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mott

By Steve Newton

The drummer from one of my fave bands of the ’70s has passed away.

Dale “Buffin” Griffin, a founding member of Mott the Hoople, died peacefully in his sleep last night. He had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2009.

Griffin played on all the Mott the Hoople albums, including 1972’s breakthrough All the Young Dudes (which featured the hit title-track written for the band by David Bowie), 1973’s Mott(which boasted the single “All the Way from Memphis”), and 1974’s Hoople (the band’s last studio album).

After his time with Mott the Hoople, Griffin went on to play in the offshoot group Mott, as well as British Lions. He also produced albums by Hanoi Rocks and the Cult.

While frontman Ian Hunter wrote the lions’ share of the songs for Mott the Hoople, Griffin–along with bassist Pete “Overend” Watts, organist Verden Allen, and guitarist Mick Ralphs–got a…

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Ian Hunters 75th Birthday Diamond Jubilee Bash .  Part Two

 I guess I missed the memo

You really should scroll back and read one first, if you haven’t already.

Off to the left of the main area was a private party room and I was lucky enough to have the wristband it took to get me in and certainly felt I had earned and  deserved it after all these years and everything we all went through together back in those years . Because I was at every show all over the east coast no matter what for so long, and such good friends with everyone and for being such a loyal fan and admirer for so long.

The staff at the venue was so incredibly friendly and nice. I guess it’s a mighty long way from crappy club or the big stadiums with union thugs… all the way from Maryland. Way out in the middle of nowhere where I came from To a Tres chic winery in the bright shiny Big Apple on such an auspicious occasion as this.  And  my old friend Tommy  seemed really happy to see me and willing to spend some time with me and  I was seeing more and more familiar faces from over the years that remembered me well  which was very touching.

There were  familiar faces I had seen many times before from Facebook groups so even though my race here on the greyhound had pretty much guaranteed  I wasn’t going to be a finalist in the beauty pageant this gig  I didn’t feel guilty or uncomfortable or left out or  out-of-place at all.  Though I’m quite sure I looked it.  All the years I spent in the rock and roll scene I was used to all this, I was my still my element, I knew and loved this world.  Sure I wished I had time to do my hair and nails and make up and buy a fabulous new outfit   but I wasn’t going to let that stop me or keep me from having a good time or get intimidated or stressed out and jealous.

I just wish I had gotten the memo fabulous hats were to be the order of the day. They were everywhere!

The room was very wide and extremely long with a big wide table right down the center and it had the feel of a rather glamorous picnic in a curtained movie set. There were huge silver barrels full of wine on the side and a very chic bar it was a very glam sort of industrial but somehow still welcoming and make-yourself- at – homey space.  Rapidly filling with rather mixed crowd, as usual. The band and artists and families, many  glamorous, thin, older but still very beautiful and fashionable people out for a very special occasion, plus the obligatory very excited pretty young things, and old timers like me that hadn’t the time (or the inclination) to spend massive amounts of time and money on making themselves gorgeous for the occasion. I certainly hadn’t even a minute in my schedule to spare to throw on some lipstick much less build a functioning time machine and go back 20 years!

The only person whose opinion of me really mattered was my old friend Tommy two anyway and I suppose Ian’s. Who still had the power to make me feel as graceful and elegant as a spider with all left legs with the IQ of a preschooler in the slow class.  I wasn’t there to schmooze or network or get names to try to get into other gigs with, or make new friends though I wasn’t against the idea if it were to happen.  I was there just to complete the circle that had begun when I was a child, when a small piece of my heart began to orbit around this man and this band. Not a perfect circle. For many years its gravity had drawn me into being in the thickest part of the atmosphere, the Sherry Fairy tagging along with the Mad Dog and Moon dog. Then as the years passed passing by now and then in erratic sweeps that went from right there to ten thousand miles away.

