I’d like you to consider, for a moment, what it’s like to work for professional musicians.
Most of them are self absorbed (myself included) and surrounded by an exclusive entourage of obsessive staff who are dedicated to protecting their image and enabling their artistry.
Being one of those enablers, as the guy who comes in at odd hours and makes things work, I’ve had glimpses into the dark side of the music industry that are limited to those rare few who have access to the back door.
Much of the stage and studio work that I do is necessarily timed to precede a performance or recording session and, more often than not, I never get a chance to actually meet the artists for whom I’m working.
On other occasions, however, I have the opportunity to interact with them as individuals, as they actually are in real life (so to speak), without the affectations required by the presence of production and support personnel that normally surround their public persona.
Obviously I can’t give names to the characters in these stories because all of them are famous artists and, of course, I don’t want to lose any famous clients to what might be conceived as revelation of intimate and/or private personal details.
As such, the events that I’ll describe here will be unattributable to any individual and are purely for entertainment purposes. No association with any individual is implied or presumed and, for this purpose, any likeness to anyone recognizable is coincidental and should be considered a fabrication of my on invention. That not withstanding, all of these stories are true.
So, follow me through the back door. . .
After performing my duties, setting up the instrument for that evenings performance, I’m approached by the guy who’s about to go on stage. He sits at the piano and begins testing my work. He passes out and falls off the bench. I look around and no one is coming to help so I check his pulse and give him a good shake. He comes to and I help him back onto the bench. After wobbling a bit, he admits to having one too many Quaaludes.
An hour later he’s on stage and rocking his ass off. Don’t know how that’s possible, but he managed to pull it off.
The scene on stage is absolutely mercurial; optical effects and a mist of vapors have been produced to exacting specifications and the crowd is ecstatic with anticipation.
I’m standing in the wings waiting for the show to begin when the artist bursts through the dressing room door screaming about not having the correct accoutrements that he required in his contract.
He’s refusing to go on stage until the problem is rectified. An army of staff rush to fulfill his orders and he begins throwing whatever he can find at the stage hands.
Ten minutes later, he’s on stage – looking like nothing had ever happened.
Who let you in here?
This is one of those situations where I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet the artist but had been invited, by the producer and engineer, to linger in the studio after tuning the piano for a recoding session that was about to begin.
The session players, whom I had met while doing my work, were doing what studio musicians normally do while waiting for the artist to arrive for a session (tuning up and telling stories).
Then the thick double sided door of the control room opens and in walks the artist.
Realizing that there’s someone in the room that she doesn’t recognize (me) she becomes irate and walks straight up to me. Hovering like a storm cloud over my chair with a fierce expression on her face, she demands that I be expelled from the booth.
The Girl Friend:
Unfortunately, I lost this account with an artist that I respect and admire for all of the amazing music he’s recorded and his humanitarian efforts.
I showed up at his house for my monthly appointment to tune and service his personal piano. Normally, I’m greeted by the housekeeper because he’s perpetually on tour.
This time, however, the woman who answers the door is someone whom I’ve never seen in the house. When I tell her who I am and why I’m there, she becomes outraged that nobody had informed her of my appointment. I explained that it had been arranged by the artists personal assistant and was told that SHE was NOT that person.
She allowed me entry and disappeared into the back rooms of the house. I did my work and left.
The next day, I was informed by the manager of the artist’s recording studio, whom I normally did business with, that he’d been told by the artist to find another piano technician for the studio.
These are but a small sampling of the dark tales accumulated during my many years in the industry. I could fill a vault with stories like these but need some assurance from my fans that you’re interested in hearing more of this kind of thing.