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Box News #286 – August 5th, 2019

Posted in Uncategorized on August 5, 2019 by heepster

My latest blog documenting the adventures of the mighty Heep in Sweden at the Skogsrojet Festival and also at the ‘Wacken’ festival in Germany.

Thursday the first of August we met again at LHR Term 5 to fly by British Airways to Stockholm, Sweden. We did our usual thing and all met up in the BA lounge before boarding the plane. It was the usual type flight where you buy your own food etc, but everything went smoothly and we landed and picked up our luggage, and then we were met by our drivers in the arrivals hall.

The drive was 2 hours long, so we all nipped off for a pee before doing the journey, as the transport was vans with no toilet. We were staying in a hotel in Norrköping which was about 24 miles from the festival site which was the ‘Skogsrojet Festival.’

On arrival at the hotel, we dropped our bags off in our rooms and headed down to the restaurant which was outside. It was a lovely evening but along with lovely evenings and drink and food come fly’s and mosquitos. It was still an enjoyable meal washed down with a bevy of each persons choice, and then it was off to bed.

It was hot and humid and no air-conditioning, which is always a bummer because if you do leave the window open your room becomes an insect zoo. Well in the morning I was not alone saying that my legs had been bitten to bits. It was scratchy itchy, itchy scratchy all day long, even with some cream on!

Well after breakfast Phil, Bernie, Russ and I went for a walk which actually morphed into lunch. We found a ‘New Yorker,’ shop that used to be the bands favourite shop in Germany, but for most of us it had gone right down the pan, and all the clothes were pretty ordinary. However Bernie found a T Shirt and Shorts that he said would be great for his family holiday trip to Croatia in a few weeks. It was shocking pink and more Heavy Mental than Heavy Metal, but it was for his holiday, well that was his excuse anyway.

Well we had a lunch on our walk about, and then we went back to the hotel to chill before going down to the gig. We left the hotel at 19.15pm as we had a signing session at 19.45pm. This was cool and it went on forever, which is always a good sign.

Well if you had read my previous blog and all the trouble we had with our van, then the bad luck was apparently not over, as one of the festival vans backed into ours. Luckily it would be an insurance job, but still something we could have done without, as it was our equipment van from the UK.

Glenn Hughes was on before us playing all ‘Deep Purple,’ hits and they sounded great, and he has a good band with him, plus he still has a good set of pipes, but if I am honest it did not push my boat out, but the crowd loved it.

When we hit the stage there was a huge roar, and it never stopped, as they were well into every note we played and sang. It was a a great evening even though we only had 1hr and 10mins to play. We had a great time and backstage as we changed the crew broke down the equipment and we the boarded a sleeper bus for a 12 hour overnighter to a hotel near Hamburg Airport.

The bus was rockin’ there for a bit with liquid refreshments being skulled at an alarming rate, but I managed to climb into my bunk and get a reasonable sleep, while others partied on down. It was the best bus I think we have ever had, which added to some of the excitement. We also found out it was the most costly too. D’oh!

Well in the morning we were about 20minutes out from the hotel when Bernie came to the front of the bus asking to stop at the nearest toilet, with a pained look on his face, as he had a curious turtle appear. As there was a NO number twos rule on every tour bus, we stopped for him. Then we arrived at the hotel and there was little time for the crew to turn around and go to the show to start setting up the stage.

Some of the rooms were not ready, so the band went to lunch and the crew took the first rooms that were available to shower and get down to the festival site. After lunch I collected my room key which was on the 5th floor, and as I opened the door there was already someone in it. Luckily not the person, but certainly the suitcase and clothes were strewn all over the place. So down I went for another key, and I ended up on the 7th floor, this time with a clean room. We only had 1 hour and 30 mins to get ready before we had to be downstairs to catch the shuttle to the festival site, which was the ‘Wacken’ festival.

Now ‘Wacken’ festival is one of the biggest festivals in the world, and it has 250 bands over a 4 day period. We were on stage at 17.15pm for 1hr 15mins strict. There were 13 stages and we were on the ‘Louder’ stage. Well 85,000 tickets had been sold for this festival, so you can imagine how big a festival this was, and it was their 30th Anniversary.

Well we arrived at the festival site and everything was huge except our dressing cabin. Still the catering was superb and all of the surrounding areas massive. There was a Table Tennis table outside our cabin that some people were having a serious competition. They had an unusual style I have to say, with a beer in one hand, and a table tennis bat in the another. Still it worked for them and they looked like they were having a lot of fun.

Well the promoters have every person who bought a ticket their text numbers, and when it was time for us to go on stage they were texting people saying that at the ‘Louder’ stage where Uriah Heep were performing, it had sold out and there was no space left, so please go and watch another band. Well it was obvious people ignored that text because the audience went on as far as the eye could see and way past our mixing and lighting desks, and the swell of people each side was just amazing.

Now from the first note to the last we smashed it, and we were on fire. We had a fantastic time and the sea of hands in the air in every direction was more than amazing. We also had for the first time ever in Europe, a hand sign lady on my side of the stage doing sign language for the deaf. She was just amazing and she did it with such energy, she was incredible.

The reaction we received from the audience while we were on stage was fantastic and the compliments flowed backstage too by the other band members, crew and general workers. It may have taken us 49 years to get to Wacken, but when we did, we sure made our mark, and it felt soooooo good.

Once I had changed, I had to do three interviews that I could not do before the show due to time constraints, and once these were over I joined the rest of the boys in the huge catering tent for some much needed dinner. The food was excellent and although their were free cocktails on offer I went for the organic green tea and organic back tea that was the best I had ever had. It was a great way too re-hydrate.

I managed to see my German Lawyer Ulrich Poser backstage too which was cool, but Scampi had arranged 2 shuttle busses back to the hotel which was an hour away and Phil, Rich and I took the first. Most of the crew had already gone with the equipment vans and the rest followed on at 10.30pm. There was a tent with a lady giving free massages and Bernie had one booked for 9pm, so he caught the later bus with the others.

We were all given Wacken T Shirts, Water Bottles, Towels and a bag full of goodies, and even two bottles of Wacken labelled white wine, which was good of them considering how many bands were playing there.

Back at the hotel I had a welcome shower, and then I went to bed as we were up at 7.15am, to catch an early flight back to London from Hamburg Airport. Still even with that early start the crew set up in the hotel lobby with the remains of the rider and continued to demolish that, and I daren’t think what time they went to bed.

In the morning the hotel shuttle took us to the airport, and we checked in and went to the lounge which was pretty poor indeed with nothing much there at all, so I was glad I got up for breakfast. On the flight home I slept most of it, and we all collected our bags and went on our merry way. In three days time we would be back at the airport to fly to Belgium, so no rest for the wicked.

When I got home Iggy went mad, my cat Biscuit was nowhere to be seen, and my son Romeo was there giving me a big hug. Sheila was in Scotland on a jolly up, and her brother John was visiting, so we had a boys night in with some Fish & Chips, washed down with the beer of our choice and we watched the football. Magic!

‘Appy days!
Mick.

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Box News #285 – July 31st, 2019

Posted in Uncategorized on July 31, 2019 by heepster

My latest blog documenting the adventures that the mighty Heep had over the weekend on the German ‘Rock of Ages’ festival and up on top of a mountain in Wales at the ‘Steelhouse,’ Festival.

After only two days at home with my family, it was time to drive to LHR Terminal 5 for another two shows, one in Germany and one in Wales. Well some times your world gets turned upside down and a little crazy comes into play, and if you continue reading the text below you will see that the craziness went on forever.

I was doing everything I could for my family before I left for the airport, and then I decided before I had a shower, I would have a cup of tea and sit down for a short while, as it was stiflingly hot and humid. Then I heard my phone ping and up popped a message from my British Airways App that my flight was at 15.30pm. Now I had booked my cab for 13.30pm, but that was the time I should have been at the airport for the check in, 2 hours before. I quickly phoned my cab driver and he said he was already on the way to the airport with someone else and anyway I had booked it for Friday.

Well panic set in all round and I looked through my texts and indeed he was right, and I had messed up big time. He said he would call me back in 5 minutes and this was at Midday. He called back and another of his drivers was on the way to my house. Phew! I quickly finished packing and jumped into the shower, and we left at 12.30pm, which was great as it only took an hour at that time of day to get to the airport, so I was still on time. Wow that got the heart beating faster for sure and it didn’t help in the sweating stakes either.

Once at the airport, I checked in and met the rest of the guys in the BA Lounge. There are two BA Lounges in Terminal 5, one in the North and one in the South. We were in the North one when Angus (Front of House) who was in the South Lounge, phoned Ben (Monitors) to say Caroline Flack was in the South Lounge. She presents the programme ‘Love Island’ which my son Romeo and all of his friends watch religiously, as well as Angus and Ben, so I knew who she was. Evidently Rich my guitar tech had spotted her first, so Ben and I legged it to the South Lounge and there she was. She was just leaving, and I said to her can we take a selfie, and she was super lovely and said yes. Then Ben did the same, and she is one beautiful lady, and even more so than on TV if that is possible. I personally think she is better looking than half of the contestants, and so does Romeo.

I sent the picture immediately to my son Romeo who was gobsmacked, and he texted me back saying ‘No waaaaaaay!’ Well that was brownie points for his Dad, as he sent it to all of his friends.

Well good old BA never let you down (joke) as the flight was an hour late, and they get you all sitting on the plane first and then they tell you. So we sat their for an hour on the tarmac before we took off, but at least they had the air conditioning on. One pet hate I have, is that when you get on a flight and you fall asleep before take off, and then when you wake up you are still on the tarmac having not moved an inch, that irks me no end. I did this and then I got up to get something out of my carry on bag in the overhead locker, just as the plane started to move, and then a steward came running towards me saying that I have to sit down as the plane was moving. This was not a good way start to the flight, however in the end everything was fine, and all of our baggage arrived, so we were soon on our way to the hotel.

On arrival at the hotel we were trying to arrange dinner with our fan Sina Rückmann, as it was her birthday, but as we were late, and it was stiflingly hot and humid so everyone decided to eat in the hotel or have a drink in the hotel bar. It was so hot and there was no air conditioning in the rooms and in fact the hotel had to put 4 fans on the bar to help encourage people in for a drink, it was that hot and humid. In the end Sina joined us with her friend which was nice.