Now as our lights were shining the brightest they could in the years we had left before they started to dim or flicker or fade away I felt drawn back to the place and the music and they people I loved as a child by inner tie that was just almost like a trick lasso in a rodeo show.  You spin up, down and all around, it seems sometimes you are so free you are long gone but yet somehow you always return.   At times  wrapped  up completely , so  close  and then  others you sail away but there is always a guiding hand,  a bond that keeps a powerful  hold on you and keeps you from ever escaping completely. In the end it gently brings you back and wraps you up lovingly if you are lucky enough for the tie never to break.

I regretted not bringing a spiral bound notebook and number two pencils I had taken to carrying everywhere I went before I discovered the key board so I could make notes for you of every detail.

The names of the lovely people I met, their email addresses, Facebook pages, how they looked and sounded, who they were what they said, snippets of conversation, every sight, smell, song and thought like a good rock and roll reporter would and should have done.  But some things and sometimes it isn’t about that recording the superficial and this was one of them.

I just wanted to be with Tommy two and be there, and see Ian and think about the tom that couldn’t be here on this special day and screw the set list and the names and the song order because you never know when they next time you see someone will be the last. For whatever reason, you just never know.

I’m having quite a good time, Tommy is he’s wonderful self just as if it had been 20 days not years and his beautiful bride was charming and gracious and eventually through all the uproar the excitement suddenly grew to a fever pitch.

Ian was here and finally everyone had their chance to be with him.

Of course everyone was competing for his attention, giving him presents, fussing all over him ,  wanting their picture with him or an autograph and to tell him how much they loved him and how much he had meant to them. I was just so happy to be there, I didn’t feel the need to have evidence, like a picture or autograph I just was happy to be there so unexpectedly to share the day. But I did want a hello and a hug and a moment to make a connection at some point. After all the years I had been such a devoted fan, and pined over him all those nights, and watched every moment of his shows for so many years, and studied and learned from his skills as a storyteller, while my infatuation with him and awkward antics amused and entertained him and the band, my two friends and the entire rest of the crew.

He was  surrounded by adoration and glory and he was enjoying the hell out of it, and I was happy for him. He should be relishing all the appreciation; he’s earned all the accolades and the respect.   Finally, I did something which would have terrified me long ago, I insisted on his attention so I could have my little moment, just a few minutes to finish what had started 35 years ago in a way it felt right in some way, whatever that was.  Hopefully, just the way it should happen.

I said to him. Ian remembers me its sherry, who used to hang with the two Tommie’s back in the old days and he looked at me with poker face, a totally blank stare and said… who?   I said come on, you know me remember when … and I described some very memorable occasions in which I had featured prominently in felt would be impossible for anyone to forget.

His s said quite adamantly “NO!”

“I don’t remember a thing about that. I have no idea who you are.”

Needless to say, I was quite taken aback.

in 2009 when I flew to London and  when we spoke he had claimed to remember it all clearly, and to know just who I was and to be very pleased I had flown halfway around the world to support  him and the band and to see the show.

Quite crestfallen, I just said okay and wandered away.

There seemed no point in hanging about trying to demand or share time with a total stranger.

And I have to admit If I were paying very close attention I  would have felt the  little something very deep inside ,very young but also very old and delicate and extremely  fragile shatter into bits even though it had been buried down there and very  well protected  and forgotten about for almost forty years.

The shards didn’t really hurt, because the place and thing were too long ago and unable to draw blood anymore, even though it  had always stayed near my heart. Its sustained   a bit of damage over the years so it’s gotten a pretty thick skin almost everywhere  so even though it was in one of the few tender locations it didn’t do any lethal  or  permanent damage.

I just carried on enjoying the party but the bratty hot –shot egotistical teenage girl in me was getting rather annoyed thinking how could he not remember me at all? All those years I practically worshiped the ground that he walked on and how could he have forgotten everything he still remembered just a few years ago.

While at the same time the fifty year old woman on the outside was saying For God’s Sake Sherry the man is 75 years old, and it’s been so many years and all you ever really did was chase him like hundreds of other girls that may or may not have caught him. So I didn’t really feel so awfully bad.

Just kind of sorry it ended in such an anticlimactic, insignificant way.

