July 22 2016
One year later.
When I think back to July 22nd 2015, it started off so strangely. I was in Canada and was woken up by a massive thunder roll. I looked at the clock on my phone, it was 6:10 am, and being a rare day off, I turned my phone off completely, (which is odd for me), and went back to sleep. It turns out, in France it was 2:10 pm. The exact time my father died.
I was later woke to find a multitude of messages on my phone that changed things forever.
Sadly that was the day we lost Eddie. An amazingly talented musician, dark humored and loyal friend, husband, an occasionally difficult bastard and my dad!
Living out in Canada, I didn’t get to see him often, however we talked frequently, and shared a great conversation 2 days before he died. He talked all about how he really enjoyed his last few shows, how the band all got along and how he still really loved music and playing for the fans. Sometimes, as you know from the blog, he’d complain a lot but half of that I’m sure was for effect, as he truly did love what he did and the people he did it with.
Over the past year, I’ve been so lucky to receive amazing emails and kind notes from old friends and fans who have made contact through the website. Thank you. It’s really appreciated, and it is so wonderful to see how he affected so many people differently. The only sad part is, that I took him for granted, he was just my dad, and those things that made him so special, were just always there. Sadly as is always the way, now that he is gone, it’s all too clear how special he really was. It’s amazing to hear how his music has touched so many others and influenced people’s lives. I wish he was here to talk to more about his music, and all the other stories that have come up since his passing.
It’s also been wonderful to hear stories from old school friends at Alleyn’s who have shared tales of him as a child, and how many of them had kept in touch with him over the years. A very touching thing is how his class from Alleyn’s held a minute of silence to remember him at this year’s reunion. Hearing things like that makes me proud that my dad meant so much, and I know he would have been amazingly touched by the gesture. Thank you.
It’s also been nice to become closer to several of his musical friends and band mates too. Who have shared stories and photos with me. People I remember as a child, from the Herne Place days have reached out and it’s just been wonderful to relive the good memories. The internet, as much as my dad hated it, (along with most modern technology!) has been a blessing. When we miss him, he’s there online. There are pictures, articles, and my favorite, so many videos of him doing what he was born to do. Playing and singing. Also, of course having this website. Thank you to my dad’s dear friend Alex, for continuing all the hard work through over nearly two decades, on maintaining the site so that we all get to enjoy my dad’s legacy. Thank you also for sharing with me, many of my dad’s unedited blog entries that were, believe it or not, unfit for public consumption!
So thank you all for posting videos, sharing memories, emailing even the simplest of notes that mean the world, keeping his memory alive, and making this year slightly easier to deal with.
I believe he would have been happy knowing how fondly he is remembered. I’m just sorry he wasn’t here longer to make even more special memories and music.
PS: I’ll leave you with a link, one of my favorite songs that my dad was part of creating. Little Chalk Blue, from the Butterfly Ball. I love watching him play in this. I also warned him a few years back, that one day, I’ll be getting a tattoo of a “Little Chalk Blue” as a tribute to him and his music. He sent me the musical notes especially for the tattoo… so I know that he won’t be mad at me when I get it done this year!
Keep enjoying his music. It’s what he loved and lived for.
July 1, 2015
Well… I oft home and travelled via 3 countries, France, Holland and Germany. But still it was all worth it to get to see my REAL friends. We stayed in a lovely country hotel and the staff were so friendly. We had no rehearsal, though everything fell into place, plus I was provided with a Hammond C3, a joy to play! There were no funny incidents, just a joy to be in Germany.
Eric Burdon's band were great, and he still has the Voice, but when do you actually say enough is enough, I'm certainly reaching that stage.
Anyway, it was a lovely weekend… aside from the usual fuck-up in Paris, which was part of my return trip.
March 16, 2015
THE VERY ILL PEOPLE TOUR
Well, everything looked good at the beginning, we were booked into The Bamberger Hof, which was in the past my favourite hotel. However, on this occasion, everything went wrong. Firstly, Air France had booked me on a connecting flight via Paris, leaving me no time whatsoever to reach the second flight, so I was stuck in Paris for FIVE FUCKING HOURS! I went to the desk and enquired what they suggested I did for this period of time, and they offered me a cup of Tea!!! And it was not a very big cup. Well, not 5 hours' worth.
Finally, got to Bamberg and everyone had eaten except for me, so they made me something indescribable, which resulted in a severe stomach upset. Spencer, however, seemed to have gone a stage further and contracted food poisoning… we think.
Next day was the 'rehearsal', which Spencer did not attend, as he was so ill. So that was a waste of time.
The following day we set off in a VIP tour bus, which I decided to call the VERY ILL PEOPLE tour bus.
The climax of the tour was when we moved into Eastern Germany and stayed in a craphouse of a hotel, which was below YMCA standards. Not that I have ever stayed at the YMCA! It was desolate, bleak and fucking freezing. That night we played at a venue, for want of a better word, which I think was called 'The Living Room', and indeed it was. There was no stage, and Steff played to a fucking pillar, which held the shit hole up!
The owner was like something out of the film 'Deliverance'. Very loud and very inter-bred, I think. As was most of the audience. Plus the catering was fucking dangerous. The kitchens were substandard even for rats! So the enthusiastic lunatic suggested a barbecue, which consisted of a rusty old pile of metal. Pete York ate it and, sure as fuck, he was ill the very next day.
Next day we skipped breakfast, which was fuck all anyway, and ate on the motorway. However, socially it was great and I found a new friend in our German bass player Armin, who of course I called Idi, a great guy and so helpful, a joy to work with plus a great musician.
Peter, our roadie, was so helpful, which was a bit overwhelming, but he is such a nice guy, so thank you, Peter!
Steff, of course, was outstanding in every direction. I will remember this tour for a long time, and thank you, Steff, for allowing me to meet Idi - a champion amongst men.
Pete York played better than ever and I'm sorry to say that I look forward to our next 'outing'!
A quite happy Eddie Hardin
France, March 2015
November 25, 2014
Eddie has played a very special show with the Spencer Davis Group at the London Palladium on 16th November, 2014.
August 21, 2014
We, Hardin & York that is, played in Austria, in a place called Klagenfurt, where a guy called Gert was a Hammond fanatic… In fact, he bought a museum, which was packed with so many Hammonds that it was quite disturbing. He was a great guy, however, and subsequently bought two keyboards from my collection.
A great night in a great place. Austria is quite beautiful.
The only mishap was at breakfast one morning, a guy came down stark bollock naked. Obviously suffering from some kind of dementia. I didn't find the experience offensive though I think the other guests found it clashed a bit with their ham and cheese!
However, a great show and thanks to Gary Twigg and my old mate Steff!
Next show was in Germany, where a bank booked us. It was surprisingly in a park (open air), and again it all went well.
The band is sounding great now, just a shame we don't have more shows, though we don't really want to play smaller clubs anymore, as it's just an endless round of the same old thing.
It was Pete York's birthday on the day we arrived, and everyone was very jolly… I didn't drink a thing, though was swept up in the hilarity.
Happy Birthday, Pete!
Once again, thanks to Gary and Steff, who have to endure my weird chord changes. After being just a duo, I tend to play wherever I want to go, so it's difficult for the other guys to follow me, though we seem to have developed some kind of telepathy, whereby they know what I'm likely to do!
The next show is in Frankfurt in September, so there will be more news on that one soon.
All the best from France,
December 2, 2013
HARDIN & YORK RISE AGAIN!
Well, it's been a while since we toured together, but this one came out good!
We have augmented the band with Gary Twigg on bass and Steff Porzell on… pretty well everything!
For me, every night was heaven, for the others it was probably a bit confusing, as with H&Y I just go all over the place on the Hammond, which was great, though hard for the other musicians.
Gary was a constant source of amusement, as his jokes and quips are quite painful on the ribs... Plus he is one of the finest bass players I have ever had the pleasure of working with.
Shame about Thomas though… you won't get that!
Steff was astonishing, both as a vocalist and guitarist, he does the most amazing version of 'House Of The Rising Sun'.
We had a roadie/friend Jan, who came along and was the most wonderful of all the people I have ever met.
It was a great tour, everywhere full and even standing ovations on occasion! They're probably surprised that we can still stand! Pete is playing better than ever, and LOUDER!
Have to say I love these guys, not only as musicians, but as dear, dear friends.
All the best to everyone for Christmas and the New Year!
June 25, 2013
I have to say that it was with some trepidation that I approached the show in Austria, as The Spencer Davis Group - without Spencer!
I flew into Munich via Marseilles with the usual 6-hour delay due to the strikes in France. Pete York, who has now resumed his drum role - and very well - was due to meet me, though obviously he wasn't prepared to wait for 6 fucking hours, so I took a taxi. The taxi driver was a fucking lunatic and dropped me off at the wrong hotel!!! The right hotel was in walking distance, but I am still not a great walker, so I got another taxi to take me just down the road.
I finally met up with Gary Twigg and Pete in what can only be described as a pox hole of a hotel. Pete very wisely went home for the night, and both Gary and myself were so shattered from the delays and strikes of the day that we were soon asleep - NOT together, I hasten to add!
The morning brought us the crappiest breakfast I have ever encountered, though Gary, as usual, made light of it and the whole thing turned into a laugh.
Off to a rehearsal in Munich in a great little room owned by our agent Mike. Great to see Bernie and Steff again and we soon arranged a set list. Then we drove to Austria to a beautiful hotel set in the mountains. The hotel owner seemed very pleased to see us and his handshake was so firm that I felt it could be the end of my career.
There was to be a sound check at 10:45 the following morning… I mean… why not make it 11 am? Or even 10:46???
I was presented with a keyboard that would baffle the brains of Einstein, however, there was a 'PANIC' button, and after pressing that it all seemed to come to life, helped by an enormous Leslie speaker.
So the show began at 9 pm exactly, and with Steff on lead guitar and Gary on bass, after the first song it became clear there was no problem. Everything went better than could be expected and, judging by the crowd reaction, we could not have hoped for more. Steff amazed me with his vocals and guitar playing - my God, we wasted his talent with the former SDG! I can't wait to repeat the show in Bamberg, my favourite town in Germany, on the 16th of August!
Well done Pete, Steff and Gary - a night to remember!
And special thanks to Spencer for allowing us to fly the eternal banner of The Spencer Davis Group.
We all wish Spencer a speedy recovery from his health problems.
EDDIE HARDIN, France
June 23, 2013
THE PETE YORK BIRTHDAY SHOW AT THE CIRCUS KRONE, MUNICH
Well… it's been a long time since I wrote, though 3/5th of the SDG have been in and out of hospital over the last two years!
This past year has been HORRIBLE for me, in April I lost my dear dog, Oscar, who meant so much to me and made our house a home. But I must get on with the story of Munich!
We left home at 3:30 am and travelled to Marseilles… in the fucking dark!
On arrival in Munich, we were met by a very efficient driver who seemed to have had everyone in the back of his stretch limousine, from Hitler to Strauss.
We stayed at the Bayerischer Hof, a splendid old hotel and the BEST in Munich… well it was, the last time I went there with Pete was in the late 60s or early 70s and we saw Count Basie!
This was the hotel where Michael Jackson held his child from the window and there is a statue of Jackson in front of the hotel to mark the occasion. Mind you, judging by the state of the rooms I can't blame him.
The plans for the night before the concert were sent to me and everything was planned to the minute. The rehearsal was a bit of a farce as I had NOTHING to play, I just observed. Still, it was wonderful to see all my friends again. Then came the day of the show… the NEXT day! I was presented with chord charts for the Chris Thompson songs… in 4 different keys! So the show started and I have to say it was, although a little rough round the edges, a sensational night. Chris T. was amazing as ever, as was Maggie Bell. Little more I can say at the moment as I'm sinking into a very deep depression but must snap out of it.
Happy Christmas to one and all, and a very Happy and Healthy New Year.
Thanks to Pete York for inviting me to this event, I would not have missed it for the world.
December 18, 2012
Jonathan Douglas Lord
9 June 1941 – 16 July 2012
JON LORD - THE GENTLEMAN OF MUSIC
My first encounter with Jon, well, I must have been 16! He was playing with THE ARTWOODS and I was rehearsing in a room nearby; I was immediately struck by the growling sound of his Hammond. I tried my best to be inconspicuous, though Jon spotted me in the shadows and asked me to leave.
Little did I know that in future years I would go on to tour with DEEP PURPLE when HARDIN & YORK were at their peak and DEEP PURPLE were playing the Albert Hall. I went on to work with Jon on several of my own projects, WIZARDS CONVENTION, THE BUTTERFLY BALL, WIND IN THE WILLOWS.
Personally I remember him with great affection and during one of our meetings at The Speakeasy in London he flattered me by saying, "There are only three Hammond players and they are Keith Emerson, myself and yourself"!
He will be greatly missed, not only as a friend but as a fine musician. All my sincerest condolences go to his family.
My thoughts will always be with you, Jon, and maybe one day we will meet again.
A very sad Eddie
France, July 2012
THE GLORIOUS RETURN OF HARDIN & YORK
I arrived in Munich with some apprehension, which was soon dispelled when I saw Pete for the first time in 8 years. We laughed as we used to and had some happy times together, shame we ever stopped doing it.
Took the precaution of rehearsing for a week and we were both amazed that the venue was totally sold out. I did try, though failed, in my feeble attempt NOT to swear, but BOLLOCKS - it was a great week.
The audience and organisers were all wonderful and the hospitality was second to none. It was the first time in a long time that I've had standing ovations after some songs in spite of rumours that I could no longer sing - can't imagine where that came from – anyway, DOUBLE BOLLOCKS, because I fucking well can!
Thanks to Pete for his tolerance, though I did feel the odd cringe at my colourful language.
It was also great to see Bernie and Steff again after so long and apologies to dear old Bernie if I offended him in my last tour report.
All for now,
A HAPPY EDDIE
December 18, 2010
Hardin York Reunion 2011 - first gig announced!
Saturday 26 March 2011
(click above for full size)
November 8, 2010
THE KYHBER TOUR
Well… the whole thing started because I rang Spencer to check that it would be OK to do the tour without him, as he is currently very unwell and undergoing various operations in Los Angeles. He kindly agreed that this would be fine with him. He was lucky, this tour would have seen him off.
My plan was to spend a couple of days in Bamberg prior to the onslaught and then the French strike started… no petrol, no flights, no nothing.
Eventually I made my way to Montpellier, leaving at 6.30 am and flying to somewhere which was nowhere near where I wanted to go, plus there was a fucking one-hour delay sitting on the poxy aeroplane.
I was met by the ever-enthusiastic Rolf, who was determined to have a party of some kind anywhere. Rolf was most upset that we didn't play 'Desperado', which I did play with Steff on the island of Sylt, however, as Rolf is convinced that the song is called 'Eldorado', I felt there was little point.
I have to say that all the shows were met with incredible enthusiasm, which I have not seen before, only 6 people throughout the tour demanded a refund as Spencer was not there.
I think it was the second show where we played yet again at The Blues Garage - very nice if you're 19 years old but you still see posters for old cunts doing the same old fucking rounds.
Henry, the owner of the club (and numerous clapped out American cars), has now built a hotel where he puts the bands. It's not the kind of hotel where a casual tourist would pull in and decide to stay for the night. It's like the Ponderosa from the TV show Bonanza, with big cow horns over the front door, rocking chairs on the porch and a plethora of even more fucked up American cars scattered around the yard. Shit guitars line every corridor and you find yourself sleeping under pictures of various musicians. I think Miller slept with a giant photo of Chris Farlowe over his fucking bed.
I'm afraid I declined to stay there and opted for the hotel we always stayed at in the past, though that's been fucked up too. Previously it was a traditional German hotel and had a lovely restaurant and splendid rooms. Now it's been modernised into what everything else has these days, though the rooms remain the same.
I don't know where we went next as we seemed to spend most of our time inside the tour bus even on our fucking days off! Then, at some point, came fucking Vienna again... Nooo!!!
We were to play in a small theatre where all kinds of clever cunts have played before. Now I know Vienna is a beautiful city, but sadly we didn't stay in the beautiful part. In the Hardin & York days we played at the Opera House… honestly! We stayed at the Intercontinental, which was slap bang in the middle of the cultural section. This time we were sandwiched in between a junk shop and a supermarket… plus it was a fucking holiday, so EVERYTHING was shut. We were told at check-in: no smoking, no drinking, no farting, no fucking nothing. I said to the girl behind the desk, "I'm really going to enjoy my stay here!!! "
I went out in search of some water and bumped into Bernie and Steff, who were off to park the bus. Bernie said he knew of a traditional Viennese restaurant, which was only a few streets from the venue, he said. I wasn't particularly hungry though agreed to go along, as at least I'd be getting a lift. Having parked the bus, we set off for this place, which was supposedly just around the corner, well, it fucking well was NOT. I have never been a great walker and I have developed a muscular pain in my right leg, but on the assurance that it was 'just around the corner' I set off with two of the greatest walkers on the poxy planet. 2.5 kilometres later, we still had not arrived and I was virtually dragging my right leg along. I would have gone back to the very unwelcoming hotel, though there was not a taxi in sight. Bernie said it really was a proper Vienna schnitzel, which was a pretty fucking safe bet because a) we were in FUCKING VIENNA and b) it WAS A FUCKING SCHNITZEL, so you can't go wrong, really.
It was when Bernie reached into his pocket for a map that I realized he didn't have a clue where the restaurant was… cunt! To top the whole fucking saga, I had a schnitzel ten steps away from the Hotel Grim the very next day.
So, once again, bollocks to Vienna and bollocks to Bernie.
To skip to the last night of the tour, we stayed in probably one of the worst hotels ever. There was a huge sign outside, 'Hotel Restaurant', and the hotel was called Casserole, so it sounded kind of promising, as its name and huge sign indicated that indeed there would be food of some description.
On entering the hotel, there was no reception and the chefs were fighting in the kitchen; subsequently there was no food and we were all starving. Colin, as per usual, circumnavigated the town 3 or 4 times on foot, while the rest of us went to bed in a vain attempt to ward off the hunger.
Still, they were all good shows - not one disaster - but the journeys were totally fucking insane. I would like to extend my thanks to 'Bamberger Hof', which is obviously in Bamberg and is a great hotel with friendly and attentive staff.
So here I sit, totally buggered up and still aching from head to foot.
July 27, 2010
Oh NO Vienna!
Well, the first hurdle - the journey - was not that bad… mind you, it wasn't fucking good either.
Finally arrived at the Hotel - which was shut – though, thanks to Steff, who had to wait up until 1 am to let me in, I finally got to bed.
At the first festival it was SO FUCKING HOT, my eyelids got burnt as we were on stage in the full sun… plus some twat thought it would be a good idea to have stage lighting in fucking daylight!
Spencer recounted tales of his various failed operations for the many ailments he seems to have contracted in his latter years, though he DOES have a hernia around the size of a football! I had the same thing some years ago, it's an umbilical hernia, though mine only reached grapefruit status. Also his neck seems to have gotten longer, resulting in him looking a bit like a toffee apple on a long stick.
Aside from that, I'm always amused at how seriously some bands take themselves. I mean, there was one dressing room which was so fucking hot, though there were 5 mirrors with the names of the band members above each one.
Everyone looks quite, well, nearly normal when they arrive, but as showtime approaches, they squeeze themselves into the most preposterous of outfits, though not managing to conceal the huge beer bellies. Quite sad really.
The Doors were on and I reckon it's about fucking time they closed it. And the poor fucking audience, of which there were many, sitting in the blazing heat for the entire poxy day… NOT my idea of a fun day out!
Both shows were good, though after the second show Spencer and me were put in a hotel in the centre of Vienna... how these hotels get their stars (3-star, 4-star, 5-star) is beyond me.
There was no restaurant and we were both starving, so ventured out yet again in the blinding heat to look for something or somewhere to eat. I said to Spencer I am not walking around in this heat, we'll eat at the FIRST place we come to, whatever it is – a mistake! We ended up in an Asian restaurant, having passed what looked like streams of hookers, though these days you can't really tell.
We had a Wan Tan, or is it Ton, soup to start – anyway, it was certainly 'wonting' in something and all it consisted of was a bowl of hot water with a noodle thrown in it - this was followed by a bucket full of beef and a mountain of rice.
The traffic was another nightmare, everyone driving at maximum speed in the city centre… if ONE car had stopped, most of Vienna would be wiped out. This is not the Vienna I remember from the Hardin & York days, when we stayed at the best hotels and played in the best venues.
I can now happily report that Hardin & York are all set to tour again, starting in Hamburg on 19th December 2010. I will let you know the venue as soon as I have it, though I can say it's a celebration of The Beatles and their early days in the city!
We will NOT be staying at the Monopol hotel surrounded by all kinds of sexual aids and a shit breakfast.
The highlight was my return trip home. We left Vienna at 8 am and my flight was not until 5 pm.
I HATE fucking airports with the hordes of people charging in all directions and everywhere you stand you seem to be in some cunt’s way! Why do people start running at airports??? The plane ain’t going to leave any earlier! And why, when the plane lands, does every bastard stand up and switch on their fucking mobile phones??? No one gets off the bloody thing any quicker as there is normally a coach to take you to the terminal (bad choice of name) and then you have to wait in hope that your bag had survived the trip!
Oh, the joys of travel.
Our German agent, who seems to be permanently ill, would be fucking dead if he undertook one of these trips.
June 11, 2010
Far Far Away On The Island Of SYLT
Firstly, I have to once again express my sorrow at the passing of an old friend, Ronnie Dio.
Then we go to Sylt. I didn't know where it was, why it was and what is was. I felt that both myself and Liz needed a break, so it all seemed like a good idea, especially in the capable hands of my old mate Rolf and his wife Elke.
We left at a sensible hour from Montpellier and travelled a mere fart away to Lyon where we got a connecting flight to Hamburg. I thought it would be a good idea to take Steff along and it was no mistake, he was outstanding. On arrival in Hamburg, we were immediately whisked to a barbeque. No time to unpack or any such trivia, it was straight into fun, fun, fun! There were sausages of every known variety being cooked by Rolf, who took control of everything - in someone else's house!!
The following day we set off for Sylt and I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable trips I've ever had. I am of the opinion that people who knew of me and my past do not now want to have their hearing impaired by eight Leslie speakers and a general din. The promoter of the event seemed of the same opinion and told me he would NEVER book a band! I enjoyed playing nice songs with good melodies and Steff was excellent on acoustic guitar plus some outstanding vocals. Whatever, the people liked it and it was nice to know that we could hold a show together.
After the show, there was, of course, another round of sausages, and Rolf managed to drink himself speechless. Soon we were back at Rolf's house, but not for long (10 minutes), as it was a schweinshaxe night at the local restaurant. Schweinshaxe is basically half a pig. It's lovely and one of my favourite German dishes, though when you are confronted by EIGHT of them it IS a bit daunting! I don't mean we had eight each, but just one would be enough to feed a family for a year or so. It all started quite quietly, but gradually we were joined by more and more of Rolf's friends and tables had to be added to the ample one we already had.
But, all in all, a great trip. I'd go again at the drop of a hat!
And finally THANK YOU, Rolf, for having faith in me.
Still recovering in France
May 16, 2010
Ronnie James Dio
(1942 – 2010)
I first met Ronnie when I was recording The Butterfly Ball with Roger Glover in the early 70s. The first song he did was 'Love Is All' and I have vivid memories of me and Roger sitting in the control room of Kingsway Recorders, then owned by Ian Gillan. Roger pushed him to the limits telling me: 'No, he can do it better!' And every time he sang it, it DID get better and ended up superb.
There was a small TV monitor in the control room and we could see him fucking wrenching the song from his small frame. The last time I saw Ron was when I did The Albert Hall with Deep Purple. He said he couldn't do it in the original key... but he fucking well could.
After the Butterfly Ball, me and Ronnie went on to record some new songs, he was happy to sing anything as long as it wasn't shit.
I just thank God that I got to record with him, he had a voice that could handle anything. Have a listen to 'Homeward'... it's beautiful.
I'm privileged to have known and worked with him and his memory will live with me forever.
God bless you Ronnie.
SDG TOUR REPORT NOVEMBER 2009
For those of you who were there you can fill it in yourself.
EDDIE HARDIN, 4/12/2009
ONE NIGHT IN POLAND (IS LIKE A YEAR IN ANY OTHER PLACE)
This was the worst journey I think I've ever done. I left home at 6 am to drive to Marseilles - 2 hours, then got a flight to Frankfurt where I had a 4-hour stopover and then onto Gdansk, which actually looks like a spelling mistake or the impossible letters you get in a game of Scrabble.
On arrival at Gdansk airport, we were taken off the plane and put onto a bus, which just turned round and we all got off again - where's the fucking logic in that?
The airport is small, I mean I'm talking SMALL, I could paint it inside and out in an afternoon. I was met by Bernie and Steff, who seemed to know what kind of an onward journey I was in for. The driver was a fucking maniac, though this seemed to be the general situation in Poland, who have beaten the French by miles in driving skills, or lack of them.
They don't go round roundabouts but straight across – true, they are only 'mounds' in the road, but even so, it's a bit concerning. It's really just a case of avoiding a collision and overtaking on a prayer.
We arrived at the hotel, which looked very nice, though the two nights I spent in it I didn't sleep a fucking wink. The couple in the room next door – pissed - shouted and screamed at each other ALL POXY NIGHT. When I left my room in the morning, there was a woman laying prostrate on the floor with a black eye, she said what I assume was 'good morning', though could have been anything.
Have to say, the food was wonderful, though breakfast was a bit confusing - a very strange combination which I couldn't begin to explain because, aside from the eggs, I don't know what the fuck most of it was. It was good to see Chris and Jim from the Yardbirds again and also Thijs Van Leer from Focus whom I hadn't seen for some 35 years, all of which have not been good to him. He is now MASSIVE and looks like Father Christmas on his Summer Holidays.