We made plans to meet up with her for lunch at her house the next day, which was only 15-20minutes from the hotel. The plan was that she would send a cab for 5 people at 12.45pm to ferry us to her house, but this never happened. We waited for just under an hour and still no cab, so we had to decline the offer and eat in the hotel. What a shame, and both Sina and the band were disappointed, but what could we do. We still do work on the road, so we planned to have lunch with Sina and come back and do the work, but it just did not happen. I think the heat must have done something to the driver because at one point the driver phoned Sina to say she had us all on board, and we were still sitting in the hotel lobby. Because of that mad driver she spoilt everything. In case you are wondering, Sina was the one who kindly carved the mini-me out of wood that sits by the pond in my garden back in London.

Still we saw her at the concert that night in Seebron at the ‘Rock of Ages’ Festival. The last time we headlined this festival was in 2015, and I was presented with a huge framed plaque, that sits nicely on my office wall in London.

Since being in Germany much like the weather in London, it has been ridiculously hot and humid and what with the hotel having no air conditioning, and not even a single fan in the room, it was all quite draining.

Now we were all waiting to be picked up for the gig, and earlier we had all heard an extremely loud bang and there was black smoke up in the sky. We found out that there was a gas explosion and a building had blown up. There were so many fire engines and ambulances all you could hear were their sirens at high pitch for ages. Now the problem for us was that the explosion was between us and the route into the festival so the vans could not get through. We waited for ages and eventually they made it to the hotel to pick us up to take us to the festival site.

At 19.00pm we arrived at the venue for dinner, which in itself was quite funny as Bernie ordered his food first way before anyone else, and he was served last, and there was a lot of us. He was getting quite angsty and I swear another 5 minutes waiting and he would have eaten the table.

After this we went straight into a signing session that lasted an hour, and then I had to do a TV interview. While we were doing the signing it began to rain quite heavily when ‘Rose Tattoo’ were on. They had an ego ramp on the stage and Angry Anderson their singer was getting soaked. Well after their set the rain intensified, and it came down so heavy almost like hail stones, and the end result was that it had soaked so much of the stage, as it blew across the front of the stage, that it became dangerous and apart from the stage being slippery and impossible to stand on, the power points had all been soaked too making it dangerous as hell. The end result was that the promoters put in big white gaffa tape letters ‘The End’ on the ego ramp for all to see. That marked that the festival was definitely over. Now this was devastating as I was really looking forward to playing this festival, as were the rest of the band.

We had Porto Cabins to change in and warm up in and I went into the cabin to get a bottle of water before my TV interview, and there was a guy playing my guitar. Now that is a ‘NO NO’ in anyone’s book, so I told him to put it down and have sex and travel, which he did.

Well after the TV interview I went back to the cabin while everyone else stayed in the catering building avoiding the rain, and as I opened the door the same guy had his hand on the door handle trying to leave with my guitar. Well red mist and sensibility were fighting me inside and I had two choices. One was to knock him out and send him to A&E for the night, but the downside to that drama would have been I might have injured my hand and he would have dropped the guitar and broken it. Luckily sensibility won, and I snatched the guitar off him and put it back on my guitar stand, and then a ran for him and I just managed to slam the door on him as he scarpered in the torrential rain. He still managed to get away with my guitar pick, Russell’s drum sticks and he had unclipped my backstage passes off of my gig bag. All this time Davey’s bass was on a stand untouched and this was probably because he is left handed.

Well not playing was devastating, and I felt so sorry for the fans and the promoters, but it truly was out of everyone’s control. There followed a party in the hotel bar for many people, but I was not in a party mood and I went to bed wondering when would all of this craziness end.

The next day we flew to London Heathrow Terminal 5 on British Airways and I was excited to get there as my son Romeo was meeting me at arrivals, as he was coming to Wales with me where we were playing the ‘Steelhouse’ festival on top of a Welsh Mountain.

After hugging Romeo and thinking we had left the crazy stuff behind, the driver Cuzz who was driving us to Wales phoned Scampi to say he had gone under a low ceiling in the car park and knocked the sky light clean off the top of the van. Well Scampi and Brian armed with gaffa tape went to try and fix it, otherwise it would have been a wind swept drive all the way there. While they were doing this we all had a coffee. Romeo was able to come on this gig as Angus & Ben drove up in Angus’s car, Russ and his girlfriend Christie drove up, and Rich and his girlfriend Katie drove up, so there was room in the van for my lovely son.

Eventually Scampi appeared and said that he and Brian had done the best they could with the sky light and they did do a good job. Well the cry went out from Bernie to stop at the first services for some food. The first one was at Reading and when we pulled into the car park it was crowded with people scattered everywhere. After a quick investigation we found out that the power had gone in the whole service station except for a Cornish Pasty Van outside. Well the rest of us settled for a pasty or a sausage roll, and a drink, but this was not good enough for Bernie, so we had to go to the next services, so that mister food dependant could get what he wanted. He had a ‘Murder King’ burger and chips, but at least that settled him down as he does get a little angsty if he is hungry.

Well we eventually arrived at the hotel which was a health and spa type hotel. It was a weird hotel to put most of the bands in as it was what I would describe as a ‘Gods Waiting Room,’ hotel.

It was still very hot and humid and still no air conditioning but we decided to have dinner in the hotel as we were miles away from anywhere else. They had a gym and a swimming pool so Romeo enjoyed the delights of the gym while I rested in the room.

We met as usual in the bar for dinner and had a couple of drinks outside in the fresh air, and then we went inside to eat. This became a bit of a drama getting a table but eventually it was sorted. We went to the restaurant to be told to go back in the bar to book a table, and then the head waitress came to the bar to take us to our table. It was a Carvery which was nice except as Phil pointed out his Yorkshire Pudding would have made a good Frisbee. Now you walk along the food and point at what you want as the server puts this all on the plate for you, and then there was a tray of condiments along with mint and horseradish etc that another waitress puts on for you, and then she takes the plate to the table for you. It was all very nice, and on our table was Phil, Davey, Romeo and I, and on another table there was Bernie Marsden and Bernie Shaw the two Bernies, drinking but not eating. However the stories between the two tables were flowing freely.

After this we decided to keep the theme of the hotel going and Phil, Romeo and I watched by Davey had a game of scrabble. This was a great laugh after a few bevvies and I am sure some of the words had never even been near a dictionary, but I ended up being the ‘Chicken Dinner,’ (Winner) as they say in Las Vegas. Then we joined everyone in the bar until closing time and we had a good laugh with Scott Gorham, Bernie Marsden, Phil, our Bernie, Romeo and his Dad.

The next morning we had breakfast and then outside there was a chess game with those huge chess pieces that you move about, so Romeo and I played a game, of which I was a Chicken Dinner again, much to the annoyance of my son. Then we had a bit of lunch and Romeo went for a swim and a quick work out in the gym, while I showered for the gig.

We left the hotel at 2.45pm to go to the ‘Steelhouse,’ festival as we had a 3.45pm signing session. Now this festival is up on top of a mountain and even on the way up the dirt road had markers with ‘You are half way up.’ Your are nearly there’ etc. Once we arrived we could see everything was in full swing, and soon we were at the signing tent, signing and having pictures taken, which was cool. Then there was an endless round of interviews for TV, Radio Shows, and of course Planet Rock Radio. This was done by our old mate Ian Danter which was cool.

While I was doing this my son and Rich my guitar tech’s girlfriend Katie, were in an axe throwing competition. He did well and hit the bullseye twice, so he was well pleased. There is obviously a technique to these things and he managed to find it quickly. At 5 pounds a throw I am glad he did. Let’s be fair there wouldn’t be a cash machine up on top of the mountain now would there.

Well it was soon our time to go onstage and we entered to a huge roar, and it was a fantastic gig. The crowd were ready to rock and rock they did. We only had 1hr 15 mins to play, so we rocked it out and had a great time. The reception we received was brilliant and it did the heart good. While we were on stage the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day, but shortly after coming off stage, boy the temperature dropped. Kevin and Yvonne Jones had sent me a picture of them the night before wrapped in blankets, and now I could see why. Mind you I thought the amount of anti freeze being drunk would have done the trick, but there you go.

We did hang around to see ’Living Colour’ who had Bernie Marsden come up on stage and play ‘Sunshine of your Love,’ with them. This was very well received and even a chant of ‘Bernie, Bernie’ came from the crowd. He is still well loved from his time in ‘Whitesnake,’ both as a performer and writer. The singer of ‘Living Colour’ said over the PA System, ‘Whose fucking idea was it to put us on after Uriah Heep,’ which was very nice of him, and an indication of how well we went down.

Up next were headliners ‘Thin Lizzie’ who were playing their famous album ‘Black Rose,’ in it’s entirety. I have to say Ricky Warwick does a great job filling the shoes vocally of Phil Lynott, Darren Wharton added some good keyboard parts, drummer Scott Travis (from Judas Priest) was outstanding as Lizzie’s music relies so much on the swing element, Troy Sanders was on Bass and Damon Johnson and Scott Gorham played some killer leads, so justice was fully done to the 40th Anniversary of this album.

Well we arrived back at the hotel before the bar closed so Romeo and I had a good night pint before retiring to bed finishing off the day in fine style.

The following morning we were up for breakfast at 9am, as we had a 10am leave. In the van I downloaded the episodes of ‘Love Island,’ Romeo had missed, as his mates had been texting him, so we caught up on those and he was very happy about that. We were driven down to London to be dropped off at the St Pancras Hotel, where Romeo and I met our cab driver and drove home.

It was especially lovely having Romeo with me and we had some good father son quality time along with a lot of good laughs, and a few pints as it should be.

‘Appy days!

Mick

Box News #284 – July 24th, 2019

Posted in Uncategorized on July 24, 2019 by heepster

After 5 days at home we were back at London’s Heathrow Airport at Terminal 5 flying to Munich once again to perform a festival in Falkenberg Germany. This was a headlining show with Les Holroyd’s ‘Barclay James Harvest’ in support and the ‘Havliceck Brothers.’