So I didn’t feel the need to approach him or hang around him hoping for his attention anymore. I just had a great time reconnecting with my dear old friend and meeting some very cool new people so it was feeling like no big deal.

It was to be expected really. I wasn’t surprised. Just disappointed.

Later I was standing at the bar looking off into nothing, just taking in the overall ambiance of the occasion and someone slips their arm over my shoulder and pulls me close.

“I was just teasing you, you know, back there. I remember you well”

But I guess it hurt more than I thought because I said “Yeah, sure Ian whatever. Now you are just saying l that to be polite”

I didn’t even want to turn my head and look up at him.

Hey, he pulls me round and says “I would never do that. I know exactly who you are.”

And when I looked in his eyes I believed it.

And the little girl inside me that always worshiped him started doing handsprings.

But the grown up I had become “didn’t dig it. I’m much too proud.”

“Ha ha! Very funny, Ian. Thanks a lot”  I said coolly, dismissively, sarcastically.

I shook his arm off my shoulder, whipped around and then comically shook my finger in his face like a grumpy schoolteacher at a naughty schoolboy with a big grin of half amusement/ half contempt

“Alright I will let you off this one time but just because it’s your birthday.”

“But it better not happen again!”

“And that’s the last time I fly three thousand friggin miles just go to a fucking gig and buy all every single goddamn one of all six of the different tee-shirts at 27 pounds a pop.   And a glossy program as well ya bastard.”

And he threw his head back and laughed like it was the funniest thing he had ever heard.

And it was kind of wonderful.

Because for the first time in the whole time I had known him I didn’t feel like an awestruck awkward terrified little kid when I was near him. I felt like an old friend, One that it had made him  happy to see. And he was glad I had turned up on his birthday.

And so was I.

And I felt just the way I wanted to in the end.  So happy that he and his music and Tommy and Tommy had been such special links in the chain that that had made me Be the Somebody I am today.

And maybe, just maybe, I might have been a very tiny, almost unnoticeable, but still memorable one of the hundreds of thousands of  his.

Ian Hunters 75th Birthday Bash Jubilee June 3, 2014. Part one. So much for normal.

It was a very unusual day for me. I had awakened at 8 am completely alert after going to bed the night before at a reasonable hour and having a refreshing evening of a perfectly adequate (as recommended by Drs) amount of sleep in between the typical hours of 10- 8 and by 11 am I was ready to get some serious writing done and submit my book to the publisher by the end of the day.  Instead of the usual routine I had developed the over the last three years,  procrastinating on Facebook until midnight then writing for three days and nights straight without eating or sleeping until I collapse in exhaustion just to get back  then wake up the next afternoon or midnight and immediately do the same thing again. I was so proud of myself. For once I was actually going to have a “normal “day like real people.

All I did was make one little mistake.

I clicked on an interesting looking link on Facebook just as I was signing out I saw in the Ian Hunter group  he was having a huge birthday bash in New York City that very evening which was, of course, completely sold out. But sounded marvelous! And if I started RIGHT NOW I could  barely manage to get there in time if I didn’t waste a second and called my friend Tommy who was once in Ian’s band. A very old and dear friend who I had discussed trying to find a way to get  us together one of these days at great length  for months.

“Hey, are you going to Ian’s gig tonight?”

“His birthday gig! You bet I am”  Tommy said with great enthusiasm.

“Well I was thinking of coming down.”

“Well come on down if you like but I  really can’t talk  about it now. I’m so busy working now and this has to get finished today. I will talk to you later.” So I immediately spring into action.

It’s now almost 12 and I must get  on a bus or train by two to be in the city by 6:00 when the doors open to meet up with Tom somehow ,when he got there . I’m frantically packing a bag! My lap top! My Camera! My kindle! Oh shit. Where is my cell phone? I haven’t seen it or the charger in weeks, I literally cannot go without them. There is no way for Tommy to reach me or reach him. So I’m tearing the house apart looking for them and now I realize there is no way I will make the 2 pm bus. But by now I am packed and I’m determined!