I went over to the venue with Steff and Bernie to see the first night's show and got there in time to see Arthur Brown twirling around like a Dervish. Didn't stay long enough to see him set his head on fire, though apparently during the course of the evening someone stole his flaming headpiece.
Our show went well, although my hands suddenly turned into blocks of ice, so it was tricky to play. Still, on Spencer's website we don't even exist anymore. Anyway, we, the mystery band, played our 90-minute show, which, in fact, should have been 75 minutes, though, due to the usual lack of communication, that's what happened.
I had a memorable lunch with Bernie on the day of the show in a restaurant by the lake, where we saw various acts of stupidity like a high wire suspended over the lake, on which people flew at an alarming rate, only to end their perilous flight by smacking into a tree which was wrapped in foam to ease the pain on impact - CUNTS.
Finally got back to the hotel at 1 am and had to leave for the airport at 4:30 am. Tried to sleep, but the couple in the next room were at it again and there was a constant version of 'Keep On Running' being sung in the corridor ALL FUCKING NIGHT LONG.
Got back to France after another stopover in Munich for another 4 hours!! Drove from Marseilles and, once in the vicinity of my house, found all the fucking roads were blocked by roadwork. It was 40 degrees, so lots of cars were overheating and so were the French tempers. What is the point in sounding your horn when quite clearly you are in a traffic jam - FOR TWO POXY HOURS!!
Finally got home, not knowing who I was, where I'd been and where I was going, so it was INSTANT BED, where I have remained pretty much ever since.
I'm just really looking forward to the October tour of Germany which I love.
Maybe one day we'll all get a mention on Spencer's website, especially me, after over 40 years of service! Mind you, I did have 20-odd years off!!
So that was Poland, a country in total disrepair - mind you, what's the point in fixing it up, who knows what might happen next!!
EDDIE HARDIN (somewhere in France - ain't saying where in case I get burgled again)
P.S. I also want to say hi to Dan and the Nazareth guys, the nicest bunch of people I've ever known in this shit arse business.
THE ILLNESS TOUR/AKA THE SUMMIT TOUR
Well, everything started off as per normal... until I got cataracts in both eyes, Spencer exploded and Bernie was admitted to a hospital with a suspected stroke! I guess we're all just a little bit too old to rock!
Aside from being a bunch of old cunts, every time it seems to work, which is sometimes beyond me.
Fortunately, Bernie's stroke was NOT really a stroke, but he was paralyzed on one side, yet he seems to be on the mend now and I wish him all the best for a swift recovery.
We started off in Ulm, and it was a great show, and then on to Sweden, where our mate and local agent Thomas amazed us with his drinking prowess - his jacket is like a portable bar with bottles of beer, wine and brandy hanging from every possible pocket.
The routing was of course, as ever, totally off the wall and we seemed to be driving and sailing forever. It was so nice to see Miller again who now has a new name - Mill Whicker, based on Alan Whicker who did a travel programme (you can check that out on YouTube). The reason being that whenever ANYWHERE is mentioned, Mill says, I've played there!!
Still, he is a bloody good mate and I wish him every success with his own band, he deserves it as he has a great talent.
Anyway, I spent four days in Bamberg, my favourite place in Germany, with Spencer, where he continued to explode. We both went to see the doctor, I just went along for moral support; anyway, when one goes in to SEE a doctor, it's normally a pretty soundproof situation, however, with Spencer it's a different matter - I couldn't hear the doctor but Spencer's voice cut through walls, doors... in fact, the entire building like a chainsaw.
All in all, it was, as ever, a good, fun tour and we even revisited the Colditz Castle - though, sadly, it was shut. However, Mill and I did nick a couple of stones from the courtyard! How fucking sad is that!
In Bamberg, I ate myself to a virtual standstill because the food is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good! Thank you to the BAMBERGER HOF!
The final night was a 'Bikers Festival' and Bernie couldn't do the show because of his illness, so Steff offered to do the job; now I think he did well... I wouldn't and couldn't do it and to my mind he made a fantastic effort, though not appreciated by everyone, which left a bit of a sour note on the end of a good, fun tour.
So... WELL DONE, STEFF, I appreciate you and your efforts and, of course, your solid drumming, you cunt!!!
Our next adventure is in Poland and then there is the 'Jubilee' tour of Germany in October.
It was good to laugh again after my horrendous year before, with the robbery and stuff; I hope those robbing cunts rot in hell because life has NEVER been quite the same since and probably never will be.
One day I'll write the whole saga... but not now, I want to stay with my friends as they are the only family I have now, and we really are like a family, aren't we?!
So, all for now and bollocks to anyone I've offended.
EDDIE HARDIN, FRANCE 2009
SUBTERFUGE AND INTRIGUE - BUT AM I BOVVERED
It should be noted that I am no longer with The Spencer Davis Group. I don't, however, rule out the possibility of playing here and there with them, though I can't get to grips with the musical progression. I now have a new agent and a promoter who both seem enthusiastic about the new band with Ray Fenwick, Steff Porzel, Gary Twigg and myself.
It's a great band, in my opinion, and I won't let it drop.
It is not my intention to tour for that much longer as I am 60 on 19th February 2009 and plan to have a bit of a fucking 'do' in Hamburg.
Of course in SDG I got the blame for EVERYTHING that went wrong… but BOLLOCKS!
When we were recording the DVD in Hamburg, Spencer was there and asked if we as a band would continue WITH him - a senior citizen’s moment, I fear, as he seems to have no recollection of that episode, though the others at the table DID.
But back to basics… At the moment we have builders in and around and all over the fucking house and I’d like to have an afternoon’s rest. Yesterday I had just dozed off but was woken by what sounded like the final stand of Stalingrad.
Life is good at the moment and I can at last (at least!) switch my studio on!! I think I'll leave it at that for now or else I'll upset some other cunt.
Eddie Hardin… happy and in France and rebuilding what's left of my life!!
THE DOWNTOWN BLUES CLUB IN HAMBURG - PLUS MULTIPLE BOLLOCKS TO THE ATLANTIC HOTEL!
After the disastrous start to the year things could only get better and they temporarily did. We set off for Frankfurt where we had a 5-hour wait for Ray Fenwick and Gary Twigg, then left for Bamberg, my favourite town in Germany. Intensive rehearsals followed, though we stayed at THE BAMBERGER HOF, which compensated for EVERYTHING. It was the first time in a long time that I actually felt safe. I still can't sleep at night for fear of the door being kicked in again and losing another set of studio equipment.
Then came the drive to Hamburg - about 6 or 7 hours, though this passed seemingly quickly, as we had the never-ending wit of Gary. I have to say I was apprehensive about our first night though was pleasantly surprised that the place was sold out. We filmed a DVD which should be ready in a week or so.
The reception was fantastic and also very reassuring, from the first song the audience put us at ease with their enthusiasm. All in all, it was a GREAT first night.
Prior to the show, we stayed at THE ATLANTIC HOTEL, supposedly the best hotel in Hamburg - well it's NOT! It purports to be a 5-star hotel - I'd say a MINUS 5-star hotel. Within minutes of our arrival, Liz's friend had her handbag nicked at the bar and the couple in the room next to us were so fucking loud, it was like they were in our room. So I was up at 6 am to change rooms, only to find that we then had no hot water, then it was a change to another fucking room. Every time we moved, the standards dropped. Within 24 hours we had changed rooms THREE TIMES.
After the show, we went back to THE ATLANTIC (just have a look at their website - what a load of BOLLOCKS!) - only to find that there was a fucking disco going on, you know that throbbing bass with fuck all else!
Steff came down to reception to complain yet again (and very impressive it was too), though this time it paid off and he was given a suite. He only spent 4 hours in it though, as we had to leave early in the morning.
Still, all in all, an exciting start! I had my doubts about going back on the road, but with a band like this one I can't wait to play again!
So it's BOLLOCKS to the ATLANTIC and THANK YOU to the Downtown Blues Club, not only for their incredible hospitality but also for their wonderful audience.
Now it's back to putting my studio together again and getting the new house in order.
EDDIE HARDIN, FRANCE
APRIL 5TH 2008
BOLLOCKS TO 2008
This got off to a fantastic start; firstly we were burgled, I lost my new studio... Well, that's my own fucking fault, I left the fucking key in the fucking door! However, you'd think that being surrounded by an 8-foot wall and electric gates you'd have a fighting chance of survival. It got worse, but I won't go into that.
The following week, my wife's sister died at the age of 46... and then we moved house. Enough for you so far?? So now we are in our new home and depressed, nothing has gone right.
I've rebuilt my studio and bought ALL the equipment all over again - am I mad??? Why fucking bother! Our glorious leader, Spencer, has seemingly begun a solo career, but then again, good luck to him... I think he'll find he may need it. Also the other members have begun solo projects, so good luck to them too.
I'm starting work with Ray Fenwick, Steff and Gary Twigg in March. We're doing the Downtown Blues Club in Hamburg and filming a DVD as well as recording a live CD.
I'm 59 on 19th February and when and if I reach 60 - that's my fucking lot with the music business.com. With the very rare exception, they're ALL a bunch of cunts, the cunts can decide for themselves who they are.
Sorry to be so negative, but I AM trying to pull myself out of this fucking hole. I'll add a bit more later because it gets MUCH MUCH worse.
DOUBLE AND TRIPLE AND EVEN QUADRUPLE BOLLOCKS TO 2008!
SDG Tour Report October 2007
Well the last tour was fucking HORRIBLE, though every audience was fantastic, probably the best tour we've done in terms of the crowd reaction. Our German agent, who shall remain nameless - Mike Durschmidt - seems to think I'm Superman and can get to airports in a flash... well I fucking can't! I live in the middle of nowhere and my travel arrangements to and from airports really are a French farce. The problem is that the French base their entire lives around eating, drinking, sleeping and fucking, which results in my having to use THREE different guys in order to get me to the airport.
The first guy is probably too pissed so he passes the first leg of the journey on to another guy who is fairly sober, that second guy is having his siesta, so he passes it on to yet another guy and the third guy is so fucked from fucking that he passes it on to yet another guy - it's a nightmare.
Our three days off in Hamburg were awful and I actually contemplated suicide. We stayed at a great hotel, but all there was to do was eat and sleep, so I did both with reckless abandon.
The mood within the band was tense to say the least, everyone pulling in different directions... and who can blame them when Spencer has become a temporary ANIMAL. I mean the band, of course, in which only one original member remains, the ever-jovial John Steele.
Colin has gone off to work with Chris Rea - good for him. And Miller has gone off to work with Miller so he can now moan himself to an early grave and not take us with him... no that's not fair, I really like Mill and on occasion we do have a laugh. I have decided to concentrate on my studio work, hopefully with Steff and Ray Fenwick, but the arse end of that is that we're moving house on January 15th 2008. Now that WILL be fun.
Spencer is still Swansea Shuffling... God knows why, for fuck's sake, he couldn't wait to get out of the fucking place, now he wants to go back all the time.
There will have to be dramatic changes to get me back on the road, though I have to admit I DO miss it already. Nothing will happen until next year, and if and when it does, I want it to be GOOD. I mean, we've played the same set for the last God knows how many years and I'm not a bass player, but I reckon I could play San Francisco Bay Blues myself now!!! I've tried to introduce new songs though no-one seemed prepared to rehearse... this WILL have to change if there is to be progress.
So... I'll be back, contrary to my last report.
I must thank the fucking twat with the light loafers who got Spencer involved with the ANIMALS and literally tore the SDG apart and then had the fucking nerve to ask if I'd consider doing some shows with them... BOLLOCKS. We were a happy bunch and will still remain friends, but circumstances really are a CUNT now.
Bernie, our tour manager, is the best diplomat on God's earth and a great guy and I hope he will continue to work with whatever we end up with.
EDDIE HARDIN, pissed off, fucked up and alone in France - Liz has gone to England to see her dad who was admitted to a hospital... I mean, what do you expect when you're in your mid-80s , I don't want to get to my mid-60s!
THE EDINBURGH FARCICAL, THE COPENHAGEN COCKUP AND THE JOYS OF TRAVEL
For those of you who read my ominous tour reports here's a good one.
One always thought that the Edinburgh Festival was a cultural event. Well, it fucking well isn't. Firstly, just getting there was a fucking horror, Marseilles - Gatwick - Heathrow and back in two days. I missed the first flight due to bad traffic, well, not bad traffic, it was a fucking car park on the motorway! I finally got to godforsaken Edinburgh and there were the usual dramas about who would top the bill. We as a band don't give a fuck, as to go on first gives us an early night in preparation for a ridiculously early departure in the morning. On my return to France, my bag was LOST thanks to British Airways. The guy delivered my bag at 7 am the following morning and asked if he could have a coffee. My reply was BOLLOCKS. It took me three days to recover from that trip on which we played in a club owned apparently by Jools Holland. The catering was at its best, a packet of crisps and a bottle of water. WELL, HE CAN STUFF IT UP HIS ARSE!!! Musicians should know musicians better and treat them better, but not this cunt.
I went to an Italian restaurant with Spencer and Steff and we had some Italian dish which was thrown at us within seconds by manic Italians and indeed eaten by Spencer in milliseconds. A very relaxing meal... I DON'T THINK SO! That guy's stomach must be like a cement mixer. Then there was Copenhagen. Luggage lost again thanks to British Airways. In Copenhagen, we played with The Tremeloes and Ray Davies, who, in fact, was very good. Myself and Miller were having a quiet meal in the catering section and an incredibly pissed Tremeloe came over to say hello, did a massive fart over Miller's dinner and said he was just looking for Spencer. I didn't leave my hotel room, except for the show, aside from two trips to the airport to collect my lost baggage. Copenhagen seems to be populated by drunks. At all hours of the day, they don't drink beer in glasses, they drink them in VATS. CUNTS! Coming back to France was an even greater joy, one queue after the other, Gatwick, then Heathrow and then Montpellier and guess what! They lost my fucking bag again. In the taxi on the way home I noticed that there were 24 pay stations on the motorway and after you've paid it is the theory that you then filter into 3 lanes. The French have no idea about queuing and, therefore, it's time to start the fucking GRAND PRIX, or should I say PRICKS? I can't do this anymore, otherwise I will die an early death, although it's not that early anymore and, quite frankly, I welcome it.
A VERY VERY VERY SERIOUSLY PISSED OFF EDDIE HARDIN IN FUCKING FRANCE AND BOLLOCKS TO THAT TOO
P.S. Also BOLLOCKS to Pro Tools, British Airways and everyone connected with airports and travel in general. Our only saviour in all of this shit is Bernie who can seemingly cope with anything. What a gem of a man even if he STILL insists on wearing his Australian kit... whatever the weather!!!
WHAT HAPPENS BETWEEN THE PLUG AND THE INSTRUMENT
Well… this is largely connected, so to speak, regarding my new studio, which has turned into a fucking nightmare. Firstly, I ordered a new desk surround plus various outboard equipment, plug-ins or whatever the fuck they are, etc. Having dealt with various couriers, TNT (must stand for Try Not succeed and maybe Try again) and another company (FedEx) who by the first letter of their company name were Fucking Fantastic. The whole ensemble arrived in flat packs clearly designed for the use of the genius or the total cunts like myself.
Liz, who was quite amazing, put the whole fucking thing together while I watched in total amazement. There were drawbacks like nothing came out of where it should, BUT… it all lit up!
Next came my computer guy, Luc, a Frenchman, but nonetheless a gentleman in the true sense of the word… he has to be the only one in France, that is! Second came the electrician to install broadband - which he did with little problem - and secondly to install lighting, which is quite necessary in the visionary department.
He brought some lights, which I suppose were quite adequate for my impaired vision, however, Liz had seen some super-duper extravaganza at a hairdresser's or somewhere equally as stupid and decided to cancel my initial request. This quite clearly pissed off the electrician who'd probably had a pile of old cock in the back of his van for 10 years… I was still, cunt that I am, quite happy with this pile of old shit simply because it lit up the fucking room! Anyway he arrived the following morning in a total strop and slung all the shit (which I hadn't even fucking seen!) back into a box and stomped out like a kid taking his train set back.
I said, it's OK, I'll have it, just put the fuckers up, he would have none of it as he had taken on another booking probably unblocking some person's cacky toilet or shitty arse. He IS, by the way, English and will probably read this - well I don't give a monkey's flying fart, shit, poop or cack.
So now I have a built studio, albeit silent, but my nice French guy is coming today to install some more plug-ins or whatever the fuck they are.
Perhaps next week I'll get to grips with it all… in the dark… and come up with a masterpiece.
I'd just like to thank the ever-patient Liz and the ever-understanding Luc in helping me get this far, but as for the rest of the cunts involved - BOLLOCKS!
Eddie Hardin - totally fucked up in France
A NIGHT IN DORNSTADT
I was apprehensive about this show, which took place on 8th June... I needn't have been. I've always worked with Ray Fenwick on ALL of my projects, though we hadn't played live together for years and this one was a fucking winner!
The travel arrangements were, as usual, chaotic and I always enjoy my time at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris... ho ho ho!! What a shithole of a place - and this is the most romantic city in the world, eh??? Well, if any couple arrives there for a romantic weekend, this is a great place to counteract even an overdose of Viagra.
Anyway, must stop swearing.
I'll cut straight to the show and leave all the bollocks in between out.
We went on stage at 9:30 and the moment we kicked off, all my tensions and worries evaporated. Steff and Steve Hyde (bass guitar) were as solid as a ten-ton pile of bricks and Ray - well, I've always rated him, but on this night I was overwhelmed; he is the most underrated guitarist on the planet and even hard-biting rock solos turned into a thing of beauty. He played magnificently. It was like the glory days of the band and many happy memories of those days came flooding back as one song flowed effortlessly into the next.
The audience reaction was like you don't see too often these days - people invading the stage with heavy-handed security guys throwing them into the air.
This will probably turn out to be my shortest ever report, because there is nothing more to add other than it was the best show I've been involved in since I can remember.
Steve Hyde, with whom I'd never played before, was faultless and had obviously done his homework. Not only was he a great guy but a great bass player and a pleasure to have around. Steff sang much more than usual and should continue to do so, his vocals are great.
I'd like to thank Steff for bringing Steve Hyde to the party and Spencer - for putting past problems behind him and giving Ray the chance to show what a fucking good band this can be.
It was wonderful and I wish I could do it all over again... tonight!!! Who knows what the future may bring? More news to follow.
June 10th, 2007
BRINGING THINGS UP TO DATE
Music these days has, in my opinion, taken a turn for the worse. There are a few, though very few, who still try to cling on to a crumbling industry. We all started out believing in what we did, we endured endless tours up and down the lengths of Britain, Europe and the United States. Nowadays it seems to be the age of corporate affairs and Rock & Roll Futility Camps, downloads, You Tubes and My Space downloads. These events of course pay great sums of money but there is little or no satisfaction other than the financial rewards. The 'Futility Camps', as I call them, seem to be a bunch of wealthy guys who want to be recorded with and filmed with their 'heroes', most of whom are in the winter of their lives and there is every chance that for some of them it could be their last appearance.
CD sales have slumped to an all-time low, DVDs seemed to be the way but that got fucked up by internet downloads. I can remember doing corporate shows when I was 16 - a long time ago! I thought they were a farce then and they still are today. You sometimes get the managing director of a big company who reckons he can sing or play drums and insists on doing a couple of 'numbers' with the band. Well, the cunts can't sing, can't play and should stick to their desks and not make cunts of us in the process with their little moments of 'showing off' in front of their bemused staff. We did a show in Germany recently for a German Bank who shall remain nameless and on the bill was Elton John who was paid more money for one night than a lot of musicians earn in a lifetime... so is this now what it's all about???
Sure we all came into the business seeking fame and fortune, but there are occasions nowadays where it gets obscene. Then there are the HUGE tours that the Rolling Stones undertake. The audiences are so vast that the performers look like specs of dust if you have a back row seat. So then you get big TV screens splattered all round the arena... you might as well stay at home and watch it on fucking TV! Let's face it, the Stones started as a blues band, now they're an institution. I can't decide if this is a good or a bad thing.
Then there are STILL the poor sods banging away in crappy clubs for a dollar or two a night... Where the fuck do they get their inspiration from? Are they aiming to end up playing to the pissed-up directors of huge companies who don't give a fuck about the music and just want to throw their wives round the expensive and minimal dance floor? The rest of the space is for FAT directors eating and drinking as much as they can stuff down their faces before they go home and try and shag their ageing wives, most of whom, by the way, can hardly stand at the end of the night!
Last week, we were in Denmark, where people staggered around with VATS of beer!.. I mean, when you drink that much you can't see what's going on, let alone hear it! I know this from bitter experience.
I've recently re-equipped my studio with a view to recording 'songs' again, but keep wondering to myself... WHY??? Technology has come so far that it's gone round and round and ended up your own fucking arse, but I guess these things can be used properly and intelligently.
I took my car in for a service the other day and looked at the car stereos... I mean, HOW FUCKING STUPID ARE THEY! You have to take the back seats out to get the fucking speakers in and then you go out on the road and annoy every cunt with the boom-boom bass drone. For a start, how can you drive with that shit pounding through your ears??? Now THAT should be made illegal!
I went to see Deep Purple a couple of weeks ago, mainly just to see my mate Roger, but have to say it's the nearest thing I've seen in a while to a proper rock show, and yes, they were very very good. Don Airey, a great keyboard player (he was on my "Wind In The Willows" concert), has fitted in well after the departure of Jon Lord and they still seem to be a happy band, though I understand that they, too, have slipped into the corporate realm.
You still hear of bands signing multimillion-dollar deals, well, I kind of don't believe this because it's getting to the point where you need that kind of money to stage a fucking show! There are still biggish clubs that we enjoy playing because you KNOW that the audience has come to listen, not have a fucking good stuff up/chuck up and go home.
It is my intention to stop touring altogether at the end of this year and try and leave some kind of musical legacy that at least I've enjoyed recording and am proud of. After all, if you don't like it yourself what's the fucking point! Even Spencer has kind of lost sight of the music side and spends most of his time looking for computer hotspots and high-speed internet connections and fax facilities. I personally think this all has to slow down a bit... says he, sitting down writing drivel on a broadband connection so that people can get to read all this bollocks quicker than before! I've heard that in some offices people don't even speak - even if they're sitting next to each other - they send a fucking email!
Our next show is somewhere near Munich on June 8th and Ray Fenwick is coming back to the band for one night only, maybe he'll inject a bit of the old fire.
Well, I think I've gone on for long enough so I'm going to log off now! So next year you can download, upload, 'burn' (literally if you like) CDs/DVDs and whatever format happens next, shove 'em up your arse, stick 'em in the bin or simply write over them... all direct from my website!
May 22, 2007
England Is Finally Bolloxed (Official)
And Double Bollocks To Butlins!
And Triple Bollocks To The Butlins Stage Manager!!
Plus Quadruple Bollocks To The Agent Who Booked The Fucking Stupid Tour!!!
I knew this trip was not going to be a good one from the beginning; first there was an airline strike and my flight was cancelled, so I booked a train… then the strike was called off and I stupidly re-booked my flight. I arrived at the airport and it was totally dead, not a bloody soul; when I boarded my flight I was one of two passengers - there were actually more crew than passengers!
An eleven-day tour was trimmed down to 3 ludicrous dates with logistics planned by what seemed to be a demented flea.
Anyone who is familiar with England will know that driving from London to Cornwall then back to London and then to Devon and then back to London is fucking total insanity.
We had hired a Hammond from a very well known company in the UK, John Henry, and when we arrived at the first venue in Falmouth the first problem struck - there was no stand AND no volume pedal. Now a company like John Henry should know better, they are one of the top, if not the top, hire companies for backline in the UK.
Fortunately a keyboard player had left his stand, so I used that. I can understand why he left it as it was like a seesaw which set up a gentle swaying motion as I played the fucking thing.
The accommodation was a little strange, though pleasant. The other hotel guests had an average age of 90 and it seemed doubtful to me that many would survive the 3-course dinner that was offered.
Hotel staff seem to be a problem these days as very few of them actually speak English, which makes ordering more than a little tricky. Our waiter had such long hair (not that I'm opposed to long hair – well, I can't be, can I?!) that it dipped into your soup. He didn't of course know what the soup was and we never did find out. The main course was fish and of course he couldn't specify what fish that was either; he didn't know the difference between still and sparking water and as for the wine list, well, that was a definite no-no.
The decor was sort of “Murder on the Orient Express” as we sat in a restaurant that was a lot like God's waiting room.
We had a night off in glorious Falmouth and the next day was the first show, which went surprisingly well, and then the next day the HORRIBLE drive to London, again, ensued.
The tour bus was so packed that we couldn't see where we were going nor where we'd come from, as we were surrounded by drums/guitars and suitcases. All we could see from the back was Bernie’s hat. Bernie was of course still dressed for the outback in full Crocodile Dundee regalia, having obviously still not recovered sartorially from the Australian tour.
Then we arrived in London and met our agent… PISSED and offensive (and I wouldn't be surprised if not a little light on the loafers), as he remained for the next day.
The final show was the strangest show I have EVER done, it was at Butlins. I'd obviously heard of the place from way back in the late 50s when it was 'invented' by Billy Butlin who was knighted for his efforts, well he should have been fucking beheaded, it's a monstrous place with a big fence round the perimeter, it wasn't clear as to whether this was to keep people in or out. I CANNOT believe anyone would want to go there and wish I hadn't.
