1971. “Long John Baldry Blues Band” first US tour.


Long John Baldry Band, first tour of the USA.

Long John Baldry Band, first tour of the USA.

1971. Long John Baldry Blues Band.
After com­plet­ing “Every Pic­ture Tells a Sto­ry” in Lon­don, I joined the “Long John Baldry Blues Band” on bass for their first tour of the US.
It was a great band that includ­ed Ian Armitt on piano, Sam­my Mitchell on gui­tar and Micky Waller on drums. John was a won­der­ful enter­tain­er and a great blues singer.
I had to check myself out of Guys hos­pi­tal in Lon­don to make the plane to the US. They had me in a bed with a par­tial­ly col­lapsed lung…hey, I was young and it was almost bet­ter. Micky Waller and I shared a room for most of the tour…he was an amaz­ing drum­mer. I had ear­li­er played a live radio broad­cast with Jer­ry Gar­cia, Bob Weir, John Cipol­li­na and Mario Cipol­li­na from the KSAN FM stu­dios on Sut­ter Street in San Fran­cis­co. It was on the Richard Gos­sett show. Jer­ry lat­er invit­ed me to play piano on his first solo album, but I was tour­ing with Long John so I could­n’t make it up in time.

One mem­o­rable night we were all dri­ving back from, San Bernardi­no in a rent­ed Lin­coln Continental…I was dri­ving on my Eng­lish license. It was a very hot night and there was too much play in the steer­ing wheel which made it very dif­fi­cult to dri­ve in a straight line. Micky Waller was sit­ting next to me in the mid­dle with Sam­my Mitchell next to him in the pas­sen­ger seat; Long John sat in the back left seat and the piano play­er Ian Armitt, a Scot, next to him. Well Micky got on Ian’s nerves a bit and Ian had him in a neck hold from behind. Every­one except me was blind drunk that night…which was for­tu­nate because we were in the mid­dle of the desert and I was weav­ing from left to right when I sud­den­ly saw pret­ty lights flash­ing in my rear view mirror.
It must have looked pret­ty weird to the high­way patrol in the car fol­low­ing us…big old Lin­coln Con­ti­nen­tal weav­ing back n forth, some guy in the back seat try­ing to stran­gle some­one in the mid­dle from behind. They must have thought they had us for sure. Well it was actu­al­ly worse than that. What we knew, and they were about to find out was that Long John (God rest his won­der­ful gay soul)…all six foot sev­en of him had just spilt whisky all over his beau­ti­ful white suit; he’d tak­en off his trousers and was sit­ting there in the back seat with white knobly knees and no under­wear on. The police did­n’t seem to know what to make of us and they def­i­nite­ly weren’t amused…these weird British rock musi­cians with a half naked Peter O’ Toole type char­ac­ter try­ing to explain to the police­man that he’d tak­en off his trousers because he’d spilt Whisky all over them…which made total sense of course, but not what they want­ed to hear. One of the two high­way patrol­men made me stand behind the car and walk a line…which for­tu­nate­ly I had no prob­lem doing, and he also ques­tioned me about what we were doing, who we were, and where we were going. He noticed emp­ty beer bot­tles and cans being thrown out of the car onto the ground and began yelling for it to stop, until he real­ized it was his part­ner who was doing it. I explained again that the car had a faulty steer­ing mech­a­nism with too much play in it…so he came around and felt it for him­self. Well it was soon obvi­ous to him that I had not been lying about the steering…or drink­ing (well, not much any­way) and they let us go. They did­n’t real­ly know what to do with us. The last I saw of them was in my rear view mirror…scratching their heads and laugh­ing hysterically.



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