Box News #268 – April 30, 2018


URIAH HEEP NORTH AMERICAN TOUR PART 5

Mick talks about, 12 days at home, back at LHR Terminal 5 to fly to Houston Texas, the mess up on getting the rooms on the first hotel in Santa Cruz, The Hard Rock Café, the Alamo, the river walk, Margarita’s, The Rock Box venue, Dosey Does in Woodlands Texas, the Music/Pawn shop, Dallas Texas, Cowboy Boot Buying, the bus driving to LA, the American Airlines flight to La and the limo, Wine Tasting and Happy Hour, the different time zone, the hotel with a ‘Skip the Tip’ policy, the ‘Rainbow,’ The ‘Whiskey A-Go Go, filming interview vids for the ‘Living the Dream’ release in September, Jay Ruston our Producer, Lemmy’s statute, Venice Beach, Dinner with our manager Ace, his Mother Fay, his assistant Sean and his daughter.

Mick also discusses. Russ playing golf, The Rose venue in Pasadena, Agoura Hills at the ‘Canyon’ Venue, Las Vegas, the horrible smoking policy of the Casinos, a dog in the audience, Kevin and Yvonne Jones coming over for their Wedding Anniversary with their daughter Lowri, Scottsdale Arizona, and Turquoise jewellery.

Mick also talks about Heep’s old road crew from the 70’s, a swimming pool in front of the stage, my son Mike and his friends and family coming to this show and Tucson Arizona, going back to LA, Davey playing on the Jam night at the Whiskey, San Luis Obsipo being cancelled, another dinner with Ace, Fay & Sean, the dodgy Uber X drivers, the lost credit cards, San Juan Capistrano and the ‘Coach House’ venue where we had a fantastic concert.

After 12 days at home we were all back at London’s Heathrow Terminal 5 to fly to Houston Texas USA to begin the next leg of our thus far very successful Canadian/American tour.

While walking around the terminal we bumped into guitarist Doug Aldrich and Bass Player Marco Mendoza of the ‘Dead Daises.’ They were off to Glasgow in Scotland and we were off to Houston Texas, so it was passing ships in the night, well passing ships in the day to be exact.

On boarding the flight both Bernie and I were told to stand to one side, as it was a 9 hour 50 minute flight that was most welcome. The films were all pretty rubbish but luckily, I had downloaded some on to my iPad before leaving.

When we arrived in Houston all of our bags turned up, and we met our driver who was driving us in his van to San Antonio, that was 3 hours away. With a couple of garage alcohol stops, and a few pee stops to follow, we arrived at our hotel at 6am UK time and 12 midnight USA time. It had been a long old day, but the guy on reception did not help matters as he was useless.

There are 10 in our party and Scampi always says to the hotel staff please book in the band first and then the crew. This is normally because the crew have to unload a lot of our equipment into a spare room while we are checking in. Well after some hassle he gave us all of our room keys and off we went to bed. However, the chump had not run our keys through the machine, so none of them worked. We all went downstairs to complain and when he put the keys through the machine so that they would work, all of our room numbers changed, so it was a complete mess. Eventually we all made it to whatever rooms we ended up in, and it was goodnight Gracie from all of us and straight to bed, starfish style.

Some of us got up for breakfast, but I decided to wait until lunch. There was a courtesy bus to take us downtown which wasn’t too far, and the weather was nice enough to just wear shorts and a T Shirt.

We ended up in the Hard Rock Café and the food was good and just what we wanted. Most of the staff were coming to the show, and when we went to pay the bill the HR Café had already paid it, which was very nice of them. They also gave us one T Shirt each and 50% on any other items, which was cool. I ended up with one T-Shirt and one Work Shirt.

After this we walked along the river walk where you could see all of the bars and restaurants and it was beautiful. You could also take a cruise down the river for $45.00. That’s a bit pricey in my book. We then went to see the Alamo. It was there that after a 13-day battle hero’s died fighting for freedom in the face of overwhelming odds. The Mexican army won over the Texans.

Needless to say, that is where Ozzy Osbourne was arrested for peeing on the Alamo while wearing one of Sharon’s dress’s and you can see why, as it is such an historical landmark.

In the evening the band met in the bar at 7pm as per usual and we went for a Mexican meal in a restaurant called ‘Tito’s Cantina.’ This was the real thing, and the chilli sauce was hotter than hot, but the Margarita’s helped distinguish the fire somewhat. It was most enjoyable, and then we walked back to the hotel where some had an early night, and some didn’t.

