely overwhelming! This Halloween night though was to be an extra special one for us as a band.

The venue was an old ski lodge in Braddock Heights, Maryland that was rumored to once house Nazi spies in World War II and a few of them as the story goes took their own lives in that place rather than divulge what they knew about the Third Reich! It was kind of spooky to say the least with it's dressing rooms stretching down very old and poorly lit hotel hallways.

Fans and old friends kept sneaking through security to get a peak at us, especially the girls wanting to see their favorite Penta-member in a compromising position getting our stage clothes on! I finally gave up and just asked them if they would please not spill their drinks on my clothes.

A beautiful nymphet dressed in her devilish best drops by Joe Hasselvander's dressing room as he indiscriminately removes his drawers!

The show at Spectators on Halloween night was packed with pretty girls looking for heavy sounds!

The band took a few photos on the stairs in the hall as a drunk Marty Swaney attempted to put his fist up my ass through my leather pants so that I would take a bad photo. You can see this stupidity in the photo. We were wondering if he was going to be all right to play the gig.

Catching a quick photo session with funny man Marty Swaney diddling where he shouldn't!

We all huddled in Bobby's room to go over our set when Lee Dorian, vocalist for British Doom band Cathedral popped in the doorway with a female friend. He had come all the way from New York to see the show. He told us he had waited his whole life for this night as he was a huge fan of Pentagram. We had a great conversation about the state of doom metal and how it fit in to contemporary hard rock.

Lee Dorian stops by to catch the Pentagram set at Spectators in Braddock Heights, Maryland

Bobby Liebling contemplates wearing his carrot orange outfit but luckily comes to his senses!

Bobby putting on the war paint!

It was time to hit the stage and it was no easy task as the small room we were playing in was packed to the rafters with very drunk touchy feely fans! I barely got to the stage with all my clothes and jewelry intact! We played a blistering set which still exists on video today. What I didn't know was that meeting Lee Dorian was going to change my life forever.

Pentagram bring down the house!

Weeks later Victor received a call from Lee Dorian informing him that Cathedral were still in the states wrapping up promotion for their new album, "The Ethereal Mirror" and wanted to do a couple of shows with Pentagram before returning to England. He also wanted to have our friends Iron Man on the bill. All of us in the band agreed and a concert was set through Cellar Door Productions at the Bayou in Washington, D.C. and the following week at The Grand in New York.

Ads in the local music papers for Pentagram's two gigs with Cathedral

The day of the show the band arrived early at the venue and met the rest of Cathedral who were really nice lads. Their road manager came walking up and told us that Pentagram would be headlining the show even though the tickets said that Cathedral were headlining. I asked the guy what was up with that and he told me that Lee Dorian considered us his Gods and that he would not feel right headlining over Pentagram in their home turf!

A night of Doom Metal in Washington, D.C. that the fans would never forget!!

Iron Man was the first on that night and it did my heart good to see them playing a more prestigious gig than what they were usually offered. Then Cathedral hit the stage with their slower than molasses riffing and Lee Dorian's stage antics with the microphone cable wrapped around his neck feigning suffocation! They were the heaviest sludge band I had ever seen!

It was now time for Pentagram to start getting ready when Victor told me that Bobby was not in the venue and wouldn't come out of his house some 15 miles away near the Pentagon! I couldn't believe that he was doing this! Whether or not a friend brought him to the show or if Victor went to get him was unclear but suddenly he arrived and was out of his friggin' mind! He was talking gibberish, locked himself in one of the dressing rooms and wouldn't come out. He was having an argument with his imaginary rubber gorilla, "Gilla"! That's when I knew we were in deep trouble. The stage manager kept coming up to us asking why the hell we weren't on stage and told us we were now 11 minutes late! He told me that if we didn't take the stage in 5 more minutes that he would shut the show down! This was the first time that Bobby's substance abuse got in the way of his usual professional work ethic! Little did I know that this event would repeat itself many times down the road ( Read "The Grusome Twosome, The Rebirth and Fall Of Pentagram" in an earlier blog.)

The band took the stage anyway and suddenly Bobby appeared and seemed to be fine. The show went down well and was videoed. I remember seeing the footage and hearing that Marty Swaney's bass had swallowed up the rest of the band's sound! I remember my drum throne vibrating off the ground from his bass.

The Bayou, when Bobby Liebling did finally arrive it was like prying out teeth to get him out of his dressing room to play the show.

We didn't know what to say to Bobby but realized that he had come to a grim impasse and his days as a performer were waning. We just kept silent so we could fulfill our obligation with Cathedral in New York the following week.