The next bus is at 3: 30 okay that is all right, I can still get there by 7: 30 a half an hour before the show and since I’m with tommy I will be okay. Right about then I find the cell phone and a charger that works on my laptop. BRILLIANT! It’s settled then! I book and pay for the 3: 30 bus out of Union Station. When I’m 99 percent ready to go I call a cab to get me to the metro. “Okay ma’am but we are running at about 45 minutes  behind right now “ WTF? At 2:00 0n a Wednesday afternoon?

I call Tom and say where this gig is and he gives me directions from the bus station but also says ” Now I don’t know if I’m going to be able to make it” (Dun Dun DAAAAH.) Call me later tonight I’m  still really busy” Well, this is a bit of a monkey wrench in the gears.

But I know if  Tom can find a way to get me sorted out like calling our friend Tommy two or if he can’t because the list is just two big already I will just  do the ole ” fake it and make it in” Just like I’ve done all my life. I’m an expert. Easy peasy. Nothing was going to stop me now. I’m ready to go now, the taxis on the way and the bus is paid for so why the hell not? By now it has become a do or die situation. The cab arrives and gets me to the metro just in time to get to the station and watch the 3:30 bus disappearing into the distance with one empty seat. Well, I sure as hell am not going back now; I’m on a mission from God.

So I buy a new ticket on the 4 pm knowing it doesn’t even get into the city until 8: 15 and the show starts at 8:00 but I figure since there is a warm up band between now and then Tom and I can work it out,  if he can’t go he will call Tommy two and tell him what’s going on and he would help out because he would definitely be there.

Tommy two and Tom and I were The Three Musketeers back  in the day on the Ian Hunter tours in the late seventies/early eighties when they were in the band and I went to almost every single show of the tours for three or four years. They eventually just gave me a plastic laminate crew passes the start of every tour so I would never have a problem getting in every town, every tour with no trouble from anyone. This was because not only did I adore the Tommy’s but I had a raging teenage puppy- love crush on Ian, which I’m quite sure he was flattered by, and didn’t mind, but had no intention of doing anything about , which  was obvious to everyone, including me. But that didn’t stop me from trying. Every chance I got. Ian simultaneously fascinated and terrified me, this grand old man of rock and roll, so mysterious and aloof who was always a goal just out of reach.  I turned into the world’s biggest idiot when he was in the room, I was practically panicked and would walk into walls, trip over my own feet, tip over drinks and stutter and stammer and he knew exactly why which appeared to amuse him greatly. He was my idol as a song writer. I had writing aspirations myself so he quite intimidated me  Just  like one of his best known  and loved  songs among fans and incredibly beautiful and lyrically marvelous songs, he was my  “ Irene Wilde.”  

ianhuntermottcropped Whenever the occasion came up that it was getting late and the parties were breaking up and people were splitting up into twos I always made sure to be there and waiting in the vicinity and he always, sometimes more quickly and easily than others, gave me the loveliest, most kind, sweet and heartwarming rejection speeches I’ve ever had the grace to be on receiving end of , before disappearing into his room alone.  It was driving me mad!

I wasn’t the kind of girl who was used to boys of any age saying no to. And no one on the tour ever even asked because they knew I was so besotted with Ian I was the kind of girl who could pick or choose any boy I wanted back then! How dare him! It was so annoying and frustrating! Which only made it even more maddening and increased my fascination with this forbidden fruit always denied me!

The adventures we had on those tours were hilarious. And even though I couldn’t have Ian I had lots of fun being a part of his entourage, thanks to my dear friend’s Tom and Tommy and Ian, Mick and the rest of the management and crew. Eventually Tommy and Tommy were no longer in Ian’s band together and so I lost contact with Tommy two but  Tom and I had stayed in touch over the years and I saw him when he came to town. It was always the highlight of my year because I wasn’t going to any shows except ones by my very favorite bands or best friends; no more three-four shows a week od shenanigans for this (now) respectable  old  married lady.

