Memories of The Road, Part 1

Recently, Ernie sent me his memories of the years he spent touring. Every musician worth his salt has to pay his dues on the road and Ernie is no exception. Here is Part 1 of those memories. If you enjoy these entries, please let me know by leaving a comment. It's appreciated!

ERNIE: Bill Holmes, our manager, scheduled two performances on one ominous, rainy night. His idea was for us to play a late afternoon concert at Gilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, then, hours later, take a private plane to the next gig in Richmond, Virginia. The show in Richmond was at an outdoor concert sponsored by local radio station WLEE 96.5 FM and the notable DJ celebrity, Shane. The plane was a single-engine Cessna.

Wet from the Greensboro show, we over-packed the small plane with band members and some instruments. As we boarded, climbing over the delicate Cessna wing, we heard thunder and lightning. It was eerie when vocalist Greg Munford said, “This is scary. I hope we don’t end-up like Buddy Holly and Richie Valens.”...

The thunder and lightning got more intense and, after a rough flight, we finally approached the Richmond Airport runway in the storm. The plane landed uncontrollably, finally coming to a stop, but sliding off the runway and getting stuck in thick, mushy, wet grass. In the pouring rain, the pilot asked us all to try to move the Cessna back onto the runway. It was a futile effort. Moments later, concert promoters rushed us to the gig in a waiting van. It made us realize that we could have easily been victims of another Rock plane crash tragedy.

After the performance we were asked to play at the historical Civic Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, with Bruce Springsteen and Steel Mill. We were impressed by the way the center had been transformed from an ice hockey arena to a Rock venue.

BRIAN FAITH: I remember first feeling the cold, spacious air and then, at a distance, seeing the relatively small ice hockey floor. Then I remember the ice being quickly melted and the floor’s refrigerant pipes being removed one-by-one in the metamorphosis. It was an unbelievable transformation. Like a magical illusion, the ice hockey arena was gone like it never existed; moments later we were on stage with Springsteen for another memorable show.

ERNIE: The Southeast Tour was our fourth consecutive major tour. We did a bay area tour in California with Sal Ellner, who managed and produced the Count Five. We met him and his band at a Santa Barbara benefit concert for San Marcos High’s Valley Stadium. It was a fundraiser promoted by radio station KIST and the school to purchase stadium lights. At the time, The Count Five had a national hit song, Psychotic Reaction, that topped at Number One in Billboard.

We also did a Wolfman Jack California college tour with The Strawberry Alarm Clock’s Greg Munford. Wolfman Jack was a legendary figure in LA radio. He later went on to be the host of one of Rock’s most successful live concert shows, The Midnight Special. We did shows with Wolfman Jack, from Fresno State to San Diego State, and just about every major college in-between.

After the Wolfman Jack episode, we did a Northwest tour with booking agent Pat Mason, who, at the time, produced and managed Paul Revere & The Raiders. Pat also booked us with the Zombies. It was called The Time of The Season Tour. We played just about every club, auditorium, college, and armory in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Canada. The gigs were constant, virtually non-stop, night-after-night concert shows, miles apart.

The constant touring really got us prepared for our album, Confusion, which we recorded at Original Sound Studios in Los Angeles. Highlights of our LA recording sessions included drop-in visits by Jim Morrison of the Doors and Dicky Peterson of Blue Cheer. The Confusion album successfully opened doors and launched us into the Southeast Tour.

Next, Part 2!


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