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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => Terry Manning => Topic started by: compasspnt on February 13, 2005, 10:56:04 pm

Title: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: compasspnt on February 13, 2005, 10:56:04 pm
Another thing that might be interesting would be to hear from anyone with a 'strange recording' tale...that is, any kind of completely out-of-the-ordinary sessions you have been involved in.  I don't mean just "musicians normally out of control in the studio" stuff, but something that should only happen once in a lifetime!

I'll start out with one of mine, a Lenny Kravitz tale:

After the recording of Lenny's "5" album, we were recording a song for Elton John, to be included in the CD release of his (and Tim Rice's) rock version of the opera Aida.  We tracked the basic at Criteria in Miami, because LK had some committments there, and couldn't get away to Compass Point those three days.  Everything went well, and I brought the track back to Compass Point for mixing.  Lenny finished his meetings, and took off from Miami for his "getaway" house on another island; he only had a few days to rest up for a big tour about to start.  I made a rough mix and sent it to the label.

A couple of days later, just as I was finishing the final mix, the call came in...Disney wouldn't accept our track, because the song had the word "bitch" in it, and they were a family company.  Lenny had to re-sing two lines, and change a couple of words.  But he was in a completely different, out of the way place, with no intention of leaving to do any more work, until he went on tour.  Plus, his rest time was almost up, and if he came my way, he wouldn't be able to catch the right flight to meet his schedule.

The only thing to do was for me to go to him, and somehow record a vocal which matched enough to slip in the new lines.  What to do?

This wasn't that long ago, but it was in the days before there were M-boxes which could be USB'd to a Powerbook, so I had to scramble and throw something together, and quickly.  I got a Panasonic dat recorder, a set of headphones, an API lunchbox with 512 pre and 550b EQ (and phantom power, of course), and a condenser mic.  I burned a CD with two versions of the track mixed to stereo...one with his vocals (for reference), and one instrumental.  I found out for sure that LK did indeed have a CD player in his hideout.  I booked a flight on a very small 'airline' (twin engine prop, two seats in back, plus pilot and one up front), and headed for the Nassau airport.  Little did I know the adventure about to befall me.

I paid my fare, and waited for the pilot to come out.  When he did, we walked to the Baron 58, and I loaded up the gear.  Because I am a pilot also, I sat up front, in the right seat.  I asked if I could fly part of the trip, and the pilot said sure, once we were airborne, and clear of the departure frequency.  We taxi'd out, and commenced a takeoff roll on runway  9.  Just before rotation, however, a tire burst, and flew off of the undercarriage.  I could see the right wheel rolling away into the bush off to the right side of the runway as the fuselage sparked from the metal contacting the tarmac.  The plane veered wildly to the right, spinning around, but the pilot was able to control it enough not to totally wreck anything.  We came to rest off of the runway, with smoke billowing out of the plane.  Of course, we exited the craft as quickly as possible, leaving the gear inside.  Already the airport fire brigade were racing towards us; fortunately, there was nothing for them to do, as no fire ensued.  But now what was I to do?  I still had to get the vocals recorded...the track was due at mastering 'yesterday,' and Lenny was leaving for a world tour the next day!

I asked the pilot if the little airline had another plane, but he said no, they did not, at least not one readily available.  He also wanted me to stay with him to help give the accident report to the Civil Aviation Authorities, but I had another agenda.  So I asked the firemen if I could ride back towards the terminal with them; they assented, so I grabbed all of the gear out of the wounded airplane, and climbed up onto the fire truck, catching that all-important ride.  When I got back to the general aviation area, I asked around to everybody I could find, and fortunately ran across a guy who had another Baron, and who was amenable to renting it out to me.  We set the deal; I  promised to pay him in cash when we got back that evening.  Off we went; and, I did get to fly part of the trip after all.

When we got to the destination airport, Lenny was waiting in his Jeep; the pilot promised to remain there for me.  We drove to LK's place, and I set everything up in his bedroom.  He listened to the phones directly out of the dat machine.  The CD instrumental track went into one channel, and the line out of the API into the other.  We quickly recorded the needed lines, and headed back to the airport.

My guy was waiting there for me, and the trip back was uneventful.  As soon as I arrived home, I got the pilot paid, and went straight into the studio to insert the new lines, and finish mixing.  I then rushed the tape, driving as fast as possible, but arriving at Fedex just as they were closing their doors; but I begged, and they let me in; the tape was delivered to mastering the following morning, just in time for their session.

Other than that, this one was a piece of cake.

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: j.hall on February 14, 2005, 10:34:52 am
i was assisting on a jingle for a national spot.  nothing ground breaking, nothing new....same old 30 second jingle lock to picture type session.  the studio i was staff at did this daily.

for some reason this particular ad agency had tons of people there (unusual for them).  so the engineer booked ont he session asked for some help just dealing with so many people and trying to tend to the band.

this was not something we usually did as we had 6 rooms that were typically running full tilt all day.  but luckily my session canceled, so i pitched in to lend a hand.


things are going as normal as would be expected when the composer became unhappy with the drum sounds.  we tried a variety of things but he was just not into any of it.

he kept saying, "i want them to sound like they are being played inside an empty 18 wheeler trailor"

how would anyone know exactly what that sounded like first hand???

anyway....next thing i knew, some one had rented a trailer and it was being delivered to our already too small parking lot.

the studio tech was scrambling to make a long enough snake to get out to the trailer.....and i was gathering up a monitor and enough video cable to get out there.

long story short, the drummer set up in this trailer, sweated his butt off, and we tracked him and the whole band doing a 30 second jingle for Wal-Mart.....

i know what a drum kit inside an empty trailer sounds like now....first hand.

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Barry Hufker on February 14, 2005, 11:00:03 am
I do a lot of remote recording so I have far too many bizarre stories to tell, but I'll share this one.

I was in Hawaii recording a music festival on The Big Island.  A friend of mine called to say someone had run across of group of Tonga (people from the Kingdom of Tonga), living in Hawaii and singing "Sacred Harp" music in their church service.  Sacred Harp being a kind of plaintive, a capella music that is also known as "shape note."  To give an example of how plaintive the music is even the tune "O Happy Christian" is in A minor (as an actual major key would be "too happy!").

No one could remember where they had heard the singing except that is was in Lahaina on Maui, but again no idea where.  I was asked to track them down and record them.  I made some calls trying to find out what I could.  I even called the Chief Enthnomusicologist who said he had heard of the group and had wanted to record them but had never been able to find them.

I had one day off from recording the festival and decided to take a chance.  Boarding an "island hopper" I flew to Maui and rented a Ford Escort at the airport (hey it was only $25!).  From there I drove to Lahaina, entering on Main Street.  I saw a small chapel with a woman sitting outside.  I can't tell you why but I thought "I bet she's Tonga."  I asked her and she answered "yes."  I asked her about the church service and the singing and she said "yes."  I told her I wanted to record the service and she said I'd have to ask the elders.

Her son was kind enough to drive me a few blocks to a house where the elders were meeting in a small hut in the backyard,  About a dozen men were seated around a large vat, ladling out what I assumed was a kind of beer.  One of the elders said something to my driver when they saw me.  I don't know the language but the meaning was clear -- "why the hell did you bring the white guy here?"