I still went to see Ian but it was much harder to get backstage because I had to actually get to Ian to get in and there was an entire security system in place every show to make sure people wouldn’t would never be able to do just that and every year there were  fewer people I knew behind the scenes. So after ten years or so I just started to buy tickets to the shows and say a quick hello to Ian on his way in or out. On a whim one year I woke up one morning and flew to Cleveland to see him at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was pleasantly surprised when he saw me outside and  he recognized me and gave me a big hug and kiss and was genuinely happy to see me there. When I heard Mott the Hoople was doing reunion shows in London in 2009 I lucked into two fifth row tickets on the internet the week of the sold –out- for- months shows and flew to London to stay with my best friend Simon to see them.

I wrote Ian and he wrote back and he knew exactly who I was which made me very happy.

I was so excited to be there I bought a full color glossy program and I couldn’t decide which of the 5 or 6 tee-shirts I wanted so I treated myself to one of each! The show was so amazing we went back two nights later and bought tickets from someone outside the door on the THIRD ROW for the last show. It was like nothing I had ever seen a complete love- fest. I have never seen such a blissed -out, loved up, thrilled to tears audience for anything in my life. At one point someone carried a platform boot around the stage and everyone in the place stood up and just screamed! It’s the first time I ever saw an inanimate object get a standing ovation!

So when this chance came today to be at another really exciting sentimental event for Ian  and for me for old times’ sake was not going to pass me by if there was any way in the world I was not going to do whatever it took to at least give it my best shot. And if I ended up being a fool, so be it.

I finally get settled on the bus and am headed for New York and after a few hours in a growing feeling of exhaustion and  dread was definitely coming over me. I’m not a gorgeous teenage  girl who can con her way into a gig anymore; I am too old and too smart to do something nuts like this these days. I should know better by now, dammit. But in my experience the one thing I am certain of is, sometimes the crazier what you do is, the more likely it is there will be some sort of amazing result.

I had checked all over the internet for a spare ticket at any cost, if anything goes wrong  if? It’s already completely shot to hell what do I mean if? this is an out of control bad  joke now So maybe then, at  least, I can see the show if nothing else but no luck. The best I can do is get on the venue wait list.

My electronic stuff all seems to have gone mad! It’s incredibly frustrating. The wi- fi on the bus is so slow and terrible I can’t get into any of the ticket outlets and its taking my cell phone forever to charge and when I try to use it the call gets cut off immediately. So I wait until  I really can’t afford to wait any longer to call Tom ( fearing the worst) to be sure I have enough charge for us to work out the details. I have a very bad feeling about this. It all may all have turned out to be a very expensive waste of my time and an incredibly stupid mistake.

I call Tommy at 7 on the nose and say “okay I’m on the way, I’m almost there” and  just before my phone  dies again  I hear the words  “UH-oh . Oh no.” and then my dell phone becomes a paperweight for the rest of the trip.

Well, that clinched it, I realize. Now there is no doubt. I am definitely fucked.

We arrive in NYC at the port authority and just getting out and hailing a cab cheers me up immensely. I’m mean it’s not like I’m out in boondocks in  Idaho or  in Beirut  or something for the night if I don’t get in. This is the Big Apple Baby. If you can’t have a good time here, you can’t do it anywhere. Maybe I will just do it like I did when I first met Ian and the band or when I wasn’t going backstage just buying tickets and catch him as he came out and give him a birthday hug.

Or maybe I would say screw this and just go out on the town and have a fantastic night on my own! I get to the venue and to my surprise Ian is playing already. I had thought Wreckless Eric a band I know from London was going to be on first. So I have already missed 15-20 minutes of the show. But on the bright side while I’m arguing with the staff I will at least get to see ten minutes of it if nothing else.

Oh it looks so nice in there and the band looks and sounds so great and there is good old Ian up on the stage. Watching him up there always makes me feel like that love struck little girl again There is no one in line. the reception area is deserted because everyone is already seated and there is just three or four gentleman  organizing the door.

