My dad was in the music distribution business for thirty-five years or so. To me this translated to many perks, because though he sold the hell out of all the popular artists, he scarcely liked any of it. I was therefore given boxes and boxes of albums, CDs, tapes, stickers, promo posters, album artwork, concert tickets and backstage passes. My room as a teenager was covered with shiny colorful posters of hundreds of bands – most of which I’d never even heard. By the time I was twenty I’d probably been to a hundred concerts.
I have a few stories of those encounters – some of which are forgettable – but others are pretty good, and good for punk rock points. I would work summers at the distribution plant, stacking CDs on shelves, pulling stock from boxes and other miscellaneous bullshit. I was thirteen, fourteen, fifteen at the time. And they paid me one CD per hour. That wasn’t bad considering. I had a free ride at home, so I didn’t really need money as much as I needed the music.
Enter Axl Rose. He was at the distribution outlet signing records for a CD release party or something, sitting behind this foldup table. He and Izzy had just gotten there, and he’d just sat down. I was helping the crew get things setup and ready, and the crowd hadn’t even gotten there yet. I found myself standing beside that table and looking at the album covers taped up to the wall behind him, making sure everything was kosher, and he says, “Hey man, you want an autograph?” I looked down at him for a second, then said, “Nah. I’m all set – thanks.” I’ve never really been big on autographs from musicians. Well, from anyone really. He then says, “Heh. You know who I am, don’t you?” I looked at him again, frowning. WTF? “Yeah, I know who you are. I don’t need your autograph. Where’s Slash?” Yeah, that pissed him off. He got up and went outside to smoke.
It’s not that I wasn’t a fan of Guns ‘n’ Roses. In fact I quite liked them. I still like their first album. You know who introduced me to that album? Ricky Martin. Yeah, laugh it up. I rode the van all over Dallas, hanging out with Menudo when I was thirteen. My dad was driving them all (with the tour manager) around for appearances. Ricky was listening to Appetite on his Walkman and said, “Here check this out.” I heard My Michelle, and promptly requested that album as one of my next paychecks. During one of the breaks, we went back to their hotel room and Ricky schooled me on the Nintendo.
I guess by far the coolest backstage experience I have to tell of was when I saw Stone Temple Pilots in 1993. Or was it 1994? I had killer seats with a pass. After the opener came on, I went backstage and met the band, and – get this – you know those couches and recliners they sit in for their acoustic set? Yeah, we sat on that couch and smoked out with the band. “What’s up, Scott? You gonna hit that?”
Backstage at the Lollapalooza in 1992 (the best year) I almost got my ass kicked by Anthony Kiedis and played Alain Jourgensen’s guitar a little bit while he stood there nodding. Anthony was mad for whatever reason, and came barging out some door and plowed into me, then stood back looking like he was gonna hit me. WTF? He’s a lot smaller in real life. I thought briefly that I could have taken him. I saw Chris Cornell and the boys from Pearl Jam (sans Eddie – who was trashed somewhere at a local hotel from what I hear) but I didn’t get to talk to any of them. They’re too good for the likes of a small-timer.
I sat backstage at the Bomb Factory and chatted with Dolores from the Cranberries for about an hour while she spilled on about whatever the hell she spilled on about. I mostly sat staring at her boobs and trying to decipher what she was saying in that thick ass Irish accent of hers. She’s one of those women who will talk to anyone like she’s known them forever, and potentially bore them to tears with details of her life story. Good times.
Even still, I’d have traded every minute of it just for one chance to hang out with Alice in Chains. That never happened. I never even got to see them play live. What kind of shit is that? A boy who gets to see every band in the world of rock except for his favorite? You see, I haven’t mentioned here the ones I was forced to go to as a young boy, sitting on the sides of stages during the shows, wondering what the hell. I haven’t mentioned them because I’ll lose some cred with my readers. Carmen, David Meece, Amy Grant… Well my dad actually brought Amy Grant to the house once. Eat it, bitches. She was cool. And I have a picture of that event I’ll post later. But yeah – no Alice in Chains.
Now I think I’ll make a goal out of getting back stage at the DMB show and saying what’s up to the fellas. They’ve kinda taken the place of the Chains. And specifically, I’d like to ask Dave about the Great Chicago Shit Drop of 2005. Good times.