The boy who drove me explained and then elders then talked to me, eventually agreeing to my recording the service.  I was elated and we drove back to the church where I would setup the gear.  Upon arrival, I found out that there was to be a parade down main street  -- and the parade would start in front of the church -- and the parade would start with a procession of 300 hundred (no exaggeration) bikers on Harleys!

When the elders arrived I told them this and they agreed to hold up the service until the bikers had move further along, as the church was about 3/4 open to the outside (no walls).  The service was supposed to last an hour but was closer to two.  I had setup an ORTF pair of DPA 4011s (on a mike stand) which went right into a DAT.  I was blessed with a wonderful sound despite a guess on mike placement and no sound check.  The singing was like the Sacred Harp I'd heard on the Mainland but then it was also **so** different.  It was a glorious sound.

With tape running low, the service finally ended.  I thanked everyone,  promised them a CD, threw everything into the Escort and sped towards the airport to catch the last flight off the island.  Making the Escort do 75 when it thought 50 was a bit much, I hopped every car in my way until suddenly I was behind the 300 Harleys!  Not wanting to be forced off the rode and beaten to a pulp, I decided I'd take it easy.

Wheeling into the airport, I returned the car, jumped on a shuttle and ran inside the airport.  Running throught the airport to catch the last flight I could barely hold on the to gear, especially the mike stand.  Getting caught at the metal detector, huffing and puffing I explained the situation.  I then ran down the concourse and jumped into a seat in the plane right as they were closing the door.

I sat there catching my breath,  excited as I had done what no one else had been able to do -- find this group, gain their trust and record them.  It was the thrill of a lifetime that turned into a really nice recording and an even better memory.

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: compasspnt on February 14, 2005, 03:05:15 pm
GREAT recording stories, Jason and Barry!

I knew there were some "strange days" in the careers of many of us!

Anybody else?
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: RMoore on February 14, 2005, 05:40:33 pm
[edited.Sorry, evokes too many memories]
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: RMoore on February 14, 2005, 06:01:26 pm

Another TG story,
During much happier times in the Summer of '91,
Sessions for 'The Last Man to Fly' going on at Mushroom Studios
I joined the sessions towards the end when the plan was to get more stuff live off the floor with a rhythm section.
Was in the big room laying improv ideas to DAT w myself on Bass, Cevin Key on drums, MArtijn De Kleer on guitar,
Suddenly the studio is invaded by about 20 East Van 'chicks' who arrive courtesy of a prank of a friend of Martijn's,
Some wander into the live room, while the tape is rolling,
I am busy concentrating on an odd time tapping bass thing, trying to keep up with Cevin,  and the groove is in full flow when one girl asks right in my ear do we know any ACDC?,
Its maybe a few seconds after that before I totally lose my flow & the session then degenerates into chaos & partytime..
That session got edited and used in an album track called 'last Post' - you can actually hear the point in the tune where I 'lose it' just after the ACDC question was posed..

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Level on February 14, 2005, 06:36:43 pm
Good one. I do some flying too, Warriors, SE only. No beech twins.. Smile

Thank you for sharing that Terry. (after all the hoopla, I hope we can be on first name basis.)

The late Raymond Myles had a 5 day session the week before in New Orleans that I recorded and we were beginning week two. The guides (scratch) tracks were wonderful and I had to track more fills and deal with some vocal production. I lived on Pensacola beach and the studio was in New Orleans (before I moved there and ran it as an SE) so we are talking a 3 hour drive.

I awake at 6AM for the 7AM drive off for the session at 11AM (wanted to be an hr. early to prepare) and begin the drive.

From Pensacola beach to New Orleans, you cross over 10 bridges and the causeway across Mobile bay going into Mobile had a fog alert. On the radio on the way, I learned of a 100 car+ pile-up due to the fog. Dead issue. It would be 140 extra miles to go around to get to New Orleans from this point. I had to get to the session!

So..I drove back to Pens. and chartered a plane myself to fly into Lakefront and secured a shuttle to Canal Place.

Once we got airborne, the plane (A cessina 172) started acting as though it could not get any air to the intake and we were in a state of "holy shit" and the pilot brought it down in Fairhope Alabama.

Since I needed to get to the session, a Mr. Sherrone had a B-25 parked there that was on its way to an air show. No other planes or pilots.

Well, I did not go to New Orleans aboard a B-25 but I was able to aquire lemo service back to my place and by that time, I was able to drive to the session,as the wreck had cleared out, 7 hours late.

I had called and we went forward.

I guess I had you going for a min??


Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Gordon Rice on February 18, 2005, 09:51:02 am
hey all (and welcome back--that was a weird coupla days, wasn't it?)--

Guilty parties in this story shall remain nameless; every word is true.

I'd spent a few days early in a week working with an R&B vocal group that was having its minute of success right then and a producer who was known both to me and in the industry.  After a couple of days off, I got the call to come in and do "quick rough mixes" on 2 of the 3 songs we'd worked on beginning at 8pm on Friday night--looked to be about 2 hours' work max.

At 9:15, Producer asked to hear the third tune.  Artist moaned--they didn't like the track at all and didn't feel it inspired them to sing (I can't blame 'em on this one, by the way).    While I was putting something like a mix together, Producer wanders out into the studio and sits down at the piano for a moment; moments later I note that he's on his 'phone.

At ten, much to my and my assistant's surprise, a local programmer arrives, with his MIDI rig.  Producer (probably contracted to deliver three songs) had made a decision to cut another tune.

You'd think though, that he'd have written it first.

No such luck.  For the next 20 hours, Producer and Programmer wrote, arranged and programmed an entirely new track--with the studio's clock running, requiring both me and my assistant to be at least close to the control room the entire time.

For those still paying attention, this takes us to 6pm Saturday; I don't know what my assistant's Friday had been like, but I'd been up since 8am, meaning I'm coming up on 36 hours with no sleep save for a one-hour catnap somewhere in there.  Meanwhile, the boss has been calling, wondering at first how the session was going, then wondering why the hell it wasn't over and getting increasingly agitated.

At the aforementioned stroke of six, I actually hit the record button; there were of course multiple passes and the inevitable re-dos brought on by Producer's changes of mind after the track was cut.  All told, we agreed that the track was finished and properly recorded as of 9pm.

It was at this point that Producer said "OK, I want to cut lead vocal."

Pandemonium ensued, coming from Artistes behind me (bear in mind that they've been at the session the whole time too).  Emboldened by their reaction (the fact of the matter is they were trying to bring the session to an end!), I took the opportunity to explain to Producer that his Artistes are tired and unlikely to deliver their best performance and that furthermore I, the guy who's supposed to capture their performances, am not at my best after 25 straight hours.  Programmer, bless his heart, took my side in the ensuing conversation; by 9:15 all had left the studio.  

As I left the studio (headed *straight* for a public-house of my acquaintance), I passed one of the Artistes who thanked me profusely for bringing his nightmare to an end.

That's quite literally the only time (in 12 years at this studio) that I've brought a session to an end before the client wanted to.

