Who Do You Think You Are?
Dynasty members made a pact on our ride back to the Land Beyond Reality that we wouldn’t breath a word of what transpired in New Orleans. We all had girlfriends back in the Twin Ports and if one of us fell we would all fall. The official story was that all we did in New Orleans was play and see the sights. I spent a couple of hours describing the Audubon Zoo to them, Tulane, and the Garden District to add meat to our collective fib.
The only member that didn’t stray while we were there was Jack Ghostly. Jack had a childhood sweetheart named Jackie. Truer soul mates the world has never seen. Although Jack ogled women along with the rest of us he never acted out his lust. He was a great looking guy and could have nailed his share in NOLA, but didn’t because there was sincerely only one woman for him. He had no curiosity beyond Jackie. There are always anomalies and Jack was ours. Yet, he stood by the pact.
To say that Patty was glad to see me as soon as I returned would be a gross understatement. However, my stamina had been drained down to nil by the tour while Patty’s energy had been bottled up for two weeks and demanded release. I tried to explain to her that I had just worked 8 to 12 hours per day for the past fortnight and didn’t get much sleep because there was always something going on in New Orleans. She displayed no sympathy for me. “Just lay there, I’ll do the rest,” she said and did.
I told Patty most of what happened in New Orleans except for the obvious omission of my dalliances, which were things I had to do but was sure she wouldn’t understand the bigger picture. They never do.
We got back to our old haunt of Ramble Inn the following weekend. Patty camped with her girlfriends at Amnicon Lake that weekend, which was great except that I identified too many chicks that I could have banged that weekend. Not that I was bored with Patty, but, you know, I wouldn’t want to talk to only one woman the rest of my life either. I considered introducing Patty to the oral that I knew she would enjoy, but didn’t because I knew that she would ask where I learned the new trick. This lying to women thing was trickier than it looked, but I was learning quickly.
I did introduce her to skinny dipping, however. It was fun, although not as exciting as doing it with a random chick with new moves. We borrowed a canoe and paddled out Boy Scout Island for its daytime privacy. My stamina had returned so it was an enjoyable naked day in the wilderness, though I was no Boy Scout. I did show her some of the survival techniques that Billy Little Bear had taught me while I lived on the Red Cliff Res. Patty was impressed when I caught, cleaned, and cooked walleye for us. It turned out to be one of those great days that make me wish that I could live in the wilderness like that forever.
We paddled back in the late afternoon. Ted had been looking for me according to Patty’s girlfriends. He apparently had some big news that he wanted to share. We found Ted chowing down a Tombstone pizza at the Amnicon Bar.
“Armond,” he said through a mouthful of mozzarella and pepperoni. He quickly washed it down with beer, “You’re not going to believe this, man. We are booked to open for,” he paused like he was waiting for a drum roll.
“Yeah, we’re opening for who?” I asked.
“How did you know?” he puzzled.
“That we’re opening for Who,” he replied.
“Who are we opening for?” I asked again.
“Exactly,” he grinned. “What’s on second.” Man, I felt like I was involved in an Abbot and Costello skit.
“Who are we opening for?”
“The Who,” he repeated. “They’re coming to Duluth on the 26th. We are opening for the fucking Who. Oh, sorry Patty. Pardon my French.”
“Fuck is a German word,” Patty corrected.
“Who are the Who?” I asked.
“You know, I Can See for Miles, ‘Pictures of Lily. The Who.”
“Really,” I barely knew the group. They didn’t use keyboards so they flew under my radar. “That’s cool, I guess.”
Ted was visibly disappointed with my lack of excitement. “Man, these guys are great I’m telling you. They are one of the great acts from England.”
“Ok, man, I’m excited. I’m just a little tired from paddling. It will sink in after a beer or three,” I consoled.
“They are huge, Armond,” Patty offered. “They’ve got several songs on the charts now and they’re playing on the bill of some huge concerts.”
“I get it. No, really, I get it. Let’s order a pizza,” I said.
Call it an occupational hazard, but I’ve never listened to many groups that don’t have keyboard players. That fact explains why I didn’t get The Beatles either; they had nothing to teach me or so I thought at the time.
“Anyway,” Ted continued, “we open the show. Next up will be the Blues Magoo’s.”
