Touring Makes You Crazy
FZ Essay by Arthur Barrow
Touring can - and often does - make you crazy, I can testify to that. It can be very physically demanding - it's hard to find decent food, night after night of motel rooms, flying almost every day, hours in vans full of the same guys day in and day out, and so on. On the other hand, there is no thrill quite like getting on stage in front of thousands of people and playing some great music with some excellent musicians.
A typical day on the road is like this:
Wake up call 8:00 AM. Get up, grab some breakfast at the motel coffee shop, go back to the room and quickly shower, pack bags, and rush to the lobby to wait 30 minutes for the band members who are always late.
Listen to the road manager scream about the stragglers "...and next time he can take a taxi!"
Crowd into a van and wait some more while breathing the cigarette smoke of 5 other people.
Finally rush off to the airport, always running late, get to the airport, then wait 45 minutes for the flight, crowd into the jet (and wait some more), and finally fly to the next stop on the tour.
Arrive (late) without enough time even to check into the hotel, crowd into a van and go to directly to the venue - often an old fire trap of a movie theatre - to do a sound check, then try to find some food backstage, eat some and stash some away for later. (There is not enough time to go back to the hotel and return for the show, so 2 hours have to be killed before the show.
15 minutes before the show, meet in Frank's dressing room for any last minute changes he wants in the show. Write down song list on a big piece of paper with big black letters so it can be read under dark stage conditions. By this time the normal pre-show adrenalin jitters are flowing. Make sure there is water, cokes, and towels in plentiful supply on stage, tune the instrument, and on cue, mount the stage and do the show.
This, of course, is the fun part. What a joy it is to see the delight on the faces in the front row that are grinning ear to ear and having such a great time. I believe I could tell which of the audience members were musicians because they would have that certain astonished look on their faces when we would launch into one of the difficult musical passages. Their jaws would be dragging the floor.
2 hours later, drenched in sweat and with throbbing fingers, the show is over, but the adrenalin is still surging. Simply going to the hotel and getting right to sleep is out of the question. It's party time! Go finally to check into the hotel, with all the local hangers-on ending up in someone's room. Finally get to bed about 3:00 AM, and sleep as well as possible until the wake up call in the morning, then do it all again, about 5 days a week for about 6 months at a time.
It's great but it's grueling, and it does make you crazy.
After 2 1/2 years of touring I had my fill of it and left the band. I continued to work with Frank by being "Clonemeister" for a couple of tours, and doing a lot of recording at his home studio. Frank asked me to rejoin the band on every tour he did after I left the band, but by then I had moved on to other things. If I had known then that he would die so young, I surely would have stayed on for a while longer.
But no one knows what the future holds?