The first show was in a venue called the ‘Rock Box’ which for some reason I warmed to the name. This was a cool funky place and it was rockin’ by the end of the night. It was a fantastic reception and a good way to start that part of the North American tour.

The next day we drove to a venue called ‘Dosey Does’ in a place called Woodlands Texas. Now this really was super funky and we all had lunch there, and it was like playing in a giant log cabin. It was a seated affair and the crew managed to fit everything on to the stage, and the promoter came over and introduced himself, and said that we were in for a good night. Well the walls had dozens of photos of artists who had played there, and they were mostly single artists with just their acoustic guitar.

Well a rock band of our stature in comparison really is like a freight train coming at you, but he was true to his word, and they were a fantastic audience. Quite a few of them had been on the Rock Cruise with us earlier in the year, so they were rockin’. It was a really good night and they had certainly looked after us from the moment we arrived until we left, which was just great.

Next to the venue was what we thought was a Music Shop, so Davey and I could not resist going in. Well it was a music store okay, but it was also a Pawn store. If you have seen that programme on Sky Television called ‘Pawn Stars,’ it was just like that. It was half Music Store and half Pawn Store. There were guitars, amps, effect pedals, coupled with guns, knives’ and all sorts.

Anyway, after the show I met some friends which was super lovely, and I signed a lot of albums and had pictures taken, with those fans that had stayed in the room.

The next day we travelled to Dallas Texas. As we arrived at the hotel Bernie and Davey scurried off to a famous boot store and each of them bought a new pair of cowboy boots.

We went down to the venue for the sound-check and it was a lovely theatre called the ‘Granada Theatre.’ As we arrived there were a lot of fans outside with literally dozens of Heep albums to sign, along with pictures and even guitars. While the rest of the band went in the venue, I was outside for about another 30 minutes trying to get everything signed., There was even a huge 3-D Picture of me with a guitar stuck on which looked really cool to sign. They were very gracious and happy that I took the time to sign everything and get pictures taken, so all was good.

The venue was packed, and it was truly a rocking rock night. It was an amazing atmosphere and it continued the whole concert and Dallas did us proud. After the show we signed even more stuff on the way to the bus and had dozens of pictures taken and then it was time to leave. Allen our driver drove us back to the hotel and then he set off to drive the long old journey to Los Angeles as we were flying.

The following day we flew to LA in two separate parties, as the planes were full, so we had to split up. The crew went earlier and the band and Scampi later. This was okay, and we took an American Airlines flight that got us in to LAX Airport around 4.30pm. We were then picked up by a VIP Limo complete with a bar, black leather seats and blue lights inside. A mobile fun palace!

The traffic is always horrendous in LA, so it took a little time to get to the hotel, but you just have to accept the traffic in LA. When we checked into the hotel they said between 5.30pm and 6.30pm it was free wine tasting in the reception area, followed by Happy Hour on the 17th floor bar and restaurant. I missed out on the wine, but the rest of the band didn’t, having a good old time. This of course morphed into the Happy Hour, so they were getting well-oiled so to speak.

The problem was that we had gained 2 hours from Dallas time, so when it was say 8pm in Dallas it was only 6pm in LA.

We had some dinner which we could not believe the prices, but hey this was made up with the drink situation. That was the first time I had ever seen this on a menu though, as it said, ‘This is a tip free hotel as we pay our staff good money, so please do not tip.’ There are signs all over the hotel saying, ‘Skip the Tip’ and this is a gratuity free establishment. Wow in America that is rare. If I am honest though, because of the ‘Skip the Tip’ policy, some of the staff could be a little lethargic. Well their incentive was taken away from them by the No Tip Policy I guess.

Anyway, we all went to our rooms at 8pm LA time, as really our body clock was on 10pm time. All except Davey who had to meet a friend of his down town at the famous ‘Rainbow,’ so some of the crew who had not been to the USA before went with him.

The next day all except for Davey we had breakfast on the 17th floor, which had a panoramic view over LA, including the chocker block freeways with traffic jams in every direction, still it was good to see sunshine and palm trees I have to say.