“Wait,” now I was impressed, “we’re opening for the Blues Magoo’s. Man that is huge. Why didn’t to say that first?”
Shaking his head Ted said to Patty, “You explain it to him.”
“It wouldn’t do any good,” Patty responded. “His world revolves around his organ.” She was really getting to know me well. I took it as a compliment.
“That’s right,” I agreed. “What are we getting paid for this gig?”
“One hundred,” Ted replied.
“Per man?” I asked.
“No, the whole band,” he replied. “But we get to play with the Who, man.”
“And the Blues Magoos’,” I added.
“You’re impossible, man,” Ted laughed.
The Duluth Arena was packed an hour before the show began. I held notes for Jack Ghostly and Ted Anderson as they tuned guitar and bass. We received applause for each note, which was really spooky. Maybe this gig was as big a deal after all. Usually, we played to an empty house as people filed in to see the main acts. But on this night, nearly every seat was filled by 7pm, an hour before our set.
We didn’t eliminate any Who songs from our set list because we didn’t have any. We did have to axe “Tobacco Road”, “Sometimes I Think About”, and “We Ain’t Got Nothing Yet”, which were all Blues Magoos originals.
Backstage, Ralph Scala sought me out to ask if he could use my Hammond & Leslie. Ralph, of course, was the keyboard player for the Magoo’s.
“I would be honoured to have you played my Hammond. I love your stuff man. We do a half dozen of y’all’s songs.”
“Y’all,” he smiled. “You ain’t from ‘round cheer air ya boy?” he mimicked a common line from the Deep South. We both laughed heartily at his attempt to sound like a Southerner.
“No, saw,” I played along, “I are from N’Awlins don’t chew know.” Then, back to normal voice. “We just did a tour down home and my accent returned while I was down there.”
“It is contagious,” Ralph agreed, and then asked, “Do you know Fats?”
“Not personally, no,” I replied knowing that he was talking about New Orleans legend Fats Domino. “I’ve seen him in concert, but never got close enough to meet him.”
“Too bad, man, I met him and he’s the sweetest guy you ever want to meet,” said Ralph.
We then discussed the operation of the Hammond, the footswitch on the Leslie preamp, and general organ stuff. I was impressed with Ralph. The guy had several hits on the radio and an album high on the charts, but he treated me like an equal, like we were neighborhood buddies.
Dynasty opened with Evil Woman Don’t Play Your Games On Me, with me faithfully recreating the original Hammond part. The rest of the hour was just a blur that went by way to fast. The crowd was incredible, electric, charged to a peak like I had never seen before, not even at The Animals show.
The Blues Magoo’s were phenomenal playing all of their hits and several other great songs from an upcoming album. I congratulated Ralph as they left the stage.
“You too, man,” Ralph said. “You’ve got great chops, brother.”
“It comes from copying cats like you,” I replied.
I still hadn’t seen the Who. Where were these guys? The crowd grew restless. Usually, the preceding act would play until the headliner was ready to play, but the Who wanted to build tension to a peak before they donned the stage, I guess. Their tactic worked because the fans exploded when Townsend, Daltry, Moon, and Entwhistle ran onto the stage.
The Englishmen gave a show that exceeded the rank of fantastic by a large margin. The energy they exuded was returned by the crowd magnified by 1000. They were magical, powerful entertainers on that stage. And they played forever. I lost track of time but they played easily in excess of two hours.
At one point Patty looked at me and asked, “Do you get it now?”
“Yes, ma’am, I think I do.”
Roger Daltry was a ball of fire on the stage. I couldn’t understand a word he said in between songs, but the crowd cheered as an enraptured mass of flesh.
Following their final encore – with splinters of fractured guitars still falling into the audience – The Who breezed past us all without a word back to a secure private dressing room that was off limits to the rest of us, even the Blues Magoo’s. No thank you for warming the crowd up for us. No brotherly good wishes to fellow musicians. Just an unstated “Go fuck yourselves, we are rock stars.” They were obviously on a much higher level than our little ensemble, but still…
Rock was dismissive of The Who afterwards, particularly of Roger Daltry. “He didn’t sing,” Rock said, “He shouted every song more or less on key. Then they broke their guitars and destroyed their amps. They should call themselves The Why.”