The kicker:  Sessions were accounted for as always ending on the same day they began at that time. I got a phonecall later in the week from our bookkeeper wondering how it was possible that I'd clocked 25 hours on Friday.

I told her to account for it any way she wanted, but that was the way it was and the money had better be in my envelope at the end of the week!

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Barry Hufker on February 18, 2005, 08:33:15 pm
Three short ones:

Classical recording engineer/producer Marc Abort was at Powell Hall in St. Louis, working with his partner (the late) Joanna Nickrenz.  The pair were recording the Saint Louis Symphony.  I had dropped by the hall to say "hello" when Marc saw me.  "Come on in.  We're sacrificing virgins in here." "What???"  I replied in amazement.  Marc put a large grin on.  "We're sacrificing virgins."  "What does that mean?" I asked.  "We're at the movement where the sacrificing of virgins is happening."  "Oh..." I said. "What sort of microphone technique do you use to make it sound like you're sacrificing virgins?" I asked.  Marc smiled and said "Aw, you just move the mikes in closer!"

I was recording classical guitarist John McClellan for his debut CD.  We had been recording in a beautiful church in O'Fallon, Missouri.  The church was part of the convent of the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood.  We had been working like dogs all day and into the evening.  By 9:00 that night we were exhausted.  It was just then that Sr. Marcel showed up holding a tray in both hands.  "I thought you boys might like some milk and cookies" she said.  Suddenly finding ourselves to be about 9 years old again, we both sheepishly replied in a sing-song voice, "Yes, Sister."

I was returning from a remote recording and had parked my car in a concrete parking garage with steel beams.  I had a ReVox A77 (yes, I am **that** old) in one had and a heavy case full of gear in the other.  I had just pulled the stuff out of the car and walked to one end of the garage.  Setting the gear down for a moment, I looked up the long hill to the building where the classical radio station was where I worked as a recording/production engineer.  Sighing as I looked up the steep hill, I took a deep breath, bent over slightly to pick up the gear again and raised back up.  As I did, I hit my head on a steel cross-beam and knocked myself out.

There you go.

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: compasspnt on February 18, 2005, 08:54:42 pm
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Bill Mueller on February 18, 2005, 09:23:46 pm
Ok, I've never told this story in public before and I have never heard of another crew surviving this level of disaster.

I was the Chief Engineer/VP at Sheffield A/V productions and we had a remote gig outside of Madison Wisconsin recording the 1998 Tibetan Freedom Concert. It was my second TFC and it was a big show. We were going to record an all-star lineup that included Rage Against the Machine, The Beastie Boys, Run DMC, The Roots, Eddie Vedder, Debbie Harry, Tracy Chapman and lots more. I was doing the recording for television and live mix for radio.

The truck always goes out first and the crew flies in the next day. When we got to the airport, everything went well until the pilot fired up the engines and bad things started to show up on his oil gauges. They shut down the engines and moved us off the plane. We got on another plane but were now a couple of hours late getting into Chicago. We got a car and made good time into Madison, but things were tense.

It was summer and there were serious storms moving across the Midwest. The night before, they thought they had a tornado touch down on the site and water was everywhere. We did our best to run snake and power to the stage and keep it out of the puddles.

As the engineer, I am responsible for the recording so I interface with the producers, artists, FOH and Monitor guys, while scoping out the venue for good places to put audience and house mics. After all that, I went back to the truck to set up.

The Sheffield truck at that time was the only Solid State Logic equipped remote facility in the US. We had a 4048 E console with Total Recall. For this gig we also had 96 channels (!) of DA88 laid across two tables in the back for dual 48 track digital. The wiring and tape striping for that setup was a trip.

About 3:00PM I was in the truck, standing over the SSL, trying to lay out the show on the console when our tec, up on the dance floor, threw the power switch on the Leibert power conditioner. At that moment, the console started SIZZLING and CLOUDS of smoke started billowing out from everywhere! I started screaming SHUT IT OFF! SHUT IT OFF!, and banging on the walls. The tec heard me and shut it down, but not before an amazing amount of damage was done to the console.

My boss at the time (name withheld) ran into the truck and pronounced us dead. Time to go home. I told him to go find us some pizza because we were going to be there all night. Our tec, myself, and Stevie Weincam (THE best stage guy east of the Mississippi) sat down and tried to decide our fate. We were all unwilling to quit, so we decided to take the console apart and see what was destroyed. There were four or five resistors blown on each module, four or five capacitors and two fuses.  The center section was fried hard as well. We had no spare parts other than (miraculously) the tec had thrown a handful of caps in his shirt pocket that morning before leaving the shop. He had never done that before, ever.

We called the local Radio Shack and offered to buy their entire stock of electronic parts. No dice, the guy had a date and would not wait even ten minutes for us. We called SSL in New York and I swear, when I told the tec on duty our situation, he told me, "I wouldn't want to be you!" Unbelievable. I told him we were going to hard wire across the fuses in the modules and he told me that that we couldn't do that! I told him, we couldn't NOT do it.

The next fifteen hours consisted of us swapping power supplies, sussing the damage, stripping the console of everything we could remove, cannibalizing sixteen modules to get parts to rebuild 32 good ones, blowing good parts up, and repairing and reinstalling modules. At one point around 1:00 AM we had blown up all of the capacitors we could spare and if we blew one more it was all over. We didn't blow any more caps. We rewired a couple of outboard mixers (one Neve and on Mackie) to handle the extra channels and wired up the Da88's in a configuration that would work.

At 5:00 AM we had everything ready to go, so we jumped in the car, drove an hour back to our hotel, stared at the ceiling for an hour, took a shower, ate and drove back an hour to the gig. The show started at 10:00AM and went full throttle until 11:00PM. I mixed 12 or so bands and did not loose a single instrument or vocal. I lost a few channels through the day but they happened (I don't know why) in between sets (less than 10 minutes between bands with a full console re-patch each time) and I was always able to patch around them for the next band.

It was a good show and no one else but our little group had any idea how close the whole thing came to disaster. If you liked that one, I'll tell you a really great one about Aerosmith.

Best Regards,

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Barry Hufker on February 18, 2005, 09:32:07 pm
Yes, Bill I liked that one very much, so now you have to tell about Aerosmith.

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: compasspnt on February 18, 2005, 10:07:34 pm
Bill Mueller wrote on Fri, 18 February 2005 21:23

It was a good show and no one else but our little group had any idea how close the whole thing came to disaster. If you liked that one, I'll tell you a really great one about Aerosmith.

Best Regards,


Awesome, Bill.  This is what men are made of in this business!
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: RMoore on February 19, 2005, 07:37:01 am
Loving this thread,
The whatever it takes to get the job done mentality is very inspiring.
FWIW I don;'t think anyone can surpass surviving a plane accident / near crash and STILL getting the session done..Smile
Not that its a contest,
Keep em coming people
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: J.J. Blair on February 19, 2005, 03:25:28 pm
This happened just last week!  I was asked by a group in town here called the Blue Hawaiians to record a live album at the Lava Lounge.  It's a club that holds about 120 people and the stage barely fits the drums, two guitarists and bass player.  The Hammond B3 had to be set up off the side of the stage.  