“They look very young,” is my first thought.  My second is” Well, it can’t hurt to try.” I put on my game face.

Maybe it would all be okay , after all Tom knew I was coming all day. Maybe, just maybe he put my name on the list, I think knowing I am lying to myself. I feel the odds of this are slim to none , in fact I know this in my heart because the guest list for this show must already look like a phone book full of names much more important than mine. I ask if‘ I’m “on the list” and the lovely doorman and “concierge” start rustling papers looking for the most recent up to date one, while I go into” get in at any cost” mode. Meaning being willing to lie like a cheap Chinese rug on a slippery kitchen floor.

“Oh dear I was certain to be on it! I’m with the band ” Well, he was in the band, once upon a time and who knows if he’s here or even coming at all, I had no idea! I just came all the way here from DC and if I’m not on the list I just don’t know what I am to do!” Batting my eyelashes and doing my best Blanche from Streetcar named Desire. My cell phone broke so I couldn’t contact the person with the band I am here to see to confirm. I know it is sold out but what AM I to do? Can you just sell just one more ticket under these circumstances? Then I can find my friends with the band myself.”

To my complete and utter disbelief   the concierge smiles warmly and says… ‘Of course not. Don’t worry about it. We will take care of everything. Here is your wristband, let me take your bag to our coat check for you, right this way. No don’t worry , no charge .” As soon as I could shut my mouth which was now hanging like a ripped shaggy velvet curtain,  I got the hell out of there before they could change their minds and in minutes I had a double tequila and coke and was seating in one of the best seats in the house, which for some reason no one had taken. No one in the world could have been more thunderstruck (or relieved) than I. Depending on your point of view they were either the greatest security or the worst I’ve ever seen !

After watching the show awhile which was mostly their newer songs mixed with a few classics I slip into an empty lit corridor to try out my phone one last time, just in case, to let Tom know I am in and safe and having a good time so he wouldn’t worry and tell him where I was sitting so he could find me if he ever got there. I manage to text him and run right away into some familiar faces including Andy York, a fantastic guitar player I’ve met with Ian on many occasions. I ask him about the two Tommie’s and he says Tommy two will definitely be there as he is playing on song at the encore but his doesn’t know about my Tom.  It isn’t long before I see Tommy two walking in. I stop him and say “You probably don’t even recognize me we haven’t seen each other in so long” And he gives me a big hug and says “I would know you anywhere Sherry “(awwwwwwwww) It just keeps getting better and better.

Tommy two says he doesn’t think my Tom was going to be able to make it, which was sad because I haven’t seen him in a very long time either. And then said as he went up to the dressing room he says over his shoulder “ I will  see you and take care of you  after the show” Oh my God! I am definitely into the private after party / birthday party for sure now. What a relief! I go back to my seat deliriously happy. The show is fantastic and Ian and I both did very well.  I didn’t even cry once this time. Until he sang All the young Dudes at the end, of course. The crowd all starts leaving and I notice they are not hustling me out and I discover I didn’t need Tommy twos help after all. The wristband I had been given at the start was the after show party pass! Everything had turned out perfectly. Easy Peasy.

As it always did, remember,  I was an expert at this and had done it all my life.

I don’t even know why I was even worried at all. Rolling my eyes so far into the back of my head I can see the guy standing behind me Coming soon! Ian’s Birthday Party

Published on Jun 4, 2014

“I filmed this performance at the NYC City Winery on June 3, 2014. The evening was billed as “Ian Hunter’s Diamond Jubilee Bash’ to celebrate Ian’s 75th Birthday, which just so happens to have been on June 3rd (in 1939). This is an UnsteadyCam Production. ALL THE YOUNG DUDES is of course MOTT THE HOOPLE’s breakthrough hit, written and produced by DAVID BOWIE. Many members of “the extended family” were up there singing as a chorus: I can see CHRISTINE OHLMAN, ELLEN FOLEY, ANDY YORK (also on guitar), IAN’s Son JESSE PATTERSON, ANDY BURTON. Forgive me if I left your name out.”  Unsteady Freddie