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Episode nine: Karma comedian gets side(man) tracked

The story starts in 1980... our erstwhile tour manager Grahame Thompson ( brother of Steve Thompson who produced “ rock until you drop”) called me up and asked “ would you like to open for Iron Maiden at the Marquee this Friday?”
Of course the answer was a resounding “ yes!”
All that remained to do was for me to squeak my way out of work that day and get the transportation sorted out.

We loaded the gear the night before & on the Friday morning piled into the back of the plush limousine.... I mean Ford Transit box van... all very excited as this was our first gig outside of the North East of England!
We arrived at the Marquee, loaded in and hung out watching Maiden.. or at least 3/5 of them messing with their gear. Clive Burr was in the dressing room... a lovely guy, very friendly. He was rubbing himself down with deep heat ointment & said since their recent long string of dates, he was constantly aching all over ( which sprung to my mind years later when his diagnosis of MS was made public....). He joined Dave Murray & Dennis Stratton on stage... Dave picked up Steve Harris’ bass guitar and they unbelievably launched into an almost note perfect rendition of ....
“ smoke on the water”?
“ immigrant song”?“
“ rock candy”?? was “ one of these nights” by The Eagles..... I kid you not.. harmonies and all!
Steve arrived and was friendly... Paul Dianno arrived and was totally “ jack the lad” ... reminded me of the spiv character on the St. Trillians movies.. or later on Del Boy in “ only fools and horses” one of this guys who is everyone’s mate.....
Weird... we looked at each other and said “this is the NWOBHM???? Really?”
Steve arrived and was friendly... Paul Dianno arrived and was totally “ jack the lad” ... reminded me of the spiv character on the St. Trillians movies.. or later on Del Boy in “ only fools and horses” one of this guys who is everyone’s mate.....
We set up.. sound checked... and retired to the tiny dressing room right behind the stage ... hanging our clothes up on the wall hooks.. and played to a great reception! Apparently one of our lot had seen Dianno who had just left the dressing room flash a handful of banknotes to his mates saying “ look what I found!!!” ...
Coincidentally I discovered after the show that all of the money I had in my coat had vanished... we had to beg & borrow enough money just to get enough gas for our return to Newcastle.


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Fast forward to 1992.... We had just returned from our “ Head up!” European tour. I get a call from a good friend Arnie Goodman, who is managing Paul Dianno!
“ Paul is doing a bunch of showcases for record companies in order to get a new deal... we need a bass player to do these..
are you interested? Name your price!”
My price went up substantially!!!
At least then, a “ showcase” was a gig really, set up expressly for record company A&R people ( all men then really) to check a band out...either a real gig at a club, or a more controlled environment such as a rehearsal room. This room was great as it was basically a big club stage with maybe space for 10 people to watch.
The rehearsal room In question was Arnie’s rehearsal rooms in Manhattan at W.27th st ... a peculiar building where we had previously worked at while writing the “ nothing exceeds like excess “ album. The band consisted of Paul... who was actually great and all business.. Cliff Evans and Steve Hopgood on guitar & drums respectively .. both British lads that I’d met before..and a guy called Ray DeTone from New Jersey .. also on guitar.
The funny thing was Paul was trying to get a new deal.. by playing a combination of old Iron Maiden songs and old songs from his “ Battlezone” band.... nothing new at all!
We worked on songs like “ phantom of the opera”, “ Wrathchild” “ murders in the rue morgue” etc and some cool Battlezone tunes like “ overloaded” and “ metal tears”also.
I’d come in from Long Island on the train & we’d do a good 8-10 hours every day for about a week until we were suitably “ tight” . .. they even set up a photo shoot for the “ band”....
We’d take breaks occasionally at the pub round the corner where Ray would show us his keyboard chops with the odd ELP piece!

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We must have done 6-10 showcases, pretty much every label had a guy there and as far as I know , never commented on the songs.. they thought they were all new!!! A character started coming at the end... Carlos” was straight out of central casting if you were doing a movie on the Escobars... and was flashing lots of money and promises of a South American tour.
The decision was made to record a “ live” album .... in the rehearsal hall... for the South American market... crowd noise to be added later....
Steve Remote showed up with his recording truck... dropped a multi core cable out the window down to the truck & set up his mikes.. and somehow this ungainly setup worked perfectly... even though he was about 5 floors below us! communication was by talkback mike through a speaker . The recording was 16 track but direct to 2 track... no mixing after the fact... so this was actually “ live” 100%.... to fill up the track list covers of “ we will rock you “ and even “ smoke on the water” were dutifully laid down... and the results are out there on CD....
“ Killers South American Assault”
The music is great but the crowd noise......Hilarious and annoying as it’s a 4 second loop!!!
This was a fun project and there was talk of continuing but I gracefully declined... after all, I already had a damn good band...

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