The Hammond player was in charge of setting the gig up.  After mulling over several options, we decided to rent an HD rack from Audio Affects, a sixteen channel snake and a U-Haul cube truck.  I brought a pile of mics and we brought our own pres (API, Langevin and UA) and rented some 1073s as well.  (My own Neve setup doesn't come out of the rack easily.)  We grabbed a shit load of packing blankets, some TV tray tables and a couple of oriental rugs for vibe.  

The biggest problem was how to mic everything in the small space provided.  That took a really long time.  I used my tube SM69 for the drum OH, a SM57 on top of the snare, a 414 underneath, a D12 on the kick and D19s on the toms and the hat.  With a guitar amp less than three feet away, I couldn't get over how much separation there was, even on the D12 which was placed outside the double headed kick.  We ran a 441 through the Mackie PA for the vocals, and I just pulled a 1/4" line from the ch insert into a Jensen xformer DI then fed that through a 1073 and 1176LN and into the 192.  

We used the entire 16 tracks.  I had the speakers and Cinema Display set up on the shelf that sits above the cab, with the racks behind me. I had thick foam against the wall  behind the speakers and a thick woolly oriental hanging on the wall over that.  We stuck the packing blankets on all the side walls.  While it wasn't the greatest sonic environment, I could at least hear if I were on the right track.  It was like 50 degrees and raining the whole time anyway, so beside that meaning I sat outside freezing my ass off for four hours, two nights in a row, I had the noise of raindrops hitting the top of the U-Haul to contend with.  

The band was ecstatic with the results, and we wound up spending only the cost of a U-Haul and the rental of the rig and snake which came to about $800/day.  (Design FX mobile truck goes for $5,250/day not including the generator!)  A guy named Cort (that I'm sure many of you know) walked by, kind of quizzing me on why I was doing this instead of just renting one of the old Record Plant trucks that he has.  He was clearly bummed.  

Yet another adventure in recording, and one of my favorite stories: I was recording June Carter Cash's record in a cabin in the woods across from the Cash residence, because Johnny was very ill and could not make the trip to Nashville to a studio.  I brought my own mics and pres, but was stuck with using their blackface ADATs and their mic stands, which were not very stable.  Somebody is videoing the whole thing, and is asking Johnny about the guitar he's playing.  He is telling the story about how it's the signature edition, glossy black, Johnny Cash guitar that Martin is making.  At this moment I am moving a Neumann UM57 on one of their crappy stands.  He has the guitar flat across his lap and no sooner does he finish saying "This is serial number one," does the mic on the crappy stand fall over, land square on the guitar and put a ding in the fucking glossy black finish!  I was mortified!  John was a good sport about it and rubbed his eyes in a fake "boo hoo".  His guitar tech wound up fixing it.  When I saw the guitar months later, I couldn't find the ding.  I asked the videographer to send me a copy of that moment, but like most people in this business, he flaked.

That moment is second only in embarrassment to an klutzy incident at Frank Zappa's house, but we weren't recording, so you don't get to hear that one!
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Bill Mueller on February 20, 2005, 06:56:59 pm
My Tibetan Freedom Concert story probably should have been in Horror Story thread, but this one definitely belongs in the Utterly Weird Session Thread.

The gig was The Most Expensive movie release party in history (up to that point). The movie was Armageddon with Bruce Willis and Liv Tyler (!) and Disney spared no expense. For the party, they rented the entire Kennedy Space Center in Florida and brought Aerosmith in to play live. The stage was set up next to the Saturn V building, (for those of you who have been to Kennedy), with their backs to the Gantry's (spot lights filling up the sky) and the 300 A list attendees sat in the famous bleachers facing the band.

To view the movie, they set up a massive private theater in a tent, in between the Saturn V building and the bleachers.

I have been a hard core Aerosmith fan my entire adult life and so this gig was a pinnacle of my career. I was in heaven. No kidding, kill me now cause this is it, my heroes. But this one was not going to go down easy.

The setup was a bear because this was the year that all of central Florida was on fire. As we came in on the plane, it filled up with smoke and everyone was coughing and choking. The weather over the Cape was about 100 degrees hot and over 90% humidity. When we drove onto the base, fire trucks raced by us and there was smoke very close on three sides. Smoke, sweat and heat.

We got right to work and as usual, my job was to get with the producer and house guys for the setup. This was the first time the band was to play Jennifer Warrens' song, "I don?t' want to miss a thing", so the band had a pickup string section on stage. They also (you didn't hear this from me) had a track with a click and the orchestra from the recording. I mic'd up the string section and ran a couple tracks for the track and the producer (name withheld) told me not to record the string section . This sent cold child up my spine so I convinced him that I had extra tracks and it would be no big deal. I knew in my gut that Steve Tyler would come into the truck after the rehearsal and want to solo the string tracks.

When the band showed up, I went outside just to see if I could see them up close and maybe even meet one. I don?t' usually behave this way but I am a real fan of these guys. They were too busy to meet anyone and went right on stage. After they played the sound check, Steven came right back to the truck and asked to hear the strings solo!

Ok, so the sound check went well, so I expected the show to go well. Not so fast.

My assistant on this show (name also withheld) was trying to save tape or something and did not roll tape when I called out to role tape (at least two minutes before the band hit the stage) and missed the top of the first song.


Things then started to get out of hand.

I stopped hyperventilating just in time for the band to roll into the second song. Ok, ok, don't look at the dogs, work the lock. Pay attention to Joe's solo's. About ten seconds into the second song, (Walk This Way), the very famous and powerful John Kolodner, who was in the truck for the show, heard something he did not like in the intro. He and the band's manager, came down to the console, tapped me on the shoulder and told me to stop the band and have them start again!

April fools, right? No... I looked back at him and he was dead serious. Oh man. I called Stevie Weincam (still the best stage guy on the east coast) on the com and said, ?Stevie, Mr. Kolodner wants you to stop the band!?. Stevie laughed and said, ?Right?. I said, ? No really, stop the band?. I can?t say what he said next.

After a few more exchanges between Stevie and myself he realized that we really meant for him to walk out in front of 300 people and stop Aerosmith in the middle of Walk this Way. Not wanting to end his entire career right then and there, Stevie walked over to the stage manager and told him we wanted him to stop the band. The stage manager turned to Stevie, and without a word, threw his headphones down and walked off the stage, never to return. In the meantime the band was about a third of the way through this song. Mr. Kolodner was getting tense, so I told Stevie that he had to do it himself.

In one of the bravest actions I have ever seen, (Stevie is about 5'6" tall) he walked out into the middle of that stage, tapped Steven Tyler on the shoulder and when Steven turned around in utter amazement, yelled in his ear to start the song again!

We had this on monitor and I was afraid to even look. However, Steven raised his hands and stopped the band, told the audience that we were recording and they were going to do the song again. Just like that, totally professional.

The rest of the show was magic. Although my perception may have been skewed by ten minutes of hyperventilation. The band played great despite our interuptions and Jennifer Warrens was introduced and everything.

My problems wern't over however. When they came to the truck for a playback, I thought they were going to kill me over the missing song, but they were great. The producer kindly told them we had a ?technical? problem with the first song and they said, ?No problem?. I couldn?t believe it!

