June 25, 1972
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
In the sixties, I played guitar with a couple of high school
guys. I moved away to Hamilton and shortly thereafter, found myself badly depressed,
in a school which I loathed and pretty much alone. But I had my guitar and my amp.
I responded to a music store ad for a guitar player and in 1970, I hooked up with
Steve Raine, Lenny Siemko and Willy Petrachek. Sure we liked the Beatles, and the
Stones and Elvis and The Who and all that rage. Stevie brought out the "Come
And Get It" record one day and I nearly puked because I thought that song was
bubblegum. The rest of the album knocked me on my arse. That was the style of guitar,
the versatility of songs, the sheer fucking... coolness of it that I wanted for my
own. The rest was history... up to a point. But that razor guitar sound... still
drops my jaw. Anyhow... No Dice and Straight Up put me into heights
of ecstasy. They were, to me and the guys, masterworks. I emulated the guitar style
and picked everything apart. We did "Love Me Do", "I'd Die Babe",
the live version of "Suitcase", and "Better Days" to name a few.
On stage, It was Heaven just being able to play those songs.
Then Badfinger came to town. Naturally, we bought tickets ASAP and got to the concert ahead of time. I remember being so wired up that I didn't hear a note Kindred or McKendrie Spring played. Nothing. Badfinger came on and I was mesmerized. They did everything I wanted them to do. I recall "Suitcase, "Better Days", "No Matter What", "Sweet Tuesday Morning", "Baby Blue", Rob Stawinski with long blond hair dancing around like a hotshot playing congas and claves in "Perfection" and Pete singing "Take It All". My memory fades out as to the actual rest of the song list but I'm sure Stevie and Lenny remember.
Anyhow, we wanted so badly to meet the band that we ran like hell to the stage door. They met us like the fans we were but we told them we wanted to discuss guitar technique, songwriting and sound setup tips. We wanted to come across like fellow musicians. Even though our hearts were pounding like we were meeting the Beatles or something. Tommy told us what hotel they were staying at and invited us over to chat further. We were totally floored. It was the 4 Seasons on Jarvis Street. We got there and Joey, Pete and Tommy were more than gracious to us. We had a few pints in the hotel lounge where the Maitre'D made us wear suit coats which were way too big and had the 4 Seasons crest on the pocket. Pete, Joey and Tom spent a lot of time answering our questions, explaining about graphic equalizers, Joey talking me through some guitar tips and a few cool riffs. After a few, we called it a night and went home. However, Joey invited us back the following day. Needless to say, work got scratched. We got back and as we met Pete and Joey in the lobby, who toddles past but Bill Collins. Even then he was older than Moses. All grey, big leather satchel over his shoulder, dirty old man grin and a pipe in his mouth. He didn't say much. Joey introduced us and he muttered something. And leered some more. Anyway, we spent the day talking about more stuff, concerts, listening to Pete and Joey spin yarns. Pete was quiet and really had to be prodded. His humor was dry and quite subtle, but I enjoyed his company immensely. Same with Joey Molland. Tom was in and out, huge grin on his face and on the verge of laughter. When he did join us in the lounge or the cafe, he was fast and it seemed to me he was just enjoying the buzz of being on the road and a bit hyper. Rob Stawinski... nowhere to be seen. I swore I wouldn't do the starstruck fan thing but I couldn't resist. I asked the guys to give us their autographs but also if they could write us a little something we could look to for encouragement. Cheesy? Yep. Corny? Yep. Did they do it? Yep. Tommy disappeared and came back with a full 8x10 sheet of hotel stationery. On it, Joey Molland wrote, "Dear Andy Steve and Len. Best wishes and Good Luck with the group. Keep on. Joey Molland". "Keep on trucking, Tom Evans". "Keep on trying. Good luck. Pete Ham". Do I have the paper to this very day? You bet yer ass I do. I don't need to tell you, it changed me meeting my heroes. They were cordial, very generous with their time and information. They were friendly when they could have easily have said 'fuck off'. But they didn't. They gave us the opportunity to say, 'Sorry, mate, I have to go to Toronto. Got a meeting with Badfinger this afternoon.' We said that a lot that day. But what struck me deepest was that these guys were genuine. The real deal without bigass star attitudes. But most of all, to the three of us 17 year olds, Tom Evans, Joey Molland and Pete Ham treated us like equals. They spoke TO us like professional to professional. Not down to us like stars. And for that alone I will always be grateful.
We went on with our Rock career and changed the name of our band to Bootlaice. As in Bootlace bootlace, tie me down. I had the razor sharp guitar sound. Even played an SG like Pete. They influenced the way I listen to music, compose and play. To this day. But my rock career......? That is a whole 'nother story.
I saw Badfinger a few times after that. Most notably at the Victory Burlesque in Toronto. And again later in the 80's when Joey played some East end dive with a simply atrocious band. But the old Badfinger, I still love. So you see why I have a special affinity for the band and a deep and lasting respect and love. They made me feel like I mattered. Just when I really needed to feel that way. I was about 17 or 18 then.... but I still feel like I matter today. And I lay the basis for that at Badfinger's feet.
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