FRIDAY, JANUARY 22, 2010
IAN ANDERSON HATES ME
Ian Anderson has long been the lead singer and chief flutist for the band Jethro Tull. They put out an album featuring the title track “Too Old To Rock and Roll” in 1975, so you can only imagine how old he is now, and he’s still touring.
Oh, you think he might get upset that I’m dissing him because he’s old? Don’t worry your little self about it. There’s not a chance in hell he’s ever read this stupid blog for one thing. And besides, he hates me . Seriously, he can’t stand me.
It’s a cute story actually.
Back in the 90’s I had a couple of partners and we put together some syndicated radio programs. Someday, if you’re good, I’ll tell you about one that achieved some moderate success, tonight’s story however is on one of the shorter lived ones we produced. It was called the Rock Connection . We lined up about a dozen stations to take it “off the bird” (satellite delivery) had a well known and respected rock DJ as host – and lined up Jethro Tull as our first guests to come in and play a few songs, tell some stories and take some listener questions via our cool toll-free phone line. Ian and the boys were promoting an upcoming album, so they stood to benefit from the exposure and generously agreed to do the program for us.
One of the nice things about doing a program in New York City is that chances are good that your guests are going to be local. The record company had the band in the city doing publicity the week of our show – so we didn’t even have to worry about transportation to get them to the show. Yup, all looked to be lining up nicely.
Enter Bonehead. Things will soon be fucked up.
We had a small crew. We leased studio and satellite time from ABC studios, which were (and probably still are) glorious spacious studios with state of the art equipment, working phone lines and comfortable chairs for everyone, plus they’re centrally located. Our host, Ralph was in the main studio setting up the mics and other assorted DJ type preparations, my partner Bruce was the engineer and was prepping the board and testing the feeds. I was pretty much hanging off to the side eating some chicken fingers and touching things that I should not have been. We had an intern to answer the phones and screen the calls, and that was about it – just the four of us less than an hour away to delivering a high quality call-in radio show with the legendary Jethro Tull!
The band was scheduled to arrive thirty minute prior to air – we’d need about fifteen minutes to plug the equipment in, and run a quick test – nothing major, keyboard, couple of guitars and a bass. That’s one of the nice things about a good studio – they’re set for recording quality – so it’s not a big deal for the setup. So, about twenty minutes prior to the scheduled arrival, Bruce leaves the control room to go check something in the studio, leaving the intern, the chicken fingers, and me. A guy comes in through the very heavy control room door struggling with a keyboard. He’s struggling partly because he appears to be an older gentleman and the keyboard is rather large. Plus, he’s got his wrist heavily wrapped in a thick ace bandage, no doubt to protect a nasty sprain.
So, being a gentleman myself, I leap from my semi-reclining position in one of the comfortable chairs to assist him. That’s actually where the trouble began. You see, the older gentleman wearing the ace bandage, old Wrangler jeans and worn converse sneakers was actually Ian Anderson. I had been expecting some roadies or record company flunkies to be lugging the equipment into the studio – not the bandleader himself . So, even though I knew full well what Ian Anderson looked like, I didn’t recognize him because he wasn’t behaving anything like a rock star. So it threw me.
Problem started when he insisted on bringing the keyboard into the studio. I offered the services of myself and our intern and thanked him for offering to help, but that only those named on the nightly lists had access to the studio. It was an insurance issue or something, but we literally had to supply a list of names of the people who would be in the air studio during our leased hours. Obviously, all of the band members were listed, but remember, I still was not realizing I was arguing with one of them.
Ian was polite but firm, he wanted to go in to set up the keyboard, but I wouldn’t let him. This was undoubtedly perplexing to him. Why was this asshole wearing a bad shirt and smelling like chicken not letting him in to set up? Now he was getting a little pissed, so he called me a wanker and said something to the effect of “well maybe I’ll just leave then.” My boneheaded retort, to paraphrase, was “you’re welcome to wait here in the control room, or there’re some nice donuts in the green room.”
Fortunately Bruce and Ralph walked back into the control room at pretty much the precise moment Ian was going to smack me in the head with a flute. They quickly rectified the situation. Noting my apparent confusion, I recall Bruce quietly mouthing “That’s Ian” to me. There were a few other select things he said under his breath but this is a clean blog , so I’ll just mouth the expletives to you now.
I know – nasty uh?
A few other band members showed up along with the usual record company types and the show itself went off swimmingly. They even posed for a few photos with us afterwards. You’ll note Ian holding his bandaged wrist behind Martin Barre in the photo below.
As they were heading out, he thanked everyone and said goodnight but he paid me the nicest compliment.
He said I was as thick, as a brick.