The stage manager was one of those shaved head, fat, tattooed oafs who was as ignorant as cow shit as he strutted about with a cane, can you believe! He shouted orders at us as bands were shunted on and off the stage like the greasy hamburgers they were serving to the audience.
No words can describe this fucking idiot as he bawled his incomprehensible orders to us and the monitor guy, well there is a word, he was a total CUNT.
The accommodation was shit, having been described to us as luxury chalets - they were not. Everything was arranged a bit like a POW camp with buildings all in a row, all that was missing was the machine gun towers at each corner. Some people have a strange idea of luxury.
The support band was a Cliff Richard (not at all) look-alike - how fucking sad is that, I mean to actually want to look like him! Then there was Peter Tork of the Monkees fame who was also booked at this sad venue. He looked totally bemused by the entire situation.
Why the fuck we considered it is was and will always be beyond me and I wish we hadn't done it, but we did and I have to say that the audience, or rather prisoners, were very appreciative if not amazed that we were actually there. So there we have it, BOLLOCKS TO BUTLINS.
There is more, much more, which I shall try and recount over the coming days as I am still in shock at having been treated like a total CUNT by a total CUNT (the agent).
A very unhappy E. Hardin in his sanctuary in France
February 10th, 2007
P.S. The only happy moments were spent in London at The Punch Bowl (I recommend this place to EVERYONE), a pub owned by my cousin Gregory and his wife Lisa. This is really my new sanctuary in London and a great place to go when everything is going wrong, which it did.
They both made me, Bernie and Steff most welcome and I'd like to thank them for their hospitality and look forward to seeing them in France for my birthday on the 19th Feb. It's great to have a reunited family again. They don't realise what a huge part they played in saving my sanity on this futile trip!
AUSTRALIA PART 2
(This is the bit where I upset probably everyone on the planet Earth!)
NEWS FLASH!!! Miller Anderson has rejoined the band! Miller cites his reasons as not being able to face life without his friends. I can understand this, it's a very social band, unlike any other I've ever known or seen, we're very tight (I don't mean in the musical sense though hope we are tight musically too!) Spencer is on a long piece of elastic and occasionally springs back from his multi-million mile travels to I'm no quite sure where, why or how. We call a spade a spade, which you can't of course do these days, though I just did. It's not politically correct!
Now this is all getting totally out of hand, in England in some areas it's considered insulting to adorn your house with Christmas decorations: bollocks, just because their Father Christmas got frazzled in the sun and his reindeers died in a drought ain't out fault. Japanese and indeed Chinese people don't seem to object when the angle of their eyes is mentioned, you know, the squint, plus we all eat their food, though they don't seem to like ours! Well that's why they invented wide screen televisions, so they have a fighting chance of seeing what's on the fucking telly!!
Well, Australia now seems like a distant dream and like we never went, mind you, I doubt many people know we did, we certainly weren't mentioned on the posters. I recently asked Spencer why we were going to Australia and he said to me, "For the future," - what future, is he planning a tour of heaven?
So whether we like it or not, it IS Christmas and I think we should all adopt some friends of mine in England's (the Griswolds') attitude and go the whole fucking way - they start Ho Ho Ho-ing around mid-September and their house is PACKED with Christmas shit inside and out, a life-size effigy of the man himself sits on the roof with the fucking reindeers, and the whole lot lights up at night causing havoc to nearby Heathrow Airport's landing lights. Then the joke of it is, on the day itself they fuck off to the Andes or some stupid place to get some sun!
Well that had fuck all to do with Australia, did it?? Anyway, a very Happy Christmas to all our readers of every colour, creed, size, weight, sex and religious and political persuasion they happen to have at the moment (these things change)! Let's hope next year is a happy and peaceful one and no one gets blown up buying their turkey!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
(waiting for his nomination for the Nobel Peace prize)
For reasons which elude me I was booked to fly to Australia via Frankfurt - I could just have easily flown from Marseilles but then again there never was much logic in the band’s affairs of travel. Having been down there once before, last year, the horrific journey came as no shock to me, though it's not one that I'd undertake lightly, if and when in the future.
I have to say that Hammond, with whom I though I had a good relationship, were less than helpful, resulting in my using some of the most awful keyboards known to man and some that were, in fact, NOT known to man. Internal transport was chaotic, we had a tour bus that wasn't quite big enough, though too high to get into most hotel car parks. I think we started in Sydney, though can't swear to it! We stayed at The Vibe Hotel which had very little vibe but lots of bed bugs which attacked Colin on the first night, so his body was a mass of bites the like of which I'd never seen before; I think in compensation he got a free egg or something stupid. Had I been the afflicted one, I think, no, I fucking well know I'd have taken matters a LOT further!
If you smoke in Australia they sell cigarettes in the most awful packets which depict people in all kinds of near-death situations and suffering from everything to trench foot all because of a cigarette. I know, or rather knew, people who have died and never smoked at all and tend to think it's really the luck of the draw, though with my luck I may well end up featured on a packet of Australian cigarettes!!! Bernie, our usually unflappable tour manager, became very flappable as things seemed to go from bad to worse. The satellite navigation only seemed to work in open country and was next to useless in the confines of the city, so no-one actually knew where they were going; we didn't know where we were when we got there and didn't know where we'd been when we got back.
The Australian promoter met us at the airport and we saw very little of him after that. Spencer had enrolled a publicist who, during our entire 3-week stay, never actually said hello to me, in fact, I don't even know his name having never been introduced.
Bernie went on a shopping spree and within a matter of days looked like Crocodile Dundee, hat, boots, an all-weather coat and God knows what other Australian implements he bought and hid from my piss-taking sight.
I took Liz and Winston Churchill (on DVD) with me on this trip so that I didn't have to suffer alone and she also went on a shopping spree buying lots of useless items which will NEVER come in handy anywhere or at any time.
The shows were as ever all good, though we were all a bit shocked when Miller handed in his resignation via e-mail. Miller was not on this or the last trip and I think that finally got to him. I must say I'm starting to take stock of my own situation and whilst I still find it a happy and very good band in both combinations, one with Ed Tree and the other with Miller, I'm not convinced of the validity of the musical direction. Spencer has a new solo album recorded which is basically all about Swansea, which is obviously very personal to him, though whether or not those songs fit into the band’s repertoire I'm not sure - is anybody else? I'm currently in the process of re-organising my studio at home and hope to come up with some new material soon. I'm going for a mixture of Pro Tools and analogue which I'm told is possible. I won't, however, inflict my new songs on the band!
Our Australian Roadie, Max, was a sight to behold as was his van. We arrived at the first venue to catch sight of a van held together with Gaffa tape and string and we all had a good laugh until we realised that it was OUR equipment van! Max, however, turned out to be one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet and would do anything for you. Just goes to show how looks can in some cases be misleading. At one venue Max was refused entry into the building because he was wearing 'ventilated clothes', well this was a new one for me, does anyone out there know what ventilated clothes are?? I can now tell you, you have to wear a T-shirt that looks like you've just been shot with an AK-47 and have minimal room in your shorts so that your bollocks are discreetly hanging out. Not an image I'd choose but Max is Max and I like these oddball characters that have turned up in my lifetime from time to time – Spud, my old gardener, was another one, though I have to say he didn't wear ventilated clothes, though I supposed in an English climate it would have been very uncomfortable. Anyway, Max was sent over to the local Wallymart to buy a new set of shorts and T-shirt which I would imagine by now are also ventilated!!
The venues, with the exception of the final night, were totally wrong for the band, though we managed to pull it off, so to speak, every night.
I'm still pretty jet-lagged as I write so will conclude the Australian saga within a few days.
Steff finally got to sing solo on a song of mine which was originally sung by Chris Thompson and a fucking good job he makes of it!
So there you have it for the time being, I'm more than a little confused, though all should come clear in the coming days. After 3 weeks of being surrounded by food, mostly Chinese and Japanese with the odd fish restaurant thrown in (though they didn't serve any fish I'd ever heard of), 'pokey' machines (one-armed bandits or “fruit machines”) and watching old people and not so old people reaching various proximities to death (in fact, some of them were probably already dead but as these rooms are so busy no-one has yet noticed!) mindlessly pouring money into them I'm home to the comparative sanity of France - mind you, I haven’t been outside the door yet! Onward!! Ripper, Bonza and all that old bollocks and special thanks to Singapore Airlines for making my journey as uncomfortable as possible - they did a first class job!
November 30, 2006
By the way the line-up for Australia (as it seems some people don't know who is actually in the band) was: Spencer Davis, Colin Hodgkinson, Steff Porzel, Ed Tree, Eddie Hardin
SDG UK Tour 2006 - Missing Toilet Seats And The Bad Hotel Guide Or Bollocks To Britain!
I arrived in the UK a couple of days early, firstly to get my new Hammond sorted out, and I'd like to thank Malc Deakin and Barrie Freeman for all their help, it actually does sound like a B3 now!
I stayed at the Castle Hotel in Windsor with Spencer, Steff and Bernie, everything was very civilised, great hotel and all looked promising. Then we arrived in Worcester and things took a turn for the worst, in fact, far worse than I could have imagined. We were booked into a Travel Lodge which didn't look too bad on the internet, but then a lot of things don't, however, it was worse than a camera could capture. At reception you couldn't actually check in until you paid in advance. Reception was a sight to behold, we were surrounded by a family with seemingly endless children all of whom were dressed either like David Beckham or whatever his wife's name is, depending on their sex, though of course these days that doesn't really seem to matter either.
The first thing I noticed about the 'new' England is that very few people actually speak English and those that do are very hard to understand, especially in the North, not very many people look English either. Bernie, our tour manager, is German and speaks better English than 90% of the 'English' people I came across. Anyway, back to the Travel Lodge, which I reckon must inspire people to just keep travelling… Well, I did, I checked into a different hotel within an hour. At the Travel Lodge, I managed to talk the girl at reception (who spoke next to no English!) to actually show me a room, by passing the 'pay before you view' rule. Well, my garden shed has more amenities than this room had. Firstly, there was no toilet seat, though the girl assured me that there would be one the following day, by which time, of course, I would have left… constipated. I then asked how many stars this abysmal hellhole had. None, she replied. It occurred to me that it should actually be condemned as a dangerous and nasty building, even better, it should be pulled down and replaced with a car park, as there seemed to be no parking unless you left your vehicle 2 to 3 miles away, and England is not the safest place nowadays to leave even a box of matches. So I ended up in the White House, which did have parking and also I was fortunate enough to have a toilet seat! Bernie parked our bus at my hotel.
The venue that night was a converted church, probably converted because England is so full of varying religions that no one actually knows who to pray to or for anymore, there are lots of options. The following day was a day off and I spent this time with the Hammond guys.
Audience was as ever good and responsive, though after the show you take your life into your own hands making your way back to the hotel! It seems someone somewhere in the UK is either raped, shot, stabbed or seriously abused on a daily basis and suddenly France was quite appealing and I forgave all the arseholes who drive up your arse every time you go out. I can't remember where we went next, though I do remember I had no toilet seat once again! Seemed I was doomed to ten days of constipation! The only venues that spring to mind are The Cavern in Liverpool, which was actually very good as far as the audience went and they have managed to make the 'new' Cavern just as dirty and sweaty and horrible as the original one. It was like a sauna and we did two shows there, one at 3 in the afternoon, which was of course moved to 4, and the other at 9 in the evening, which was of course moved to 10. The Beatles' music blasted from every doorway, as it was, in fact, the Beatle week.
Then there was the festival in Colne with Dave Edmunds. It was hardly Woodstock, but it was in a field. The next night, wherever that was, was probably one of the best, so good that I can't even remember where it was! (The Cinnamon Club in Bowden?) Mick Moody dropped by to say hello, though wasn't there to say goodbye!!
Day by day, the hotel standard seemed to deteriorate until we reached what we all thought was the summit of crap, which was The Beaufort Hotel somewhere in Wales. The rooms were so small I couldn't open my suitcase! It was like living in a fucking Wendy house! There was a scrap of paper left on the pillow suggesting you booked now for your Christmas break to avoid disappointment. I wrote on it, 'Are You Fucking Serious?' It must be pointed out that in England Beaufort is rhyming slang for cunt. There is a famous fox hunt called the Beaufort Hunt. Anyway, you'd have to be a bit of a cunt to stay there, so it was quite apt. Next we stayed at the only floating hotel in the UK. Now this place should have been sunk and Bernie even suggested bringing back the U-Boats and finishing the fucking place off for good! Breakfast was so bad, we didn't eat it. It was packed with coach parties full of people even older than us!! In Germany, we are always treated very well and there is always catering and endless drinks on hand, in the UK you get nothing, not even a bottle of water. Bad hotels make for bad moods and there were plenty of them, though we always mustered up enough enthusiasm to put on a good show. We played at Wavenden, the venue founded by Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine, where the hospitality was less than nil. Soundchecks were a waste of time and on the occasions that we didn't bother, the sound was always better. Why is it that these guys work in these venues week in and week out and 'do' the sound for everyone, yet don't seem to know how to work the plethora of equipment they have at their disposal? In the old days we took our own PA and never had a problem!
Having two Germans travelling with us around the UK, it was an embarrassment. England is no longer the England I knew. At the end of the tour, I went back to Windsor where I had a virtual mental collapse, from which I have not as yet fully recovered. I have no desire to return to the UK other than to be buried, though had I not had the foresight to buy my plot years ago, I doubt there would be any room in the cemetery for anyone who was actually English. It was probably a mistake to visit the cemetery where my mother and father are buried, as I found to my horror many new additions of people I knew from my days in Sunningdale. It was nice to see the odd old friend that turned up, all of whom moaned about the current cost of living and other obvious problems that prevail in the UK. So until I think of more sagas, that's about it for now… But there will be more.
Bollocks to Britain!
France, 11 September, 2006
Bollocks To Britain Part 2
One of the highlights for me was after the tour, during my recovery period in Windsor. We spent a day in London and visited my cousin Gregory and his wife Lisa who own The Punch Bowl, a Mayfair Pub where I'd planned to have my book launch (which I still may do). It was wonderful to see the family again in this drinker's oasis in the heart of Mayfair. They've managed to re-create what an old English Pub should be, no fruit machines or loud distracting music which prohibits conversation (not that many UK residents are now capable of it!) I recommend a visit for anyone who likes a quiet drink and great food in surroundings that give the impression that you're in a quaint country pub (shame I no longer drink). Plus, and this is a very big plus, you can smoke!! They have a website so take a look. Very special thanks to Greg and his wife for their generosity and hospitality, I'd go back there and pretend I was somewhere else!! Their son wants to go into the music business and asked for my advice which was very simple - don't! He seemed quite bemused. Shopping in London can be financially horrific. £100.00 for a shirt (Turnbull & Asser), £500.00 for a decent pair of shoes (Lobbs) and £1,400.00 for a jacket (Holland & Holland). If you need transport you can buy a Bentley for a mere £198,000,00 (Jack Barclay). Accommodation, unlike the Travel Lodge, would be The Dorchester where we had tea and a pee. There were cars parked outside that I couldn't even identify, a nice watch (so you know what time the shops shut) can set you back £3,500.00 minimum (Cartier) - now there are some tips of where and how to go bust in one day. It's no wonder that today's fashions are jeans with the arse hanging 3 foot beneath your arse and trainers that light up at night accompanied by a filthy T-shirt and hair that looks like you just got out of bed. I went shopping with Liz and managed to spend slightly more than I'd earned during the tour!! Thank heavens for PRS and publishing royalties. Record royalties you can't count because record companies as a rule just don't pay. I think you'd find that these guys who get multi-million deals end up in debt for the rest of their lives!! Once you've deducted the video costs and the touring costs, there's fuck all left as all of this is deducted from your advance. Finally, I'd like to thank Bernie and Steff, firstly for putting up with England, and me, and secondly for keeping me relatively sane. Colin and Miller, like myself, have become resigned to the fact that England is fucked, which is why there is currently a mass exodus from this once green and pleasant land. There are more UK residents getting out than immigrants coming in so the day will come when it won't be England at all. You could argue the fact that I'm in France and also an immigrant, well, the fact is that I saw all this coming and for once in my life did the right thing at the right time and any thoughts I had of returning to Britain have now evaporated.
Nightmare In Münster
Between Friday and Sunday, I must have spent about 10 hours at the airport in Paris, which has to be one of the most chaotic and dirtiest airports on the planet. One would have thought that ground staff would at least be mono-lingual, if not bi-lingual, they seem to be neither. Still, on reflection, the 10 hours in Paris was preferable to the time in Münster. The show included the opera singer who sang 'Barcelona' with Freddie Mercury (Montserrat Caballe) and Boney M. I didn't see the opera singer, though I did see a bit of Boney M. First thing I noticed was the total lack of a band and yes, they were miming to a backing track vocals and all. They mimed enthusiastically to their string of hits which wasn't a very long string, and when they'd finished they started the tape all over again and did exactly the same thing. The singer had an impressive Afro hairdo - turned out he was totally bald - and a few girls jigged about. It has to be said, and this is not me talking, that the audience were actually laughing and leaving for sanctuary in droves.
By the time we got to the stage it must have been around 12:30 - that's after midnight!! Firstly, the drums that were supplied were a total piece of shit and, in fact, the cymbals were so thin they actually reversed into a plate shape instead of a cymbal shape. Never in my life have I seen this happen, even though Steff does hit things quite hard, as you can see on my 'suitcase' photo. But then Zak Starkey hits things like he's on a demolition job, and I've STILL never seen a cymbal go into reverse. The guitar amps were also a pile of shit. I used my own Hammond, but the sound guy was not up to much, and even that sounded like a pile of shit. Firstly, the police arrived and asked for the volume to be turned down (after the pounding disco junk we'd all just endured from BM) - the sound guy's solution to this was to turn off the stage monitors which left us all singing acoustically. The police came back 3 times, and after about half an hour we were told to stop altogether. I can't see who we were disturbing as we were only surrounded by empty municipal buildings and a road where people in cars were playing their own brand of BOOM BOOM music far louder than anything we were doing.
Next day, my flight was not until 6:30 in the evening, so I had a VERY late check-out and another VERY long wait at Dortmund airport which is not the most inspiring airport on earth. Then it was Paris again - more delays and more rudeness from the ground staff.
What more can I say?? I could glorify these occasions and talk about swinging rhythms and great playing and fantastic hotels but I think it's time to get real. It was a fucking disaster. All I can say is that the promoter must have been Herman Munster. Would I do it again? NO.
On my return, we have had a blight of power cuts and a bit of our wall fell onto someone's car which was parked in a tiny lane that a fart would have trouble passing through. We went to the insurance company and of course it was all our fault. The damage to the car was very minor, but the French don't deal in minor problems, they have to be major. Were it my car I'd push it over the edge of a cliff anyway but to the owners it's a precision bit of French engineering (does that exist???) I was supposed to go and see Roger Glover in Monte Carlo, but with all this going on I didn't get to go anywhere, nor did I have the inclination… Sorry, Rog. Back out again on the 4th August, one can only hope for the best.
Back in the sweltering sanctuary of France where rudeness is the norm, though I've come to terms with that. You don't need a car here, you need a fucking tank - with working guns front and rear. Bollocks!
The Rebel Tour - Frankfurt, 2006
Well, I can't remember the first part of the tour, so I won't bother to go into that, but I can remember the corporate dates we did in Frankfurt for a German Bank. A guy from the Bank wanted to sing a couple of songs with us and whilst he was a decent enough guy, it does tend to turn the whole thing into a bit of a farce. He wanted to do 'Blue Suede Shoes', which, I suppose, working for a bank, is as close as he'll ever get to a pair. Then he wanted to do a version of 'Keep On Running', although not in his blue suede shoes.
We had another surprise and unwanted (certainly not needed) guest, a Dutch girl with an American accent whose name escapes me now. I don't know where she came from, though wish she hadn't. She latched onto Spencer and of course she ended up 'singing' for want of a better word on more songs than she should have, in fact, she should not have sung on anything. Then, in the dressing room, we were entertained by her entire repertoire, fortunately we had two dressing rooms, so she was eventually left to warble on her own. Throughout the show, she paraded back and forth in front of the stage - a bit like she was selling ice creams - which she should have been. I hope this situation never arises again and if it does I think I'll make my excuses and wait somewhere until it's all over. Elton John was on the same night and I didn't notice any unwanted intrusions into his act - as if he'd stand for it! Anyway, they were two good nights, albeit a bit strange.
Then it was back to France where everything was as normal as it could be. Liz had a cold and I was sent to the supermarket for some supplies, which is always a big mistake, as problems follow me wherever I go. I went to buy some eggs and there was an old lady there who wanted me to pass her a box of eggs from the top of the shelf; she wanted to check the laying date!! Then she asked me to pass her another box and then another box, by which time I was getting pissed off and asked her if perhaps she wanted to know the name of the chicken who laid the fucking eggs.
Then it was to the Mercedes garage to have the car serviced. Why does your car always come back from a service in a worse state than when it went in??? Well, ours does!
Oh, I do remember going to Denmark, where our local agent had managed to turn a 3-week tour into a 3 day one. But he is such a nice guy, I didn't care nor did I expect anything less.
It's all coming back to me now, I remember playing at The Downtown Blues Club in Hamburg - packed!! Me and Spencer did 2 separate TV interviews about the Star Club in Hamburg. Hardin and the other guy played the last night and Spencer played it somewhere in the middle. I seemed to waffle on for about an hour, though I suppose it'll be edited down to 30 seconds.
That leg of the tour was very tiring, though not for Bernie, our tour manager, who not only never seems to get hungry but also is never tired. The Sweet were on with us at one show and they were so loud you probably heard it from wherever you are. Then there was Middle Of The Road and Shocking Blue.
So the travels start again on the 7th July and our office seems to have managed to find me a flight whereby I get to visit most of Europe to get to Germany. Ryan Air and all the other budget airlines have a lot to answer for, because now agents and promoters realise they can sling you all over the continent for 2 cents plus airport tax.
Nothing more to report and as usual this report has very little to do with music, but then music has very little to do with humour… or does it? I've heard some pretty funny things in my time - just listen to French radio if you can and you'll see what I mean. I'll probably add to this as and when things come back to me.
Sweltering In France, 22/06/2006
Life Off The Road
I decided some time ago to make this website more of a journal than of self-gratification and the pursuit of praise for and from other musicians, so here's a bit of what happens when we're not on the road.
Firstly, life is pretty mundane aside from the odd foray into the studio, which I have downstairs. A venture beyond the black electric gates is something I have grown to dread… unless I'm going to the airport. France, everyone assumes is a gastronomic country, whereas, in fact, it is, as I have found out after 16 years of experience, a culinary disaster. A simple drive to the shops turns into an horrific fairground bumper ride with French clods virtually in your boot (or trunk as you would say in the USA). Every conversation or request of a French person turns into an argument. They have the logic that you should approach EVERYTHING with an aggressive attitude. Minor household repairs turn into major ones as they create more damage while fixing the repair. Also there is no logic in... well there is just no logic!!!
I went for a simple haircut the other day, and the hairdressers had no hot water so they sent out for a bucket of warm water and tipped it over my fucking head. Now I must be as fucking silly to sit there and watch these things happen. Eventually, after the hairdresser virtually attacked my head like Edward Scissorhands, I told her to STOP, and left with half my hair cut and still dripping wet. I finished it off (well and truly) myself when I got home.
Went to Avignon and bought myself one of those portable flat screen TVs which I can take on the road. That was a success, and it's a great little gadget. We then decided to go for lunch… that was not a success. We actually found a really nice restaurant, not one of those Nouveaux or Nouvelle, whatever it is, cuisine places where you get half a slice of lettuce, a bit of a pea and a morsel of some meat which could be cow, pig, lamb or even dog or cat – whatever - it all tastes the same as it's coated in garlic and sauce which is a last resort in giving the food a resemblance of taste.
As I said, the restaurant was good and we finished a good meal when there was a power cut ALL OVER AVIGNON. So there we sat in complete darkness, couldn't pay the bill because all the tills and credit card
gadgets were electric, as was the car park exit barrier. We paid by cash in the restaurant and waited for the electric problem to be cured so that we could at least get out of the fucking car park. We also had car problems. We have a Mercedes which is all computerised and once that develops a malfunction you're basically fucked. So after 3 trips to Nimes to the main dealership even they couldn't fix it but they did decide that we needed a new set of tyres!!!
During the course of their diagnostic appraisal of the computer problem, they fucked up the centre console which houses the gear lever, so every time you put the thing into park the whole console rises about 3 inches into the air… now that was perfectly OK before they tried to fix the computer.
Still I console myself that I will soon have Bernie at my side and I will be confident that nothing can or will go wrong. Well it very rarely does when he's around. I'm looking forward to our next foray which is supposed to start in Scandinavia, though our Scandinavian promoter, whilst being a nice guy, is totally scatty. Makes one wonder how these Norsemen, whatever they were, made such amazing adventures in their longboats. I reckon they set off not knowing where they were going and when they got there they didn't know where they were, they just raped and pillaged a bit, went home and didn't know where they'd been. Well, at the moment I don't know where I'm going in Scandinavia… just somewhere.
Looking forward to seeing the rest of the band and hopefully will have some more amusing tales to tell on my return. Meanwhile, unless you have nerves of steel, the patience of a statue and the constitution of an ox, don't buy a property in France, though, having said that, the problems I have mentioned seem to be becoming global. Even England is a mess, and I find it hard to understand people who supposedly speak in my native tongue. GERMANY IS THE PLACE! They speak PROPER English even there!
Emma is coming over next week with her new husband, so we're looking forward to that.
All for now, off to bed where nothing can go wrong - or can it?? I'll let you know.