After breakfast we had some filming to do for Frontiers our Italian Record Company, and each of us were interviewed for 15-20 minutes. Bernie donated his room for the filming, so he was first up. Ace our manager was asking the questions and it was pretty much all about the making of ‘Living The Dream,’ our new album. This all went very well and then we had some lunch with Ace and caught up on all things Heep.

In the evening we all met at the bar at our usual 7pm to get an Uber cab down to the ‘Rainbow’ for a bite to eat. This was just the band as the crew were off doing their own thing. Our producer Jay Ruston joined us once we were there for dinner and it was good to see him. We did take a picture of my old mate Lemmy’s statute before we headed off for the Whiskey A Go-Go where it was the Ultimate Jam night.

These Jam nights are run by a bass player called Chuck Wright, who we met on the Rock Cruise earlier in the year playing with ‘Quiet Riot.’ Dave had played at the Whiskey on the ‘British Rock Night’ a few months ago, along with his mate Richie Faulkner from ‘Judas Priest,’ so he knew Chuck well. We had VIP passes and it was an instrumental Jam night, and Jeff Beck seemed to be the favoured artist to copy.

Phil, Bernie and I stayed for most of the night and Davey, Russ and Jay stayed until the end. It closed at 2pm anyway.

The next day Phil and Davey caught a cab to Venice Beach, but were dropped off at Santa Monica and they walked all the way into Venice Beach. Bernie and I joined them later. It was a lovely sunny day and it was good to get out in the fresh air. The sun was super-hot so we all bought a cowboy hat each for a laugh, and to keep the sun off of our collective heads.

Venice Beach is kind of like Camden Town only with a beach and the sea. There were hundreds of shops and all sorts of characters walking up and down, and we even walked past the famous Venice Beach gym, where the beefcakes were hell bent on adding more beef to their torso’s.

We ended up at a Mexican restaurant for lunch that was great. The food was good and the did specialise in Margarita’s, and even served 4 drinks in one glass. Now that was very dangerous, but Phil and Davey stuck to the single glass and I had a beer while Bernie stuck to Ice Tea.

Bernie and I left the other two there, and we took a cab back to the hotel as we were joining our manager Ace for dinner that night with his Mother Fay. The funny thing was that the restaurant for dinner was directly opposite the Mexican we were having a long lunch in, so we had to get an Uber all the way back to the hotel to get ready for dinner .and then get an Uber back from whence we came, so to speak.

While all of this was going on Russ was playing a round of golf with Scampi.

Well once Bernie and I had left the Mexican Phil and Davey ordered another Margarita each, but it was tuned into ‘Happy Hour,’ so they were double shots. They had plans of going for a swim, but the wind picked up and sand was being blown about and coupled with the consumption of Margarita’s, they did not make it, so eventually they caught a cab back to the hotel.

We only had a short turn around before going back to the same area for dinner at the C&O Trattoria Italian Restaurant that Ace had booked a table for us all. Phil, Bernie and I made it on time and Russ had already said he would be a little late coming from Golf, and Davey came down a lot later as he need a shower to get himself together after the fun lunch. We eventually all made it along with Ace, his lovely Mother, Fay, Sean Baldwin his assistant and Sean’s daughter.

It was a great restaurant with a wonderful atmosphere where everyone including the waiters and waitresses broke out into song, and we were all given song sheets to join in. It was brilliant, and so was the food and drink, and we had a much-needed relaxing time.

After this we all made it back in an Uber X to the hotel and everyone went to bed except for Bernie and Davey who went to the bar on the 17th floor for a nightcap.

The next day was a gig day in the ‘Rose’ venue in Pasadena. With the traffic this was an 1hour and 30minute drive. When we arrived, we could see it was a big venue with a good size stage which really pleased us. The sound check went smoothly, and we were set. Dinner was at the venue so no worries there and that night there were two support bands.

Even before we went on, the dressing room was full, with management, agents, friends, musicians and industry people. We did manage to have a bit of a warm up before going on stage and when we did walk on to the stage, we could see it was rammed to the hilt, which was a good sign. People were saying that they have not had so many people in that venue for a long while.

Well it was a brilliant show and they were rockin’. The atmosphere was electric, and a good time was had by all. People were saying that they have never seen a reaction like that, which was all good news.

Back in the dressing room it was even more hectic than before we went on as it was busy, busy, busy. You really could not move for having pictures taken and meeting everyone. It went on forever and then we had the long drive back to the hotel.