It was the usual British Airways flight, but when we arrived in Munich they had lost Scampi our tour managers suitcase. After registering the loss at the lost baggage desk, we boarded a van to travel the 2 1/2hrs to Falkenberg. On arrival they had dinner arranged for us which was nice, so we quickly put our bags in our rooms and went down to the restaurant. After everyone had eaten and had a drink, one by one we all sloped off to our rooms and bed, as it was quite late.

In the morning we had breakfast and the promoters had arranged a tour for us starting at 11am to 1pm. This was at a Castle that was also a Brewery as well as a place for Weddings etc with 8 nice modern type bedrooms on the top of the Castle. When we arrived we saw the German twins there Andrea and Claudia Obergfell which was cool.

It took 9 million Euro to restore this Castle, and it had over 1,000 emotional years of history. There are over 10,000 visitors every year, and the Castle overlooked the village of Wilgartswiesen and it was built-on sandstone.

Now the fun part is that if you own a house in the village and you can only do this if you actually own a house in the village, you can brew your own beer in the brewery. Many houses get together and work out the ingredients they want to put in their beer, and it is brewed there. They just bring in their bottles and fill them up and take them home. The beer is unfiltered, so it is very clean tasting. Of course we did try a few while we were there and it did get the thumbs up from everyone. The story goes that once a household has their batch of beer inside their house, they put a sign outside so that anyone can knock on their door and go inside for a drink with them. The sign is of the earth, wind, fire, water and air. It was an amazing Castle to see with so much history and it really was interesting.

We then went back to the hotel for some lunch, but first the organisers wanted us to go to the festival site to have a picture taken with everyone on the stage, which was inconvenient, but cool. It did also give us a chance to try out our equipment too, so it served as a mini sound check.

After this we chilled in our rooms until it was time to go down to the festival site. On the way to my room I met Les Holroyd of BJH on the stairs, and he said that he had recently seen a poster with both of our bands name on it from the early 70’s, which was cool.

Once at the festival site we could hear the last few songs of Barclay James Harvest and they were going down well. At one time they were huge in Germany, but now there are two versions of the band which kind of diminishes it a little, but they sounded good to me. Scampi was pleased though, as he had been reunited with his suitcase.

It was a beautiful evening and the audience were well up for it and we had a great time. Seeing the joy on peoples faces, and everyone joining in and singing and clapping their hands, it did the heart good. The new numbers from ‘Living the Dream’ went down incredibly well and it was good to see people singing along to those songs as well as the classics.

As it was outside and a summers evening, we were wondering if we were going to be bitten to death by the bugs, but we were lucky, though Russell’s bass drums in the front were filling up with a lot of them. They were bouncing all over the place and it was quite funny to see. I imagined they would of all had a wicked headache after an hour and a half of that, or at least felt a little sea sick floating in around there.

Back in the dressing room the promoters brought in some of the local Castle brew for us to try, and it was very nice indeed. We then went back to the hotel for a shower and then we drove on an overnight bus to Mezokovesd Hungary. This took 12 hours, but when we arrived they had breakfast come lunch ready for us, which was nice. Then it is was time for a little sleep in a non moving bed before we met at 5pm for a TV interview, and then at 6pm we had dinner in the hotel.

Since arriving in Hungary the weather had been wonderful and sunny with a clear blue sky, but while Scampi and the crew were down at the gig setting things up, they had a freak thunder storm that caused all sorts of problems. Scampi came to the hotel while we were eating and I have never seen him so drenched and windswept. Then he told us that where the Front of House and Lighting Desk were under a tent, the storm came down and it blew their tents way into the distance and all of the equipment got soaked.

The same thing was happening on stage and it was even impossible to hang the backdrop. The equipment on stage was drenched, and there was a point where we had to make a decision whether it was safe enough to go on. All of the plug boards and electricity points had all been soaked too, making it dangerous. Phil’s Keyboard suffered the worst, so they sent someone off to Budapest to get a replacement. The strange thing was that when it arrived and Phil had just finished programming it, his own one started working again, so it was superfluous to needs.

In the middle of all of this drama, the Mayor came into the dressing room and presented us with a bottle of local of schnapps like drink, a set of doily’s for the table, and a book about the city. He made a little speech and we had a picture taken and then he left.

Well after the crew running themselves ragged, they managed to get everything up and running, so the gig was on. I was looking out over the dressing room at the stage and there were not many people out there, which I put down to the rain, but the promoter said oh no it is amazing that 10 minutes before the band goes on thousands of people appear from nowhere, and he was bang on, as that is exactly what happened.

Well we kicked off the set and I have to say they were a wonderful audience and we had a really good time. Even though we did not have the backdrop and we were down to basics, it was a rockin’ show. They joined in everything and it was a special night especially after all of that drama with the freak storm.

Back in the dressing room they brought in some pizzas that were the size of a small Island, and on one of them it was a cucumber pizza that baffled everyone. We then left the venue and tried to get to the vans to drive back to the hotel and it was mobbed, so we were there for about 20 minutes signing all sorts of things and having our pictures taken, which was all very nice, and eventually we made it back to the hotel.

The following day we had a drive back to Budapest Airport and we caught a British Airways flight back to London. We all said our goodbyes, but we would be back in Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport in 2 days time to fly to Stuttgart for another couple of festivals. This time one in Germany and one in Wales.

‘Appy days!

Mick

Box News #283 – July 18th, 2019

Posted in Uncategorized on July 24, 2019 by heepster

Well after just a week at home we were off again to headline a festival in the Czech Republic called the ‘Masters of Rock.’ This time though there was an extra air of excitement, as our original bass player Paul Newton and vocalist John Lawton were joining us on stage. Lee Kerslake was also going to do this, but his ill health prevented him from flying, so he instead went to see ‘Kiss’ at the O2, so that he could interview both Gene and Paul for his documentary. We really did miss him, but flying was out of the question. It was still a shame as it was the one thing he wanted to do, and that was to be back on stage with Heep.  

We all met at LHR Terminal 3 all except John and his wife Iris who flew from Stanstead. We were flying to Vienna and then driving to the Zlín in the Czech Republic, and once through the check in procedure we all went to the lounge. There were two lounges so we were split up there for a while, until we all met at the gate. Most of us were in one lounge but Davey, Phil, Paul and his wife Joan were in another. 

I sat next to Paul and Joan on the flight and we had a good laugh catching up on everything, and of course the stories were flowing. When we arrived in in Vienna we had a two and a half hour drive to Zlín, and I have to say it was numb bum all around as the roads were terrible. It was like someone had installed speed bumps every 3 feet for the entire journey. We did have one stop for a pee, but we were anxious to get to the hotel as they were keeping the restaurant open for us, and we were all starving. 

We eventually arrived at the hotel that was more than adequate, and we dumped our suitcases into our rooms and went straight down to the restaurant. John and Iris had been there for a while and had eaten, so we got the heads up on what was good and what we should avoid. It was hugs all round and then we found out that it was a set menu of sorts, but everyone could find something to satisfy themselves in the food department, along with their chosen beverage to wash it down with. 

The following morning the crew had to leave the hotel at 7.30am as they had an 8am-10am window to set up all of our equipment. Vic and John had driven our Backline over from the UK so that was good. Needless to say there was no sound check with that number of bands on the festival bill, and I personally was quite happy about it what with that red eye start to the day. 

Those left at the hotel all managed to have breakfast and then Phil, Bernie and I went for a walk around the town. Where we were staying there was very little to see, so it was a short walk, and then we all met for lunch at the hotel restaurant, which once again had the same menu as the night before. In fact the menu did not change for our entire stay, but that wasn’t too bad. 

I managed to do some work in the afternoon which was cool, as I had a lot of catch up to do, especially after the long 2 month tour with Priest we had just been on. Then it was time for dinner and we left at 19.00pm to get down to the show. 

At 19.30pm we had a signing session and John and Paul joined us which was cool. It was an amazing line of people and we were there for just under an hour. 

After this there was a press conference where we all sat at a table and there were plenty of press, photographers and TV Cameras, but really there were only three people passing around the microphone asking us questions. It was a bit of fun and then we went back to our dressing cabin to prepare for the show. 

There was a lot of banter and laughs all round in the cabin, but soon it was time to get changed and for Russ, Davey and I to warm up. In no time at all the intro tape was on and the next thing as we ran out on to the stage we could see 20-30,000 people there which was amazing!

We kicked off the show and the atmosphere was fantastic and half way through the set list we announced both John and Paul who came on to play ‘Stealin’ and they received a huge roar from the audience. It was great fun having them on stage, and I could see John being his usual cool self and singing great and Paul was just loving every minute of it. 

The next song up was ‘Gypsy’ and we had found out that it was John’s Birthday, so I announced this on stage to a huge roar, and two lovely ladies came out and presented him with a Birthday cake, a Birthday card signed by the whole band and crew, and a bottle of Gentleman Jack. Then the audience sang ‘Appy Birthday to John which was great.  After this we fired up the intro to ‘Gypsy’ and Paul stayed on for this song. It was the first time Paul and I had been on stage playing ‘Gypsy’ since the old king died and it was a good feeling, and Paul’s smile said it all. 

After this we were back to finishing the set and jamming through ‘Look at Yourself,’ and then on to ‘July Morning,’ before both John and Paul joined us for ‘Lady in Black.’ We had  Davey and Paul on bass for this one, and it went down incredibly well. It was amazing that on stage that night we had the first and last of the Heep bass players, which was super cool! As John and Paul left the stage we went into ‘Sunrise,’ and finished on a rockin’ ‘Easy Livin.’ They both then came out and did the bow with us, and all in all it was a special night. 

Back in the dressing room cabin the drinks were being poured and John got stuck into the Gentleman Jack and the banter was full on. Davey was eating some for the cake and those with a sweet tooth joined in. After a while John & Iris and Paul & Joan were driven back to the hotel while the rest of us had an overnight journey to Rosenheim in Germany. I think John and Iris went home to the UK, and Paul and Joan were going to indulge in the delights of Vienna. 

