I had a conversation with my Son the other day that brought back a few memories. He is “getting a band together” with a few mates as teenagers do and we were talking about things rock & roll. The word “tour” came up as it does. It is a funny word in the rock & roll world and can mean all sorts of things to all sorts of people. When I was first kicking off, the definition of “On Tour” was driving more than 3 hours from home and not sleeping in your own bed! Later on it came to mean months away from home and many thousands of kilometers travelled, literally! It brought to mind though, my first “interstate tour”. It was a trip to Queensland consisting of a gig in a wonderful place called Strathpine, Qld, followed by a midnight trip to a national park in S.E. Qld for a biker’s party. The band was called Bandanna.
They were the first band that employed me as a sound engineer. It was 1985 from memory. I had played in another band with the guitarist Larry. This guy could play really well as well as being a more than capable singer. The other guitarist was a Kiwi guy called Graeme who immigrated to Holland, which was sort of appropriate… if you knew Graeme! The drummer was the amazing Rick Doolan who you will eventually hear much about. The bass player was Terry who was known as “Dr Gofast”. Another legend whom you will hear more about in future.
Basically they were a “bikers band”. They played blues, boogie, rock etc. and were really, really good. As a lot of bands were then, we were working about 3-5 gigs per week and all had “day jobs”. I had taken a few rostered days off to go on this jaunt.
This is us leaving the Strathpine Hotel. This photo includes myself, my pal Brian™, my brother, the band and a couple of extra crew known as “The Muckhole Brothers” who were “chemically enhanced” most of the time though they worked very well.
After an event free trip to Qld. and a great gig, we packed up and headed out the door.
Here are my pal Brian™ and my brother Brett in their devastating youth.
Off to Aratula we go. The fun started early. We hadn’t got 10 minutes out of Strathpine when we realised we were heading the wrong way which called for a quick U-turn across the median strip. This was something which seemed to annoy the local Police. I was driving my Lite-Ace “party bus” with the band, a couple of crew, a stray girl that the bass player had found, lots of grog, and a few other things that I won’t admit to here. Constable Plod was thrown by a NSW license and a van full of rough heads so he let us continue on our merry way with a stern talking to about “the way we do things up here”.
The rest of the trip was uneventful until the stray girl decided she needed to vomit. Now!
We pulled over to let her chuck. Awesome. The bass player was still interested at this point.
Off we go a few miles down the road when the stray girl decided she needed to pee. Now!
We pulled over but she was concerned that we might “perve on her” so she went around to the other side of the van. The side where the road was. The side where the traffic was. She quite happily piddled while cars drove past watching. I think we still perved.
Arriving at the party was an eye opener for me. If you have never been to a serious bikers party, then you have missed out on one of lifes great adventures. It was quite late(or early),in the middle of the bush and there were people everywhere drinking, smoking and… well, bloody everything. Come sun up, we were treated to the site of our stage.
What a beauty eh? That’s our truck at the back acting as a dressing room.
After setting up for most of the morning, there wasn’t much to do so we went and watched a “bash the Japanese bike competition. You paid a few dollars to have a couple of swings with a sledge hammer and the first one to get the crankshaft out, won. Classic stuff.
The afternoon rolled around finally to everyone’s favourite event. The tit show. This is where female members of the audience are asked to remove some of their clothing on stage for all to enjoy and a winner is democratically selected.
All was going well until some girl grabbed the mic and started rabbiting on about how sexist the whole thing was and that she “wanted to see some dicks”.
Well, she didn’t have to ask twice.
The stage and was swamped by blokes with their slugs out.
Fairly soon it all settled back down to the girls and a winner was duly selected.
Her prize seemed to involve going back stage with a couple of the bikers! I wonder what second prize was. Later on we had to let the strippers use the back of our truck for a dressing room. While we were in there “getting stuff ready”. It is quite bizarre watching a strip show in reverse. They would appear from the stage nude and get dressed again for their next bit. Wow.
Anyways, time was approaching when the band would actually have to take the stage and play. Trouble was that the singer was suffering from a bad cold and no sleep and 57 beers and……and was rapidly losing his voice. Finally the band started. The music was pumping and the crowd was going off. Until Larry tried to sing. Absolutely nothing came out. The band struggled on for a few songs doing “instrumental versions”. This was not going down as well as we would have liked. Let me put it this way. Bikers are not the best people to disappoint.
It was decided that one of the support acts would loan us their singer. Great… he knew two of the songs. It was then decided to let this bloke have a go who could “blow the harp(harmonica) like a bastard!” He knew two songs as well. He played them twice I think. It was then decided to give it away and beat a hasty retreat before anyone got more angry at us. We packed up in record time and scurried back to Sydney. At this point, we hadn’t been to bed for a while and some of us were a little bit “emotional”. A small altercation was had between myself and my pal Brian™ over who should get the sleeping spot in the van. Although this involved pulling over, much swearing, some pushing, much more swearing and a little bit more pushing, it was sorted and we had an uneventful and quiet trip home.
I crawled into bed at home finally, after three days with basically no sleep. Around two hours later the phone rings and wakes me. It is Rick, the drummer. He owned the truck with the bands gear in it. He says words to the effect of “If the cops call you, tell them you were driving the truck”.
Half asleep to fully awake in .5 of a second!
“What the…” I say.
“Well, you’ve got a class 3 (truck) license haven’t you?” He says.
“Why?” I ask.
Rick says sheepishly: “I sort of overtook these Army blokes going along Putty road. Across double yellow lines, on the wrong side of the road, around a series of blind corners, going down the mountain, in the truck, and, my license isn’t sort of valid at this point. Can you cover it when they ring? Apparently some fuckwit officer has taken the number of the truck and has made a complaint.”
Oh how I miss those days.