The next day we drove to Agoura Hills to play the ‘Canyon Venue.’ This venue was owned by the same owners as the ‘Rose,’ so it was pretty much the same organisation and certainly the same menu for dinner.

That night at the ‘Canyon Venue’ there were another two support bands. The place was rammed, so we just knew we were in for a good night and it did not disappoint. The audience were fantastic, and we really had the feeling that LA had missed the mighty Heep, as we went down so well. It was simply amazing.

The sound was good, and the band were on fire and after the show once again the dressing room was rammed with well-wishers. Jay Ruston our producer came with Marty O’Brian the bass player for Lita Ford, and it was the first time he had seen us live, so it was a good one for him to be at, as the reaction was so strong.

We then had a long overnight drive to Las Vegas where we were playing the Boulder Station Railroad Casino. We arrived at the Casino at 7am, and then everyone crawled off the bus in various states, to check in. Luckily the rooms were ready, and it was good to see our name and picture in lights outside on a huge hoarding, advertising the show, even though I could only see it through one eye closed and one eye open.

I stayed in my room until lunch time and got some quality catch up sleep. Bernie, Davey and I went for lunch in one restaurant and Phil and Russ in another.

Now they are allowed to smoke and drink while playing the slots and the tables, so it really did stink in the main Casino.

The ‘Railroad’ venue we were playing was a really cool venue. All seated, but it had a good size stage and a good sound. Once again it was rammed to the limit and a completely ‘Sold Out.’ The mighty Heep are definitely making their mark in the USA and Canada and it is a really good platform to build upon. The audience were superb, and it was a rockin’ show in every sense of the word. One strange thing was a couple had bought along their lassie type dog with them, sitting a couple of rows back on my side. The dog stayed for the whole show and just sat there quite calmly. They even put him on stage when we did our bow at the end. I couldn’t resist a stroke or three as it reminded me of my dog Iggy in England, who I do miss a lot.

Kevin & Yvonne had come over from Wales for their Wedding Anniversary present which was really cool of them. Kev had contacted food poisoning, so he was knocked out flat for most of the time, not feeling very well at all. He did make it to the show though. However, Yvonne and their daughter Lowri saw all of the sights for him, so all poor old Kev could see was it all through their pictures and videos.

After the show we had another long overnight drive to Scottsdale Arizona. When we arrived, we had breakfast over the road from the gig and then we went inside the venue. Well we were all most surprised as the stage had a swimming pool right in front of it.

The band went to the hotel while the crew set up the stage. Bernie and Davey went shopping in a street that sells mostly Turquoise jewellery as Bernie wanted a bracelet of his repaired. We had to sound-check early at 4pm and there was one support band that night.

My son Mike arrived with 2 of his friends and his Uncle Danny with some friends, also there was our old tour manager from the 70’s Mel Baister, and our old 70’s lighting engineer Ian England. Wow that was a blast from the past I can tell you.

Well this was a very unique venue with a swimming pool in front of the stage. Nearly all of the audience were my side with a thin line of people in front of the stage with the swimming pool behind them. This was a run of 13 shows night after night and on the previous evening they had ‘Dokken,’ so it was a regular venue on the touring circuit.

It was a hard venue for us to fully project Heep style being kind of lop sided, but those that were there just loved it and there were many comments like it was the best concert they had been to at that gig, and that was from the audience and staff alike. That was good to hear but I wouldn’t be in a rush to go back there again. I have to say it was brilliant having my son Mike there, and that did my heart good.

There was one guy who was in the pool the whole show and he must have looked like a prune when he got out. However, had a lot of the ladies jumped into the pool mid set and turned the gig into a pool party, it may have taken on a different light, but it was not to be.

The following night we were in Tucson Arizona at the Rialto Theatre. This was a cool venue that we had played before. My son Mike’s family came which was a surprise and the dressing room was in another building across from the venue out back. It was a fair size with a toilet and shower which was cool as we had no hotel that night. They had a small basketball net with small basketballs, something like you would get at a fun fair, and an old gaming machine, so that gave us some entertainment. Russ won with the most balls through the net.

The show was great, and the band were on fire and although it was not rammed like we have been used to thus far, the promoter was delighted with how many people had turned up on a Monday night.

Well I had to say a sad goodbye to my son Mike who was driving back to Las Cruces New Mexico with his friends and we jumped on to the bus for an overnighter to Los Angeles.