Well the bus was rocking there for a little while, before we all climbed into our respective bunks for some sleep which was difficult as once again we were on those bumpy old roads. We arrived at stupid early o’clock in the morning and our rooms were ready thanks to Scampi arranging it, so we crawled out of bunks and into the hotel with one eye open and one eye closed, and picked up our keys and went to bed, only this time in a non moving bed. 

The crew left at 11.45am to get down to the venue which was the Rosenheim Sommerfest to set up the equipment. The rest of us had lunch at the hotel. We were headlining this festival and the two other bands were our old friends ‘Sweet,’ and ‘Nazareth.’ As we went to lunch we met both the bands and the crews and it was hugs all round. 

We left the hotel at 19.45pm to get to the venue as we had a few last minute interviews thrown at us, well thrown at me to be exact, and we could hear the ‘Naz’ boys rockin’ it hard, before the ‘Sweet’ boys went on and went down well too. 

Before the show I was presented with a painting that a lady called Elke had painted, and it was made up of 25 Heep song images, combined in one picture, 40 X 50cm in size. This was very cool indeed and very nice of her to do it. She said that it was her way to express her gratitude for all of the joy the Heep music has given her since the 70’s until today. Now that is brilliant.

Still soon it was time for the mighty Heep to hit the stage, and the crowd were well up for it, and so were we. We hit our stride like the well oiled machine we have become, and the 9,000 capacity crowd just loved it. It was a sea of smiling faces and people having the best time rockin’ out, which amounted to a fantastic night.

We met quite a few people after the show before heading back to the hotel. In the morning we drove to Munich to fly on British Airways back to LHR Terminal 5. This went without a hitch so we collected our bags and took trains and cabs back to our respective homes. We would only be home for 5 days before flying out again, so we would not be home for long, but that is festival season for you, and we love it. 

‘Appy days!
Mick

Box News #282 Part 4 – July 21st, 2019

Posted in Uncategorized on July 18, 2019 by heepster

TOUR DIARY THE FINAL PART (4)

URIAH HEEP AS SPECIAL GUESTS TO JUDAS PRIEST IN THE USA & CANADA

On Wednesday the 19th of June we left the hotel in North Quest WA at 9am, to drive to Renton WA for a day off. We had a relaxing day there and then we drove to Kent WA on the concert day where we played at the ‘Accesso Showare Centre.’ This was a fantastic concert and both bands were on fire. The audience was great to both bands, and it really was a good night of Classic Rock and Metal. Priest and Heep are a good combination, and I would not mind taking this to other countries, as we really do compliment each other.

Our next concert was just 3 hours up the road to Portland Oregon. There was no hotel as we were travelling overnight departing at midnight to a place called Walnut Creek for a day off. Angus left the fold after the Portland show and caught a flight to San Fransisco, where he planned to stay with his Uncle for a few days, which was cool.

The concert in Portland was at the ‘Theatre of the Clouds’ at the ‘Moda Centre’ and boy were they up for a rockin’ night. It was a great response and we were feeling that we were really turning new fans on to the band, which of course was the object of the exercise for this tour. We were making serious in-roads in that department.

I did have a laugh though because I had showered down at the gig and in our dressing room sitting there were Russ and Davey looking down on their respective phones, and I had my head bent forward drying my hair, when from nowhere there was a dog sniffing at me and my gig bag. That was more than a surprise, and when we asked the guy with the dog what was the reason and what were they looking for, he said guns and explosives. Wow! It did give me a shock though!

After the day off in Walnut Creek we used that hotel as a sort of base, as San Fransisco was just an hour up the road, and we had two shows in the same theatre in a venue called ‘The Warfield.’ Now this was an amazing venue, but it was in the heart of the homeless, and there were people lying on the streets, and the smell of urine and weed filled the air. It was awful to see, and we where advised that if we did go out walking, to leave all of our jewellery back at the venue and to be careful with our iPhones and keep them in our pockets.

Well we did have a walk around and we went for a coffee in a really funky place, and although it was heartbreaking to see some of the homeless, we did not encounter any trouble, probably because we were mobbed handed as they say.

Well with all of the JP trucks and busses parked outside the venue, there was no room for our tour bus as we came in last, so Bob our driver had to park about 15 minutes away in another street. Bob stayed with the bus the whole time, and they even put a guard sitting outside on a chair on the pavement with a walkie talkie should any trouble occur, which thankfully it didn’t.

It was tight inside the venue and a lot of empty JP flight cases were lined up in the street, with guards on them of course. Well as it was a nice day, and what with it being a bit tight inside the venue, certainly in the backstage area, Rich my guitar tech changed my guitar strings outside by the buses. Now who said men can’t multi-task, as Rich was changing my guitar strings for that nights performance and getting a tan at the same time.

Well Bernie, Phil and I wanted an afternoon rest, so we took an Uber to our bus and had one in our respective bunks, before getting an Uber back to the venue, as we had meet and greets, interviews, and dinner before we hit the stage. San Fransisco did not let us down, and we had a fabulous reception as we were received incredibly well. It was sold out, so the atmosphere was mega from the off!

Because there was not a lot of room backstage to store our equipment, and as we were playing a second show there the following night, the crew still had to beak down most of our equipment and put it back in our trailer to save on space. This was a shame as it could not be stored off stage, but there really was no room and no other option.

Still once this was done we met a lot of people which were mostly Russ’s family, and then we all jumped on the bus that had parked outside briefly for us all to get on board for the hour drive back to Walnut Creek and a welcome hot shower and bed in the hotel.

The following day we were all departing at midday to drive to the venue for lunch at 1pm. We had to hang about at the venue all day as after our show we were travelling overnight to Los Angeles.

I had to laugh as Phil went for a walkabout on his own and one of the things they do in San Fransisco in that particular area, is they have people walking around with trays of sandwiches giving them to the homeless, which is great. The laugh comes in to play when a lady with a tray of sandwiches asked Phil if he wanted one. 🙂

It was another mega show in San Fransisco with an amazing reaction, and we could not have wished for a better response. Once the equipment was packed, we were all on the bus for the overnighter for about an hour before the cries of food were heard loud and clear, and so we stopped, and it was hamburger city by the sound of it. By this time though I was in bed and the last thing I needed was a big greasy hamburger and fries sitting on my stomach lying in that mobile coffin all night long. Plus with the NO number two’s rule on the bus, I did not want to be making another stop to unload so to speak.

Well we arrived in LA about midday and some had their rooms ready and some had to wait a little while. Being LA everyone was splitting up and rubber necking in all different directions, in the end though as usual we would all met up at the famous ‘Rainbow.’ I have noticed in most hotels we have stayed in on this tour that there was no 13th floor or even a room with a number 13. That reminded me of a Stevie Wonder song ‘Superstition.’ What a great song that is!

Russ was happy because his lady Christie had flown in from the UK, so their plan was to have dinner in the hotel and a night in. Davey and Corine had flown in from San Fransisco, so Phil, Davey, Corine and myself took an Uber to the Rainbow for dinner. The Rainbow is nothing like it used to be when Mario Maglieri used to run it. It was always full of musicians and groupies and the place was rockin’ with all sorts of exciting nonsense going on all over the place. Now it is like a tourist restaurant with probably the only rock n’ roll vibe being the statute of Lemmy outside.

Well the food and drink was average, but eventually our crew turned up and even a few of the Priest crew arrived too. Kevin and Yvonne had flown in from the UK, so they joined us too which was nice. Anyway after dinner and a few drinks Phil, Davey, Corine and I went back to the hotel for an early night. It was a Wednesday night, so not much was happening either in the Whiskey-A-Go-Go or the Roxy, so it was a wise move.

The next day we played at the ‘Microsoft Theatre’ and we all had to check out by midday as after that nights show we were driving direct to Ontario California and staying at the airport hotel. It was only an hours drive, so it wasn’t too bad. Ontario was the next show so it made good sense.

Well the show in LA was intense and just great. We received a hell of a fantastic reaction and our friends David and Lana had flown in from New York City, and it was so good to see them too. Security was pretty strict and pretty silly too, but we still all managed to meet up with everyone, and it was just great catching up with our producer Jay Ruston. The venue is run on Union rules and we could not even bring in to the venue drinks from our bus, as they insisted that we buy it all from them. We asked how much a bottle of Jack Daniels would cost and they said about $130, so we passed on that one.

There were plenty of friends and business people to meet, so it was a busy old time there for a while before we left for Ontario. Some of the guests were Doug Aldridge (Whitesnake & Dead Daises) George Lynch (Dokken) Ricky Warwick (Black Star Riders) John Temesta drummer for the Cult and Fred Coury the drummer for Cinderella, to name but a few.

Russells, Christie is a big Judas Priest fan, so understandably she wanted to stay and watch the whole show, and so did Davey and Corine, so we left them there and they took an Uber to the hotel after Priests show. As there were places left on the bus in that case, David and Lana drove with us to the hotel, as they were staying there too. Kevin & Yvonne stayed in LA and joined us again two days later in Las Vegas. They had some major rubber necking to do.

At the hotel the crew were going to sleep outside on the bus, and as usual hunger struck, so Angus took charge and they had 100 Chicken McNuggets delivered to the bus amongst other things. There started a competition between Angus and Ben as to how many Nuggets they could both eat. Well they both managed to eat 37 each, but Angus won by 15 minutes. I am surprised they did not start clucking after that, and how they slept with that amount of food on their stomach I will never know. Luckily they were parked outside the hotel, so if a curious turtle appeared, they could go to the toilet in the hotel at least. I should have said a curious chicken but that image just does not work as well as the turtle.

The next morning a few of us had breakfast and then at our usual 1pm, Bernie, Phil and I joined David and Lana for lunch. After this we chilled until we got ready for the concert. The venue which was the ‘Citizens Business Park Arena’ was not far from the hotel, but we took a hotel bus shuttle anyway. This was another great show and the audience were buzzing as were we.

The drive the following day to Las Vegas was approximately 4 1/2 hours, which was not too bad. However the gremlins came out to play again and we had another burst tyre on that journey. Surely we must hold the record for burst tyres on one tour.