We arrived in the "Big Apple" in the afternoon as the show would be an early one because at 9:00 pm the venue turned into a disco. About 50 people showed up to see the event including my band mate from Raven John Gallagher and his wife Melanie. My old vocalist from Savoy Brown and now Catus, Jimmy Kunes was also there with his new wife. It was great for them to come out and support what I was doing and they made the last week's fiasco with Bobby melt away! Now I was ready to kick ass! The venue didn't give anyone time to fiddle about with their gear. They said, "You're On!" and the curtains opened. It reminded me a lot of "The Gong Show".

Later after the gig we said our goodbyes to Lee Dorian and thanked him for the chance to play out with them. He promised that he would keep in touch with Victor in the future. When I finally arrived at the Hotel I found a nodded out Bobby Liebling on the toilet with full stage clothes on. I thought, "If this is what it means to be a rock star then I want no part of it".

Unfortunately my last memories of a day's work are the ones I remember the most! This was becoming a recurring story with Bobby!

The following weeks found Pentagram doing a new album for Peaceville/Music For Nations called "Be Forewarned". If only I had heeded that warning! By this time Bobby was more than "out there" and staying in the public bathroom in the hallway outside the studio going about his twisted business. The studio engineer actually set up a camera facing the downstairs door that lead to the outside so that he could monitor the front door in case the police happened to charge in looking for the source of the strange chemical odor coming from the building. It was as if Bobby was now recording the album via TV remote. He came in to the control room only a few times during the recording of the whole album and that was only to argue with Marty Swaney to the point that Marty was ready to punch him. Bobby was going on about how Pentagram could never do any wrong and that he was a super star. Of course at that time, we all knew different!
Some of this stupidity was caught on video by Victor's nephew, Greg Turley which ended up on YouTube.

Victor also didn't seem well during this period and had started drinking heavily and finally quit the album for 2 weeks because he was unsatisfied with his guitar sound. When he finally came back with a good amp rig we laid down the drum tracks to "Vampire Love". after listening back he told me he didn't like the way I played it. I couldn't see anything wrong with it. It was a simple song to begin with but he insisted that I change it. I suggested that we leave it alone for a day and move on with something else and later come back and see if he felt the same about it. If it still didn't sit right , then I would retake it. Victor blew his top and smashed a beer bottle! With the bottle still in his hand, the jagged edge was now intended for me! I told him that he would have to kill me if he tried to use it on me because it would certainly be the last thing he ever did if he didn't use it! Victor was also coming apart at the seams like Bobby but alcohol was his problem. The whole project was becoming a nightmare! If it weren't for the engineer we never would have finished that album. Victor later apologized to me but I told him that what he had done would never happen again, at least not the way he thought it would work out.

Victor Griffin threatened me with a broken beer bottle in the studio but I knew it was a case of bad nerves and beer muscles and I was able to defuse the problem!

I came by Victor's 2 nights later to ride up to the studio with him when the phone rang and it was Lee Dorian calling from his hometown of Coventry. He told Victor that their guitarist had quit the band and that they were considering him as their new second guitarist for the upcoming support tour with Black Sabbath! He muted the phone and told me the news and then asked me what I thought he should do because they needed him in one week. Seeing how the "Be Forewarned " album had been going and the negative environment around it, I told him that he ought to take the job and never look back! After all, if he kicked ass he could finish all his remaining guitar tracks that night! Then he got back on the phone with Lee and once again muted the phone and turned to me and said " Their drummer quit the band too and they're looking for a drummer!" My mind started flipping over all the possibilities. This would be a dream come true as Victor and I both had been massive Black Sabbath fans since we were kids. I'm thinking, "How cool would that be?" Maybe this would also heal the recent incident between him and I for good and it would once again be like old times when we were in Death Row together. I told Victor to ask him if they would be interested in having me fill the drum slot for them. On the other end of the line Lee Dorian said he would think that one over but he would have to ask his partner Gaz and their manager Paul. He said that he didn't think it would be a problem.

Needless to say Victor finished up all his remaining guitar parts that night and we set up for our first mix the following evening. We were getting ready to go up and mix when we were again contacted by Cathedral but this time from their manager, Paul Lowesby. He told us that we were in the band and that we were now to learn the material that spanned 3 of their albums. He would be giving us flight information soon.

Over the next 2 days Victor and I mixed "Nightmare Gown", "Petrified", "Vampire Love" and "Too Late". We then informed Bobby and Marty what our plans were. Marty said "Man, if you don't go on that tour you're crazy" but Bobby was crushed like an egg, He kept asking why we couldn't get Pentagram on that tour. I told Bobby it was because it wasn't our tour, it was Cathedral's. He somehow couldn't grasp that concept. Suddenly he wanted to come out of the toilet and work but it was too little, too late! We were going! The engineer said that he could easily finish mixing as Victor and I had set the tones and the drum sounds that would carry the rest of the record and that he could duplicate the overall sounds we were after. I have never left an album hanging like that in my entire career as a recording artist but in this case it was the best thing and the album came out fine in the end thanks to our engineer friend Chris and our wonderful studio Cue Recording!

