1971. Long John Baldry Blues Band. First USA tour.

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.