We were playing ‘The Joint’ at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. On arrival we had to clear the bus of all personal belongings as our driver Bob was driving straight off back to his depot. There was a fair bit of scrambling about to clear the bus, and then only a few of the rooms were ready. I was a lucky one, so after putting my bags in my room I went to the nearest restaurant for some lunch. Then it was back to the room to chill and get ready for the last show of the tour. Incidentally it was going to be the last concert in ‘The Joint” as we were told that it was going to be taken over by Richard Branson.

Well the band decided a time to meet at the hotel lift on the ground floor, so that we could all go to the venue together. The hotel lift door had the gig poster all over it taking up the whole door, which was pretty impressive. Once we were in the venue we found out there was no catering, so that was dinner out of the window. Still we were on early, so we could eat after. There were plenty of people to meet and there was an extra air of excitement surrounding this concert, seeing as it was the last one.

As we prepared for the show all of the Judas Priest boys marched into our dressing room so that we could have a photo of both bands together. We loved this, and it just showed how well we all got on with each other, even after 2 months of solid touring.

Well we hit the stage running and the response was outstanding. Now I have to tell you every night when we were playing the song ‘Stealin’ with the gospel type ooo ahhh’s on the beginning of the song, the entire Heep and Priest crew backstage out of sight had their hands waving in the air having a laugh. Tonight however they took it a step further and all marched on stage doing it in a line and some had black underpants on with some white writing on it which I could not read, and they paraded across the stage and back twice. It was hilarious and even the audience loved it. It was smiles and laughs all round. The reaction as we finished the concert was just amazing and it just underlined how many new fans we had won over on this tour. As we came off stage there were hugs aplenty from everyone backstage before Priest came out and just nailed it with some high octane metal as they did every single night.

After the show I went with Phil, David & Lana and Kevin & Yvonne for a bite to eat, as we were starving. I did text Ace our manager where we were, but no one else joined us. When we had eaten and had a few too many wines, we then hit the bar and carried on. Well we were in a celebratory mood after such a successful tour and that’s my excuse anyway.

The next day we were flying home and David & Lana and Kevin & Yvonne were staying on for a few days. I checked my British Airways App in the morning and low and behold the flight was delayed, so we had to try and arrange to check out of our rooms at 2pm instead of the agreed 12 midday. What a pain, so at 2pm we went for some dinner to kill some time. As you can smoke in these Casinos hanging around was very uncomfortable for me, but there was nothing else we could do as it was too damn hot to wait outside. In total the flight was delayed by 3 1/2 hours and in the end we said our sad goodbyes, and we went to the airport.

When we got to the Los Angeles Airport we checked in, but we had not thought for one minute, one hour, one day, that the lounges would be full with all of the cancellations, but luckily we are all mostly silver card members, so we could get in, but it was packed to the hilt and the food area was pretty bare.

Eventually we boarded the flight and as it was the 1st of July, we thought that the movies may have been updated as they used to change them every month, but nothing had changed since when we went to Japan earlier in the year. We then found out the delay was for a technical fault that needed to be fixed before flying. Well I was in a row of four people on the outside seat, and I could not get my light to work, until I realised that the lady on the other end of the four seats controlled my light, and I controlled hers. We looked at each other and smiled saying that we hoped that they had not got their wires crossed like they had on our lights on the technical fault they had just fixed. D’oh!

Luckily I had charged up my iPad with plenty of films to watch, as there certainly was not a film on the BA screen that I would want to watch twice. Well the food was average and on my tray there was half of it missing, which I asked the stewardess if I could have the rest of it, surprise surprise, it never turned up. Similarly on the brekky before landing I asked for a second cup of coffee that never arrived either. BA are not doing themselves any favours with service like that especially after that dreadful delay.

Still I was happy to land at London Gatwick and pick up my luggage, and say good bye to everyone and jump in my cab home. Angus our front of house engineer however, had stayed out in Vegas, as he was helping out on the Robbie Williams show before meeting up with us for our festival show in the Czech Republic, where we were headlining the Masters of Rock Festival.

Once home both Sheila and Romeo were there to give me big missed you hugs and kisses and my dog Iggy went mental and he could not settle down for ages, as he was so excited to see me. My cat Biscuit looked up and went back to sleep but that is his own understated way of welcoming me home, which I have now got used to.

Both Sheila and Romeo had written beautiful welcome home notes that they had left on the kitchen table for me, and I then made a perfect cup of tea, and I was happy to be back in the heart of the family.

Shortly after being home in the UK I heard on the news, horror stories of there being an earthquake that happened in both Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and Ace our manager said it was the worst one he had ever experienced, where his whole house swayed back and forth for 20-30 seconds. Angus said it happened in Vegas too just as Robbie Williams was entering the stage from a hydraulic lift that was shaking, but the show still went on. It was the worst quake in 20 years, so I sent a text to everyone I knew who was in those areas to see if they were okay, and thankfully they were.

‘Appy days!

Mick

Box News #282 – June 21st, 2019

Posted in Uncategorized on June 21, 2019 by heepster

TOUR DIARY PART (3)

URIAH HEEP AS SPECIAL GUESTS TO JUDAS PRIEST IN THE USA & CANADA

Well moving on from Blog (2) we were still in Saskatoon for another day off. Our temporary tech Ryan arrived, while Brian was in Cancun while his son got married, so we all went out for dinner that night at the same Italian restaurant as the night before, simply because the food and wine were good and sometimes it is nice to know the quality is there ahead of time and it was excellent service.

Bernie lived in Saskatoon for a year playing all the bars and clubs, so he hooked up with a few of his old band mates and took a trip down memory lane. After dinner a few went off to the Irish Pub but Russ, Phil and I walked back to the hotel for an early night. I am nearing the end of my antibiotics, so after having a bit of a rough ride of late it was the right thing to do.

The next day was gig day at the Sasktel Centre which was a huge venue. After a reasonably relaxing day we met in the hotel lobby at 5pm to get down there in time for a quick sound check, then dinner, and we had some meet and greets. Our showtime was 7.30pm. In catering I saw Andy Sneap of Priest and he was looking a little worse for wear and he said that he had contacted the tour lurgy and was not feeling too good. Luckily on our tour bus I had some left over Theraflu as they call it over here, which in the UK we call Lem Sip, so Rich my guitar tech kindly went on our bus and got him the bag they were all in, and he thankfully took what he needed. This will at least help him in the early stages, unless it gets worse.

Well our show was outstanding, and we had an amazing reaction and it sure was a good way to start the Canadian run of this tour being the first Canadian show. I saw in the audience two of our Dutch fans Joke and Marco which was cool. They have come over for a couple of shows and are making a holiday of it.

After the show we met Joke and Marco and Bernies old band mates, but the hotel was calling as we had a 7am rise out of bed to travel to Lethbridge Alberta BC, which was about 8 1/2 hours away.

The following morning was my 27th Birthday (sorry 72nd Birthday)

Well I will always be 18 years old in my head for sure, but never mind. My phone, iPad and LapTop did not stop pinging all day with wonderful messages, which was vey humbling and extremely nice of everyone to take the time to wish me a Happy Birthday.

I did manage to FaceTime my UK family who were all having a wonderful dinner in my absence, and it was so good to connect with them and seeing them all having a great time. Romeo my son was at home studying as he had some serious exams coming up to get into University. Still I managed to FaceTime him too, which was lovely and he was wearing his Heep T Shirt in my honour, and then he put the phone by my dog Iggy who was lying on the bed sleeping, and when I whistled and called his name his tail went into overdrive. So all of that did my heart good as you can imagine being so far away from home. My son Mike in the USA had been sending me lovely messages too, so it was a special day.

Now Lethbridge AB I was told was a one horse town, so it was not a very exciting place to spend my birthday, and it was highly unlikely that there would be any non stop cockney dancing once we arrived there, but we did find a quiet restaurant and had a chilled one. After this current bout of illness I think that is going to be the best option.

I had promised to tip a glass to Trevor and Terry Uttley from ‘Smokie’ as we all share the same Birthday, as indeed does genius Les Paul. So a sensible quiet one it was, as we have a long way to go this year with all of the dates and tours booked already in the diary.

As luck would have it, the restaurant was a short walk from the hotel, and it was called the ‘Keg,’ which is a chain of restaurants across Canada, and the food and wine are top notch. I had not been drinking for a long while, so three glasses of lovely red wine went down a treat. We chose a South African wine from the Stellenbosch region that was to die for. The whole band and crew were there too which was cool, and after dinner they gave me a Birthday card signed by everyone and a bottle of my favourite cologne Jean Paul Gaultier. On top of that the band paid for my meal and vino which was super nice of them.

After dinner I went back to my hotel room keen to keep this persistent lurgy at bay, and I was back in my room by 10.30pm, while others hit the bars. It was the perfect evening, but I was missing everyone at home terribly. Still at least I was safe in the knowledge that they had a good time in my absence.

Well I had the next room to Bernie at the hotel and about 15 minutes before we were leaving the hotel to go to the venue, he was banging on my door. I opened it to see him just wrapped in a towel and he could hardly speak as he was in a lot of pain on his left hand side. I made him go back to bed while I called Scampi our tour manager to get a doctor to him immediately. Luckily we had two good friends visit us George and Eleanor Norton who we had known for years, so I could go to the gig with the other boys and George stayed with Bernie. I had to be down at the gig to explain that we may not be able to play that night.

The doctor came and called an ambulance, and Bernie was taken straight to the hospital which luckily was close by. Once this had happened and with only 2 hours before showtime, it was obvious we could not play that night.

Judas Priests tour manager asked if I would go on stage with the rest of the boys and explain this to the audience. As we walked on to the stage there was a huge roar and when I explained the circumstances we received another huge roar and they were so good about it, and I think they appreciated us letting them know personally.

Well it was disappointment all round, but what could we do! Eventually we found out from the hospital that Bernie had a Kidney Stone, and that would have to pass through his system. After a scan it showed that it was so small that it would probably dissipate in his system, which was a relief for him, as the only other alternative was to pass it out through his bell end…….ouch!

By 11pm Bernie had checked out of the hospital and went and had some dinner and was back on the bus for an overnighter to Edmonton. I have had a kidney stone before and the pain is excruciating, but if you are lucky it only lasts for a few hours. They say the pain is equal to giving birth, but hey we will never know that will we, but it does hurt like hell.