When we arrived in LA our rooms were not ready so some of us went for breakfast until they were. It was a day off, so we could chill until the evening and then meet up for dinner.

Davey had other plans as he was going down to the Whiskey A-Go Go, for the 80’s theme Ultimate Jam Hollywood night. He planned to get up on stage and play 2 numbers which were Motley Crue and Cinderella songs. Chuck Wright from ‘Quiet Riot” organises this jam night and he very kindly helped promote our shows in LA which we thank him for.

The rest of us went for a quiet dinner in another hotel close by which was a bit of a nightmare. Half the menu was not available even though they had taken our order. We ordered a bottle of wine that after serving us our starters, only then they told us that they didn’t have that wine in stock. It went on like that the whole night, which was frustrating and not the nice chilled evening we were looking for.

Bernie, Russ and I then retired to our hotel bar on the 17th Floor and basically got hammered on some excellent red wine. We had just heard that the show the following day in San Luis Obispo was cancelled which didn’t help, and I am sure the news pushed us over the edge in the getting hammered department. We were told it was due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control. This meant we had another day and night off in LA.

Most of the day we all relaxed, except for Phil who went to see the Getty Museum. I spent the whole day working on the running order on ‘Living the Dream’ and editing and transferring the tracks into the studio on my lap top. I ended up with a good running order that everyone liked, thank goodness.

In the evening we met our manager Ace, his Mother Fay and assistant Sean in a restaurant called Hal’s Bar & Grill in Santa Monica. The food was excellent and Russ, Phil and myself were not drinking but Davey & Bernie shared a bottle of red wine. When the Port came up Russ could not resist, so he joined in on a glass of that.

We then tried to get a cab back to the hotel and even though we ordered an Uber X to take five of us, they sent a car that only takes four, and this happened twice. I was just getting in the back seat of the second one of them and with the back door still open, the driver drove off at speed and I nearly lost my leg. Expletives were exchanged, and he was told to have sex and travel.

We eventually got the right size car and in all of the palaver of getting a ride back, I arrived in my hotel room and somehow, I had lost two of my credit cards. Ace our manager phoned the restaurant and they were not there, so I can only guess it happened with the cab saga somehow. Dave booked the Uber on his phone, so he tried to get in touch with them which was impossible.

I then spent a couple of hours frustratingly following automated instructions in England to try and cancel the cards. After a long, long while I got to speak to a person and cancelled both of the cards in the early hours of the morning, and then I went to bed after hearing the running order one more time to calm down.

The following day we travelled to San Juan Capistrano where we were playing the Coach House. This was only a 1-hour 30 mins drive from LA, and we arrived in time for lunch. There was no hotel that day, so it was a lot of hanging about to say the least. We were travelling overnight to Santa Cruz after the show leaving at 1am.

Well it was one of those sit down shows and prior to the concert we had a meet and greet where we had many pictures taken and signed autographs. Our managers came along to the show, Adam Parsons and his lady Audrey, along with Ace Trump, Ace’s Mother Fay, and Sean Baldwin Ace’s assistant.

The show was rockin’ and people kept standing up with enjoyment and some lovely ladies were even dancing in their respective positions, making it a really great atmosphere to work in. We had a great time and so did the audience, and then after the show we met a few people most of which were Bernie’s family and then we travelled the whole night to Santa Cruz. We also met guitarist Mitch Perry and his lady.

Mitch was second in line for the Ozzy job when Jake E. Lee took over, so he must have his chops up. At present he is playing with the Steve Priest version of the ‘Sweet.’

‘Appy Days!

Mick

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4 Responses to “Box News #268 – April 30, 2018”

  1. Egil Heepaholic Says:

    ” and he was told to have sex and travel.” Haha, good one. Thanks a bunch for sharing Mick. You guys will really have a very busy touring year!!!

  2. classicrockfestival Says:

    Great read Mick!

    Vriendelijke groet/ All the best, Louis Rentrop louisrentrop@ziggo.nl

    >

  3. classicrockfestival Says:

    A great read Mick. Your on the road memories are exellent. The pool venue suits perfect in a Spinal tap scène .

  4. Billy Moncrieff Says:

    Hi Mick ,
    Enjoyed the stories from the gigs as usual . A great read . Brilliant to hear we have a date for the new album release . Can hardly wait for the show in Glasgow in December . Hopefully get my tickets on Friday ! . Take care .

    Rock On……………………..Billy

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