The whole band and Liv, crammed into the front of the truck with me and the producer and had a listening party for the next hour and a half. We played all the songs multiple times and remixed a couple. The band was THE nicest bunch of guys I have ever met.

My God is Liv Tyler beautiful. I have never seen a picture of her that did her justice.

If you liked that one, I have one about Pink Floyd.

Best Regards,

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Brendan Thompson on February 20, 2005, 08:55:34 pm
Bill Mueller wrote on Mon, 21 February 2005 10:56

If you liked that one, I have one about Pink Floyd.

Why must you taunt us so???  Laughing

Come on. Spit it out! Very Happy
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Timeline on February 20, 2005, 09:21:28 pm
F___ing great stuff Bill!

Don't think I could top Bills but... I was held at gunpoint by Dustin Hoffmans Cousin after a session at Sound City in the '70s. That's about the weirdest one I had although recording Prince had some interesting moments.

Anyone ever worked with Keith Moon?

Gary Brandt
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: compasspnt on February 20, 2005, 10:37:17 pm
OK, I hadn't planned on making this one public yet (and I wasn't the actual engineer or producer in this story, it just happened here at Compass Point), but there are getting to be some really good ones, so here goes:

[Many names in this story will be left out...]

We had an artist from a European country in here recording for a major label, and they had hired some very famous musicians to play for them.  Involved directly were:

•The Producer--a very nice guy, also from Europe; had a lot of experience with "strange sessions" already (one of those is another great story).

•The Engineer--another nice guy, from the US, who had brought his girl friend here with him.

•The A & R guy--a real, tough, no-nonsense kind of person, from the same European country.

•The Keyboard Player--a very well known personage, not from Europe or the US, who had been "in trouble" before.

•Me--in this case, providing our studio space and equipment, and doing some catch-up office work while the session was going on.


The Artist, Producer, and A&R guy thought that the Drummer for the session was going to actually play the drums.  This, they expected, would be at the same time as the Bass player, Keyboard player, and Guitarist were also playing..."jamming," so to speak, the way music is often recorded.  But they  were all surprised when the Drummer stated that he wasn't going to actually play, but rather program his drum parts, on an MPC-3k.  No one was in a  position to argue with this, because of his history and reputation, so the programming started.  For about three or four days, the drummer sat in our lounge with headphones, demos, and his gear, and got the tracks ready.  Of course, this meant that the other musicians had nothing to do for this time period.  That was fine, as it relates to the Bass player and Guitarist, but it ended up causing a slight problem as it relates to the Keyboardist......

Unbeknownst to all of the rest of us, this guy had holed up in his apartment up the hill with a big stash of crack cocaine that he had gone out and found somewhere.  Also unknown was the fact that he had also brought a girl with him.  This girl was an actual princess from the Royal Family of the European country that she was from.  In order to prove to her family that she had a mind of her own, she had shacked up with this much older musician, and travelled halfway across the world with him to a  recording session....I guess that showed them!  These two stayed up in their apartment for the three or four days, and no one else ever saw either of them.  What we didn't realise at the time was

A) That she was there at all, and
B) Keyboard guy had gotten very high, and beaten the absolute bloody **** out of her.  We didn't know that she was laying on the floor of the apartment, beaten and bloody, and unable to even move.

But, back to the session...

Finally, the drums were ready for everybody else to play to. A call went out to the musicians.  The famous Bass player came right down from his apartment, and the Guitarist did the same.  But no Keyboard player.  Phone calls made to his apartment were met with a gruff, "I can't come now."  Well, Mr. A & R guy was not pleased.  Producer was not happy, but was ready to give our guy the benefit of the doubt.  He went up to see him.  Keyboard came to the door, standing in the way of any view inside, and mumbled something about being down when he was good and ready to play.  Producer returned with the news, which was not met with much glee on the part of A & R.

So A & R went up...similar results.  Anger and resentment were building fast; something had to be done.  A & R wasn't about to accept this, so he phoned Keyboard with an ultimatum:  "Come to play immediately, or be replaced immediately."

Well, Keyboard did finally come down...but it would have been a better night had he not!  The first person he saw when he came in the door was our trusty Engineer, sitting in our smaller TV lounge with his girl friend, talking, and waiting to work.  Keyboard immediately started yelling that Engineer had been looking at his (Keyboard's) girl friend in a lascivious way...but of course, nobody even knew Keyboard HAD a girl with him!  He was quite out of his mind from drugs by this time; Engineer denied it, of course.

I was just coming down the hall towards the lounge from one direction, while A & R was converging from the opposite direction.  A & R heard the commotion, and started yelling at Keyboard that he was going to be fired if he didn't get in the studio and start playing...but he didn't know that Keyboard had grabbed a pair of scissors from our front desk as he had passed it.  Keyboard lunged at A & R, trying to stab him in the groin;  he just missed, however, and stabbed the aluminium facing of the lounge door instead.  Madness ensued...bodies were rolling across the floor, the now-broken scissors were bandied about, the engineer's girlfriend was screaming and trying to get out of the door...what to do?  I had no choice but to jump into the situation; I grabbed Key's scissors hand, and restrained it from further stabbing, while A & R tried to hold him down.  Key was like a wounded bear, however, and it took all three, then four of us (as Producer entered the fray) to hold him.

A & R was totally furious; I don't think I've ever seen anyone so mad.  He insisted on physically throwing Keyboard out the front door, with the admonition tthat he would never work again.  This at least calmed the situation inside the building down a bit; we were all upset, but at least Keyboard was gone...or so we thought.

The session was called for the night...no one was now in the mood for music making.  After an involved discussion about whom to get in, as quickly as possible, to replace Keyboard, Producer and A & R decided to go back to their hotel.  They were staying at The Compass Point Resort, just about a hundred yards from our door, across the street.  As they walked, still somewhat shaken, past the hotel's parking lot however,  they got another big surprise.  It seems that Keyboard had procured a vehicle (we later found out that he had a 29 year old son on the island, begat from a session-related liason years earlier!) from his local son.  He came tearing across the parking lot, driving at full speed, and attempted to run over both Procucer and A & R!  They were jumping over cars, running behind trees...it looked just like a movie scene!  He squaled about the car park for a while, hitting other cars and the trees.  When Producer and A & R could make it, they ran across the street and into the hotel; but Keyboard wasn't finished.  He jumped from his car, amd ran after them, pushing past security, and into the lobby.  Producer dove over the front desk, into a small office behind it; Keyboard dove after him, but instead grabbed the hotel's computer monitor, and threw it across the room, smashing it into a million pieces.  He threw papers, brochures, money from the cash register, anything he could get, everywhere.  Security finally caught up with the situation however, and were able to restrain the guy.  The police were called, but before they arrived, Keyboard had pulled loose, escaped, and he drove away at breakneck speed in his vehicle.  We never saw him again.

However, we did find his girlfriend, still passed out on the apartment floor.  She was pitiful...hurt, no money, not sure of what to do or where to go.  We had to loan her some money, and get her a plane flight out of there, after a short first aid and recovery period, of course.