In Edmonton Canada we played a venue called ‘Roger’s Place,’ which was huge. Probably the biggest venue thus far, but as we were driving along in the bus we could smell fumes coming inside and we could see smoke outside the windows, and the signs were not good at all. The head gasket blew, so we knew we were in trouble. We made it to the venue, but that was it, it was a dead bus.

However, we had a fantastic show in Edmonton and the crowd were with us all the way. They rocked hard and we had a great time. Then started phone calls aplenty trying to get our bus fixed, as we were driving to Dawson Creek BC with a proposed leave time of 8am from our hotel. The poor crew had to sleep on the broken bus. Luckily it was a travel day and a day off!

The next morning I was receiving texts from Scampi giving me updates that did not sound very encouraging. We had to try and get our rooms extended until 2pm as they where having serious problems getting a replacement bus, so it was a full on hang about day for everyone, band and crew.

Well the story was that in Canada there are only 6 rental buses available, and 2 of them were in for repair, and 4 of them were already out. So we ended up hiring a private bus from a Country and Western artist called ‘Gord Bamford,’ which had his picture and name right down the side of the bus. Country and Western ‘Heep’ indeed.

Thinking that everything was sorted, I then received a text from Scampi who was on the C&W Bus driving to our hotel saying that the air conditioning had packed in, and it was hotter than hell. When they arrived at our hotel at 6pm we had to get another engineer out to fix that, which took about another 1 1/2 hours. You could not make it up could you!

Luckily on the side of the hotel there was an Irish Pub where we could wait and watch all of the sport on the TV’s, but even that got boring as hell. We had avoided indulging all afternoon with the refreshments that were on hand, but eventually when the crew arrived we broke down and sampled the delights of the pub, relenting in the last few hours to have a Guinness or three while the air conditioning was fixed. Some of the crew had been drinking what was still on the bus, so they were having a jolly old time.

Once the van was fixed it was a party atmosphere from the get go, with Ben hooking up his phone to the bus Bluetooth speakers, and there started Bens Disco Juke box, with plenty of singing and joviality. There was even a Congo line formed up and down the bus for a while, and it was a lot of laughs for a few hours, until everyone eventually wound down and disappeared to their bunks.

Overall it was a 20 hour wait and journey, and we arrived at the hotel in Dawson Creek BC at 4am cream crackered (Knackered.) Well it was 5am really, but the clocks went back an hour. Needless to say none of us made breakfast, but we all went for lunch at a nice restaurant across the road from the hotel.

The concert was in a venue called the Encino Events Centre which was another huge venue. Well the minute we hit the stage they were up for it and rocking and it was a fantastic gig and a brilliant reaction. You could feel the energy hit you on stage and the atmosphere was immense.

Well it was the last night for Joke and Marco over from Holland, so it was a good one for them to see, and we met them in the dressing room to say our goodbyes, and then it was back to the hotel as we had a 7am wake up call booked to travel to Prince George BC.

When I got back to my room I had a shower and put on Planet Rock Radio on my iPad with Paul Anthony on, and it was because of the time difference that it was the beginning of his morning breakfast show. I was amazed and sent him a text telling him, and then he said on air that people from all over the world listen to his show, and that after playing a concert with Judas Priest, Mick Box in Canada was listening.

He said after his morning show he was off to ‘Download’ now being called ‘Drownload,’ as it had been raining so hard. He sent me pictures that looked terrible, and I told him to pack his wellies, but he came back with he should take a snorkel and flippers more like! From the pictures I saw he may well be right! What a shame!

On the journey to Prince George BC we did see a few wild Moose which was cool, and there were even signs to Alaska, but I was quite happy to be going to Prince George.

We had no hotel that day, so it was a bit of a hang about day at the gig which I hate. Still it had to be done so we showered down at the gig and we had to do an overnighter to Kelowna BC.

Well the gig was amazing and the reaction incredible even from the hardened Priest fans down the front. We also saw a lot of old Heep shirts which was cool. It was a fantastic night and the band were on fire. We stayed around for nearly 90% of the JP set which was as good as ever and then we all boarded the bus for an overnight journey to Kelowna BC for a night off! A few of the team stayed up all night and did not make their bunks until after 8am, being the party animals that they are.

We had been invited by the JP boys to join them for dinner at a restaurant called the ‘Keg.’ This was the restaurant chain where I had my Birthday meal, which was excellent, as it was Bernie’s Birthday and he would be duplicating my Birthday in the same restaurant chain, only this time with the JP band as well. We only stopped once for some breakfast in Kamloops and arrived at the hotel by 3pm in time for the check in. We we’re meeting at 5pm, so that just gave us a couple of hours to freshen up.

We were just a few minutes late for the restaurant as the taxi was delayed, but at least we arrived okay. Now Kelowna BC is a beautiful city and it would have been nice to have spent some time there, but that’s touring for you, and I am told the months of July/August and September are blisteringly hot. The restaurant was down by the waterfront where so many boats were moored, you could smell the money.

Well the meal was fantastic and the drinks were flowing at a rate of knots. Rob Halford didn’t make it but it was fun with the rest of the guys. Having not had a drink in a while it hit me hard and after a delicious meal, I was the first to leave with Phil and Scampi, while the others all went back to Judas’s Priests hotel for more drinks. How they did that I will never know because joined up talking for me had become a bit of a problem, though we did have a lot of laughs.

The next day funny enough no one made it to breakfast but Russ, Bernie and I made it to lunch. We were all so well oiled last night that we even forgot to give Bernie his Birthday card and Bottle of Organic White Wine, so I gave it to him at lunch. Phil decided to go down to the venue at 1pm with the crew and do some rubbernecking.

As it was Father’s Day I sent everyone a message wishing them ‘Appy Father’s Day, and I received text’s and Facebook messages from my family, and I even had a FaceTime call from England with Sheila and Romeo which was fantastic, and boy that did the heart good.

Well, when we arrived at the venue which was the Prospera Place, we met our manager Ace Trump who had driven from Los Angeles with his assistant Sean Baldwin. He also had his lovely mother with him Fay Rothlander and a few very nice friends. It is always good to see Ace and when he is there you kind of feel that the touring team is complete.

The concert was fantastic and by the end of the set they were all standing up and having a great time. We enjoyed the atmosphere immensely and the place was rockin’ big time. The night was set for Judas Priest and they took it by the throat and gave them some good old British Metal.

We said hello to a number of people after the show and then it was back to the hotel as we had a 7.30am wake up call to drive to Abbotsford BC where we were playing the Abbotsford Centre.

The weather was beautiful and it was good to be back in a pair of shorts and a T Shirt. There was no hotel that day, so we had to hang about the venue all day as we are driving overnight to North Quest WA for a day off. I personally hate this as I find it draining. At 5.30pm I was due to meet Gary Lambert from Graphtec Guitar labs who kindly supplies all of the hardware on my guitars. The locking tuners, nuts, and bridges are fantastic and they really make a difference on keeping my guitar tip top and in tune with dependability. I cannot recommend them enough and a big thank you goes to Mike Carparelli for the introduction.

I introduced Gary to Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap of Priest and they were well impressed and hopefully they will follow suit and arm their guitars with these goodies. Andy had already ordered from the company a bridge/nut, so he was a convert already,

Well the concert was just amazing and we went down an absolute storm which was just great seeing as it was our final Canadian concert on this run. Bernie had his sister Brenda there and a whole lot of family so there were plenty of people to say hello to and Rich kindly went to the trailer to get my guitars as Gary wanted to have some pictures of me with the tuners etc on my Carparelli S4’s. We did this with the Black and the White S4.

The bus was going overnight to North West WA in the USA, so we arranged a midnight departure. Our new bus had arrived, so we said goodbye to our driver Dave driving the Country and Western ‘Gord Bamford’ bus, and then we started transferring everything from one bus to another. The new bus was fine and it was good to see our driver Bob again, who is not only a good driver, but a good man.

Now the Border from Canada to the USA was only 15 minutes drive from the venue so the plan was to arrive at the border and get everything checked and cleared, and then we could all hit our bunks for the ride to North West WA USA by 1am, and get some sleep. The journey was approximately 8 hours, so we planned to stop at 10am for breakfast and then drive to the hotel where we could check in early as Scampi had pre-arranged this.

At the border we all trooped off the bus and then the whole world turned upside down for us. Firstly in each of our passports there was a stamp missing, which was not a problem so this took longer than expected, but then the real bombshell hit. They asked for the Carnet to check the equipment and Scampi only had a copy, but they needed to see the original. Now if you followed all of our bus problems in this blog, the original Carnet was with the bus papers on the first bus we had. So the bus and people on board could enter, but not the trailer with the equipment in it.

The only available plan was to take the trailer back to the gig, and drop it there, then get the original Carnet speedily couriered up to the border. In the interim period we would all travel the 8 hours on the bus to our hotel in North West WA USA, and then Bob and Scampi would have to drive back the next day and get the trailer.

Now it was about 1am when they went back to the gig to unhitch the trailer, while we all sat uncomfortably in the Border Control waiting room. Although the gig was only 15 minutes away this process took nearly 2 hours, as they could not unhitch the trailer from the bus because it was stuck. Scampi called Angus and asked him where a big lump of metal was to smack it with to loosen it, and once he had that identified and he used it, he could unhitch the trailer. Eventually they got back to the Border and we could leave, and by this time we were all hanging, as it was 3am.

The worse part of it all was that while we were waiting there all of the Priest Trucks and Bus personnel came through and walked right past us while we were waiting there. As they passed by we said to each of them ‘don’t ask,’ as we had told the firsts guys who cleared through the story, so they could tell the rest of them.

Well we did not stop as planned on our journey to North West WA USA, so we arrived at the Casino hotel and checked in, and then went to bed. Scampi and our Bus driver Bob then planned to drive back to Abbotsford BC in Canada to pick up our trailer, and timing it so that the original Carnet had been couriered to the border police in time. That is an 8 hour journey for us to get to North West WA, and then an 8 hour journey back to Abbotsford BC Canada, followed by an 8 hour journey back to North West WA USA. That’s a total of 24 hours driving for poor old Bob our driver.