5 Countries, 4 Flights And Three Train Journeys In 7 Days!
I set off for our latest tour in a state of some confusion, as my best friend had just died and my daughter Emma had just got married (see picture on the news page)! It was a hard tour mentally because I knew that at the end of it I had to go to that funeral. I flew to Amsterdam via London, which, one would assume, would be more expensive than flying to Amsterdam direct… well it isn't. Airlines have a strange logic whereby you can go via virtually anywhere you don't want to go for a fraction of the price. How do they know you didn't want to go there?
I had a hard time with the Hammond this time - WHY is everything so complicated and WHY does EVERYTHING have an in-built computer?? I just want to switch it on, have a B3 sound and play the fucking thing, but no… you have to EQ it, modify the Leslie speed and adjust the distortion rate and the sustain pedal - only to find that when you switch it off all the settings are lost and you have to go through the process all over again, so by the time you actually get to play it you're mentally fucked. IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE THAT CAN MAKE THIS SIMPLE FOR ME? However, I think I'm getting to grips with it and at the end of the day it IS the most practical solution to having a Hammond on the road.
All the shows were a joy to play and the audiences were as ever wonderful; it's good to see that Steff is getting the recognition he deserves, he's a great drummer and drives the band along like shit off a shovel! As Miller told me, music is a great medicine, and he's right, for the short time you spend on stage all worries and illnesses disappear, so I guess if we played forever we'd never die! Well, at the risk of sounding pompous, it seems our music won't. Great to see the band again after a long break, but now it seems we are going to be very busy up to the end of the year, so I'll probably have had enough of all of them by then!
Sorry to go on about the loss of my friend John, but it has had a profound effect on me, as I never thought it would. Well, in fact, I could never conceive of life without knowing he was at the end of a telephone. Life will never be the same again. Strangely enough, shortly before his death, John gave me the title for a new song, 'Bid Time Return' (if only we could). I started to record it just before the tour and have decided not to work on it any further but leave it in its raw state as that way it has more meaning. I'm going to try and get it on the website as a download in the future if Alex can help me out.
Off again on May 2nd starting in Scandinavia, tour dates will be posted as soon as I have them.
All for now.
Eddie Hardin. 9/3/06 France
RIP John, aka Gente, 26th July 1948 - 22nd February 2006
Spencer Davis Group 14th – 30th Oct., 2005
Well, it's all a bit of a blur really and one of the hardest tours we've done in a while, plus we all ended up with terrible colds though hopefully NOT bird flu! I DID notice, however, that Bernie has suddenly refused to eat eggs or chicken - he got the cold worst of all!! Things got off to a flying start, literally. I flew to Basel and on arrival exited on the French side and not the Swiss side. The taxi driver refused to enter Switzerland; well, I guess he WAS French, so I had to go back into the airport, walk 15 yards and go out on the Swiss side where the taxi driver charged me 50 Euros for a 5-minute journey… Switzerland IS expensive!
The first show was in a town called Pratteln – well, I was a prat from the start paying the guy 50 Euros. As ever, the shows were all good, though some were a little strange. In Regensburg, we played in a shopping centre with two other bands, Sailor and Middle Of The Road. Now you'd think that this would not be our kind of audience, but it was. Only problem was that the monitor guy was behind us - God knows how he got a sound, as he was facing in the opposite direction, however, he did! By the way, how does a band get so much mileage out of a song like 'Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep'??? And as for Sailor, I don't even know what they did.
There was then a bit of a slog, terribly long journeys and lots of sleep - seems the only way to get through these tours nowadays - and Bernie is always reluctant to stop for food, which is, in fact, my hobby these days! When he does stop, the rest of the band seem to get through a 2 or 3-course meal before I've sat down.
Spencer must get terrible indigestion, as eating next to him is like eating next to a food blender with the crashing of knives and forks resembling a Santana concert. His breakfasts are also a sight to behold, they sometimes consist of a roll in which are two fried eggs, a slice of cheese, some smoked salmon and topped off with some liver sausage, washed down with a litre of coffee. Sometimes it's worse, and there could also be fruit involved.
Then came Berlin where we were to record a TV show. This took two days to mime to a backing track of 'Gimme Some Lovin', and we were shuttled back and forth to the TV studios for a 3-minute rehearsal. Everyone in a TV studio has an air of great importance, even the guy serving the food was like a frustrated refugee from Baywatch - or so he thought.
Liz came to Berlin and we managed to get a couple of days’ sightseeing - you know the type of thing, shoe shops and department stores. We did manage to squeeze in the old Checkpoint Charlie, The Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. I hailed a taxi to take us to Checkpoint Charlie and I said to the taxi driver, 'Do you speak English?' He replied: 'I AM English!' We got talking and I asked what he was doing in Berlin, he explained he had been a musician and had supported Spencer Davis and Peter Jamieson in the ‘70s. As if this wasn't a big enough shock, he went on to say, 'I also did a lot of work with Hardin & York.’ 'Well, I'm Hardin!', I said, at which point we nearly crashed. What a strange turn of events: of all the taxis in Berlin I hailed this guy.
Colin managed to get remarkably pissed in Berlin and sort of lost the power of speech; we were sitting in the hotel bar which had a buffet laid out, and Spencer came over to ask what the deal was. Colin TRIED to say 6 Euros, but it came out as 'siyeow' Of course he denied he was under the influence and put it down to tiredness. Spencer said, 'WHAT???' and walked off. Then Liz went home and I was a bit down for a while, but there were only three more shows to do.
The last show was in a theatre in Wiener Neustadt - sold out!! The show was split into two halves, and I said to the other guys during the break, 'It'd be funny if when we go back they've all gone home!' They hadn't, and it was one of the best shows of the tour, even though by this time we were all running on autopilot.
So how about that, I got through a whole tour report without swearing… Fuck it, I'm losing my touch!
If I remember anymore I'll add it later as I've still got terrible fatigue and a fucking cold to boot (see, I just can't do it!) We're off again on the 23rd November for three shows.
Speak to y'all later!
Nov. 6, 2005
November 5, 2005
Obviously, you always tend to take the opportunity of seeing the Spencers once again. Whether it’s a small club or the market square of your nearest county town – their hits and their shot of R&B are always a welcome dose – the way it’s blasted out of the speakers by a bunch of veterans… In the German-Westfalian “Stadtgarten“ in Buende, the scenery was more thrilling than we’re used to. Spectators above the 1000-mark, the venue sold out, and the SDG were sandwiched between two heroes of Woodstock - Iron Butterfly and Ten Years After. One wondered whether their hippie fans had actually waited for this beat & blues band?!
They had! There was a thunderous welcoming applause, and Spencer made a wise move in offering his first Number 1 “Keep On Running” as an opener. Relishing its guitar riffs, he sang the number with joy and guts – most punters already joining in. On with the show, try a boogie: Davis’ “Don’t Want You No More” was even covered by The Allman Brothers once, and listening to the twin lead guitar sections, well executed here courtesy of Spencer and Miller Anderson, you know why. But it soon becomes clear that the single original member and trademark owner does not go in for a one-man show. The second Top 20 hit this 60s group enjoyed yonks ago, “When I Come Home”, was left to Miller Anderson, just like their unforgettable ballad from the beat & soul era, “Every Little Bit Hurts”, their second ever chart placing from 1965.
Soon the boss announced the next move in fluent German – his spell as a school teacher in Berlin-Schoeneberg is well documented on an early single - “I’ve really had my share of luck, working with the best bass player in the world – Colin Hodgkinson!” And that “seen-it-all” really is a gifted magician on the four strings, as he demonstrated during his unmissable solo spot, “San Francisco Bay Blues” with a lot of bass acrobatics. Colin got excited ovations – “standing” would have missed the point, as it was standing room only. And there’s one thing Hodgkinson knows damn well from his long stint with the late and lamented Alexis Korner – going along with the Brit blues father’s habit of always assembling gigantic talents, Spencer himself is full of joy and pride in his role as a quality-inducing mentor.
During the old John-Lee-Hooker-warhorse “Dimples” – with minimal injections from Hooker’s “Boom Boom” - the ensemble playing of all involved was shining through: drummer Stefan Porzel has, in his two and a half years with the band, always been a reliable, precise and attentive trooper, and the vocal blues & ballads king Eddie Hardin – who had joined the band for the first time as early as late 1966 as a substitute for Traffic-bound Steve Winwood – can impress with the odd melody in stunning McCartneyesque quality as well as the wavering sounds of his Hammond XB-2 gracing Spencer & Miller’s guitar riffs – a sheer joy. Then Spencer explains, “Somebody Help Me” was written by Jackie Edwards, who once cooperated with Mungo Jerry’s mainman Ray Dorset – and with this snippet of rock history, Spencer actually asked Mungo Jerry’s mainman Dorset himself onto the stage: “Where are you, Ray?” Dorset lives in nearby Bielefeld, and didn’t hesitate for long, and soon the SDG’s evergreen “Somebody” was really sung by everybody on that evening.
Miller Anderson brought in some contrast: the veteran, courtesy of The Keef Hartley Band, Savoy Brown and Mountain, delivered a deliciously nasal Dylan spoof of the once Bob-spotted folk song, “The House Of The Rising Sun”, if only to follow it up with a “real”, powerful rendition – luckily, he chose the version from the Miller solo album, Bluesheart, which is completely different from the over-exposed Burdon version. The adjoining drum hurricane and an almost grinding Hammond organ on top of some great guitar groundwork introduced us to a slice of SGD jazz-rock from 1967, the number that the band Chicago based their whole career on: “I’m A Man” – and once again, Eddie Hardin’s dramatic vocal delivery was on par with Stevie Winwood. Hardin’s crucial part in this number was “only” missed by the sleepy soundmixer, who directed the poor PA system the Stadtgarten management had to offer – hard and heavy at the front, echoey and weak at the back. Anyway, now the adrenalin level was not supposed to get slack, and with “Gimme Some Lovin’”, there was no risk involved. A further killer riff from axes and organ alike – and in the centre of this particular hurricane, Stefan Porzel added his own drum solo to the earlier “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” that had been delivered by the first band of the night, Iron Butterfly. No competition, by the way, as Porzel’s firecrackers showed a lot more punch, wit, technique and sophisticated dynamics of a quite different calibre.
There was no encore planned with three groups on the bill, but the audience’s vulcano-like noises sucked the Spencer Davis Group back into the auditorium for a short “Keep On Running”, and in the best Alexis Korner tradition, Spencer let Miller Anderson do the singing part. There’s one thing this band performance makes clear in spite of all its brilliance: pure nostalgia is not enough, an outfit like this has to make a new studio album, and is damn capable of doing so!
September 16, 2005
I looked on the website to have a quick look at the hotel we were staying at, it was a Mövenpick with two dots on the ö for the professional traveller. It looked great, but when I arrived, it was not great; my room seemed not quite finished, but as far as I was concerned, it WAS totally finished. I was driven there by a nice enough guy but he DID look like a mass murderer - not his fault, he did allow me to smoke in his car!!
The hotel was set in parkland most of which seemed to have been blown up - perhaps a reminder of you know when. I arrived at reception after a drive that took longer than the flight and was offered a glass of water! Either I'm getting old or the strain had taken its toll. First thing I asked was, "Where is the restaurant?" The girl at the reception pointed to a building site which you had to pass through avoiding falling masonry and ironwork and bricks and things to get to. I have to say that the restaurant was great - aside from all the builders walking about in those hard hats. It was like having dinner with the Village People!
It was wonderful to see the other guys again after our foray in Australia. Spencer was very quiet, it must have seemed to him like eating while being surrounded by the remnants of 9/11. The show was as ever good, and I managed to blow up yet another Hammond organ (can't be many left in Germany!) It all passed too quickly, and breakfast with the Village People is not an experience I'd like to repeat.
Still, the next trip is not too far away, and, as it's longer, I'm sure there will be more tales to tell. Not of musical genius and incredible dexterity and boring the crap out of everyone in the audience but of fucking humour - a thing we could all do with right now.
So that was Münster - or was it Herman Munster???
July 22, 2005
(click above to view full size!)
Right. Firstly, I went to London and stayed the night at Heathrow. The following morning, I think, we departed from Terminal 3 via Singapore and Dubai, where the airport was littered with sleeping Arabs. I thought Dubai was up-market. Well the airport isn't.
Anyway, we arrived after 23 hours in the bloody air at Brisbane. We did NOT have a limousine each to collect us. In fact, no one collected us at all, so it was down to a taxi. The first thing I noticed was that there was no smoking ANYWHERE except within 3 metres of any building. Fuck that!
Next thing was, it was "G'DAY" and "NO WORRIES" to whatever question you asked, and suddenly you appeared to be everybody's 'MATE'. I can tell you all that it was NOT a G'DAY, and we had plenty of worries, the worst of which were yet to come. On occasion things appeared to be 'RIPPER'. This is a land of a very strange tongue.
Steff had brought with him a power adaptor apparently for any known combination of countries - except Australia! A sound investment. I, however, didn't have one at all though at least I only had to buy one and not seventeen, as Steff had bought, all of which were useless.
We spent two peaceful days in Brisbane where we all suffered from the most awful jet lag. I now have it on a major scale, having returned. Colin, a keen walker, circumnavigated Brisbane several times. I went to buy some water and spent much of the following two days either in bed or at a restaurant.
I did venture out to a fish restaurant, though even that wasn't a simple matter. I couldn't identify ANY of the fish on the menu, so after a few oysters plumped for 'the catch of the day', and I have not a clue as to what it was, I reckon I was the catch of the day!
Then Spencer and Ed Tree arrived to meet us in a bus that was not big enough to take the baggage, however, after Steff's ingenious packing system, he managed to get everything in. The only problem was that you couldn't then see out of any of the back or the rear windows.
We drove to Twin Towns on The Gold Coast, which was the first venue. The hotel was good. Sea views and all that stuff, which inspired me to go for a walk (which I NEVER usually do) on the beach with Steff and Colin, both of whom were stunned by my sudden burst of activity… which only lasted for a day.
The venue was a short - and I DO mean short - walk from the hotel. We went over for a soundcheck only to find that the equipment was a pile of shit. Colin and I got lost trying to find our way out of the venue, which was a vast labyrinth of a place with a few dodgy bands playing in various rooms.
We had a disgusting lunch there, and I was amazed at the ordering system: we were each given a gadget resembling a mobile phone which beeped, flashed and lit up when the order was ready. It should have been a warning not to eat the crap.
So, while we were lost, we came across a vast room filled with fruit machines called a Pokey; we called it the Oky Koky.
Row upon row of people of varying ages sat mindlessly pouring dollars into the machines, some of the people were VERY old, in fact, some of them were probably dead, dying at their post at the machine. I immediately thought of changing some of the song titles like "I'M AN OLD MAN". "GIMME SOME LOVIN'", which was totally out of the question for 99% of them, should have been "GIMME SOME MORE LIFE". "KEEP ON RUNNING", well, you can work that out for yourselves. I rang Colin and said, 'What the fuck are we doing here? Some of those people won't even be alive tonight!'
We played in the main room and were pleasantly surprised to find a younger set of people in the audience. I reckon the older lot just hadn't been able to find their way out of the building… in, perhaps, years.
For me the climax of hilarity on the tour was when Steff and I went into the lift to go to our floor. On the way to the lift, we passed a lounge entertainer in the restaurant, you know the type - guitars strapped all round him, a dodgy synth and an even dodgier drum machine.
I told Steff, maybe this is the direction I should go in (NOT)! Now I am not noted for my diplomacy and tend to swear quite a lot, and it might have rubbed off on Steff, because as the lift was going - we thought up, in fact, it was going down - when I asked Steff, 'How do you think I should start my show tonight?', he responded, just as the lift doors were opening, 'Hello you cunts!' Sadly, there were two elderly people on the parking level waiting to get into the lift, and this was their greeting. Steff is a very polite guy and was so embarrassed. I, however, could not contain myself and went into total hysterics which started Steff off, so we were now laughing at them as well. You HAD to be there!
Anyway, the show was great, it was like going back to the 60s - total mayhem, everyone on their feet, dancing about and all kinds of things. Spencer was pleased to see 'SOLD OUT' stamped across the posters. We played two memorable shows there and then drove on to Sawtell, which is I don't know where other than it's in Australia.
This night we stayed in what was like Bates Motel, and the guy that ran it was English and used to frequent the Marquee Club back in the 60s. He asked us if we remembered him. 'Of course I do!', I said, '4th row 5th in from the right!' He looked a bit perplexed.
The rooms were as grim as the Motel, and I was thinking about 'Psycho' when I decided to open the door to let the smoke out of my non-smoking room. There was a guy standing there like in 'Psycho' with his hand raised in a stabbing motion. 'Oh, for fuck's sake!', I shouted and he apologised and said he was Jack and had been sent to look after us. Jack saved the evening with his humour and even managed to improve things on the equipment front.
Another good show ensued.
Next day, we flew to Sydney where we were to be based for the rest of the tour. I told Colin that the weather forecast predicted winds stronger than in living memory (I AM a sod!) Colin is not a great flyer and during the flight he was actually dripping sweat with fear, though we arrived on a clear and sunny day.
This is where things went very wrong. The booking of the rooms was total chaos, as the guy behind the desk couldn't understand how there could be 5 people called Spencer Davis all staying in the same hotel at the same time. Spencer went into a quite drastic trauma - so much so that I thought he might drop dead!
I changed my room five times, though Spencer, who had five rooms booked in his name, didn't have one at all! He got more and more frantic, and eventually I took him out for a drink to a nearby pub. Sadly, there was a birthday celebration going on at the table next to us, and that was TOTAL hysteria, the girls screaming in the most awful shrill - constantly. This was not the ideal place to have taken a man close to a mental collapse.
Finally, Spencer got his room, which he didn't like, patched in his computer and fired off faxes and e-mails around the world so he was kind of happier, though it was a touch and go situation.
We set off each day for the shows, all of which surpassed my wildest expectations. Colin and Steff, meanwhile, circumnavigated Sydney. I stayed in bed. Seemed logical, because at night we drove past all the sights they'd walked miles to get to.
The names of places are ridiculous - they are like Womba Womba, Billa Bonga, and so forth. The sound guy one night asked where we'd been the night before, and I told him, 'WILLAWONGAWOOWAH'. 'Don't think I know that one!', he replied.
Mark, our driver, soon got into the swearing bit and after a few days he was worse than me.
So our momentous trip came to an end, a very successful trip though one which I would not go into lightly again.
Ed Tree said to me: 'There are 2 kinds of people in this world, everyone else - and you!'
There were so many more funny incidents, though for now in the immortal words of Spencer, 'I'm outta here. It's a straight shot. Got it nailed. You got it!' NO WORRIES.
EDDIE HARDIN, 22/7/05
July 3, 2005
Firstly, I'd like to say that it's pretty silly to be sniping at each other via our various websites. There is no one out for a quick buck here or there, though wouldn't it be nice! The Winwood era ended close to 40 years ago, and yet there are still dramas going on, even though the band has carried on ever since in various combinations.
The HARDIN & YORK period seems to have been erased from Pete York’s memory, though we played many many memorable gigs – memorable for me and for the people that have written to me as well as those I have met on the road.
I’ve heard a rumour that the Winwoods were upset that Spencer was still trading under the same name and that it demeaned the reputation of the band - I mean, whatever next!!! SPENCER DAVIS is, after all, his bloody name!
I have no gripe with Pete; we went through an awful lot together and I remember those times fondly, though he doesn't appear to. Steve Winwood was and probably still is an amazing talent, though he is a man in his own right now as should we all be, not silly bickering children. For God's sake, we are all approaching and some of us are way beyond 60 years of age!!
Anyway, I’ve watched the Bob Geldof concert last night. What a sorry state the music business is in! I'm open minded, sure, but there was no single band that kept me awake. I did watch The Who because I thought that Zak Starkey might do the show - he didn't, and it just goes to show what a difference a powerful drummer makes In my opinion, they were weak and lame, in fact, the whole show positively lacked inspiration for new and forthcoming talent. It's a sorry state of affairs.
We don't presume to be the greatest band in the world, though we are a tight unit and continue to entertain audiences around the world We NEVER have a bad night.
Back to Live 8 - I participated in the Band Aid concert at The Albert Hall in the 1980s, and the backstage catering was so extreme that there would have been enough food to feed the fucking universe, let alone the world. I asked for a glass of white wine and was given THREE BOTTLES plus a LOBSTER. Meanwhile the poor audience were applauding what they thought was a good cause - for whom???
I'd like to enclose a picture of the band as it was indicated at one point that we should all wear suits!
Off to Oz, back in a while…
Sprechen Sie deutsch? Here is a review of
Spencer Davis Group live at Stadtgarten Bünde 4th May, 2005
Klar, die Spencers nimmt man gerne mal so mit. Ob im kleinen Club oder auf dem Marktplatz des Kreisstädtchens – ihre Hits der Sechziger und einen Schuss R&B lässt man sich gerne mal von ein paar Veteranen aus den Boxen wehen... Im Bünder Stadtgarten war die Szenerie spannender als üblich. Zuschauer im vierstelligen Bereich, ausverkauft, und eingebettet in die Woodstock-Legenden Iron Butterfly und Ten Years After. Hatten deren Hippie-Fans auf diese Beat-Blues-Band gewartet?
Sie hatten! Tosender Eröffnungsapplaus, und Spencer tat gut daran, der Menge gleich „Keep On Running“, seine erste Nummer 1 anzubieten: Genüsslich dessen Gitarrenriffs reingebraten – und er sang das Ding gerne und beherzt – die meisten machten mit. Weiter mit Boogie: Davis´ „Don´t Want You No More“ coverten einst sogar die Allman Brothers, und bei den Twin-Lead-Gitarren-Passagen – hier zwischen Spencer und Miller Anderson – weiß man auch genau, warum. Schnell wird aber klar: das einzige und namensgebende Originalmitglied der Spencer Davis Group zieht hier keine Ein-Mann-Show ab: Den zweiten Hit der 60s-Truppe, „When I Come Home“, sang bereits Miller, ebenso wie die unvergessene Ballade aus Beat-Soul-Zeiten, „Every Little Bit Hurts“, 1965 ihre zweite Chartnotierung.
Der Chef verkündete bald in bestem Deutsch – seine Lehrerzeit in Berlin-Schöneberg ist ja als frühe Single dokumentiert: ´Ich hab´ wirklich Schwein gehabt, denn ich arbeite mit dem besten Bassisten der Welt – Colin Hodgkinson!´ Der ist allemal ein begnadeter Zauberer auf den vier Saiten, wie er bei seiner unverzichtbaren Soloeinlage "San Francisco Bay Blues" mit viel Bass-Akrobatik zeigte. Colin bekam begeisterte Ovationen - "standing" wäre irreführend gewesen, da ja sowieso alle standen. Und Hodgkinson weiß aus seiner langen Zeit bei Alexis Korner – nach bester Manier des Britblues-Vaters umgibt sich auch Spencer stets mit potenten Talenten, freut sich als Qualität stiftender Moderator.
Beim alten John-Lee-Hooker-Hacker „Dimples“ – mit minimalen Abweichungen zu Hookers „Boom Boom“, glänzte das Ensemble Spiel aller: Drummer Stefan Porzel hat sich in seinen zweieinhalb Jahren mit der Band als präziser und aufmerksamer Könner bewährt, und der vokale Blues- und Balladenkönig Eddie Hardin – bereits Ende 1966 schonmal für den Traffic-Gründer Steve Winwood eingestiegen – lässt neben gelegentlichen Melodien in McCartney-Qualität seine Hammond XB-2 über Spencers und Millers Gitarrenriffs wabern, dass es eine Freude ist. – ´„Somebody Help Me“ schrieb Jackie Edwards, und der hat mit Mungo Jerrys Ray Dorset zusammen gearbeitet´ - mit diesem Fetzen Rock History bat Spencer tatsächlich den Original-Mungo auf die Bühne: ´Where are you, Ray?´ Dorset lebt im nahen Bielefeld und ließ sich nicht lange bitten, den zweiten SDG-Pole-Position-Gassenhauer ihrer Chartgeschichte sangen aber an diesem Abend eigentlich alle mit.
Miller Anderson sorgte für´s Kontrastprogramm: Der Keef Hartley Band, Savoy Brown und Mountain-Veteran brachte eine köstlich genäselte Dylan-Persiflage des von Bob entdeckten Folksongs "House Of The Rising Sun", nur um das Ding dann inbrünstig „richtig“ zu singen, und zum Glück in der völlig von Eric Burdon abweichenden Version des Miller-Albums BLUESHEART. Das anschließende Schlagzeug-Gewitter und eine geradezu fräsende Hammond auf Gitarrenteppich läutete ein Stück SDG-Jazzrock von 1967 ein, auf dem Chicago aus Chicago eine ganze Karriere aufbauten: „I´m A Man“ – Eddie Hardins dramatischer Gesang war hier wieder mal dem Steve Winwoods ebenbürtig; Eddies entscheidende Rolle bei dieser Nummer wurde ´nur´ vom Soundmixer verschlafen, der die dürftige Anlage des Stadtgartens fuhr – vorne Knall, hinten Hall. Jetzt durfte der Adrenalin-Pegel nicht absacken, und das war auch mit „Gimme Some Lovin´“ nicht gut möglich. Ein weiterer Killer-Riff aus Äxten und Orgel – mittendrin setzte Stefan Porzel noch sein eigenes Drumsolo auf das legendäre „In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida“-Feuer der Einheizer Iron Butterfly, nur dass Porzels Einlage mehr Biss, Witz, Technik und ausgefuchstere Dynamik besaß.
