Episode 13. Y&T Tour, UK November/December 1983
In 1983, the three-piece, all-girl band Rock Goddess, were expected to be very successful. Signed to A&M records, they had won over their critics by playing sold out shows at The Marquee every month and released two albums to very good reviews in all of the music publications. The year had started with a tour of the UK supporting Def Leppard followed by ones with Fastway and Iron Maiden, the recording of their second album and then back on tour with Def Leppard again for six weeks through Europe after which, with a two day break, go straight onto what was advertised as the ‘Double Damage’ tour of the UK with fellow label mates, Y&T. I was with them pretty much twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week through all this and it was a damn good ride.
Rock Goddess publicity photo 1983. Tracey left the band in April of that year, the new bass player being Dee O’Malley.
At that level, there is no such thing as a tour that runs smoothly and the aforementioned Double Damage tour was no exception as the first show was cancelled due to either other commitments from Y&T or a failure in their travel arrangements (memory does not serve me well here and I apologise) and thus the tour started in Cardiff, Wales rather than Hanley, England. For this and the previous tour, the girls travelled in a tour bus whilst I went with the equipment in a van driven by a delightfully mad Irishman named Del Fitzpatrick*, accompanied by our other roadie, Gaz.† We arrived at St David’s Hall at around 2pm on show day and walked into a very empty venue. Y&T were nowhere to be seen, there were no stage crew, no P.A. or lighting guys and the Production Office was locked. Fearing the worst, I started to make calls from a backstage payphone to no avail but message eventually reached us that Y&T were running late and were expected around 5pm - the crew were all in the pub across the road from the hall. Showtime was scheduled for 7:30pm so the logical option was for us to set-up and soundcheck, leave the equipment onstage and then Y&T could set up their equipment behind Rock Goddess’s when they finally arrived. The girls arrived around 4pm, I explained the situation, we sound-checked and waited.
It was close to 6:30pm when the roller-doors flew open and a dozen burley roadies started throwing a truck full of flight cases onstage as quickly as they could. Introductions were kept to a friendly ‘Hello’ as a flurry of cables were patched, guitars warmed and tuned, drums clattered around the stage and gung-ho Americans barked orders at no one in particular. I stood back and watched this whirlwind of chaos and briefly caught a glimpse of Joey Alves and Dave Meniketti looking rather tired whilst someone I assumed to be their tour manager tried to reassure them that they would be a show that night and all would be well. Dave rolled his eyes as if he’d heard the same reassurances several times over the last thirty-six hours or so; Joey appeared to fall asleep standing up at one point.
Checking my watch, I wandered back to the girl’s dressing room which for thirty minutes before showtime was always out of bounds while they changed into their stage gear. As I entered, I was hit with a barrage of questions about the band which I couldn’t answer but I did tell them rather meekly that Y&T’s equipment made theirs look rather small. There was a silence in the room that was unnerving and then someone asked ‘How small?’ ‘Well’ I said, ‘You have two Marshall cabs onstage, they have eighteen.’ This was not what they had expected. Advertised as a Double Headline tour, they were now in a position where they had been effectively by sheer size of Y&T’s backline, relegated to support slot. John Turner, their manager quickly disappeared out the dressing room to have a look followed close behind by me. Nothing we could do now except get the girls onstage, get the show over and done with and talk to the people responsible tomorrow. That and the fact that I didn’t want to be in a room with three angry women made me run like hell (having experienced the wrath of all three at once before, it was not something I wanted to see again).
Sounds newspaper advert for the Double Damage tour. Note the equal billing.
Back on the stage with five minutes to go, I did the final amp and equipment checks, tuned the guitars and had a cigarette. Leonard Haze and his drum tech were still frantically changing drum heads and setting up the kit as the girls intro music started, the houselights went down and they strode out to a sold out audience who went barmy in unison as the first notes of their signature song, Satisfied Then Crucified cut through the air. Either fuelled by anger or their desire to not be seen to be second on the bill, Goddess played a blinding gig that night and as I stripped their equipment off the stage I noticed that Dave Meniketti’s tech was tuning up his guitars and seemingly quite relaxed. I nodded to him and he nodded back acknowledging that everything was ok.
We finished loading the truck just in time to see Y&T walk onstage and start their opening number, Take You To The Limit. They were hot. Even after thirty-six hours of travelling and delays, they still gave a performance that brought the house down. The girls and I watched in awe as they ripped through a set of great songs topped by Dave’s searing vocal and applauded just as enthusiastically as the audience after every number. After their final number, they walked rather weakly offstage, straight onto their tour bus and disappeared into the night towards their hotel and a soft comfortable bed. Tonight would not be a ‘getting to know you’ night.
My Triple AAA laminate for the tour.
Over the next two weeks, we played thirteen shows across the UK and every night, Y&T were perfect. Leonard taught me the correct way to change drum heads and tune a drum kit; Joey & Phil Kennemore introduced me to a variety of drinks that I had never heard of and wished I had never tried the following day whilst Dave, ever the professional, kept order amongst the troops, socialised and handled management affairs. I admired them greatly. This tour also marked my return to Leicester for the first time in two years and I invited my mum, dad and sister down to the De Montfort Hall in the afternoon. I think it was the first time they fully understood what I was doing and it was a nice moment for me. Alas when Leonard started thumping the bass drum, the volume got a bit too much for them and they left for home; I’d be back in three weeks for Christmas. A few old friends came to the gig and it was nice to see them but two years apart had changed me. I didn’t feel like part of the gang anymore and I invited them back to the hotel for a few drinks post show but nobody came. The only one who I still related to was Melanie, a girl I let slip through my fingers when I left Leicester and wrote to me through those two years and I am very glad to say, is still a friend to this day.
It’s 16th January 2011 and my friend Mats calls me and asks me why I was not at the Y&T gig in Kawasaki the night before. I made some excuse but he said he’d put me on the guest list for that evening. I went along not really knowing what to expect as the only band member remaining from those days was Dave. Leonard and Joey had departed the band years before and rather awfully, Phil had died just a few days before they were due to come to Japan. I stood in the audience at Club Citta, watching them and then closed my eyes and for just one moment, I was back in 1983. After the show I went backstage and said hello to all and reminded Dave of the Rock Goddess tour. No doubt our memories differed somewhat of those two weeks in 1983 but his warmth and kindness that I remember of him offstage from then hadn’t changed. Now almost a decade after that, we have also lost both Leonard and Joey but the spirit of Y&T lives on with Dave and I shall be there the next time they ‘open fire’ and ‘hit the stage’ in Japan.
Dave and Jody backstage in 2017
Image courtesy of Twitter: Dave Meniketti@DaveMeniketti
*I last saw Del when I was in Europe with Asia in1989 and he was still as delightfully mad.
†Gaz simply disappeared. He never showed for a gig we were doing at the Marquee one day and we never heard from him again.