The management and staff at Cue Recording managed to complete the album in Victor and my absence when we were off playing on tour with Black Sabbath!

The day came for Victor and I to depart from Dulles Airport in Virginia to Newark Airport and then on to Gatwick Airport near London but the lines were too long and we missed the flight to our connector during check-in. So we departed the next day for Newark and Scott Carlson, Cathedral's bassist just happened to be on the same flight. Victor had brought these little plug-in speakers to his Sony "Walkman" and stuffed them up in the headrest in front of him. This served to annoy the flight attendants all the way to England as he blasted Kiss, Pentagram and the Dead Boys all the way! Scott Carlson was a real cool guy and figured out our routine in seconds! Drink, drink, and drink! We were laughing hysterically about absolutely nothing for hours all the while blasting that little tape player. No one stopped us though as they were scared to death of us!

Around 3:am the plane went through a bad storm over the Atlantic and we dropped 1,500 ft. in elevation in seconds! The passengers were flipping out but we were singing "I Want To Rock And Roll All Night And Party Every Day" in our best champagne fueled karaoke! We were so obnoxious that the other passengers didn't have time to have a nervous breakdown and after the plane stabilized the whole crew and passengers bought us several more rounds of drinks for keeping everybody relatively calm during what could have been the end!

We arrived at Gatwick Airport at 7:00 am and stood in line at customs what seemed for ever. There was some kind of delay beyond their control and the customs agents and airport personnel begged us each for our patience when one of the younger girls asked us if we were in a band and we informed them that we were and that we were arriving to join the Black Sabbath tour that started in the next few days! All of a sudden out of nowhere came tables and chairs for us right in the queue and they asked us if we would like to sit down and they would go fetch some tea for us! The rest of the passengers looked at us like they were ready to club us! I had been to this very entrance to Britain a year earlier with Raven and was harassed terribly by customs! This was a complete turn around! Then the tea came! I felt like asking for a foot massage at that point.

Paul Lowsby showed up and helped us with our gear but Victor's guitar didn't make it and would be coming on the next flight in. So Paul drove us to Birmingham to Rich Bitch rehearsal studio and returned to the airport! That's when I dropped out from exhaustion on the floor of the drum riser while White Zombie was being blasted through the whole studio complex.

Paul later returned with the guitar and Lee and Gaz for rehearsal. Lee had grown a beard since the last time we had seen him in the states making him look like what the press called a "hillbilly starchild". When we finally got down to rehearsing we found out to our amazement we had been told to rehearse all the wrong songs off the 3 albums! We had to get this together rather quick as we would be playing some big venues and would be expected to sound very tight and polished for the Black Sabbath fan base that would be packing the houses across England. I remember that we sounded good though, just a little under rehearsed the first day which by my standards was very promising for our upcoming shows. I told Gaz that we would have it together better the next day as we were jet lagged. He replied, "You better" with this punk ass look on his face. I knew then that these guys were going to be a little funny to work with. That didn't bother me as I was playing heavy metal since they were shittng yellow in their diapers!

We were slated to play a warm up gig at a small pub in Coventry called "The Sir Collin Campbell". Like all the rumors of "George Washington once slept here" The Campbell was known for the Beatles' John Lennon having been a regular patron of the place in his time.

Early on before the gig, the place started filling up with the usual pub crawl crowd and I noticed Lee Dorian putting away a few more pints than he should have. He was cocked and loaded by the time we went on and "Blam" down he went on the monitors! I guess it was all the pressure of playing in a band with Victor and I and going on a tour with Sabbath the next day that got him!
We ran out of songs after 59 minutes and reverted to the Kiss catalog with, "Parasite" and "She" and then ZZ Top's "Beer Drinkers And Hell Raisers". Finally the inevitable "Paranoid", War Pigs" and countless others. Not a bad gig considering that we had only been playing together for a total of 12 hours.

This photo was taken seconds before Lee Dorian fell over the monitors and laid there like a crumpled wax paper bonnet!

Later we went back to our bed and breakfast to party down and suddenly a loud knock came at the door. It was the owner's husband who was sent upstairs to stop the noise as other customers were trying to sleep. It wasn't long before we had him partying with us and now pounding drinks down at rapid speed! Then the door flew open and the man's wife was standing there giving him a right bollocking which of course he deserved. This was our last night in Coventry and the next day was the beginning of the rest of our lives! All this and more next time in Part II.