The venue at the Northern Quest Casino and Resort was an amphitheatre outside, and if you for one minute think the Bus saga was finished, then think again, as they were that close to the hotel that they could see the venue and then to cap everything off they had a tyre blow out. So they could see the venue and the hotel, but had to wait another hour and a half to get the tyre fixed. Unbelievable, but eventually the Bus, Bob, Scampi and the equipment turned up so the gig was on.

We arranged to meet at 7pm in the lobby on our day off for dinner. Ace our manager and Sean his assistant were driving there so they would join us too. Now I went downstairs a little earlier and I saw Ace in reception with a face like thunder which was most unusual, and he was obviously upset, and then I found out why. They were in Ace’s vehicle right at the front door of the hotel when Sean his assistant shut the door with the keys inside, and with the engine running. Even Ace’s phone was locked inside the car. They phoned the service that deals with things like that and they said it would take 2 hours to come. Now leaving the car with its engine running for another 2 hours at the hotel entrance would not please anyone, but luckily the whole saga was over quicker than the 2 hours as predicted and thank goodness for that. Still it was a long time and a lot of stress was involved.

Well our Brian was back today from his sons wedding in Cancun, so he turned up all tanned and rested, and after hearing all of the stories, I bet he thought he was glad he left and came back when he did! We are praying that the bad luck is now over and we can finish the rest of the tour on a high, well certainly in the bus department anyway!

Dinner was at a sports bar restaurant called the ‘Epic,’ which some liked and others disliked, and then we went to the bar where those that were still hungry ate more food there. Some were also enjoying a variety of cocktails that lead into the night. Phil and I took the no drinking early night route, and I am glad I did.

I had breakfast with Phil and Ace and there was a no show from anyone else until lunchtime. Then we had a chilled afternoon before getting ready for the concert. Well as we were chilling the whole weather outside was fast becoming less sunny and very overcast, and by the time we went down to the show there were rain spots in the air. So much so that all the equipment and pedals were covered in this thick clear see through plastic. We could not use our backdrop as the wind was blowing too strongly, so the conditions were not good.

However by the time we went on to the stage, the rain had stopped and it stayed that way for the whole of our show which was great. The crowd were rockin’ and we had a great time under those conditions, and we left the stage to great applause and yells for more. It was quite windy, so I did half the set with a pair of hair curtains in front of my face, which neither looked good or helped in the guitar playing department.

Unfortunately by the time we got back to our dressing room the skies opened up and it rained really heavily for the Judas Priest set. Being the professionals that they are they played on through and gave the audience some good heavy metal that they came for, even though their own production was restricted by the weather too.

After the show we all went to a restaurant for some dinner, as we were finished by 8.30pm which was nice, and then I had an early night with not a drop off drink passing my lips, even though the red wine on offer was right up my Strasse!

I hope you enjoyed this read, and Part 4 will follow with the rest of this adventure documenting the warts and all, on this road trip we call touring.

‘Appy days!

Mick

Box News #281 – June 8th, 2019

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2019 by heepster

TOUR DIARY PART 2

URIAH HEEP AS SPECIAL GUESTS TO JUDAS PRIEST IN THE USA & CANADA

Our merchandise Mick while on tour had his Mother Pass away, which was so sad, so he flew home back to England to be at the funeral, and he will re-join us in St Louis. Our thoughts and prayers went with him.

Well on the 26th May we were looking at a bus ride of over 40 hours plus, including stops, so we all decided to fly to Austin Texas from Chicago. As the plane was full on the two flights, we had to do this in two separate parties. The early flight had Brian, Davey, Ben and Angus, and the later flight, Scampi, Phil, Russ, Bernie & his family and moi. I was also super excited to get there early as my son Mike was meeting me there. In fact he was at the hotel when the first guys arrived, so he could get his room, which was cool thanks to my guitar tech Rich.

When we arrived at the hotel it was so lovely to see him, and he had not changed a bit other than he had succumbed at last to the Box face furniture and was wearing glasses. However, I was still full of sickness which was beginning to drag me down especially after that flying too. It was a day off, so I had a little time to rest which was nice. By this time I had also lost my voice which if that has happened to you ever, you would know is super frustrating.

We arrived at the hotel in time for a quick rest and shower before meeting for dinner. Most off the crew on the early flight shift had already been down town all day enjoying the sights. Austin is full of bars, restaurants and shops and it is a seriously happening busy bustling area. Again you can hire scooters and bikes everywhere, turning it into a kind of motorised Holland, with people whizzing by at a rate of knots.

Phil, Bernie, Russ, Mike and my good self decided on eating at the hotel Restaraunt and having a quiet night. It was bar food really, but we were really surprised at just how good the food actually was. Also for those that were drinking, namely Bernie and Russ the barman mixed a mean old cocktail that made them both very happy.

The following day we ventured into town as the hotel had a courtesy van which was cool. We walked around for a couple of hours, which for me was draining in the heat, but the other option of sitting in my hotel room feeling sorry for myself did not appeal. I had been to Austin many times before and they have a slogan everywhere saying ‘Keep Austin Weird.’ This was on stickers, fridge magnets, T Shirts and just about everywhere.

After a little lunch and searching every bar that we came across for a Pina Colada that Russ was desperate for, would you believe it that no bar or restaurant served them at all, not until we found a place just as our courtesy bus turned up to take us back to the hotel. Russ and Phil had to skull them quickly and contacted brain freeze from the ice in the process.

We met at 7pm to go to dinner but the usual tour party was pretty fragmented by then. The crew and Davey were either in town or going down town, but Phil, Russ, Mike, Bernie and his family along with my good-self, spied a Seafood restaurant that looked interesting behind the hotel, so we walked there.

Luckily for us it was superb food and service, and everyone had a good dinner, and those that wanted cocktails had them plentiful and Russ got his Pina Coladas and loved them.

I was still on the sick list and Phil had bronchitis, and Bernie was on a course of antibiotics too, so once again it was a quiet night.

The meds I had brought from London were not even touching the sides to this Passive COPD I have been blessed with through other peoples smoke over the years, so I was not improving at all, and that is where my good friends David and Lana came to the rescue. They kindly arranged for some meds in New York that treat my condition and had them sent by USPS to my hotel.

The following day was a gig day, so all we did was rest all day to have the strength for that nights show. Down at the concert the lurgy was spreading, as a lot of the Priest crew had contacted it, and even Judas Priests guitarists Richie and vocalist Rob. Still the show must go on, and not one person in the audience would have noticed anything as both bands were on fire. Such is the power of adrenaline and passion for what you do.

That day was a bank holiday, so the meds sent by USPS we’re not due to arrive until the following day, which was so lucky as we had two shows there in Austin at the ‘Moody Theatre.’ The tracking note said a 10.30am delivery at the hotel, but I think even the hotel reception lady was getting fed up with me asking if my parcel had arrived. It was either me or Mike going down at regular intervals to see it it had arrived each time to no avail.

The only good thing was that there was a washer and dryer on the 2nd floor, so in between visits to reception to see if my meds had arrived, Mike and I got our laundry done which was cool and much needed.

Well the second show in Austin was as good as the first, and the band was on fire and the crowd went nuts. Still back at the hotel no meds had arrived and we were leaving at 9am to Dallas Texas the next morning. This started off a chain of phone calls between USPS, David and Lana in New York and Mike to find out what we could do. We did eventually find out that the parcel was in the Austin depot and that they opened at 7.30am. Luckily the depot was a 16 minute walk from the hotel, so my son Mike got up early and went down there with my ID’s to try and pick up the package, before it was loaded on to a van and driven around Austin all day. This he did and ‘Appy days, he sent me a triumphant picture of him holding the parcel, and he came back to the hotel in time for some breakfast. Phew! that was close, and I cannot thank David and Lana and Mike enough for all of their efforts. I now hopefully had the goods to combat this Passive COPD attack fully. In previous blogs I have mentioned that I have Bronchitis on the road, or a chest infection but really each time it is this Passive COPD that will never go away. It just lays dormant until something triggers it off and the next thing I am sick. Such is my cross to bear!

We arrived in Dallas after a few stops and luckily it was another night off. I started to religiously take my medication and rest was the order of the day. There was a small restaurant called ‘Market Diner,’ that was just across from the hotel car park. There was nothing else for miles, so with the degree of sickness in the camp, we ate breakfast, lunch and diner there, and chilled out big time to give our bodies time to recover. They even had a juke box with the ‘Living the Dream’ album on and a total of 52 Heep albums and 790 songs on it. How cool is that as this diner was in the middle of nowhere.

Of course the crew and Davey hit the hotspots, as downtown there was ‘The House of Blues,’ ‘Hooters,’ and a ‘Hard Rock Cafe’ and by all accounts it was buzzing. Still there is a long way to go on this tour and in fact for the rest of the year, so it was definitively health first for me.

The concert in Dallas was at a venue called ‘The Bomb Factory,’ which was a very cool venue. It was packed to the rafters and a fantastic atmosphere. When we hit the stage the audience were up and running and ready to rock out big time. It was a great show and Dallas did us proud. Our agent Leora from APA Agency was in town visiting her parents, so it was lovely to see her. My son Mike had his best friends in to see the show, and Andy Sneap Priests second guitarist sent me a text to say ‘King Diamond,’ was coming down, and he was a big fan and wanted to meet me. Also guys from ‘Blackfoot,’ who we met on the Rock Legends Cruise came by to say hi.

Because of my illness, I could not really stay around too long like I normally do, so Phil being under the weather too, we took an Uber back to the hotel and unfortunately I missed meeting ‘King Diamond,’ which was a shame. I did hear from Davey in the morning that King Diamond was wandering backstage trying to find me to say hello to me.

Also we had an early morning start to travel to Little Rock Arkansas for an outside gig in the ‘First Security Amphitheatre.’ When we arrived at lunch time we could see the stage backed on to the Arkansas River which was not only flowing fast but dangerously high and browner than brown. Our dressing room backed on to the river too, and I would not be surprised if the next day they would be totally flooded, as it was that high. It was stupidly hot and humid and the crews setting up all day must have been drained. Our hotel was only a 5 minute drive away, so after lunch we tried to stay out of the way as much as possible.