Eine Zugabe war eigentlich nicht vorgesehen – so gab die vom Publikumsvulkan ins Auditorium zurückgesogenene Spencer Davis Group nochmal kurz „Keep On Running“, und in bester Alexis-Art ließ der Oberspencer nun Miller Anderson singen. Diese Band-Performance zeigt bei aller Brillianz: Nostalgie reicht nicht, eine solche Formation hat ein neues Studioalbum verdient – und in sich!
May 28, 2005
Don't know when it started but it finished on 21st May!
I had an interesting route to Germany, I went to England first with what I thought was a 20-minute gap between flights… I forgot England was an hour behind so, totally out of character, I RAN from one terminal to the other finding that I had an hour to spare.
I wasn't expecting to be met at the airport and then I heard the familiar sound of Bernie - what a man, he's the BEST tour manager I've ever known in all my thirty-something years of touring, in fact, he's more our manager now, and with Bernie you know it's all going to be OK.
Things got off to a wonderful start, we had a wonderful bus, a DVD player, TV screens, a CD player (not so good) and one of those computerised map things that tell you where you're going, though Bernie switched that off as he knew much better routes than even the navigation system.
It was good to see everyone after a pretty long break, though we soon adjusted - I hope - to each other's company.
Every show without exception was great. I don't mean WE ARE GREAT, I mean the audiences!
Anyway, enough about music, let's get down to the real stories.
Wonderful as our bus was, it was taken away from us after a week with a promise of a replacement which never arrived, so we were back to a basic bus.
Most of the journeys were horrendous, especially the last few days, and I found myself spending every spare moment in bed. I think these tours are planned with a dart and a dartboard, though sometimes the dart obviously misses, and we tend to go off the map.
We did some good tourist stuff, we went to THE EAGLES NEST, the home Hitler had during the war - fascinating stuff, and then we went to a U-BOAT museum in Kiel which again was an interesting excursion, and special thanks to Bernie for both of these. I'd wanted to visit THE EAGLES NEST for years, though bad weather had always prevailed.
Food-wise it was all a culinary disaster aside from a few quiet meals I managed to snatch on my own, the motorway stops I never like, Spencer virtually takes his food to battle and can eat a 10-ft sausage in less than a minute - it's a miracle the plate itself survives the onslaught – and it can sound a bit like a percussion break instead of a food break.
So the food stops last around 10 minutes, and with indigestion we set off again and arrive at the hotel where all services are normally shut or on occasion don't exist.
At one venue, the Leslie speaker blew up, it was in the town square, can't remember where, and our hotel was actually on the town square. So after we'd finished our show, it was around midnight, and a KARAOKE machine kicked in, and thus no sleep.
I have to say it was one of the hardest tours I've done, still haven't recovered, though I thought I'd be home for a few quiet days’ rest… no chance. Both cars had gone wrong, so we were back and forth to Mercedes for repairs, and I guess the tour just about covered the cost.
Next drama was, we had a bees nest the size of a small child… well, no, in fact, quite a big child, and we had to get the French Bee Buster out to fix the problem! The French are a little if not a lot special, the guy arrived totally unprotected with a white spray thing. The nest was between our kitchen window and an outside shutter, he came into the kitchen and was about to open the window!
He eventually went into the courtyard and opened the shutter again totally unprotected and sprayed the thing, there were more bees than I've ever seen, though he remained standing amidst them all, in fact, you could hardly see him through the mayhem.
So he went leaving us with a swarm of irate bees which we still have, though they have diminished a bit. Next day I went out on my own and locked the fucking car keys in the boot and had to get a taxi to go to the house and bring me the spare set! I will not be going out again.
So NOW maybe I can have a bit of a rest before Australia. Bernie will not be coming to Australia and he will be badly missed. We might not get back without his guidance!
There were many other things which are best left unreported and comments on other websites which are best left un-answered/un-contested. Let it be that we had a happy tour again and continue to work constantly in a line-up that suits us all.
January 28, 2005
I only actually went to Midem this year in order to see a lawyer regarding late payment of royalties (37 years!!) I felt I'd been pretty patient.
Midem has slipped even further into the mire, one has only to sit in any restaurant/cafe or better still a bar where the bullshit flows much at quite an alarming rate. I managed to stay this year for a little over 24 hours, and the only salvation for me was dinner with my publisher Jonathan Simon and his wife Hilary.
The weather was atrocious - perhaps a sign from the heavens that enough is enough of this musical and verbal garbage, which is touted and spouted by what are now music Morons. In my day they were Moguls.
I have to say that I didn't actually hear a single note of music nor could I detect any morons with mobile phones and Walkmen attached to their heads and nodding with inane appreciation at what there is no doubt in my mind would have been total shit anyway.
I may be biased, though it would be nice to see someone playing an instrument again instead of grinding two turntables together amidst a horrendous cacophony of bass and drums and a sampled indistinct wail of some vocal lifted from an old record, but then again best of luck to those that do, though I'd like to be around when they are in their late 50s or 60s and get together to reminisce over their musical past. Still, at least they wouldn't have to speak.
No, I don't think I'll be going to Midem again. Cannes, a pleasant town, turns into a two-headed monster for a week. I think I'll be going in the Spring!
December 14, 2004
10.12.2004 Freiburg, Stadthalle
10.12.2004 Rastatt, Badner Halle
11.12.2004 Essen, Grugahalle
Having read other web sites of musicians, I have to say that some of them are a bit serious; I hope mine brings some humour back into life on the road, plus, of course, I'm sure that a lot of people don't really care what I plug my organ into to achieve the sound I produce!
Our first weekend foray included such bands as The Animals (of which there were no original members!) and T.Rex (of which there were no original members!) The weekend just passed included a different Animals with one original member, John Steele, the drummer. Then there was Christie with Jeff Christie whom I have known for seemingly a lifetime. Marmalade were also on the bill, though I think with only one bit of Marmalade left. Then there was BC Sweet with no original members whatsoever. This was augmented by a German band The Lords and an ABBA tribute band… And then there was us!
I can't recall too many details from the first weekend, though the last one is still fresh in my mind, so I will expound on that. Things started well, I got a taxi to Marseille and landed in Paris, so in effect I travelled backwards, then forwards a bit, and then sideways to finally end up in Zurich, which was NOT where I was supposed to be. Paris was its usual non-charming self because the flight on to Basel was not delayed but cancelled altogether - thus I ended up in Zurich.
There was total chaos at the departure check-in, though a jovial Chinaman took on the role of a tour guide and told us what to do. You see, aside from, I presume, speaking Chinese, he seemed fluent in every language employed by everyone on the flight.
The events that followed were horrific. The first show was in Freiburg. In the morning after a dreadful breakfast, I set off on a walk around the town, and it IS a beautiful town, and was full of festive cheer, and aside from the odd German knocking you into the open flowing gutters (which seem to flow freely in tiny lake formations throughout the town), it was nice. I bought some Christmas cards… well I think they are Christmas cards, as there is snow depicted on rooftops. The show was delayed, and as we were doing a 'double' on the first night, we finally got to bed around 3 am and had to leave the following morning at 11 am.
Next night was pretty much the same, Christie played, followed by Middle Of The Road and, I think, followed by The Animals, then came a German band whose name I won't mention, but they all looked like they'd died several weeks before. I slept most of the day and in my boredom I ate an entire chocolate bar (I HATE chocolate) and felt sick; at the venue we were presented with cold meat things with potatoes - brought back memories of Stalag Luft 3B, though I have a feeling that POWs were treated better! (It wasn't until later that I discovered a great little restaurant in the bowels of the hotel we were staying in!)
Wandering around the corridors and seeing nearly dead people in their various dressing rooms trying to be nearly young people I found very depressing. For fuck's sake, there is no getting away from it, WE ARE ALL OLD!!
Prior to us taking to the stage for the final concert, there was an ABBA tribute band behind whom we were supposed to do a sound check, which I personally thought was a little rude, though Rudi, the promoter told me it didn't matter - make as much noise as you like! Just goes to show what respect some promoters have for their contracted musicians, who, after all, are their bread and butter!
Finally got to bed at around 3 am, and we were all so tired, there was no time for a little Christmas cheer. The following morning we all left at different times, so I missed Colin and our early morning breakfast followed by our early morning smoke (cigarettes). Once again I screwed up, I had some frazzled bacon with some congealed scrambled eggs and a pre-historic tomato, though when Spencer arrived he found smoked salmon and all other kinds of delicacies which he piled onto 3 plates!! I just didn't look round the corner of the breakfast area which was where the GOOD food was!
Still, after about a litre of coffee, I was ready to return to France. I was on autopilot all the way home and on arrival fell asleep almost immediately… AIN'T LIFE ON THE ROAD FUN!
To end, I wish everyone who has bothered to read our various reports a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HEALTHY and PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!
EDDIE HARDIN (13/12/04)
August 17, 2004
One Date Tour Report From Nordhausen
I left home at 9:30, and everything seemed to be going smoothly. Aside from the French idiots on the road whom I have grown to accept, the journey thus far was OK. I arrived at the departure gate for Frankfurt to Leipzig (not quite sure why I went there first!) and everything went well... until Leipzig! Having checked in and out of security three times, I finally arrived at the gate for Leipzig. I was the only one there! Slowly a small group of East Germans arrived and there we all sat... and sat... and sat. Now I have never ever heard an announcement quite like this in all my travelling life, it went roughly like this:
'This is Lufthansa flight number <whatever it was>, en route to Leipzig. At present, we have to tell you that we have no catering or cleaning staff for the aeroplane, which has not as yet arrived, therefore, we have no cabin crew, no pilot and, as yet, no plane.'
I thought I must have not heard this correctly so I went to the desk only to find out that it was indeed true. TWO HOURS later, a plane arrived, and we boarded for a 40-minute flight to what was for me a totally unnecessary journey.
However, we arrived in Germany, and I was collected by a non-English speaking German promoter who insisted on speaking to me anyway. I arrived at the hotel and, on entering my room/cell, found there was no light switch, this was placed on the other side of the room, and I had to use my lighter to find it!
Then it was straight off to a dinner with the OTHER promoter who spoke no English either but spoke very very loudly. Spencer and June were there, and it was clear from the empty bottle of wine before them that they had found the only solution to deal with the situation. The promoter drank what seemed like an endless flow of beer and kept shouting (he did little else) 'LET'S HAVE A PARTY!!!' Well, he certainly did and climaxed by standing on the table to order MORE beer!
After having been presented with a mountain of food which could feed a deprived nation for a month, we returned to the 'Hotel'. Therein was a splendid restaurant which I used to the maximum the following day. I DID change my room, though it was an exact replica in a different part of the building.
The next day, Spencer and myself went to the hall to have a look at the equipment we were to use… dreadful. The bass amp was set up right in front of Steff, so you couldn't see him at all, and the organ was supplied by the same fools that had supplied it the weekend before, none of whom knew how this mysterious instrument worked.
However, at showtime there were around 4,000 people who had drunk around 20-30 thousand litres of beer. At the front of the stage area there were the enthusiasts, though beyond them most of the audience were incapable of standing.
What does strike me is that the size of our audience seems to have dramatically increased. However, it WAS a good show, and God only knows how we manage to pull it off, but we DO.
Our next dates are in November, so now I can suffer the intense French heat!!!
Eddie Hardin, France 16/8/04
July 23, 2004
Bollocks To Budapest
I had a feeling the morning I left home for Marseille airport that all would not be well and all wasn't very well. Myself and Liz eventually arrived at Budapest airport to be met by someone we obviously didn't know and who obviously didn't know me. Charlie Karaoke (well, that's what I call him!) was supposed to meet us, but I think we got Charlie Chaplin! Correction, I KNOW we got Charlie Chaplin!
There was a queue of taxi drivers holding up cards with various Hungarian names, and the closest I could see to my name was EDDIE HARRIS, so for this tour I was indeed EDDIE HARRIS.
The hotel was lovely, The Hilton in Budapest. The first person I met was Chris Farlowe, we couldn't miss him because he was wearing a bright red flowery shirt and was, I would estimate, three times the size he was the last time I saw him! Chris is a lovely guy and he set about regaling us with the most amusing stories immediately - more of those later!
The first night in Budapest was indeed a quiet one - for myself and Liz anyway. Spencer was in birthday mood and intent on drinking the entire Hungarian wine reserve, though I never did attend any of his quite amazing forays - I'm too old for that now! Spencer, however, now at the age of 65, seems to have slipped effortlessly into 5th gear.
The first show was within the grounds of a castle, a magnificent setting, though sadly we had to play on a pile of junk/crap/total shit. The 'organ' I was presented with resembled a sandwich on legs and sounded as such. The frustrating thing was that it was set up RIGHT IN FRONT OF A HAMMOND A100 belonging to Dave Greenslade who deemed it far too precious for anyone to touch, in fact, when he himself played it, it was rather like he was cleaning it rather than playing it (shouldn't say that, I'm sure Dave is an accomplished Hammond player - albeit a very selfish one!)
We struggled through the show, and THE CLIMAX BLUES BAND were awaited, however, it seems they climaxed too soon and didn't appear at all. Then came Colosseum - not my kind of music, nor anyone else's, judging by the reaction, however, Chris was in fine form, though, in my mind, totally wasted as such a great singer within that band!
The following night was to feature Procol Harum, The Nashville Teens and the SDG, and as things turned out, no one at all appeared, so we had another quiet night in - thanks to Charlie Karaoke!
There then followed two nights of total horror. We were to play in a club, well it didn't look like a club, owned by the dreaded Charlie. Catering was… well, suffice it to say that no one has left the toilet for any great length of time since.
The PA was way, way smaller than an average home stereo, and the mixing desk was so small that Bernie (THE KING) looked ridiculous beside this tiny little component, slightly smaller than one of his hands, with probably an on/off switch and a fader. We complained about the PA, and the following night it was doubled in size, then later halved again because we blew up the speakers!
Why oh why do these promoters bother, they couldn't organize a fart in a pair of Y-fronts!
So that was it, aside from a splendid lunch at Munich airport; we are now home.
I'm really looking forward to the 6th of August in Germany, I LOVE Germany. All the wives came on the trip to Hungary, and it was nice to meet up with Fiona and Shirley whom I'd never really met properly before, and even this time it was a bit tricky as each morning we had breakfast (a totally separate party) with a table full of lunatics, thus prohibiting much conversation. So, further belated birthday greetings to Spencer and fond greetings to June, his far better half, and of course Harriet.
Eddie Hardin, France 22/7/04
P.S. there were so many more stories to recount that it could well turn into Volume Two of my book!
June 26, 2004
THE ESCAPE TO COLDITZ TOUR - SPRING 2004
Well, what seemed like would never end finally has, and I have to say that after only two days, I'm getting a little bored. I'm glad, however, that I had a couple of days in Windsor to adjust to the English mentality, which has severely changed since the days when I lived there. Windsor is still a relatively sane town, though the same can't be said for many of the others that we were about to visit.
We all arrived in Crawley where we stayed at the Ramada Plaza. Now this sounds like it might be OK… it wasn't. The rooms were sealed, you couldn't open any windows, probably for the fear that someone might jump out, and at one point I probably would have. The restaurant, for want of a better word, was virtually floodlit, thus spoiling any hope of any atmosphere whatsoever, and whilst eating your soup or whatever you felt like you were on a football pitch at night during the World Cup series. The food was crap (and expensive) too. Spencer proceeded to get blind drunk, which was a little unwise, as the next day was the first night of the tour.
I met up with our old roadie, Mervyn, better known as 'Doctor Doom', because in his eyes nothing could or would ever go right, and to a certain extent he's absolutely correct. Merve is now probably three times the size he was when he worked for The Spencer Davis Group/Hardin & York, and, subsequently, myself in the chaotic days at Herne Place.
So we all assembled along with our German driver Fuchsy, which is a bit of an unfortunate name, and I've probably spelt it wrong (Fuchsy Fucksiedupalotsy?) He's a really nice guy, and I'm sure he enjoyed his time with us, but he is sort of un-coordinated. At breakfast, he read his order as it was written on the menu, I mean menus are pretty flowery in their description of the virtual crap that eventually arrives, like salmon on an enticing bed of fresh lettuce with asparagus from the snow-fed mountains at the foothills of the Cevennes mountains. He'd read the whole thing out when ordering. The waiter asked if he'd like tea or coffee and he said, "Yes!!!", and another one was, "I will have simply bacon and eggs." After breakfast, he'd stand up, turn around and fall over his own chair. His climax, well, one of them, was when Steff, he and myself went out for a hamburger. We were strolling along the road and suddenly heard this almighty clang… Fuchsy walked straight into a lamp post! Now this must have really hurt, but he seemed to feel no pain, unless of course he let out an almighty scream when he got back to his room.
I wanted to buy some fruit that night, so Steff and I set off for Tesco's, an English supermarket that isn't so super. We set off thinking it was just around the corner or 'just down there' as we were constantly told when asking for directions. It was a warm evening, and there were swarms of mosquitoes and other strange flying things, and I was in fear of getting malaria on our first outing. We walked… and we walked… and we walked… for two fucking miles, and when I got there I bought a bottle of orange juice which I didn't even want. Then we got a taxi back.
Next day Fuchsy demonstrated his GPS system, well I think it's GPS (get pissed somewhere), anyway, it's one of those speaking maps you have in the car, he named his Marlene. Sitting in the hotel reception I asked him just how accurate this thing was, I mean could it find the fruit section at Tesco's… he typed it in and told me that Marlene couldn't find it. I then asked him if it could monitor his progress from one side of reception to the other… he again typed in his exact location and started to walk around reception waiting for directions from Marlene… of course there were none.
Virtually none of the hotel staff spoke English which was a little disturbing, and those that did were incomprehensible. The English have nearly lost the power of speech altogether. And this was only the first couple of days!
The time came for Fuchsi (I can spell it right now because he wrote to me!) to go home and for Bernie 'The King' to arrive. We call Bernie 'The King' because anything you ask for seems to arrive before you've asked for it! Anyway, we met up with Bernie somewhere near Frankfurt, which was slotted in between the date in Peterborough and Aberdeen. The show in or near Frankfurt is a complete blur to me, one minute we were in England, the next - Germany via Amsterdam, and the next - back in England via Amsterdam again.
I DO remember that the promoters were intent on getting EVERYONE pissed as soon as we arrived at the airport and that their favourite band was SAILOR, which was, to say the least, a bit daunting.
So we arrived in sunny Aberdeen, sadly without Bernie 'The King's' suitcase. He had to go back and get it later. Steff had a card made up with 'the King' written on it, and as Bernie walked through arrivals, there were, as luck or fate would have it, a group of Japanese tourists who immediately latched on to the fact that the king or a king from somewhere was arriving. Bernie was greeted by hundreds of bows of great honour and noises of customary reverence - I'm afraid he really is The King now!!
So now we were without the aid of Marlene and were left to Spencer and The King's map-reading expertise. Quite frankly, I don't care how I get where I'm going as long as I get there, but Miller was most concerned that we were taking the wrong routes; well, however wrong they were, they produced some hilarious moments, pictures of which Alex has now put on this website.
Spencer is constantly on the computer/laptop/Hotel Global Communications or a telephone, and there is a shot of him in a telephone box on a steaming hot day but using his ever-ready mobile, which seems to have every capability known to the modern world. Modern technology has not helped his mental state.
One thing that's really nice is that however much we piss each other off - and obviously after 3 months you do - we are really tight as a group of people, I mean, on stage if there is a duff audience, we remain 'tight' in the personal sense. We're a great little unit that I feel I very much belong to in every sense.
Anyway, enough of the UK tour, so let's end with LONG LIVE THE KING!!! Next stop: Budapest!
Eddie Hardin, 9/7/04
P.S. I thought Marlene was great!
The 5-Week 6-Country Tour - Eddie's Mini-Tour Report 2004
I can't remember where we started, nor where we ended, and not that much of what happened in between, other than that it was just one mad dash from one country to the next. I DO remember Bernie and his most incredible patience; he really is a wonder, and how can we repay him for bringing Steff into the band??? Another breath of fresh air!
Great shows, great audiences, aside from Scandinavia, where we were booked into Summer resorts in spite of the fact that it was snowing… still the 'audient' was good! We got to see Peter the Austrian promoter and Boris, his dog, and best of all was Thomas, our Scandinavian promoter who seems intent on drinking the entire content of the Scandinavian wine and beer reserve. Hamburg, as ever, was great, and I must thank Uve (probably spelt it wrong!) for his unending hospitality.
Spencer is now equipped with a mobile phone with e-mail and all other known capabilities, which, though may well be very good, DOES become a little tedious with a running commentary as to his connection status… still, he's happier than ever!
And so we roll on over Europe and the English home counties with no doubt many more a tale to tell upon my return!
MUCH more to follow,
SDG MINI TOUR November 2003
(November 2003 SDG Ticket - click above for Full Size!)
I left home on Thursday night, the plan being that there would be a bit of rest before the tour started. I arrived in Frankfurt (Hahn Airport) which is actually about 2 hours from Frankfurt Main itself. I wondered how many people arrive there thinking that the town centre is a mere fart away when, in fact, the airport is in the middle of nowhere and was formerly a US airbase.
We were told that the airport hotel was a quiet stroll from the airport; in fact, it was a 10-minute taxi ride. I arrived at the hotel around 1 am to find that it was, in fact, an old army barracks, and very few alterations had been made. It was surrounded by other disused barracks where no alterations had taken place at all, though I guess it was comfortable enough, but DON'T look out of the window should you ever stay there as the outlook is decidedly bleak.
When I got in the taxi, the driver asked if I'd made a reservation, I told him I had and he said... 'Oh dear!' So, as ever, off to a blinding start.
The breakfast was a boiled egg and a cup of coffee, and that was about it, probably much the same as the troops were fed.
After meeting up with Miller and Colin, we took the courtesy bus to the Frankfurt Main airport, another hour and forty five minutes! We got on the bus, and it seemed quite hopeful that it would be fairly empty, though, of course, this was not the case, and suddenly we found ourselves surrounded by a very cosmopolitan busload. Why do immigrants and the like smell funny??
Beside me were 3 children who were passengers from hell, accompanied by their mother who seemed oblivious to their constant wailing and banging about.
Spencer had arrived at 5 in the morning from Los Angeles via Chicago and a few other US airports, and I don't think he ever had time to adjust to the time change as he was very very tired.
So from Frankfurt where we met our friend and mentor Bernie, the ultimate tour manager, we travelled to Schwabisch Hall, and I think we all went straight back to bed again! I have few recollections about this night, and it was only last week!!
The next night I really DO remember, it was in a huge wine cellar based in Schreisheim near Heidelberg, and the owner was as generous and hospitable as anyone could possibly be. Catering was great, and he plied us (not me!) with pretty well every kind of wine he had produced over the past few years ending up with his 'supreme' bottles. At the end of the night, he presented us all with a case each, which of course we couldn't transport back to our various homes so we left it with Bernie and Miller who are, no doubt, at this very moment very happy!!
Miller was off to do a few shows doing his own thing along with Steff’s local band, I'm sure it went very well. Anyway, the night in Schreisheim was like the old Cavern Club in Liverpool though a lot larger, and as we took to the stage, Spencer leaned over to me and said, 'This could be the start of something!' – sadly, 40 years too late.
The atmosphere was absolutely electric, the place was so full that at one point I thought Spencer was on the point of collapsing and I suggested to him that he go outside for a while to get some air. He looked pretty desperate.
It was a total eclipse of the moon that night and I KNOW that Spencer enjoyed watching that... in fact, he made us all watch it for the rest of the night. It was also very heart-warming to speak of my songs after the show, they asked why I/we hadn't played 'Candlelight' or 'home Is Where You Find It', songs that I love though would have thought that they'd been forgotten in the mist of time.
Now it must be said that Miller is concerned about his weight, why - I don't know, with a voice and such a lovely personality he needn't worry. A guy came into the dressing room, and Miller asked me, 'Am I as big as him?' - I replied, 'No, he's thin!!' Then an even bigger guy came in, and Miller said, 'Well I can't be as big as him!' And I replied, 'Well, I'm afraid you are!' At this point, depression set in and more wine was approached, and the Atkins diet was completely replaced by the Anderson diet.
On our return to the hotel, myself and Mill decided to have a quiet sit-down on a couple of sofas which were arranged on the landing of our floor. Mill flopped into his, and there was this ear-splitting sound of shattering wood... he's gone right through the fucking thing with his arse virtually touching the floor. Well I just couldn't control myself, I laughed until it physically hurt, and then Miller produced a fragment of the shattered wood and that just made me worse, and then Steff arrived and the whole thing got totally out of control with hysterics!
A guy from upstairs came down to ask us to keep the noise down... it was by now 3 am! However, had he done this 30 years ago, our response might have been a little different.
But it had been a great night... how I love these trips with my friends.
I also have a new nick-name: 'Lord Snooty', because apparently I'm just fussy about EVERYTHING. Miller suggested we change the name of the band to 'Lord Snooty And His Chums', and that I wear a silk top hat and tails and a white silk scarf... I might just do it for the next tour!
The final night was a bit grim, the audience was fine, but both Spencer and myself got horrible shocks from the awful electrical system. Every time you touched the mike stand you got a terrible 'belt'. It sort of put us on edge for the night. Colin was his usual 'blinding' self and he played even better than the last time I'd seen him... if that were possible! And Steff, ending up in the usual bucket of sweat, has now proven himself to be an equal to anyone. Miller as usual worked his arse off, and I tell you, at times I DO get quite moved by the TOTAL happiness and enthusiasm on stage, it's a lovely feeling and one that I've not felt in a long long time.
To sum up, it was a great little tour, full of happiness and fond memories, and it's always awful to say our goodbyes at the airport... but next year we have a 3-week tour of Germany and a 2-month tour of the UK to look forward to, and right now I can't wait for next year!!!
Happy Christmas (if I don't write again) and a fantastic New Year to all of you!