We did get a replacement player in only a day later, though.  This was another very famous name I shouldn't tell...but when we told him the story, he replied, "Of yeah, I replaced him on a session because of a similar incident about ten years ago!"

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Level on February 20, 2005, 11:22:51 pm
...I hope I never have to work with that a$$hole....Damn....
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Bill Mueller on February 21, 2005, 06:30:51 am

Glad your all alright.

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Barry Hufker on February 21, 2005, 07:58:20 am
OK, after that one I realize I don't have any bizarre stories to tell.  Mine will never be in that league.  Mine at best are "out of the usual."  And you know.... that's OK!

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Samc on February 21, 2005, 02:59:32 pm
After reading Terry's story this morning, I had a strange feeling I knew the Keyboard player in the story.  After connecting a lot of little dots from the story  I'm pretty sure I know who it is.

Anyway, this is one of my weird session stories, it happened some years ago when a colleague and I were contracted to make a live recording of Reggae Sunsplash (an annual Reggae festival) in Montego Bay, Jamaica.   This particular year was supposed to be special because it was the Bob Marley memorial edition.  A lot of big bands were coming to Jamaica to perform and it would also be seen live in the US on pay-per-view.  Oh yes, we were also sending a live stereo feed to the video truck.

Because the site was located on a peninsular just outside Montego Bay, and there was only one entry/exit road, we had to get to our set-up position by 7 AM before the crowds started to arrive on the friday morning, (they had pre-sold more than 110,000 tickets for friday alone!).   We left Kingston at about 10 PM thursday for the drive across the Island to Montego Bay.  On board were, the truck driver, maintenance/repair technician, my friend and myself.  Just outside Kingston, in a deserted Industrial zone the transmission broke.  

A security guard at one of the factories told us that there was a truck repair shop in the zone but he was sure it would be closed at this time of the night.  Well......We were not so sure it would be closed, and in any case we had nothing to lose, so two of us went searching.  When we found the shop the boss had just parked the tow-truck, locked up the place and was on his way home.  After hearing our predicament he decided to help us.  He towed the truck back to the shop and confirmed that the transmission was indeed broken, there was no way he would be able to repair it during the night.  What the hell were we going to do, it was already after 1 and we had to get to our destination, which was at least 4 hours away..... The fastest route was using the central mountain roads.

After some discussions we decided on a plan.  We would help him to remove the broken transmission, he would tow the truck across Jamaica, return to his shop and repair the transmission that very same day, he would then return to Montego Bay with the transmission on saturday and install it into the truck at the site.  This would cost us his regular fees, plus two passes for the saturday show for him and his girlfriend.  Done deal.      

Everything worked as planned, this guy was great, he drove like a demon and we were on site at 8 in the morning.  

We hooked up the truck to stage and power, and were feeling very proud of ourselves when our luck took a really bad turn.  When our technician turned on the power all the breakers tripped except those for the two MCI 24 track machines.  Well, they toasted before he could switch the power off.  The site was getting power directly from the nearby power station and something went very wrong, and we were not the only ones affected, just the worst hit.  The machines were beyond repair but both us and the promoters were determined to record the festival, so we made another plan.  

My friend had just purchased  two new JVC U-matic video machines, and we decided to mix the show live and record on these machines since it would be easier to fly them from Kingston rather than the two MCI 2-track machines in the studio.  So thats exactly what we did.  From that point on everything worked as planned, we recorded the entire show and everybody was pleased with the results.  
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Barry Hufker on February 21, 2005, 05:22:37 pm
It seems my best stories are the ones where I am my own worst enemy.  Please keep in mind that these things have happened over a period of more than 30 years, but in this thread they are being run together in "compressed time."  The result is that it seems I am not very smart (which may be true but...).

I was doing a choral recording at the Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis.  We had been given the "OK" by the building manager to record in the hall during the day when no concerts were being held or prepared.

I arrived first to find there were workmen on the roof (three stories up) who were preparing to re-roof the building by throwing old material off the building into a dumpster below.  Each landing created a large "pow!" I asked the building manager why he didn't tell me before I came that roofers were working.  His answer was that he didn't think it would bother the recording.  I stood there amazed and pissed.

Shortly after my arrival, about 30 singers showed up along with the Choral Director.  We talked about what to do and decided to see if we could get anything on tape.  We had no luck.  At any given point the noise from outside just reverberated through the hall.

I was setup in the "green room" using a talkback system into the hall.  About 11:30 I noticed the noise had stopped and we had a golden moment to record while the workmen were at lunch.  I started recording again, called the take number and we were off.

In the green room the intercom came on paging someone for a phone call.  Not wanting to be distracted by this or have it leak into the hall, I pulled my chair over to the tall bookcase where the speaker stood.

Now this was no ordinary intercom speaker.  This was a very heavy, 1950s 'we make speakers into furniture" hi-fi kind of beast.  My goal was to spin the speaker to a point where I could undo the wires to it.  Because it was hard to reach, I actually had to pull it towards me and ended up bearing most of the weight in front of, and above, my head.

While the take was still going on, the next thing I heard was a "crack."  The chair seat I was standing on was made of particle board which gave way.  I fell straight down through the chair's frame, pulling this heavy speaker down onto my head.  (Didn't something happen to my head in the last story??!).  The speaker's corner gashed my head but I had the presence of mind to set it down gently.

Stepping out of the chair, I returned to the gear as the take was finishing.  I felt something wet on my head.  I was bleeding.  I had a handkerchief in my pocket and pressed it on top of my head.  Pulling it off and looking at it showed me how bad it was.

Over the intercom, I calmly asked the Director to step into the green room.  Once inside, I asked him to look at my head.  Surprised at the way I looked, it was his opinion the gash was deep and I would probably need stitches.  He then asked if we should end the session.  Knowing "the show must go on," I said, "no I'd really like to get the music recorded."  So pulling up another chair, there I sat for the next hour or so trying to stem the blood loss with a handkerchief on my head until we finished recording.

With the session over and telling the building manager I would return later for my gear I drove off to find medical help.  Knowing I am a big baby, I refused to go to the emergency room at the near-by hospital.  I feared they would shave my head and stitch it up.  So I drove about another 15 more minutes to a friend who is a nurse.  She took one look and said I needed stitches.  I said all I wanted was a butterfly bandage, which she reluctantly put in place after a stiff lecture.  Feeling a bit woozy from the excitement, loss of blood and low blood sugar, I sat down proud of myself -- not so much that I had successfully finished the session but that I had successfully avoided stitches!

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: compasspnt on February 21, 2005, 05:30:28 pm
GREAT stories all!  Barry, I must admit I had to laugh at the thought of you trying to hold the big furniture speaker up...sorry!  I know it wasn't funny to you!

But you know, a very common thread here is that the job always gets done!  This is a testament to the professionalism of the people in this business.

Best of luck to all for future sessions!

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Bill Mueller on February 21, 2005, 07:56:15 pm

Are you feeling alright? No lasting effects? Dizzy spells? Of course that kind of stuff is typical for St Louis. I too am from St Louis so I guess we should stick together.

This one happened so long ago that it is like it happened so someone else, however I was there and I will never forget it.