There was also the added bonus that my son Mike and I could watch the Spurs v Liverpool Champions League match on the hotel TV. My wife Sheila was at the new stadium in Tottenham with her brother John watching on the big screens, and I am sure Romeo was down at the pub with his friends. We were texting each other like demons with excitement.

When the handball was given for a penalty in the first few minutes, it was the worst start possible and Salah was never going to miss that.

Now apart from the penalty drama, personally I did not hold out much hope of a win for a number of reasons. Our manager Mauricio Pochettino wanted to play Kane from the off, but I thought he should have bought him on as a sub, as he had not played a full game for weeks due to an injury. He could have been the Ace in the pack so to speak later on in the game. We had a few more players back from injury with a lack of full game experience including Harry Winks, so the gel factor was sadly missing. Erickson, Trippier and Deli have not been in good form of late and it was the same in this game, which at this level is just not good enough. Top that off with the fact Liverpool have beaten Spurs twice this season already and their squad is twice the size of ours in strength, and when you consider Liverpool spent in excess of 200 million Sterling in the transfer market 2018/2019, and Spurs spent nothing as we built a new state of the art stadium, you can see it was all stacked against us.

Add to that I thought we had ridden our luck of late even though our commitment and depth of strength had been admirable, heart stopping and beyond belief at times. There also has to be some unrest with certain players wanting to leave or even being sold, with Erickson being a prime example wanting to go to Real Madrid or Juventus.

I think Erickson is a really good player when he wants to be, but as a replacement for Luka Modric at Real Madrid in my eyes, he is no where near Modrics class. Now what baffles me is that had Erickson played a terrific game and showed some of the brilliance he is capable of and we had won, surely having a Championship League winners medal would have not only driven up his price, but also those clubs would want him even more. To play flatter than a pancake on such an important game is beyond me, even if you have plans to move. I do question their sanity.

Apart from all of that this seasons journey has been just incredible with many roller coaster moments that will live with us forever, and I just pray our manager Mauricio Pochettino stays at the club to take it all to the next level, but there are some concerns, and a big black cloud hanging over Mauricio staying. He has even hinted at leaving if we won or lost the Champions League Cup which was in my mind was professional suicide going into such an important game of a lifetime. Maybe he was just trying to shock owner Levy into action and get him to deliver in the buying market for next season, but the timing of those comments was certainly not what we all wanted to hear.

I am immensely proud of Spurs, as to achieve 4th place in the Premier League this year, with the big spenders above us like Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City (2019 Premier League Winners), we therefore qualified for the Champions League next year and became Champion League runners up in 2019. We made it to the 4th Round of the FA Cup and the semi-finals of the EFL Cup, and all that while enduring a season without a proper home and all the unrest and uncertainty that brings, especially as we spent zero money on players in the transfer market while building a new world class stadium.

Now after that disappointment, back at the gig Brian was setting up Davey’s bass and as it was outside, all sorts of big creatures where climbing up his fret board, including a hairy type Caterpillar would you believe. You could see huge snakes in the murky waters backstage and there were some bugs on steroids flying around, but lucky for us, no Alligators showed up!

Considering the audience were all standing or sitting in that heat they were really responsive to our rockin’ set list. It was stiflingly hot and humid on stage and this dried up our throats even more. Still we went down a storm and against all the odds, we had a fantastic reaction.

Under the circumstances our crew did a marvellous job setting up our gear and making sure everything was just right, so we could just walk on and face the elements and rock out Heep style.

Back in the dressing room though the floor and food table were infested with thousands of ants, all having a field day, so consequently we did not hang around too long. While Bernie was in the shower it did cross our mind to put a handful of ants in his underpants, but apart from all of the schoolboy giggling going on, it never happened.

Now how the Priest boys got on I will never know. Both guitarists Richie and Andy wear full leather outfits, so by the end of their show I bet they both had a pair of ‘Betty Swollocks,’ each!

Rob has a number of costume changes too throughout the set, so he must have been drained at the end of it. Still as we were leaving the venue and getting an Uber back to the hotel, they sounded as good as ever and the Metal Gods were at full power.

We had an early leave the next day to drive to St Louis for a day off. Taking my medicine and getting some good rest, I did feel slowly that I was turning the corner a bit with this sickness and I sure hope that continued. Being sick on the road is no fun at all, and now Mike has a dose of it coming on too which is not good news. When we arrived in St Louis, our first port of call was to order an Uber and get Mikey down to Walgreens to pick up some medicine to try and nip his now incessant cough in the bud. Fingers crossed! Our merchandise Mick flew to St Louis from England, so it was good to have home back on the team.

In the evening the crew and Davey went up the St Louis Arch and then Scampi and Brian found an Irish Pub for some Shepherds Pie, and the rest of the crew hit a hamburger joint that served Ben a Hamburg he nick-named filth on his Facebook page. It did look pretty bad I have to say.

Over here in the USA they have cheese with everything, and this can be cheese slices, grated cheese, stringy cheese, cheese squirted from a tube like toothpaste, and we call it mostly comedy cheese because it does not taste of cheese at all. I am very careful to say to whoever serves me ‘no cheese please on anything,’ and still most of the time it still turns up with it on my meal. Then back it goes to the kitchen until there is not a drop of cheese in sight. Now I love cheese, but it has to be good quality cheese and not of the above variety and lack of quality.

Bernie, Russ, Mike and I found a Thai Restaurant nearby which was good food, and we then had an early night. Phil fancied some fancy Peruvian Cuisine at a place called ‘Mango,’ so we did not see him, and between eating he was doing his laundry.

Well Mike had a bad night coughing etc so we set a plan in motion for him to fly home from St Louis to El Paso where he could see a doctor and get fixed up. He left about the same time we did for the gig, so it worked out well, and he could be in his own bed that night, and try and get himself well. It was sad to see him go, but the right thing to do in the long run.

The gig at the Stifel theatre was fantastic and the audience reaction was stunning. We met a few friends after but we did not stay around too long as this sickness prevailed, plus we had an early start as we were playing a funky venue called ‘Knuckleheads’ in Kansas the next day with an early 8am leave.

We made really good time and arrived at ‘Knuckleheads’ at around 12 midday, then we ate lunch/breakfast, and then the band checked into a nearby hotel for day rooms only, as we were travelling overnight to what we thought was Colorado Springs. The Kansas show was a Heep headline show, so we could play our full set which was great.

Before we went on stage at ‘Knuckleheads’ we received the bad news that Rob Halford had lost his voice and that Colorado Springs was cancelled. This threw a lot of our plans up in the air as Brian our Bass/Keys/stage manager was leaving the tour for a week as his son was getting married in Cancun. He had his flight booked from Colorado Springs. Plus we were meeting a double driver there too for the long drive to Saskatoon Canada, along with Brian’s American replacement joining us.

So backstage before we went on it was a little chaotic to say the least. Arrangement ideas were flying back and forth, and there was even a suggestion that we announce the cancellation on the Heep & JP sites and find a venue in Colorado Springs where we could play a show, so as not to disappoint everyone. Well this proved impossible to arrange in that short time, so Scampi our tour manager set about making alternative arrangements to get us to Saskatoon in Canada direct.

Firstly he arranged a flight for Brian from Kansas to Dallas on to Cancun which was lucky, and as we only had day rooms in Kansas he kept one room on for Brian to sleep in before departing to the wedding.

The bus company said that as we would now drive straight to Saskatoon Canada there was no need for a double driver so that was cool, and then we arranged for the new tech to fly direct to Saskatoon. This meant that for the rest of us we had an overnight drive for 11 hours to a place called Faro North Dakota where we then had 12 hours on the ground in day rooms, as our diver Bob would be out of driving hours.

While in Faro we found out that just a 15 minute ride away from our hotel that there was a Rib Fest with ‘Vince Neil’ from Motley Crue and his band playing there. The hotel courtesy bus dropped us off at the venue which had a $5 entrance fee. Everyone but Russ and Ben went, and it was a bit of a laugh. Once they realised who we were they put us on the monitor side of the stage to see the show. Obviously it was 90% Crue songs, but all of the guys we met were nice and respectful, and the audience were well into it. The weather was great, so it was nice to mull around before heading back to the hotel to jump on the Bus for yet another overnighter.

We departed at midnight taking us to the Canadian border in Portal Canada at 8am. We had all of the necessary Carnet and clearance papers, but we still had to get off the bus at 8am and show our passports. So in under and hour we were on our way which was marvellous. We planned to stop at the first restaurant we could see to have some breakfast but the prairie countryside was so flat and remote, we did not see a thing until 1pm, and then there were only two choices. A run down Cafe or a Subways that was inside a Garage. I opted for the Subway choice as it looked safer and healthier. Phil, Russ, and Rick joined me but Bernie, Davey and Scampi took the greasy hamburger option.

Since being in Canada there has been a noticeable drop in the weather and it had started to rain heavily. Still Bob our amazing driver made it to the hotel where we all checked in and went to our rooms until the 7pm where we met in the bar for dinner. Just a short walk away from the hotel and right next door to each other were an Italian Restaurant and an English pub. The pub was called ‘Winston’s English Pub and Grill,’ and the Italian Restaurant called ‘Taverna Italian Kitchen + Bar.’

Scampi wisely decided to stay in and get his work done having room service, so he could have a complete day off the following day.

Well the English Pub served on draft ‘Leffe’ beer and ‘Guinness’ on draft, so that was Phil, Davey and Mick all set and Bernie, Russ and I went to the Italian. Our food and drink was excellent and then we joined the others back in the English Pub. Well from when we left them at the pub originally the level had gone up somewhat, and to our surprise the entire Judas Priest crew turned up, so it was destined to get a bit messy.

The table opposite us had a guy who joined our table and started buying Tequila shots for everyone. I left seeing Davey knocking back another shot, and as I was not drinking, and I was still on antibiotics, I walked back to the hotel. Bernie came back with me and I could only see it all going to be a lot of fun, but with a lot of hurting in the morning. Luckily it was another day off!

The mighty Heep adventures will continue on then next Blogolicious, and I hope you enjoyed the read above, as there will be more to follow in part (3)

‘Apply days!

Mick