EDDIE HARDIN 15/11/03
(click on the thumbnails above to view Miller's doodles!)
October 10, 2003
After many years, Miller and wife Fiona have finally made it to France for a 4-day visit. During these four days, I saw more of France than I'd seen in the past 14 years! Miller, being a keen artist of the drawing variety, was keen to visit Arles, which was where Vincent Van Gogh painted many of his disasters… too many.
The first day was pretty relaxed, just a visit to Uzes, which is only up the road and suits me fine - nice restaurants, not quite so many mutants as in other villages, and it was a relaxing day. Mill, however, pressed for a visit to Arles, which didn't actually take as long as I'd expected to reach. Arles is a very picturesque town, and I have to say that I really enjoyed this part of the day.
First adventure was on one of those awful motorized trains which drive round the town packed with Japanese, American and English tourists with on-board headphones clamped to their heads to receive the dialogue of the town's history, specifically concentrated on Vincent Van Gogh. The French have turned the entire town into a virtual shrine, and considering that 'Vince' wasn't even French, this is a little surprising. We'd hoped to visit the home of 'Vince' only to be told that it had been blown up during the war along with all the other actual notable places anyone would want to see... still, you could buy T- shirts, hats, shirts, shorts, skirts, sweatshirts and God knows what else - of what it 'might' have looked like - however, the fact remains that it doesn't! Mind you, it would probably have been of no great loss had all the fucking lot had been blown up, 'art treasures' (!!!) included.
After the embarrassing 'train ride' was over, and having been told that most, if not all of what we'd come to see was no longer standing, we went to the Vince museum. Now I am no art expert though grew up in a house crammed with paintings by notable and very fine artists. The first thing that struck me was the reverent hush as tourists gazed in apparent awe at some of the most atrocious daubs I've ever seen. I'm afraid myself and Mill broke the silence and we laughed our way from one daub to the next. My favourite picture was that of Vince's bedroom which was in the style of the very first picture you attempt at primary school; I nearly bought a print because I just found it so funny, made even funnier by people taking a seat in front of this monstrosity to take in the full horror of its incompetence (to me anyway).
That night we all got out pencils and paper to try and re-create anything that was as bad. Miller's efforts were far too good, though Liz got pretty close. Anyone who is familiar with the film 'The Rebel' with Tony Hancock need look no further.
So after the Vince section of the day was over, Liz decided that we should visit the seaside. Obviously it was October and no one in their right minds would go to a desolate and bleak coastal resort… Miller would NOT be defeated by the gloom of it all and bought ice cream just to get into the resort mode; it has to be said that so did we all!
So, by now stuffed up with ice cream, damp cornets and a huge lunch, we finally set off for home. The journey seemed endless as we'd made a ridiculous detour to go to the coast. When we finally did get back, the Vince drawings began as did the wine drinking when suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, Fiona burst into a song 'Out Of Town' - all the way through! Miller rose to his feet to join in the chorus with great gusto and the house was transformed into a set from a dreadful Hollywood musical!
The next day we went to Avignon, and the weather was so bloody hot, we, especially Mill and me, were very soon exhausted. So Mill and Fiona's trip was drawing to a close, and finally we drove them to the airport. It had all gone so quick, but we really had such a laugh!
On arriving at Nimes, it was surprisingly desolate - no sign of anyone travelling anywhere, though we still ordered coffee assuming that people WOULD eventually arrive to go somewhere. There were no announcements, no messages, and the girl even served the coffee knowing full well that all flights had been cancelled! Did she really think we'd come to the airport with 2 suitcases for a fucking coffee???
Plus we go to this airport so frequently that the girl actually knows us, though she said nothing. Finally, Mill went to the flight information desk and was told that there would be no flights ANYWHERE on this particular evening. It transpired that due to the intense heat the runway had cracked and all departures were now from Montpellier some 40 minutes further on.
Then it transpired that a coach was leaving in five minutes for the trip to Montpellier... we stupidly hadn't noticed the hundred or so passengers sitting outside the airport! I suppose we assumed they'd just arrived!
So the Andersons boarded the coach leaving Liz with 4 cups of coffee to drink, which she'd also forgotten to pay for - as we VERY soon realised as the girl behind the bar came charging towards the car park to collect her 5 euros or whatever it was!
Some people seem to sail through life, why do we always smash into brick walls!!
Mill and Fiona had gone and, it has to be said, leaving somewhat of a void in our day-to-day lives here. They were BOTH great company, and I personally feel that this trip took our friendship onto another level.
So thanks for making the effort, Mill & Fiona, we really miss you!!
Love to you both... NICE ONE!
Eddie & Liz
September 21, 2003
BENEFIT CONCERT FOR PETER TETEROO AND THE LIVER FOUNDATION
We left as per usual for what was supposed to be another concert, though on this occasion, it was in memory of an old mate of mine Peter Tetteroo, who died from liver disease... as indeed so (nearly) did I! I was trying to arrange treatment up until a week before he passed away.
This was to be the first time in YEARS that I'd appeared on the same stage as Ray Fenwick, and I was really looking forward to it, but then...
Having arrived at Schiphol Airport, we met up with Ray and his new love Ruth, a great girl who also can write out music as we rehearse, which is an added and very useful bonus, we all got on great... didn't we, Ruth? Anyway, we both really liked her, and I'm sure this time Ray will be happy and we give them both our best wishes for the future.
So from the airport we were taken to Hotel Koch, which I personally thought sounded a bit daunting. We were on the third floor, and we don't travel light, and there was no lift... or so we were told! However, in the morning, as we dragged our cases down three flights of stairs, it was pointed out that indeed there was a lift!!! It must have appeared overnight.
After about 10 to 15 minutes in the hotel, we were taken straight to rehearsals where we found total chaos, and the guy that was driving us seemed to be drinking copious amounts of alcohol and started to swerve around the room... we thought about getting a taxi back to the hotel, but he assured us he was OK.
So we began rehearsing... though it struck me as strange that the band kept changing members, and after we'd finished it turned out that these were not going to be the guys we'd play with on the show anyway!
On the afternoon, a final rehearsal was planned with the entire cast, which was not entirely clear not only to myself but to every musician involved.
I stayed for the entire afternoon and didn't play a note. There was a 30-something piece choir, a small string section (which no one could hear, in fact no one could hear anything through the monitors, so I have no idea what it sounded like to the audience), massed guitars and again, a completely different drummer whom I'd not even met.
The event finished at around 3:45 am, and there were enormous gaps in between bands, and then a supposedly famous Dutch girl singer appeared, though her name escapes me, who mimed to a backing track, though I think she sang live. She'd been delayed in traffic, so the show was delayed even longer. If Peter could have seen the event, and maybe he did, he'd have laughed his head off.
Ray and myself played 'Gimme Some Lovin', 'I'm a Man', 'Time Seller' and the whole show ended with 'love Is All', which we had to play twice, as it was such a huge hit in Holland.
So at around 4 am or maybe even later we got to bed.
It was a good show though could and should have been a great show with so many incredibly talented musicians on the stage. However… long live Peter's memory.
The following day we left for Amsterdam, a city that Liz had never visited, though I think we've got the globe covered now excluding Alaska!!
In Amsterdam, we were totally knackered, Ray wisely flew straight home, and Liz and myself arranged to meet two old friends for lunch and then continue on to what seemed to me to be a shopping extravaganza. In Amsterdam, there are many trams, as it's the easiest and probably safest way to travel around the city nowadays. However, literally five minutes before we needed one, they went on strike for the rest of the day, so we had to walk EVERYWHERE and EVERYWHERE is where we went.
But... things got worse. We literally staggered back to the hotel financially a lot lighter, and it transpired that there was a music festival going on within yards of our hotel; this was not music in the true sense of the word, just that monotonous bass and drum shit which pounded on through the night. There was double glazing in our room, but one of the windows wouldn't shut properly, so what little sleep we were hoping for (our flight was at 7 am) was marred by a deafening din plus the constant roar of trams who had finally resolved their strike and decided to work throughout the fucking night! Next morning, we flew to London, and I had a doctor's appointment at 10 am in the centre of London.
The Doctor, a very old friend of mine, Dr. Mike, asked me to relax as he did heart tests. At this stage, relaxing was NOT a problem. Liz went to see her son who runs a bass and drums emporium. I declined this visit.
So we were back in Windsor at around 4 pm where we slept until the evening. In Windsor, there were more hospital visits for Liz, and I had to collect my prescription which was so huge the chemist wanted to confirm the order with Dr. Mike!!! So £400 worth of various pills later, I went back to bed again.
Then Liz's daughter came to visit us. I'd had a bit of a fallout with her, though I'm happy and relieved to say that our feud (after quite a few years) is now over, and we had a wonderful evening - she's a great girl and if she were mine I'd be proud!
Things went so good that we arranged to meet again on our last night in England. We all share the same sense of humour, which I guess to any outsider might seem a bit odd, but I loved it, and so we had another late night.
Back in our room at The Castle Hotel in the Sheridan Suite - we ALWAYS stay in the SHERIDAN SUITE - another major problem arose. Liz got our flight tickets out for the following morning, and I'd booked our return flight to Nimes in France... our car was in Marseille!!!
We had to arrange for our house sitters to come and pick us up and the following day we drove another 3 hours to collect the bloody car!!!
Quite frankly, I don't think we should be let out on our own... where the fuck was Bernie???
So that was it, and I hope Peter, wherever he is, appreciates what I went through!
I'm sure he does and I'm convinced he'd laugh as much as I cried, so wherever you are, Peter, and I know you're out there... have a drink for me, and I'll be at the bar when I eventually arrive with you!!!
Eddie Hardin 21/9/03
July 10, 2003
TOUR REPORT AND A WORLD ALERT: DO NOT GO TO NAPLES!
Having just returned from Naples, the shittiest and filthiest town in the World, I have just about recovered from the trip. Our first show was in Kiel, it was an outdoor festival alongside the docks, the rain was so heavy I couldn't even *see* the audience whom I suspected wouldn't be comprised of any more than a handful of lunatics; however it was full… full of umbrellas!
We played in a huge cave one night, can't remember where it was, may have been Balve, and Roger Chapman was on the bill. Great band, Henry Spinetti on drums and Gary Twigg on bass, and a very helpful keyboard player whose name escapes me. Roger has *so* much energy, it's quite frightening! I'd had a bit of a fallout with Roger some years ago, but this night we repaired the rift. We got back to the hotel, and it was one of the most manic parties I've *ever* been involved in! I had a long chat with Roger and found him to be extremely eloquent and very interesting; he has a very good taste in wine, and it seemed to be that he sampled most of the German wine regions as we spoke, but it had no effect on him whatsoever - a far cry from what I'd gathered from our previous correspondence.
Miller Anderson, currently on the Atkins diet, cast all caution to the wind and drank nearly a lifetime's worth of wine that night, along with all the things you shouldn't eat if you happen to be on this particular diet - so much for the Atkins diet, we now call it the Anderson diet!!!
Miller entertained the entirety of the assembled musicians and hotel guests with Pavarotti renditions, marred only by the fact that he kept falling on the floor!
I think Liz and myself gave up the game at around 2 am. There's only so much water you can drink, but I *did* have a few Grappas, which was quite enough. Miller fell asleep briefly, then woke up and immediately set about another bottle of red wine. There was a wall on the terrace of the hotel where this mayhem took place, and Miller nearly went over it several times while I was there, in the morning; judging by his bruised and battered body he must have finally succeeded!
Colin, the discreet drinker, went a bit West Coast and disappeared into the night and was perfectly fit in the morning. Miller was not. I think it took 5 valiums to get him through the day. Bernie, our wonderful tour manager, stayed respectable, though Steff was floundering a bit, but overall it was Miller who was the 'star' of the night.
Sharon arrived complete with laptop and caused major mayhem as per usual. We then flew down to Naples. I had warned *everyone* that it was the dump of the universe and that there was no possibility of finding a decent hotel except for The Grand Hotel Parkers which is quite magnificent. However, we were booked into a 'standard' Naples hotel (none of which having any standards at all!)
It was incredibly hot, and we obviously wanted air conditioning, which we finally got! I changed rooms 3 times, and everyone else changed at least once.
The best part of it was that there *was* a lift but unfortunately it couldn't carry people. We had to send our bags up in the lift and then run to the 3rd floor to retrieve them! The staff were unhelpful to the extreme, there was a pretty impressive brochure for the hotel with a happy smiling girl at reception; the brochure, however, bore no resemblance to the hotel as it really is. The receptionist, the same girl in the brochure, looked at us all in complete confusion/disgust and looked like she'd stuck her head into the sump of a car, it was neat grease.
Breakfast was non-existent, a cup of Italian coffee which is barely a mouthful though, a bit like rocket fuel, and a strange fruit drink which I can't really describe. There were a few bits of mouldy old bread and that was it!!
The concert in Naples was a good one and a fitting end to yet another foray. It seems to take me days to get over these trips; firstly I *really* miss the camaraderie, and secondly you sort of turn into an alter ego when you're working. I don't like this because it takes a *long* time to settle back into reality.
I feel quite sorry for all those sad young and old businessmen who will *never ever* experience the kind of bond that we have; it's a wonderful and very rare thing when you're playing with guys who like what you do and you like what they do; these business guys just sit in hotel receptions with their laptops and sell nuts and bolts or whatever crap they are on commission to sell.
Miller sang his arse off one night and it quite moved me - I've known Miller for about 34 years, and he still makes me laugh with his various stories of misfortune. No… we are now a great team, and I'd like again to express my gratitude to Bernie and Steff who kicks the arse out of some of my songs that just didn't seem to work in the past - you see, he likes them.
Also Colin *is* the best bass player in the world, if not the universe, and a great guy to boot!
9 July, 2003
May 15, 2003
I got off to a bad start when I missed my connecting flight from Paris, through no fault of my own, the first flight was delayed! Still, this has become normal procedure now, though it was a little unfortunate for the rest of the band as they had to wait at the airport in Frankfurt for 3 hours until I eventually arrived. They didn't seem too concerned and everything got off to a fine social start, the jokes flowing instantly.
I didn't actually speak to Spencer for an hour or so, as he was on his mobile, on which he would stay for the next 3 weeks; he'd also sadly brought his laptop with him so he was, therefore, in a Multimedia Global Connection mode.
He seemed to be 'firing off' (as he puts it) faxes and e-mails day and night, even in the tour bus, in which he even had his printer installed! In the odd moment of non-communication, he'd play noisy games, one being particularly aggravating, called, 'Shooting Cats', which involved a horrible squawking noise every time he scored a direct hit, which was not infrequent. The laptop was NEVER dormant.
The shows surpassed anything we'd done before, and Steff has improved even further (I hope we have, too!) and now the band is as solid as a rock, with new songs being written with enthusiasm.
We must have made some impact in Italy as we're going back on the 27th June to play in Naples along with the possibility of some festivals later in the Summer.
I can't recall what incidents happened where, but one of the best ones was when I decided to have a 'meeting' with Spencer at about 3 o'clock one morning. It was clear that he was awake because you hear the clatter of printers and films being watched all along the corridor.
On entering his room I was presented with a sight that was quite disturbing - considering the hour. Envisage the scene: empty wine bottles were piled around the room, Spencer was charging around in his underpants, THREE phone lines were ringing CONSTANTLY. The TV was on, and another film was playing on his computer, interspersed with global e-mails and faxes flying in as well as flying out. It was like walking into the CNN news centre mid-morning!
Bernie Zylka, our tour manager, who is normally TOTALLY organised and efficient, had on this occasion completely lost the plot and the power of movement in seemingly his entire body; in fact, not to put too fine a point on it, both he and Spencer were pissed as parrots. Bernie was doing his best to answer all 3 phones explaining that we were in a business meeting - at 3 am!!
Spencer was trying to book himself on a plane/train/bus/taxi and every other known mode of transport to Venice after the tour to visit the new light of his life, though on occasion, blight of ours!
My last vision of Bernie that morning was him casually leaning against or rather trying to lean against the wall with a Fender Strat around his neck and gradually sliding to the floor in a heap of tuneless twangings with a phone balanced on each ear.
The following morning no-one had a clue what the 'meeting' was about.
The schedule was pretty gruelling with only a day or two off, which was a bit of a joke, as on these 'days off' we had 400-mile journeys to undertake.
It was Colin who got the tour named, The Hammer Man Tour; he told us all a joke which is very hard to put into text, through I'll try. A guy goes into a theatrical agency looking for work and explains that he has the most unique act in the world which involves him being smashed on the head with a club hammer. To demonstrate the act, he asks the agent to whack him on the head with the hammer, so the guy, as gently as he can, taps the Hammer Man on the head. "No No No," says Hammer Man, "You've got to take a run at me and smash me on the head as hard as you possibly can!" The agent, assuming the guy has some kind of unseen protection charges at him from the other side of the room and virtually cracks Hammer Man's head apart, blood spurting in all directions. Obviously he's now very seriously hurt, and an ambulance and the police are called… it's a life or death situation, and there is talk of manslaughter or even murder charges being brought against the agent. Hammer Man is whisked off to a hospital and put into intensive care where he remains for 6 months, at which point he sort of regains consciousness, and the agent decides to visit Hammer Man. As the agent enters the intensive care unit, Hammer Man catches a glimpse of him and slowly raises himself upright in the bed and with outstretched arms goes 'Da Dah' (as in, well, that's the end of the act!)
Sadly, Hammer Man can only do 2 shows a year with no encores!!
This probably doesn't translate well into the written word but it had us in hysterics for the entire 3 weeks.
We played at The Hamburg Blues Club, and it was the most amazing reception I can recall; the owner was so pleased, he not only supplied us with a marathon dinner (which he normally does, though on this occasion he surpassed himself!) but delivered endless supplies of booze. I even had some Grappa which I guess is OK now as, not having had a drink for 5 years, my liver is now functioning normally.
Anyway a great night!
We then did some dates in Austria which were organised by Peter Steinbach, a great guy who looks a little, if not a lot, like Robert Mitchum. His hospitality was quite amazing and absolutely NOTHING that we asked for was too much trouble for him. He wants a return match next March for 5 or 6 shows, so I would say, on the facts and the audience reaction, that the band is far, far stronger than ever before.
There was one drawback, which was of course no fault of Peter's - it was May 1st, and we were booked into a very grand 5-star hotel, though it was totally unstaffed, this being Mayday. There was not a soul within the hotel, the reception was closed, the restaurant was closed, it was like we were in a ghost town. All we found were a bunch of keys in a big brown envelope with each of our names on them. Pete York was still listed as being a guest, and it was surprising to see that his reserved rooms were all far superior to ours. Steff took Pete's rooms… lucky old Steff!
All went remarkably well from then on, great shows, great audiences… is there any stopping us now??
The next fairly major disaster struck in Augsburg. Colin got a little bit "West Coast salmon" (our terminology for pissed) and nearly killed himself, and Miller was more mid-Atlantic and nearly drowned in a sea of red and white wine and beer. Anyway, I noticed, as myself and Colin returned to the hotel, that he was 'weaving around' a little, though not totally "West Coast". However, on entering his room, he was disturbed by the sound of a mosquito and decided to swat it. Apparently, this was a complicated manoeuvre, as he stood on a chair with rolled newspaper at the ready; the chair collapsed, as did Colin, he bashed his head on the corner of the bed and his open suitcase made the most awful abrasions on his back - like two tramlines.
A doctor was called to the venue, in fact, I think he was the house doctor, as he'd dealt with my ailments in the past at the very same venue. Colin was given various medicaments and a massage, though it was deemed necessary to employ a… well, I can't begin to spell it, but it's the guy who deals with bone and muscle problems (a chiropractor)!
Colin soldiered on suffering what I can only imagine was some considerable pain.
It was in Augsburg that Spence's new love, Sharon (remember her from the Italian tour?) appeared, and mayhem reached its heights, as did the intake of red wine. But then, fuck it, Spencer is happier than I've seen him in ages, and no-one likes everyone!
So after 5 days of chaos, the tour drew to its close. I left the hotel at 7:30 am and could still hear the clatter of printers and faxes and e-mails AND TVs emanating from the Davis room, though decided not to say yet another goodbye.
By now, of course, Bernie was well back to his stable self, and we set off for Hanover airport.
Over the years, I have developed a great deal of affection for Bernie, he's like family; I love the guy. And Steff is such a lovely person AND a great, and I mean REALLY GREAT, drummer, and he kind of fits into the same category. I personally find it very very hard to accept 'new' people, especially at my age, though I can safely say that Steff is now well and truly one of us. He takes my song, 'Deep In My Despair', into another dimension, in fact, he takes every song we do into another dimension… He's fucking perfect and I'd use him on any venture I EVER do in the future. So... all my love to Steff!! I am NOT gay, by the way, but I do like to form bonds with people, and it's very very rare; it's only fairly recently that myself and Colin have broken down the barriers, whatever they were, and can have a bloody good laugh!) For some reason, we never could in the past. And as for Miller, well, we go back beyond history, and that speaks for itself.
Basically, we are just a very very happy band, and it shows in the music, which I now love once more.
Liz will be coming with me on the June tour, and I'm sure there will be tales of MAJOR hilarity to report after that.
Eddie Hardin, France
February 11, 2003
The Italian job, plus a major warning, alert, to any band considering working in Italy
Firstly, do not use Dominique Sound for your PA and monitor requirements as they don't know what the fuck they're doing.
So... we arrived in Venice for our wedding anniversary at a hotel, The Carlton Grand (sounds good but grand it ain't!) that looked great on their website but not so great on arrival; in fact, it was a craphouse. Breakfast was inedible and the rooms which looked like palaces on the web were shoddy small and basically unclean.
Next day, we moved into the Hotel Bellini just across the river/stream/lake or whatever the 'trendies' call the canals; this was a fantastic hotel though sadly one has to carry everything everywhere as there are no taxis, only water ones, and they are not prepared to make a trip from one side to the other.
Venice, they say, is the most romantic city in the world - well, it's not. True, it has a certain charm, but when you get down to basics it's a town/city engulfed by water which stinks to high heaven in both summer and winter and has the option of water taxis/gondoliers and even posher gondoliers at exorbitant rates. I wouldn't live there for $90,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.
For this tour we had a different line-up, we used a German drummer, Steff (who was great), and an American guitarist by the name of Ed Tree. Ed was a fantastic player and one of the only guitarists that seems to manage a 'studio' sound on stage... he was quite stunning and also blessed with a sense of humour that seemed to adapt to my own.
The initial shows were a catastrophe - which was totally down to Dominique Sound. We did a sort of sound check, at which point it was evident that they didn't have a clue what they were doing. Come showtime it was even clearer that they had no clue as no-one on the stage could hear each other and as for the audience, if you sat in the fifth row you couldn't hear anything at all, but beyond that you got a smattering of what was going on. This fiasco went on for four days, one show was totally aborted as Dominique Sound just blew up mid- an Italian Operetta.
Then we got to the club dates which were great, the band has never sounded better, and I've never seen a drummer smash the pedal through the bass drum skin before; but Steff did that, and this is now a loud band and all the better for it.
There are many stories which I will tell later, but suffice it to say that this was our best tour yet. In the coming days, I'll recount the funny bits and there were many of them.
struck down with flu!
The Italian Job Continued: A Night Out In Venice
Spencer and Ed Tree arrived in Italy a day or two before Colin, and, as they were staying out of town, we arranged to meet up firstly for a walk round the town, and the following evening - for dinner.
I'm not the greatest of walkers and still have trouble with my knee on which I had keyhole surgery to cure something that didn't need curing, but then that's one of the perils of depending on a French surgeon! I call this guy Dr. Mengele and when I drive past his hospital, I always have a vision of Auschwitz.
So our walk was a very, very, very long one and ended up in St. Marks Square, where a cup of coffee costs $8!! Isn't the Catholic Church rich enough?
So $50 lighter, we then had the walk all the way back to where we started which was the hotel Bellini where Liz and I were staying.
Ed Tree had a 'contact' in Venice via a friend he'd done some sessions for or something, and having finally mastered the Italian phone system, he got through to her and she then took the helm for our subsequent dinner. Spencer and Ed met up in her flat and Liz and I made the journey by canal taxi for the rendezvous.
Sharon (I shall call her Sharon because she reminded me a lot of Sharon Osbourne!) had made a reservation in a restaurant "where the real Venetians eat"; I don't know about Venetians but I thought they were more like Martians.
The next drawback was that this restaurant was seemingly an eight-mile walk from Sharon's flat, and by the time we got there, Spencer and Ed only had about 40 minutes spare as they had to get the bloody canal taxi back to their base!
So we sat in this tiny restaurant and I'm talking TINY, sadly owned by a musician, and were presented with a verbal menu delivered by the owner of which we obviously understood NOTHING.
I ended up with a plate of veal and some cold vegetables (I didn't have a hot meal the entire time I was in Italy!!) Liz ended up with God knows what, Spencer had fish and Ed had a salad but Sharon had plumped for the house specialty which was pasta covered in a sauce that looked like sewage. Then the worst bit happened, the owner strapped on his acoustic guitar which was the size of a garden shed with strings on it and began to sing with enormous gusto. This guy had a LOUD voice and, as his guitar was so fucking huge, also VERY LOUD!
It was NOT a large restaurant, and his bellowing voice and strumming precluded ANY chance of conversation. The worst bit was when he came to our table serenading us the full blast of his superhuman vocal powers - at this point I sat in bemused silence... there was no other option.
Before we left, which was quite rapidly, we were then instructed by Sharon to congratulate the guy for his vocal abuse on our eardrums.
