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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

3-13-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians – Starter Job #70 (Clubbing in the ‘80’s -- a pretty silly scene)


As I mentioned in previous blog, I spent time in London, being suspected of working as a prostitute (by a crazy imaginative geezer, Alfie) but in actuality just hitting some clubs, going to gigs, whatever I could do to meet new people and schmooze.  This was before the word “network” was popularly used, but that was the angle.  I’m going to hope that you believe me when I tell you that nightclubbing was a job, of sorts. I say that especially because I don’t like loud music, crowds of people, people acting stupid en masse (individually, it’s fine!), and standing around, drinking. But, it WAS part of the job of a pop musician, going out on the town when not playing gigs. Really!

But to my way of thinking, I mean, if you didn’t really have to go somewhere and you’re going to make a night of it, drinking and acting stupid, have a party at home!! 

(I’m very well suited to my current lifestyle as a homebody -- sitting here writing at night is really the most fun, to me -- and part time party giver, thank the Lord!  Circumstances dictate “potluck” nowadays, but it’s still cool.)

OK.  I realize that my NYC clubbing days before going to London were certainly interesting and not without incident, especially around closing time.  Because most people’s guards were down and their booze etc. consumption up, this was the most amusing time of the night. 

Here are a few highlights, leading up to London:

·      At Max’s Kansas City, sitting at a booth with Peter Gabriel & some other writers including my boyfriend at the time and us being too cool to acknowledge Gabriel;
·      At the Peppermint Lounge downtown, darting across the almost empty basement dance floor to the bathroom, being accosted by Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs, having him insult my “long face,” and then me whacking him with my hand out of anger;
·      At Hurrah’s, saying my goodbyes, shuffling towards the bathroom, almost being knocked over by Iggy Pop and two girls on either side of him, propping him up;
·      At the uptown Peppermint Lounge, meeting Doug Fieger of The Knack, finding him basically insufferable -- THEN meeting this twerpy girl, Sharona, who was Fieger’s “inspiration” for “My Sharona.”  She was convinced that she’d made it big by being the subject of a pop song, and talked loudly about the various offers she was fielding -- from made-for-TV movies to tell-all biography books.  I didn’t mean to be cruel, but inside I was snickering away, cynical of the attention she was getting, knowing that song would soon be off the charts, leaving her and The Knack thoroughly knackered. .  .

And I’d say, “Look, there’s more!” but really, that’s just gilding the lily, isn’t it?  I was only really happy going out if I had a job to do (like playing a show); other than that, I felt I was wasting time.  OK, if I really loved the music or the people playing, I’d have a good time, too.  I dance to the music unabashedly, jump around and just have a great time -- when the music moves me.

And, of course, as a rock writer, it was fun to know my thoughts and opinions counted -- as I was being paid to write a review of whatever show I’d been sent to cover.  THAT wasn’t a waste of time, certainly -- it was using to good advantage that old Dr. Johnson adage:  “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”

Somehow, I never tried to break into writing in London.  Strange, isn’t it?  Now I ponder how life would have been different had I pursued writing things other than long letters and dozens of pop/country/rock songs. . .

And while in London I was really trying to figure out how to get me sold as a singer-songwriter, and how to sell my songs. That’s when I met this strange but sweet young guy, Calvin Hayes, in a crowded West End pub one night.  He was a drummer, and his dad had produced numerous hits in his day (he knew Chapman & Chinn, of course).  Calvin seemed innocent, young, kind of lonely, and very eager to be liked.

Within minutes of meeting him, he says, “My dad’s Mickie Most. . . I’ll get him to listen to your songs, awl roight?”

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  4. Hi Lauren! I had a bit of a run in with Richard Butler myself. He tried to cut into the line to the bar in front of me at a club called Magique in Manhattan where they were hosting a party for my composition "I love rock n roll" going #1 for Joan Jett in 1982. I was with my dear old friend Mike Montgomery from Paul Kossoff's band Back Street Crawler who was standing with me on the line. Mike was serious and intimidating. He looked down at Butler (Mike was about 6 '4) and in a cool Clint Eastwood voice with an Oklahoma drawl said to Butler "You don't really want to do that be doing that, do you?" - Butler looked up at Mike and sheepishly said "guess not" and he went off sulking to the back of the line. It was a great moment and I wish it had been filmed.

    Calvin Hayes is a dear friend. I've known him since he was about 9 years old when his dad Mickie Most was producing my band the Arrows. He used to come to a lot of the Arrows recordings, and I'd see him at the RAK records offices in the mid 70s. In the 90s I called RAK and Calvin answered the phone and he sounded just like his dad. It was truly amazing. If he had said "this is Mickie" I would have believed him.
    Mickie Most (Hayes) passed away a few years ago but I'm still close to his family.
    All the best,
    Alan M.

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