It was 1973, (it might have been 1972) and I was working as a roadie, truck driver, monitor mixer, circuit board assembler and general maniac for Heil Sound in Marissa Illinois. I also owned my own little company, Fibersonics, and we built the world's first fiberglass covered speaker cabinets. Heils big clients were The Who, Humble Pie, ZZ Top, Joe Walsh and Barnstorm, Jeff Beck and a slew of other B bands. Heil was also the only JBL reconing shop in the mid west, (we blew up a lot of speakers!) and did outdoor festivals. I covered cabinets for Bob's PA stacks and an assortment of guitar amps (the Who), Leslie cabinets (J Geils Band) and other stuff. Actually, some of my speakers were used in the on-stage scenes of the movie Almost Famous, but that?s another story.

Anyway, there was this English band named Pink Floyd, starting out a tour in the mid west and one show was in Kansas City. This was a Friday evening if I recall. They were setting up their stage pyrotechnics and someone made the mistake of double loading a flash pot. Well, five minutes into the show, the button was pushed and instead of the pot throwing fire straight up into the air, it exploded! Shrapnel flew out into the audience and one piece struck a fan, seriously injuring him. All of the speakers in both stacks, spit paper and aluminum shreds all over the crowd. Every speaker in the Britannia Row high fidelity sound system was destroyed.

Can you imagine the volume of an event like that? Amplify an explosion enough to fire the paper right out of the speakers? Wow. Needless to say the show was over.

After the injured were taken care of, they tried to figure out what to do with their tour. It just so happened that the next show was the next night at Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis. Somehow they got in touch with Bob and contracted us to repair their system. They then drove through the night and were on site by 9:00 AM. About 7:00AM (an ungodly hour), we packed up two eighteen footers with a couple of hundred 18", 15", and 4" drivers and headed for town.

When we arrived, we got with their crew and formed a plan. They would set up their speakers and give us a little room to work on them as they went along. As they set them up, we unscrewed the backs, installed newly reconed JBL's and screwed them back together. It looked like the making of the Pyramids. There were two separate crews climbing all over the stacks with electric drills, assembly line like, hauling speakers up higher and higher into the air. Amazing.

My little job in all of this was to set up the first quad speaker system used in a major concert. (If I recall, we might have supplied supplemental speakers for the Who's Quadraphenia tour, but I think that was later). Anyway, I got with the FOH guy and put our little "beer coolers" where he wanted them. We called them beer coolers because they were a dual 12" with a peizo tweeter in a fiberglass horn loaded configuration, and when laid on their backs would hold a bag of ice and three six packs perfectly. Hey, they dried out after a couple of days!

I got finished wiring the quad system just as the show was about to go on. I was running thousands of feet of speaker wire up into the back of the hall with people coming in and walking all over it! There was no way I could dress that much cable. Don't look at the dogs, work the lock.

I got done and went down to the FOH table. The engineer was there and we hooked the cables up to his little setup. I remember he used a TEAC 3340 1/4" deck and I think he had a stack of McIntosh amps under the table.


I was just hanging out, ready for a rock concert (I thought I knew what a good PA sounded like). Then the band struck the first note and the curtain started to glide away from the center of the stage. I was awe struck! It was the most amazing sound I had ever heard. I'm not sure how many people saw this, but there were six of our guys still sitting on top of the stacks, at least twenty feet in the air, screwing the backs on the tweeter boxes! When the lights came up, it was just surreal.

Then Alan rolled the tape deck right in front of me and I literally could not believe what I was hearing. The sound of the laughing man and the cash register panning from left to right in a twenty thousand seat hall sent goose bumps up my back. I watched the meters on the TEAC sweep back and fourth and felt like I was being transported to another place and time. It was nuts.

Anyway, that was the best sound I ever heard but it ruined me at Heil. I realized that I sucked. But I have always had that reference in my head and that was the standard I mixed to, from then on.

I have been told by people who were at shows later on in the tour, that the band kept using our little beer cooler speakers all the way through. Pretty cool.

Best Regards,

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: compasspnt on February 21, 2005, 08:38:34 pm
Once again, the job is done with seconds to spare!
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: maxim on February 22, 2005, 04:59:17 am
bill said:

"Don't look at the dogs, work the lock."

that's a good one

as an avid appreciator of the 'rock'n'roll anecdote', i'd like to thank you, as what you've given us is something special
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Radd 47 on February 22, 2005, 08:33:56 pm
Lord Jesus. Does this stuff go on all the time?
I need a valium just from reading this stuff. I can't imagine actually going thru it!
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: compasspnt on February 22, 2005, 11:46:20 pm
Radd 47 wrote on Tue, 22 February 2005 20:33

Lord Jesus. Does this stuff go on all the time?
I need a valium just from reading this stuff. I can't imagine actually going thru it!

Slim, you have no idea.  What's been written isn't even near half of it, for me, and I'm sure for many others!  Some things just can't be told...
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: J.J. Blair on February 23, 2005, 03:47:41 am
Well, since we have digressed from sessions to just good rock stories ... I have a couple.

My business partner was Jerry Garcia's 'assistant' for a short period.  He could tell a thousand of these, but one of my favorites of his stories involves the rehearsal facility we own.  Limp Bizkit was rehearsing, and for whatever reason, Fred Durst decided to smash this control room window type thing in room A.  I believe that he kinda trashed the room, too.  My partner discovers this the next day and calls their management to ask them for some money.  They start telling him that he'll need to get a PO from the label, yadda, yadda, yadda...  After expressing to them that this was not an option and that we needed the money right then, they still insisted that they couldn't just cut us a check.  He walks into their room w/ the cordless and asks them to listen to something.  The next sound they hear is him smashing a bass guitar.  He then informs them that for every hour that we don't have a check, he will break another instrument.  They had a cashier's check there in 45 mins.

Speaking of people who act like jack asses, on another occasion, Kiss was rehearsing there.  Some young band is in the lobby shooting pool, and Gene Simmons walks into the lobby.  The singer for the band goes up to Gene to start gushing over him.  He starts telling him how Kiss is the whole reason that he started playing music and wanted to be in a band, etc. Gene responds: "Is that your band across the hall from us?  You know, you sound a lot like Love and Rockets.  Maybe you should consider becoming a Love and Rockets cover band, or just getting out of music all together."


Mandy (don't know last name), from the band World War 3, is rehearsing with somebody and has this dog, that is some kind of mastiff that he says is illegal in the US, that he 'won in a bare knuckle fight.'   Apparently, he was a bare knuckle fighter in Germany and according to him he had to leave the country after he killed some guy in one of the fights (allegedly).  Anyway, this dog, which was originally bred by the Romans, is easily two hundred pounds and he is on a chain that Mandy is holding.  I'm holding a soft drink from  a fast food restaurant in my hand, talking about the dog with him.  Suddenly, the dog lunges for me, and although he comes up short due to the chain, I instinctively squeeze my cup and the drink explodes everywhere in my hand.  