Then there followed a few days of catastrophe with Dominique Sound. This leg of the tour included about 6 bands (well it seemed like it!); one was like the Partridge Family and another band had two bass guitars and God knows how many soloists and a drummer that sounded like he'd only taken up drumming that afternoon. After this we set off on our own for a couple of club dates (which were great!)
Our first hotel was the Hotel Citta, pronounced Shitter, though fortunately it was, in fact, very nice, aside from the fact that the restaurant wouldn't open 'til March 2004 (!!!) and the lift was so complicated, it took us three attempts to get to our floor: the first time it stopped, I opened the doors to be faced by a solid brick wall, it then took on a mind of its own with the lights inside going on and off and us travelling from level to level in no coordinated pattern. Eventually we arrived at the wrong floor anyway and decided to walk the rest, as Spencer was peering in through the window of the lift on our frequent returns to the lobby level.
Breakfast was grim, though I did try and order a boiled egg (as an option to a stewed apple), asking for it to be cooked for 3 minutes.
The egg finally arrived and the only warmth it seemed to possess was that of the bodily heat from the chicken itself. I took the top off and sure enough it was raw.
To be fair, they had gone out of their way to prepare a boiled egg which seemed to entail boiling a vat of water the size of a small swimming pool. About an hour later, two more eggs arrived, and by this time, the vat must have reached boiling point, therefore, they were cooked.
So that was Italy, there was much much more hilarity, but the language involved is probably far more offensive than I usually write so I'll skip them, but I must say that I've never seen Colin so happy and I think and hope that during this tour we added a lot to our friendship.
Next stop - Germany, followed by a Scandinavian tour which all kick off on the 20th April.
Bye for now!
January 25, 2003
Midem 2003 report
Midem Sinks Further Into The Abyss
Arrived in Cannes on the 18th. Settled into the hotel and then straight down to meet Thomas from Repertoire Records. A night with the Repertoire 'crowd' is always a jolly affair, though very little music is discussed, in fact, none! Still we had a good night. Next day we went to meet my publisher Jonathan Simon for dinner. Jonathan has to be the ONLY civilised being that still, under endurance, attends this musical farce.
Marvin Gaye was billed as appearing at one of the gala nights, must have been a grim one as he's been dead for God knows how long!
Discussed our futile efforts at collecting 'missing royalties'; came to the same conclusion - that the best place to be if you want to get insulted is Midem.
I've now decided that it is obvious there is a great deal of 'ripping off' going on here so why go and actually watch it! This will most probably be our last visit.
The weather was terrible, I've never seen rain like that in the South of France, though there were still the daft stalwarts who insisted on a lunch on the beach!
I have to say we were fucking silly enough to attend one of these. There were around ten or eleven people at the table, none of whom I knew and none of whom actually said a dicky bird to me.
Prior to this non-existent meeting, to which the twat I was supposed to meet didn't turn up, Liz and I sat in a cafe with rain pouring in, and the floor was under about an inch of rainwater.
Anyway, having split the bill 11 ways, ours came to around £75 for two salads!! And watching the ensemble drink Rose as if they weren't going to make any more ("We don't drink!") we set off for the Majestic Hotel, where many of the most heinous rip-offs are negotiated.
Another farcical 'meeting'... Why do these people say they are having 'meetings', they're not, they seem to me to be there to eat and drink as much as possible at their companies' expense which, in turn, is passed on to the artist. As the day matures into night, you can hear the conversations becoming more and more nonsensical due to the copious intake of alcohol.
Now Cannes and its surrounding areas (as demonstrated in the picture of the hotel we always stay at, The Mas D'Artigny, where there's a plethora of swimming pools), even in my memory, was a fairly sophisticated place... not now!
The Croisette is jam-packed with music executives moving along like a sea of termites, many with the arses of their baggy trousers down to their knees (seems to be the new trend) a mobile phone and a walkman strapped to their heads plus of course the obligatory badge which tells people who they are actually talking to. These badges are getting bigger each year and will soon be the size of a sandwich board.
Just outside the Majestic Hotel we saw an executive with walkman/mobile phone/tin of Heineken, pissing on the pavement... very Majestic!
This was the final straw so we spent the rest of our time looking at properties.
So in the immortal words of Miller Anderson, they're all a bunch of dodgy tossers, and at this point in time I have to agree with him.
Bye bye, Midem!
November 4, 2002
I arrived in Zurich the night before the first show, everything sort of went according to plan. I'd flown from Marseilles via Lyon to Zurich and when I arrived at the baggage reclaim I noticed my baggage on a carousel which had, according to the flight information arrived from Algeria - such is Air France, obviously running a close second to Sabena who DID get the flight information correct even though the bags were NEVER actually on the carousel! I have to say I wasn't totally convinced that it WAS my luggage so I opened it to search for some familiar items. It was!!
On arrival at the airport hotel I went for dinner (the room was so hot you could have grown bananas or any tropical fruit in there!) The restaurant was quite pleasant except for the fact that I seemed to be surrounded by lots of very large people and some very doubtful-looking and indeed vicious Arabs whose chins sagged to their chests as if weighted by lead weights.
I persevered with a light dinner of soup followed by Caesar salad which I always get confused with a Waldorf salad. Anyway, I ended up with a bowl of lettuce with a salad dressing. My counterparts were eating everything and seemingly anything on the menu and appeared to be getting larger with every mouthful.
Finally, I retired to my room, the hothouse, having observed as much of the spectacle as I could manage.
I then tuned in to CNN, the only English channel available there, and with the same news every two minutes… but it DID send me to sleep.
Before retiring, I asked reception if a Mr. Spencer Davis had arrived (he had travelled from Dubai via Los Angeles!)... he hadn't.
At breakfast I asked again and it transpired that he'd arrived at 7:35 am. The girl on reception asked if I'd like to speak with him... I thought not.
Spencer DID arrive for breakfast, albeit late, and confused the waitress by saying he'd have nothing and ending up having everything.
Bernie, our very much needed and completely indispensable tour manager, arrived at 2 pm, by which time both myself and Spencer were ready for bed - again!
We then all returned to Zurich airport to collect Miller and Colin who had arrived on the 2:30 flight.
They both looked completely pissed off, and you could tell their reaction before they made their exit through arrivals. Miller declared he could have made more money staying at home and Colin said nothing.
So we set off for the first show which was in a multi-tiered venue, I mean, there were people 'racked up' above us, and one had the fear of a missile landing on one's head at any minute... luckily it didn't happen, though there were some precarious beer steins being swirled above our heads.
So it all went very well... Lots of people asking why we hadn't played HARDIN & YORK songs and others not knowing what songs we were associated with in the first place. It was, however, a good night.
The next day was a never-ending journey. I wanted to eat heavily though did not want to hold up the others so plumped for a goulash soup whilst the others, in complete contrast, and having never done so before, plumped for EVERYTHING.
We arrived at the Swiss border and had more problems passing through than a POW escapee during WWII. We couldn't even have a pee.
The second show was like a set from HAPPY DAYS, with a mixed crowd of kids young enough to be our children and others old enough to be even our uncles!
The support bands, and there seemed to be a lot of them, churned out hits from the past that even we could hardly remember, and sadly ALL the bands seemed to have roughly the same repertoire.
Being the headline act has its disadvantages as we didn't get back to the hotel until 2 am and Spencer had to leave for his flight at 5 am; we had the luxury of two more hours of sleep.
We arrived at the airport having heard the news that there was an impending storm… and indeed there was one. I personally didn't notice it as I fell asleep as soon as I sat in my seat and didn't wake up 'til we'd reached Paris. Colin and Miller, however, got the entire brunt of the storm (Colin is STILL terrified of flying!) on approach to England and apparently their flight was little short of horrific.
So... there I was in Paris, a stop over that was totally unnecessary, as, in fact, I was travelling backwards and then all the way back down again to Marseilles. But Paris airport was very entertaining as there was time for lots of 'people watching'. I have now come to the conclusion that men suffer more from vanity than women. There were guys adjusting their collars into an Elvis position, adopting a pose while checking the effect in a shop window, then lighting a cigarette and making sure that the exhaled smoke was ejected in a suitably effective manner. Then there was the constant 'clopping' noises of precariously high heels as the women joined the 'catwalk'. For fuck's sake, we were only at an airport, people don't seem to go to the same lengths at a railway station!!!
So I finally got home having seemingly spent more time in the air and at airports than on the stage... still I suppose there's sense to it somewhere, though for the moment it escapes me.
August 18, 2002
The S.D.G. In Munich 2002
And A Very Happy Birthday To Pete York!
I set off, as per usual for Marseille, for the flight to Munich where we were to perform for one night at The Olympic something or other which was where there were various sporting games going on which I knew nothing about!
The flight was delayed for 2 hours due to God knows what, so I read best part of a book before boarding the Lufthansa (normally very efficient) flight.
At the check-in, in front of me were the most obnoxious family I have ever seen in my life, and I had a mind to ask to be seated as far away from them as possible but sadly I didn't. They consisted of 3 kids who thought they owned the airport and probably the best part of the world, plus a father (who probably did own most of the world) who spent the entire time on his mobile phone and his wife who just let the buggers run riot. Needless to say, they were in First Class which is a bloody joke as a bit of rag the size of a handkerchief separates the first 3 rows from the rest of the plane, a privilege for which you pay more than double, so they ain't that smart!
The father, I'm sorry to say, was American and was on the mobile during take-off and REFUSED to switch his phone off until it was physically snatched from him by the stewardess who deserves serious commendation!
As the flight progressed, so did the hysteria, the kids ran riot, up and down the aisle, shouting and demanding things like they also owned the airplane. The parents did nothing. Eventually, the pilot sent word via the stewardess to explain that he couldn't hear himself think let alone fly a plane so could there please be some calm.
When we arrived in Munich, the father said to his tribe, 'So here we are in Munich', to which I said, 'Unfortunately!' I just can't help it.
I was picked up by a former Munich postman, a very nice guy, though I think he took me to the hotel via his former postal route, and it took an age as he explained the various problems he had encountered in the past making his deliveries and where he'd got married and stuff. I had an hour or so at the hotel, and it was off to the show. The rain was torrential and since has become worse, so bad, in fact, that some countries have slid into each other according to the news.
The show was great, we sort of just slipped into it from the off and everything went well; the audience were just a mass of umbrellas, though to their credit, they stuck it out to the end... and what a GREAT audience they were! The show was broadcast live (apparently) and filmed, though there were no complaints from anyone as there have been in the past when I organised (for the benefit of everyone) the DVD filmed in Manchester for Angel Air.
But it was a great night and a bloody long day after which Pete went home (I really do have a great affection for Pete, we've both been awful to each other in the past but I don't ever like the sight of him driving off into the distance), as he lives near Munich, and the rest of us went back to the hotel and straight to bed. The next morning, at 9:30 we were off to the Munich airport, and my flight wasn't until 3 pm, so I finished my book, had lunch and went home. It was like it never happened. I find these 'in and out' jobs very unsettling, you kind of get into a groove and then it's back to reality which I don't really like.
And finally I'd like to wish Pete a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY and many many more; he had his party yesterday, and sadly I couldn't make it due to a deluge of family arriving for a dose of sun, but I DID speak to Jon Lord who told me he would do his best to go... I hope he did, it would have made Pete's day as he wasn't expecting it.
So, anyway, Pete, here's to the next 60 years!!! Sometimes you're a difficult old sod but I still love you.
S.D.G. TOUR, UK, 2002
The first thing that strikes me on reflection is how many people died during the tour: Princess Margaret, The Queen Mother, Dudley Moore, Spike Milligan, and indeed a friend of mine who was only 45 years old!
The second thing that strikes me is how the fuck did we do it! I foolishly decided to take my own car and now, 11 thousand miles and 4 new tyres later, both it and I are seriously knackered.
We assembled in Stoke On Trent at a Holiday Inn; Liz and myself had fortunately just spent two luxurious days at The Castle Hotel in Windsor which was at a total standstill due to the death of Princess Margaret. So there we were, The Troggs, a Yardbird or two, and Derek Nicol from Flying Music.
Spencer had decided to travel with us, and the others travelled in a rented bus, which I guess was a bit of an error as it sort of sets up 'two camps'… Anyway, Spencer, sadly, had bought himself a laptop along with a printer and all kinds of gadgets on which he gave us a running commentary each and every day for the entire two months of the tour! Now I really HATE computers!!!
His other aim was to get to and from each city WITHOUT getting lost, and he was determined to be the one that either found or saw the hotel first; we soon learnt not to say we'd seen it even if we had! The Troggs were a hilarious bunch and had total disregard for any non-smoking rules which applied in lots of the theatres: a polystyrene cup was taped over all smoke detectors in their dressing rooms which soon became the 'smoking rooms' for the entire tour!
Some of the journeys were quite horrendous, and one that springs to mind is when we drove for about an hour or so behind a guy painting a white line down the middle of the road accompanied by a police escort, it really defies belief.
At least I had my Hammond C3 on this tour, and it really did help the sound of the band, even if I say so myself! And it wasn't long before we were a tight unit... musically.
MORE TO FOLLOW.
January 25, 2002
Midem 2002 report
Arrived in Cannes on the 19th January and stayed as usual, 25 minutes out of town. Everything in town goes up in price about 4 times for the Midem week, and with the changeover to Euro (which I hate and cannot begin to understand!) is even more confusing because everything appears to be cheaper!!! Spent the first evening with Thomas from Repertoire Records in Germany - a nice guy though clearly baffled by the changes that have happened within the industry.
Overheard some wonderful conversations about today's production techniques, one guy was talking to a new band and was telling them they'd need at least 2 weeks just to get ONE track ready to record!!! His fee to supervise was £500 per day!!! (every single note must count, he said!... bollocks, I thought!) Then he reckoned on a further couple of weeks to produce the master in an expensive studio which would cost God knows what!!! Again, bollocks, I thought.
I felt like saying that the first Hardin & York album was recorded in 9 days (some might say it sounds like it!) but it is STILL on the market and we STILL have a following. 'Gimme Some Lovin' took at least an hour so one wonders...
There was talk of 'chill' music, 'house' music, 'garage' music, 'shed music' and all kinds of strange names but no real music!
Not many Americans in attendance, understandably, and very few Japanese so at least it was fairly quiet. I'm actually wondering whether to bother going again and face the battery of CD walkmen/mobile phones/laptop computers (can only get worse) - does anyone ever talk face to face anymore and can anyone actually play anything anymore?
Still, intrigued by this new concept in recording, I approached pro-tools, apparently the current state-of-the-art system, quite expensive but probably worth about 2 cents this time next year! They sent me a DVD which went into great detail of its merits. It is very impressive but I reckon you'd have to be a rocket scientist to get it going. On the DVD, the guy sits before a computer screen and presses and scans and drags and drops and cuts and pastes all over the place but doesn't play a fucking note although there is a keyboard sitting right beside him. I tell a lie, he played middle C which is as impressive as middle C is... But you can cut/paste/copy/drag/drop and whatever you like with this note and place it anywhere within 'the track'.... what track? How does 'the track' appear??? They don't make that clear.
Strikes me that unless you only want bass and drum tracks which is what a lot of music seems to be these days (Also, is it me or does the bass on these tracks just sound like a muffled low thump??? Whatever happened to the great bass players whose notes one could actually define???), the whole thing is pretty pointless, though I am quite prepared to stand corrected by any genius that can work it. I left Cannes a day early, totally pissed off with the entire event.
I think our UK tour will be a breath of fresh air to an otherwise stale market, to hear people actually play is somewhat of a relief these days. But.... I saw a guitarist on TV (won't name him) from The Rolling Stones on New Years Eve and he was a total disgrace so there are exceptions.
I just wonder what on Earth will happen next???
Thankfully, back at home!
14 November, 2001
I arrived in Munich on 17th October, fortunately on a Lufthansa flight, to spend a quiet night with Spencer before the onslaught which would start the following day. Spencer suggested a sort of beer hall he knew for dinner so off we went. It turned out to exceed my expectations and we both had a bloody good meal followed by a serious discussion on the general direction of the band which, as things turned out, was pretty fruitless; it turned out like being on a roundabout and not being quite sure which exit to take. Spencer paid for the dinner... a rarity in this band! (It must be said, however, that Spencer himself is actually very generous!) Myself, I am used to the 'pub culture', whereby you operate on a round system, each person within the group gets a turn to buy the drinks. This does not exist in the SDG, we could stop for 5 coffees and pay for them individually - this is confusing not only for the person at the checkout but especially for me. It's like a battle of wits which is normally rectified by Pete laying his pfennigs on the counter for his coffee and wandering off.
The actual order of venues I cannot recall, you would have to cross-reference yourselves!! However, we started... somewhere! After the first couple of shows, we all decided to have a band meeting and air our various opinions - now I knew this would be (and it was!) basically a waste of time. The first problem to be addressed was splitting the vocals up a little more which we now, in fact, do. Secondly, we addressed the drums; we all said it would be nice to be able to hear them and I suggested cutting a hole in the bass drum for the mike, and although this caused some distress, it did actually sound better. Miller made some suggestions for the Hammond (which I didn't actually have on this tour - far too expensive!) which I tried to adhere to, and it was also suggested that Colin play simpler bass lines on certain songs - which he did - and for the next few shows things seemed to be going along quite well.
The basic problem is we've all 'grown up', and our tastes have gone in different directions. I'm sort of locked into melodic things, Miller - into the blues and Colin into… well, I don't quite know what. Spencer is still a good 'ideas' man and Pete is into jazz so deeply that I think he feels that rock is now beneath him. It certainly is beneath his skill and ability. Pete once said to me, 'you only want to hear what you've done' - well this is not entirely true as there are songs (not many) over the years that I wish I HAD written. I do, however, try to reproduce the sound on the SDG records as accurately as I can. I also have to say that I don't like jazz - to me it seems to be a style where you take a decent melody and basically fuck it up for the sake of self-gratification!
However, that there are some beautiful jazz themes out there… but as soon as the 'widdly-widdly' starts, it becomes a load of old bollocks (to me anyway!)
The first disaster I can recall took place at the Ramada Hotel in Bensheim. We had all retired for the night and were in our various rooms watching TV when the power went off. I picked up the phone to call reception, and the phone line was dead. We all simultaneously appeared in the corridor and set off for reception - only to find that the lift was out of action as well! We walked down miles of escape route staircases to find the receptionist with a torch and the local yellow pages, trying to find an electrician at 4 am!!
There seemed no hope for the power to be restored so we all set off on the epic journey back to our rooms. I read the safety instructions in the rooms which advised the guest that in case of fire he or she should open the window (we were on the 5th floor) and shout for help. I had visions of hundreds of heads popping out all over the facade of the hotel shouting for help. By morning, everything was back to normal.
We set off on another marathon journey (some of the distances were very very long) during the course of which most world problems are discussed... and solved.
All the shows were well attended and they all went well, and now there is the British tour to look forward to which starts on 14th February and ends on 10th April in London, at The Royal Albert Hall.
Anyway, the last show of this particular tour was in Lubeck, and we weren't on until about 1 am; Spencer had to leave the hotel at 8 am and the rest of us at 9:30. I think I finally got to sleep at about 3:30 am and woke up at 7 and had breakfast before setting off for the Hamburg airport in the slowest taxi I have EVER been in. I had a Sabena flight to look forward to, via Brussels.
Amazingly they didn't lose my baggage, and I eventually arrived in Marseille ON TIME, though a couple of days later I was relieved to hear that they had gone bankrupt!!!
On my return home there was also a cheque waiting for me from Sabena to compensate me for my German-made bomb-proof suitcase that they had managed to reduce to a pile of twisted metal (see previous tour report!) The suitcase was £300, and Sabena insisted I get a damage report from the manufacturers to confirm that it was indeed a write-off. It cost me a further £100 to send the pile of twisted metal back to RIMOWA in Germany who duly replied and sent it back to me confirming this write-off. I think Stevie Wonder could have assessed the situation better!
Anyway, Sabena sent me a cheque for £47!!, and now them having gone bankrupt, I would think that this cheque is about as much use to me as the crumpled pile of metal which was my suitcase. Finally, I'd like to thank Bernie Zylka, our superb tour manager, who managed to keep a smile throughout, in the face of whatever adversity confronted him.
There is obviously more which I can't recall at the moment, I'll add bits as they come to me.
I'd like to say one final word to Sabena though: BOLLOCKS!
Spencer Davis Group Menu (The Downtown Blues Club in Hamburg)
Click above to view full size!
16 September, 2001
I left home at 8 am, bound for Marseille, in the knowledge that I was about to board a Sabena flight, so I knew from the start there would be a problem.
I arrived in good time and was amazed to see that the check-in desk was clear of passengers, so I had visions of checking in my bags, having my breakfast, and, for once, it would all be OK!
Sadly as ever, this was not to be. The check-in girl behind the counter told me to go to the Sabena main desk and ask for 'instructions' (?????) I then arrived at a massive queue, where all the passengers who should have been at check-in were now at the main desk awaiting further 'instructions'. These instructions were that there had been a sudden Sabena strike and they had to find alternative airlines for everyone. Firstly, I had to change Terminals from 1 to 2, a simple procedure, one would imagine, but the French have no logic whatsoever. I walked out of Terminal 1 and all I could see was a big building which quite clearly read, TERMINALS 3 & 4. There was no sign of ANY Terminal 2. As there was absolutely no sign of any Terminal 2, I walked in despair into Terminals 3 & 4 where the girl at the information desk told me that it was, in fact, Terminal 2. The fact they'd omitted to add the '2' is pretty normal in France, I've even seen pedestrian crossings leading into a brick wall!
Now I should have flown to Bremen and the alternatives given to me were quite horrific. One was a flight to Lyon, then on to Stuttgart and then on to Hanover, at which point I would have another hour in the car to get to the gig with about 10 minutes to spare.
The next suggestion was that I fly to Lyon, then Paris, then Zurich, then Stuttgart and finally Hanover - I would have arrived at around 11 pm, about two-thirds of the way through the show.
I plumped for the first option and set off for Lyon on Air France. At Lyon, further disaster struck, not only were my bags lost - already (it seems to get lost the minute it slides away from you at the check-in counter!!!) but the coach driver taking us from one plane to the other took us to the wrong gate, and we missed the connecting flight to Stuttgart! Air France then came up with some even more fantastic routing in order for me to get to Hanover which wasn't even where I wanted to go in the first fucking place! I wanted to go to Bremen!
So I was marooned in Lyon, I hadn't even managed to get out of France!! I spent the entire day at Lyon airport and now I reckon I could conduct guided tours.
Eventually, Air France SOLD me a ticket back to Marseille! By now I had a huge folder of airline tickets covering most of Europe, and to compound the insult I had to pay AGAIN in order to get back to my staring point... Marseille!
I finally got home at 12:30 am and once again I have to say SOD SABENA; now I can also say SOD AIR FRANCE!
I heard from Miller the next day who told me the conditions at the show were dreadful, they played as a 3-piece (Spencer couldn't make it either!!) in a thunderstorm (!!) plus it was an open-air concert!!
Miller said the only answer was to get pissed before, during and after the show in order to survive. I'm not entirely sure who had the worst day but had I actually made the gig, my day would have been an even bigger nightmare.
P.S. Days later, the New York disaster struck and my complaints are suddenly obsolete. It was a tragedy like the world has never seen, and I'm still in shock every time I see the reruns on the news. The world does not possess enough pity or support to offer those poor people who are now left with shattered families.
21 August, 2001
I left home at around 9 am, and the journey to Marseilles was pretty uneventful, but very quick! I'm never quite sure about speed limits in France and as drivers seem to overtake me at whatever speed I'm doing I sometimes wonder if indeed there is one!
I arrived in Stuttgart and could see no obvious candidate for picking me up, so I ordered coffee, and it was about twenty minutes before I noticed a young girl holding a card with my name on it! I mean, she was so young it hardly seemed likely she was old enough to drive - she was nearly 19, as she told me. A little bit of horror set in as she roared out of the airport car park at twice the speed at which any sane person would drive! She had offered to carry my bags to the car, but as they were bigger than her, I declined the offer and did it myself.
The hotel was a bit out of the ordinary, The Romantik it was called, and I doubt even Ray Charles could have a romantic night in it!! The beds were a kind of a bunk affair, it was impossible to sit on the edge of the bed (as everyone does at some point!.. don't they?) because there was a plank of wood about a foot high all around it. It was quite cosy but no room for a cat, and of course you had to go into the shower sideways!
The first gig was in an old disused factory, and God knows how many people were there but suffice to say it was full. We started the show, and I was immediately perturbed by a high wailing noise - at first I thought it was feedback, then I thought a key on the Hammond must have got stuck, and it wasn't until the end of the first song that it became patently clear that the noise was emanating from an over-enthusiastic fan/imbecile... continuously! It was an octave or two above an average Yoko Ono wail, and although probably vocally challenging, not a nice noise to be accompanied by.
Miller started to sing "House Of The Rising Sun", the beginning of which is fairly quiet, but the wail continued and was reaching quite amazing levels by now! Miller was forced to stop and told her to 'SHUT THE FUCK UP'! This didn't work so eventually she was accompanied out of the venue by a group of burly bouncers, much to the embarrassment of her husband/boyfriend or, I suspect, a deaf person if she carries on like that at home! The rest of the show passed without a hitch, and it turned out to be another successful gig!
The next one was at a disused (I'm concerned at this point about the fact that we continuously play at these 'disused' places!) American airforce base where the security was nil and the organisation - even less than that. On this night, the promoter was to supply a Hammond C3, which indeed he did; sadly no one had switched it on to check if it worked... and of course it didn't!! There was another search for a Hammond, and a nearly working C3 was delivered 15 minutes before we went on stage. There was no Leslie control with this particular model, but the guy who delivered it had built a box with yet another pedal attached to it so that you could control the Leslie through it. There was also a Yamaha synth that I use for 'piano' sounds - this had no volume pedal and the sustain pedal worked in reverse!!! You had to put your foot on the sustain continuously in order to REMOVE the effect, so this presented another minor problem. Really, an octopus would have had problems playing this lot! Still, it turned out as our best night, the band sounded great, and Colin excelled himself... yet again!
