Nearly Famous

Today, as I work, I have been listening to older music. The kind of stuff I listened to growing up – Its nostalgic. But it reminded me of another time and place…..

The location – Aston University
The time – circa 1978

I was stage manager for ACE – Aston Campus Entertainment at the students union. The job involved organizing the social events from a logistics point of view. Making sure sound checks were done, making sure the bands had their contracted for beverages, making sure their equipment was set up and dismantled etc. Frankly, it was super fun.

I met a lot of people as you may imagine. There was one local band we rather enjoyed having called Streetband. I think we had them 4-5 times performing at the SU. I don’t recall the name of the manager but he was a fun character. They had a hit single some of you may recall called ‘Toast’. It was a gimmicky song and involved a stage performance with lots of toast. The singer was especially good. He was quite shy but I talked to him quite a bit and had a feeling he might make it. Paul Young went on to have quite a decent career as a solo artist.

I met an American singer on the Stiff record tour (‘If it ain’t stiff, it ain’t worth a f##k’ was the brand tagline as I recall). The tour had Wreckless Eric, Lene Lovitch and several others including the very very lovely Rachel Sweet.

In a crazy couple of hours, I fell for Rachel and I must say she fell for me. We were cuddling before we she went on and after she came off I got some very sweet kisses – and she dedicated her rendition of Elvis Costello’s “Alison” to me live on stage pointing to me as she sang ‘My aim is true’. Of course, she was dashed away by management and I never saw her again (other than a phone number, there was no way to stay in touch back then….).

I met Generation X one night too. I hated them. Billy Idol was so drugged up he couldn’t stand and quite frankly, I think he is the most over rated singer anyway.

There were many others. I can say that I did not meet Paul McCartney and I am glad. At that time, he and his wife were trying to get Wings going and they chose a low key University stage to do it walking in unexpectedly at colleges across the country and asking to play. Well, Paul walked into our SU one day and asked our VP of Entertainment (One Dick Whittington would you believe) if they could play. Dick didn’t recognize them apparently and told them what they could do with themselves…..

The biggest night though was the night that Albertos played. They had one hit single and that was it and we got them right on cue as their single was in the charts. But the talk was all about their support band. We paid 50GPB for the support band I recall. They were late showing up, late soundchecking and generally followed around by a posse of music journalists. Their manager was a pain in the backside wanting his sound check even though we had to delay opening doors and it was they that were late! But as The Police hit the stage and soundchecked with a song called Roxanne, I died and went to heaven. F**king amazing.

But it got better. After the soundcheck I joined them in their dressing room. I got talking to them and their manager – who was of course the drummer’s brother Murray Copeland. I told them that that reggae rock thing they had going was something I had stumbled on and I borrowed a guitar and played them a song of mine (She’s Out There actually was the song).

They were all blond with spikey hair and tight pants. So was I.

As the show started, there was no one in the hall – everyone was still in the bar of course drinking 10p a pint bitter. Murray had me go out on stage and play so I played Roxanne rather cheekily – just the opening chords…..

You can imagine the Police blew albertos away. They were amazing. They got an encore. We went back to the dressing room and continued talking.

That’s when in another life and another place I would have been famous. Yes, they asked if I might be interested in being the second guitar player…..

I said “No, I need to finish my degree”.

Oh boy! What an idiot.

We partied all night, followed them to their next gig. I played on stage with them briefly. And then lost contact.

A couple of years later I bumped into Sting on the King’s Road in London but have never seen them since.

To be honest, I sometimes question my recollection of events but then I have my old buddy Steve to remind me
“You were nearly famous…..”

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