Spencer had flown in from L.A. just for these two shows and he was totally knackered for the entire 2 days. We got back to the hotel at around midnight, and, amazingly, the bar was in full swing, they even made me tea!
Spencer had to get a 4 am shuttle to the airport for his flight back to L.A., so he didn't bother going to bed at all, he really is quite amazing!
Having overindulged on Schnapps, Miller missed breakfast, and before we knew it we were on our way to the Frankfurt airport for our flights home.
My usual aeroplane horror was about to begin. Things started to look pretty good when it transpired that the plane was a 747 and, as there weren't that many passengers aboard, this being a Sunday, there obviously would be lots of room. Everyone was given seat numbers, and, although the plane was virtually empty, they all insisted on sitting in the seats indicated on their boarding passes - now this is a strange thing in human mentality: get a number and you HAVE to sit in that seat! I'm not sure of the capacity of a Jumbo Jet but it's in the hundreds, and there was about 40 people on board; it was incredible to see a virtually empty cabin with 4 people sitting in one row!!
I ignored the number on my boarding pass and plumped for a seat in the centre aisle, leaving me the three seats beside me empty. Sadly, some guy twice the size of Homer Simpson decided to honour the number on his ticket and plopped down beside me. Before the engines had started, he was already sound asleep and managed to overflow his seat with one arm across my chest, his head virtually on my shoulder and rolls of flab sliding over each arm of his seat. I couldn't be bothered to move immediately and decided to wait 'til after the takeoff.
So the engines were started, and the monster plane started to taxi for takeoff. The engine roar increased, and the plane picked up a fair bit of speed, then suddenly stopped... the captain announced that the stewardess had forgotten to shut one of the doors!!! A minor error.
So, the plane was shut down, the door closed, and we set off again in what I hoped was relative safety, and hoping that this time my bags wouldn't get lost nor smashed to a pulp.
As soon as we were airborne, I moved away from Homer Simpson and found another empty row of 4 seats. Within minutes, a mother arrived with her baby, who just HAD shit itself and decided to perform the operation of changing the nappy/diaper on the three vacant seats next to me. Of all the empty seats on this vast aeroplane, she chose those adjacent to mine!!
The stench was pretty awful, and she was NOT adept at this manoeuvre. She carefully opened up the soiled nappy to expose a pile of stinking molten shit, the stench seemed to waft everywhere, so I had to move again. This time, I was joined by another mother and child who had also decided to move - right next to me... why oh why?? There were so many empty rows of four seats, why pick on me??
Anyway, this mother had a kid who was obviously pretty sporty and decided that his seat would make an ideal trampoline for the entire flight, so I moved YET again.
By now passengers were spread over the entire length of the plane, and the stewardess, dressed in what appeared to be a dress way shorter than the standard Lufthansa issue, swayed up and down the aisle flashing her arse and doing very little else. She must have walked a few miles by the time we landed, but this was more pleasant than being straddled by Homer and offended by baby's shit and aerobatics.
At the Marseilles airport, the bags started to arrive in the customs hall, and I got that horrible feeling that mine was lain for sure, but amazingly it did arrive. There were, however, about twenty passengers whose bags were lost. A stewardess came up to me and asked if I had my bag, and seemed amazed at the fact that I did! I opened it just to make sure that it was, in fact, mine... and it was!
Now how can bags get lost mid-flight? Perhaps they'd forgotten to shut one of the hold doors as well as the cabin one??
So now I'm home again and the only horrors I have to face are French drivers. On Friday, I'm going to Monte Carlo to see Roger Glover and the rest of Deep Purple, as they're playing there for three nights.
I'm off again with Spencer on the 7th September for one night only, and then the next tour which starts in October, followed by a 2-month tour of England starting in February.
The English tour is with The Lovin' Spoonful, The Yardbirds, The Turtles and The Spencer Davis Group, an interesting combination and for sure will make an interesting read! I'm going to get myself a laptop so I can keep you all informed as and when the disasters happen!! I'll have Alex put up the renewed date list as soon as I have it.
Bye for now!
11 July, 2001
(photos by Bernhard Zylka - click to enlarge!)
We were joined on these dates by a new drummer, Stephan Porzel, a young German fellow (well, younger than us!) who had to learn the entire show in an afternoon - this is in keeping with the general thrift of the operation! Anyway, he did a sterling job, and the songs took on a new dimension insofar as they became definitely rock songs again. I arrived, preceded Spencer the day before, and we found ourselves in 'Hotel Bleak' which was located in the centre of… it's not fair to say 'centre' because there was nothing to be a centre of! The Hotel offered no restaurant within the main 'building' but there was a restaurant located for some reason 15 minutes away!
Spencer and I walked through the empty streets, or should I say street, and found the unwelcoming Gasthof where we were to eat, or try to eat, mounds of food. It was OK but the presentation amounted to nil. The food looked like it'd been ladled onto the plate by a fork lift. Quantity was not the issue here.
I think Spencer was a little apprehensive about doing the shows 'minus Pete York' but, as it turned out, there was no need to be - everything went great!
After the 'dinner', back to the hotel and... nothing, everything shut for the night, bar closed, place in total darkness, oh how I love thrift!!!
Later that same night, Miller and Colin arrived to an even bleaker prospect, the distant restaurant had been closed, their mini-bars were empty and there was no one around, just 2 keys left on the front 'desk'.
Fortunately, the hotel the following night was great, all amenities, plus a real RESTAURANT(!) and a room you could actually turn around in AND still have room for your suitcase!
We went on to play the shows, Spencer being in a rare form, lots more relaxed than usual, and, apart from the drummer's obvious fear (he'd sat up all night after the first gig listening to a minidisk he'd recorded of the show!) all went very smoothly.
The last date was in a brewery, very frustrating for one who no longer drinks(!), and then we had to go straight from the gig to the station to get to Frankfurt for our flights home.
That particular day was horrific, we had a 3-hour drive in the morning, a quick soundcheck, played the show and then a 3-hour train journey. A serious error occurred when Bernie, our roadie, bought 4 first-class tickets to Frankfurt. No doubt there was horror in the office at such lavish expense!! There was probably a cattle truck in the early hours which would have sufficed.
But... my final horror had only just begun! I arrived in Marseille via Brussels (more economy!) at around 10 o'clock at night, and Sabena had lost my baggage. I did get it back the following day only to find that my case had been opened (not in error, they politely pointed out!) and during the course of their search a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of aftershave had been left open, resulting in the entire contents being ruined plus the case itself was smashed to fuck. Why do they manufacture expensive cases with those numerical locks, whatever they're called, when some prat at baggage handling is only going to wrench the fucking thing open with a crowbar which is exactly what they did to my case - and in my case!!
I'd bought the case (can't avoid saying 'case') in Berlin, a silver Rimowa, and their advertising claimed it to be bomb-proof and mentioned how in their early days of manufacture (1939-1945!) their cases had survived the Allied blitz! I did, in fact, see the odd passenger walking around the airport with their sparkling silver models, though, perhaps, they were going and not arriving and, hopefully, they were NOT travelling with Sabena!
However, in the case of my case, so to speak, it now resembles a tin can which has been badly opened; in fact, it looks like it was thrown from the plane at 35,000 feet. Oh, the joys of travel!..
I will make the best of endeavours to avoid Sabena in the future. Not much about music here really but it was one of our nicer trips, and we all played great, if I can say so myself. Colin really is quite a staggering bass player! I keep meaning to say that!
So our next 'mission' is looming ahead, I wonder what catastrophes await us all next…!
July 11th 2001
26 April, 2001
The Spencer Davis Group's 2001 German Tour is now over. Here to share his happy memories is the 'culprit'... Ladies and gentlemen, word to Eddie Hardin!
(copyright © 2001, Miller Anderson)
Spencer Davis Group - German Tour 2001 - Part 1
I arrived in Munich, probably an hour or so late, at a completely different terminal to the one on the schedule; however I was in Munich which is a feat for someone who tends to get on a wrong plane altogether!
After walking from one terminal to the next, I surprisingly found Miller and Colin, but there was no sighting of Spencer. Having finally gotten to grips with my mobile phone, I called Bernie, the roadie who came and found us. During the course of our 'hellos' and various musician jokes being exchanged, which spurted out in a massive flurry, I found myself on the Autobahn, and it hadn't seemed to occur to anyone that Spencer was, in fact, still missing. 'S'pose we won't be waiting for Spencer,' I pointed out.
We finally arrived at the hotel which was in the middle of nowhere and... shut!!
Finally, the hotelier (for wont of a better word) arrived and led us into our nightmare for the night. We convinced him to open the bar, which he did under extreme duress, and beers and brandies were served. As I no longer drink alcohol and the suggestion of tea was totally out of the question, I settled for a couple of bottles of water. After an hour or so, a taxi arrived bearing a most unhappy Spencer. As I have lost a considerable amount of weight since my lack of alcohol intake, he didn't recognise me at all and proceeded to join Colin and Miller at the bar. It was Miller who finally re-introduced me to a stunned Spencer! Eventually, we were shown our 'rooms', mine was a kind of 'Colditz' (which we were later to visit as tourists, not guests) cell, with no window, just a skylight which even Superman wouldn't have been able to open.
However, exhaustion took its toll, and I was very soon sound asleep. A rehearsal was planned for the next day, though of course this didn't happen, and it was decided that we'd add songs as we went along and just stick to the 'known' repertoire for the first show. Bearing in mind that I hadn't played with the band for some years, the 'known' show was not known to me, but we got through it!
Spencer Davis Group - German Tour 2001 - Part 2
So the next day - Saarbrücken, a gig at the Karstadt. I'm a bit miffed as to why the band seems to be steered toward playing this kind of venue - it's a department store with a rooftop restaurant!! During the day, it's a kind of an upmarket cafeteria and in the evening - an average restaurant filled with what seems to be late-night shoppers with an odd music fan thrown in who seems equally as miffed at us being there as themselves being there in the first place!
You have to play at controlled volume levels, otherwise you get the 'Hands On The Ears' brigade. This is NOT a rock venue, and in my opinion one that should be avoided at all costs. You CANNOT play 'Gimme Some Lovin', nor 'I'm A Man' quietly though Pete is of the opinion that music does not have to be loud to be exciting. I disagree - with the type of music we play it HAS to be loud in order to be exciting, otherwise it turns into Karaoke and loses its edge. Imagine Deep Purple quiet and playing in a rooftop restaurant!
Anyway, we did the show, and it was full; it all went fine, though I personally got nothing out of it at all. Next day Kaiserlautern, which, as I remember, was a pretty long haul - another good show and the venue filled completely. Miller is singing so well these days, and Colin is quite stunning on bass! Spencer holds his own; he's a great guy, and I get on with him now better than I ever did before. In the early days, I could always talk with Spencer very easily and he was and is open to suggestions and keen on new ideas, and, as I've always said, has a good ear and knows full well what sounds good and bad.
Molkau was a horrific drive, we set off at around 7:30am, ate crap on the motorway, did a very brief soundcheck and played the show, once again venue filled to capacity. After Molkau, we pressed on to Berlin via Colditz which we visited on the way. Spencer and Colin really didn't want to go as it was about an hour or so out of the way but me and Miller eventually persuaded them all to go and in the end they were all glad they did; it was a great place to visit as we were all brought up on The Colditz story, and the various escapes that took place from there... fascinating!
Then 2 days off in Berlin and a bit of retail therapy. Berlin is a great city though the wall having come down doesn't seem to have made that much difference, you can still notice the contrast between East and West, it's just that there is no wall anymore. A bit like living at home when you've had a row with your wife and sit in another room!!
Another show at the Berlin Karstadt, my complaint remains the same as the first gig, though as Berlin is much more of a 'happening city', it was better than Saarbrücken. Frankfurt was great, I'd last played there with Hardin & York in the late 70s, and it hasn't changed a lot since then! Nice audience! Bensheim and Karlsruhe were both nice shows but en route to Bad Aibling, the final show, disaster struck: the bloody bus broke down in the middle of nowhere... Thank heavens for mobile phones!
So there we were, marooned, Bernie called for a breakdown truck as it turned out the gearbox was fucked. The low loader arrived driven by a pretty moronic guy who just hitched us up to a steel rope and hoisted the bus... with us all in it, on to the back of his low loader. We travelled some kilometres in a driverless bus on top of the loader, we must have looked a pretty dumb lot, so thank heavens it didn't have the S.D.G. written on the side of the fucking thing!
The venue was a huge sort of 'indoor games' complex, and the support band was THEM; now I didn't recognise any of 'THEM' but the keyboard player seemed to know me, having visited my studio in Ascot. I still don't remember him or 'THEM'. They were Irish so as far as I could figure out, that was their only link with 'THEM'. After the show, they were loaded up with their gear as they were all pretty pissed. As Miller walked past their van and saw the bodies lying in disarray, he remarked, 'So that's rock'n'roll? Do we want to end up like that?'
So that was Germany out the way, now on to Birmingham!
We all made our way separately to Birmingham, largely due to the management's 'thrifty' attitude that seemed to persist. Pete went home to Munich for the night, Miller went to his home in Brighton, I'm not sure where Colin went, and Spencer flew straight to Birmingham. I ended up on a flight which landed some two hours away from Birmingham! Organisation at its finest, you might say, but I suppose there was an overall saving of about 50p.
I met up with Liz who had flown in from France at Stanstead airport and we had lunch. I was by now very tired and not looking forward to Birmingham at all, also it was not entirely clear as to how I was going to get there. The train was impossible, I had 4 suitcases and would have had to travel into London and then all the way out again, so I got a taxi, and thus any notion of 'economy' went straight out the window, at least as far as I was concerned, as it cost me £120 for the cab!
I finally got to Birmingham and met up with Spencer, we'd both decided to get there the night before the first show. I was by now pissed off with living out of suitcases and moving from one hotel to another, plus I don't particularly like the North of England, most of which now doesn't resemble England at all, Pakistan or Jamaica more like!
After 11pm, central Birmingham takes on the air of a battle zone, I've never seen so many pissed people lurching around, some have given up the lurch and just lie right where they fell... drunk!
The traffic is reduced to a crawl of various BMWs and brightly coloured vehicles in all kinds of states, all blasting out heavy bass 'music'. Needless to say, very very few of those cars' occupants are English. It really is a lot like Harlem.
So Spencer and I sat in the hotel lounge, both pretty pissed off, it was far too horrific and unsafe to go out.
I was relieved and amazed to see a familiar face from Ascot who walked into the lounge - it was Russ Abbot, an English comedian, who lived just down the road from me in my Sunningdale/Ascot days. He managed to convince me to stick around as at this point I was really getting ready to throw in the towel and go home. He was in a pantomime just around the corner, and we at least had something in common from the old days.
So off to Ronnie Scott's the following afternoon for the soundcheck... ho ho ho!! There was no Hammond, only a piano - again, economy at its 'finest'. How can anyone play classic SDG songs on a piano or a synthesiser?? Answers on a postcard, please.
The support band had the worst little synth I've ever come across, which made the worst organ sound I've ever heard. However, I've simply been told, 'that'll do!' No comment.
Anyway, the synth was so bad that for the first night I just played the piano, though for the remainder of the week, and at my own expense, I hired a Hammond C3, and the change in the sound was obvious to everyone. Well, almost everyone.
The dressing room at Ronnie Scott's was atrocious, and I was loathe to even hang my coat in there! The sound guy was helpful, though the rest of the staff were definitely not. They had a strange attitude like we were staff or something and less important than a wine waiter (not that a wine waiter is unimportant, mind you: I used to consume considerable amounts of wine in my day and found these folks' services indispensable, so I do hold them in higher esteem!) They treated us like shit, and I hope we never ever play there again. Basically, bollocks to Ronnie Scott's in Birmingham!!
The audiences, however, were great. Muff Winwood came to one show, fortunately not the first one, and he was very friendly to us all. Roy Wood turned up one night as well.
On the last night, Liz and Emma came up with some friends, and Emma joined the group on stage for 'Gimme Some Lovin'; it was a great night marred only by the attitude of the staff and the lack of a Hammond at the first show.
A date had been added in Nantwich, which is near Manchester, and there was another problem whereby the organ could not be transported there - it was beyond budget!!
Spencer and Pete had employed a roadie who only showed up on the last night (again, bloody 'economy'!) in Birmingham, and even when he did show up he did absolutely nothing! Well, all I saw him do was eat!
So it was down to a piano again, though this time a very bad one. It was a town hall and a very full town hall at that, and I was embarrassed to play this heap of shit, though the audience didn't seem to mind, and it went over very well. I must point out that the promoter was more than helpful and told me he would have arranged transport for the organ himself had he only been forewarned in advance. Also I'd like to thank the Crown Hotel where we stayed, it was a pleasant change from chain hotels.
Were I a member of the audience I would not be happy. I think the band should reproduce its sound to the best of its ability. If a fee does not support the cost of a Hammond, then the show should not be done at all. Of course all the fees do support the cost of Hammond but that's another story altogether. So there are more tours planned at this stage, though there is much to talk over. I've spoken to Spencer since I got home and he agrees with me, the band needs a Hammond.
So there you have it, a great tour which could have been even greater…
April 26, 2001
24 January, 2001
On arriving at La Croisette in Cannes, the hub of Midem, Liz and myself were confronted by a sea of mobile phones clamped to everyone's heads! The people there wore large badges, (well larger than last year, in fact, they've been getting bigger and bigger every year from the first Midem, next year maybe a sandwich board will be the thing!) for purposes of identification because I'm sure no-one has a clue who the next guy is.
I was asked how I was by people I didn't know, so you see the rule is say "hi" to everyone because you never know if it maybe someone you should be saying "hi" to. 9 times out of 10, they don't give a shit how you are anyway!
I've witnessed 'meetings' where the parties were looking at each other's badges to see who they were, in fact, having a 'meeting' with. Meetings... what bollocks that is, it's just a quick hello and off to lunch on a company account, maybe a bit of musical crap gets listened to on a mobile CD player but it's only a snippet, nothing that would interrupt a plateful of food and house music or whatever the current thing is that would give you indigestion!
People look at you with a 'blankness' in their eyes, and I'm convinced that most conversations have long drifted from their minds the minute they order the next drink which is of course paid for, one way or another, by the poor Artist who is at home, in the blind faith that their career is in safe hands. (Sting lost ₤6,000,000 via his accountant!) Midem WAS fun 30 years ago and you could 'tie' up the world within a week. Sure a lot of the deals were crap but there was a naivete on both the part of the writer and the publisher, it just turned out to be fortuitous for the publisher in the sense that they would own your work forever (i.e. The Beatles). These contracts, in my view, should now be overturned as quite frankly few of us knew what the fuck we were doing in the first place. In those days, it was acetates, as few people had cassette players and not many, in fact, had record players on their stands.
But now, the only music involved is that of the various melodies resonating from mobile phones and people having 'back to back' (I love that expression!) meetings with people from around the world who all seem unsure as to quite why they're there at all.
The badge syndrome is a bit like the people who continue to wear backstage passes 10 years after the show, and I reckon a lot of these guys don't take off their badges until the new ones are issued in 2002. I call it a badge fetish!
There is no real walking involved, it's only a dash from one end of the Croisette to the other, in a stupid attempt to fill up your book of engagements with ANYONE, so that you can maximise on your company's expenses when you get home.
People also love collecting bags of shit like you get at "ideal home" exhibitions or any exhibitions for that matter, and you see the odd German guy loaded down with CD's and Minidisks he wouldn't live long enough to listen to. Most of these turn up as coasters at music moguls' offices.
What a sorry state it's all in, which is why I've decided to go to this event annually myself, because if you don't go, you never know what went on there, which, in most cases, is nothing!
Some bands and writers and singers pay ALL expenses for their representative to go, and I know for a fact that one guy, who shall remain anonymous, collected around ₤10,000 from his clients and never even went!! The artists of course didn't know this, they were just told, 'nothing doing this year!!' The only humorous story I've heard was about a guy who again I won't mention by name, but he takes his music seriously enough, and he's also a fine producer, plus a very amusing person! He had one 'proper' meeting set up which was all he intended to do and all he felt was necessary, the rest being 100% bollocks. He arrived in Cannes for the week, and the meeting got cancelled, the other guy was ill!
Still, I did the circuit of publishers, Herr Drier from Germany and Jack Boots, his partner, then there was Hertz Van Rental, the Dutch sub publisher!
No, it has to be said, it has become a joke, may God or someone of even higher authority please rescue the music business from self-destruction!!!
January 24, 2001
11 December, 2000
Everything started out a bit 'grimly'. Liz and I flew from Nimes to Paris where we were to get on the connecting flight to Hamburg. We got to Paris OK, and that's where it all started to go wrong. French inefficiency (to which we are both well accustomed) resulted in us being on the wrong plane! We had checked in, gone to the departure lounge, gone to the boarding gate, received our boarding passes and even boarded the plane. Sadly, the seat numbers we had extended beyond the amount of seats on the plane. As it was not a full flight, the stewardess said: 'Oh, just sit anywhere you like."
I had an inner sense that said something was not right, and asked, 'We are going to Hamburg, aren't we?' - 'Oh no,' she said, 'Hanover'. The engines had started already, but we managed to get off, and Air France tried to rush us to the correct plane which had, by now, of course, left... with our baggage.
After much arguing, which is all you need on the eve of a tour, we were given replacement tickets for the next flight to Hamburg, two hours later! But it has to be said we were compensated for our misery with a bar of chocolate, courtesy of Air France, which should now be renamed into Air Farce.
Pete York is not the most tolerant of people (neither am I, which is why I nicknamed us 'the grumpy old men'!) and I had visions of him being in a rage and leaving without us from Hamburg where he had also flown into. But I was prepared for all eventualities; I had bought a new mobile phone with all the instructions in French and had not a clue as to how it worked. After lots of button pushing and wrong numbers, I finally got through to our agent in Munich who relayed the message on to Pete, who, by now, I'm sure was well prepared for the chaos which generally follows me.
Also, bear in mind, I was right next to a phone box while I fiddled with my new piece of technology, but I would not be defeated. During all of this, I lost my date sheet with all the relevant phone numbers on it, so had Pete left the airport, I would not have had a clue as to where to go.
So we arrived in Hamburg and Pete was surprisingly happy, and we were driven by a guy who was either very tired or very stoned to our hotel for discussions about the following dates. Fortunately, weren't playing that night.
The following day we rehearsed and I was both surprised and pleased that everything just fell into place. That night was the first show in Husum and we played great together; we recorded this show direct onto CD, by the way.
The audience was great, as they all were, and again we met such nice people and made some new friends. Oliver Gray (he's helping me put the finishing touches on my book which will really be ready soon!) flew over to Koblenz with his entire family for a night out. Some of the journeys were pretty horrific in distance though every show was a joy to play. I can honestly say that Hardin & York have NEVER had a bad audience or a disastrous show and in that we have been blessed. If ever we feel that things aren't going so good, either one of us always comes up with that 'something' extra and I'm happy to say we always end on a tumultuous note.
Germany was enveloped in Christmas celebrations, and the general atmosphere everywhere was wonderful with all the street markets and decorations. The weather was fantastic, it was Spring-like, and obviously, being so close to Christmas, everyone is in a festive mood. It was a pleasure to do and we both look forward to the next time!
My Hammond is coming to France for its Christmas break, and there it will rest until we're called out on another 'mission'.
Thank you, Germany, for your hospitality and a great time!
21 June, 2000
Back from England... again!
Here's my summary of the 'ASHTON NIGHT' - pictures to follow.
The 'Ashton night' was a dual-edged sword, both sad and happy. It was great to see Tony again albeit a bit of a shock, and to meet up with so many friends from the past. Phil Sawyer turned up! He's the guy I joined THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP with in 1967. There was so much to say and so little time and I guess us guys wonder at this stage in our lives when and even if we will ever meet again!... So that's the sad side.
In spite of Tony being incredibly frail, he played great though you could see it was a real strain. He gave his 'spot' everything he could muster and it was both moving and very entertaining and there were flashes of the old Tony creeping in here and there. He really is a survivor and he has music as an onboard facility of his body! I could 'feel' every note he wrenched from his poor tortured body and was very very moved. One can only hope he pulls through to give more pleasure to us all both socially and musically.
Mike Hurst was there, as was Zak (Starkey) who I didn't get to play with! Though his little band for the night was wonderful. He had Entwistle on bass and a great little singer whom I remember from my pub days in England when he was learning to play and now he really can! His attitude and image was, to me, very 'Lennon' as he just stood and played the rock classics, a great band though sadly for one night only.
My spot with Pete was great... if I say so myself!! We were joined by Chris Barber on Trombone, maybe a strange combination with Hardin & York but it worked. Emma sang GIMME SOME LOVIN with me which was obviously a lovely moment for me as it was indeed for others who commented on the father/daughter singing together and bringing the generations together through song. Some guys came up to me after and said, 'We've never heard of you before tonight but musically and vocally that was fantastic!!! Why aren't you up there with the others of your era?' Why not indeed!!!
Some of my family from the distant past showed up and I hadn't seen them in 30 years so that was another bonus. Aside from getting a huge gash on my hand from a broken leslie swithch all went very well indeed and I hope it was all worthwhile for Tony. By the ammount of musicians who showed up it's clear how we all love the guy. I could ramble on for a long time but I won't, let's just all wish Tony the very best of everything for the future.