Anyway, while Mandy is rehearsing he decides to put the dog in room A.  Setting a precedent to be followed by Green Day and then the above mentioned Fred Durst, the dog trashes the room.  He starts eating the insulation out of the walls, etc.  I tell Mandy that he has to leave the dog outside, so he chains the dog up out front.  Somebody parks across the street from the studio and starts crossing the street to enter the studio.  The dog breaks the chain that is holding him and starts running after this guy, who turns around, runs and climbs up the fence across the street.  The dog is now running around loose and everybody is terrified.  I close the front door and I'm trying to get over to the loading door to close it.  I have a .45 in my hand, and if I see the dog anywhere near me, I'm going to kill it.  People are running into their studio rooms and closing the doors.  We got the loading doors closed, I made Mandy deal with the damn dog and nobody got eaten, thank god.  Who knew rehearsal could be so dangerous?

Hmmmm ... speaking of dangerous sessions, I'll have to tell you guys later about when I had to throw the rap group Bloods & Crips out of the place.  But for now, I need to get some sleep.  Ooooh, but there was the time that the singer of a certain group, whose name rhymes with Stone Temple Pilots, showed up in a dress, dissheveled after disappearing for two days on a crack run downtown.  (Obviously, I have no qualms using people's real names!)

BTW, does anybody know the story behind the Leon Russell song "Shootout At the Plantation"?
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Radd 47 on February 23, 2005, 07:17:39 pm
I love the story in Blaney's book about an early ZZ concert.

Apparently, the afternoon before the show, Franko Congo was showing a few friends a new way to drink beer he had discovered called shotgunning. This involved cutting a hole in the bottom of the beer can, inverting it, then popping the pop top to drain the beer into the mouth as fast as possible.(I'm sure that more than a a few of you are privy to this method!) Anyway, later that evening, Bill Ham is sweating bullets because it's five minutes til showtime and no Frank! Just then, Frank walks in, complete with his shotgunning buddies. He is completly wrecked from "shotgunning" all afternoon. Ham freaks out and starts looking for a substitute, but Frank tell's him he can still play. Well, Ham has no other choice, so Frank goes on. Amazingly, it was like auto pilot, nobody noticed any impaired drumming. But now it's time for Billy's guitar solo so Frank drifts backstage where his afternnon buddies are still shotgunning the suds. (I think Dan Mitchell was there, the drummer for the Moving Sidewalks)  

Anyway, half way into BG's solo, Frank comes stumbling out onto the stage! Ham is by the curtain, trying not to be noticed, trying to lure the meandering Frank off stage. Next, Frank grabs his hi hat stand and stumbles over to BG, who was playing his prized "Pearly Gates" at the time, and says "I'm gonna smash your f...in guitar.!" Billy just smiled at him while still soloing and said "I don't think you want to do that!" So Frank turns and hurls the hi hat stand backstage, nearly missing the still shotgunning Dan Mitchell! Mitchell is pissed, so he grabs the stand and hurls it back onstage, barely missing Billy! Well, finally, Franko hears his cue to get back on the drums, and he comes in right on the beat.

It was after this gig that the Hambone imposed the "No swiggin and giggin" rule!

(As a huge ZZ fan, I should say that this episode happened a very long time ago. Frank is now a responsible family man and can still kick out the jams better than ever!)

Then there was the time Duane Allman noticed one of his roadies enjoying some "favors" offstage from one of the groupies, and alerted the spotlight guy to the action, who promptly illuminated the smiling Red Dog, who just stood there: "I grabbed it buy the ears and shouted let it eat!"

(second hand stories, I feel like a geek next to you guys! Oh well)

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Bill Mueller on February 23, 2005, 09:53:52 pm

I'm glad you added the "No Swiggin" part, because when I was with the band the rule was "One beer before the show, no more!". This rule was the bible. I was told by Pete that if I was caught with anything else on the tour that Bill Ham would drop me off in the desert. In fact, the band itself was on a $5,000.00 per offense rule at the time. That doesn't mean that stuff didn't happen, but we were very careful around Bill.

Terry, that brings me to something I was thinking of asking you. I knew Bill Ham as the toughest damn manager in Rock. His reputation preceeded him everywhere we went. I saw him do things to stage hands, club owners and concert promoters that I never saw anyone else do, (and won't talk about). At the same time, it was kind of a tough love thing too. He was not exactly like dad but we knew we could count on him.

Here's my question. How was he as a producer? I know he was always credited with producing the band, but I always thought it was really you doing the producing. I don't want to say anything bad about Bill, but I used to think he was too damn mean to produce music.

Radd, I haven't read the book, but the Paladium show was my fault. Actually that one belongs in the Horror session thread.


Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: J.J. Blair on February 24, 2005, 01:22:24 am
OK, it's 1993 and this rap group called Bloods and Crips has room B locked out.  It involves a DAT player going through the PA and 30 people hanging out in the room, smoking dope while one or two of them are on the mics.  And yes, these were real gang members (allegedly).  One of the guys comes to tell me that it sounds fucked up, so I go in there and somebody has cranked the input gain on the DAT channels to the max and they have blown out the woofers and sub woofers for the entire room.  

I try to explain to their manager what happened and how one of them did this and how he is going to have to pay for it.  I find myself in a really heated conversation with the manager and a bunch of the group are standing around me asking why I'm 'disrespecting' him.  I'm really starting to lose it at this point, and I say, "So let me get this straight: You are not going to pay for the damage?  Then get out now.  Y'ALL JUST GET THE FUCK OUT!"  And I walked over to the door and held it open, realizing what I had just done.  I hear one of them say, "Damn!  That is the brashest white boy I ever heard!"

Well, they all walk out without incident, but they hang out in the parking lot for about two hours.  Everybody in the rehearsal facility knows what just happened, and they are hiding in their rooms.  I was wondering what I had just done.  Eventually they all left the parking lot, but we were sure that there was going to be some type of reprisal.

That evening, I am hanging out in the lobby playing pool by myself.  I hear some footsteps outside the front door and then I hear 'click-click' kind of sound.  I immediately dive behind the soda machines, because I am sure that somebody outside has just locked and loaded an Uzi and is about to spray the front door.

Nothing happens.  

I crawl over to the door to look out the little window next to the door.  A bum is standing outside.  The sound I heard was him cracking open a can of beer!
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Radd 47 on February 25, 2005, 04:54:51 pm
OK, that was Billy Ethridge doing the shotgunning with Frank. Not Dan Mitchell. I think Mitchell got drafted.

Another funny story I remember, the Merry Frankster was at Ethridge's house one time, and decided to relieve himeself in the catbox while Ethridge was in the other room. Ethridge comes into the room and see's Frank's "surprise" in the catbox and says "Oh my god, something is terribly wrong with my cat!" While Ethridge was rushing out the door to take the animal to the vet, Frank let him in on the prank.

I know, disgusting story, but pretty funny!

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Bill Mueller on February 25, 2005, 07:35:38 pm
I was going to put this on the Strange Other Worldly Gear thread but I think it belongs here more.

So when I was a kid this kind of stuff happend to me alot. I would be working a show and have no idea who the next act was.

I was roadie with Humble Pie and we were in the middle of the Eat It tour (1972 I believe). That band toured ten months a year and 26 or more days a month. Yeow. We frequently had unusual opening bands in those days. We had shows with Humble Pie, Dave Mason, Foghat and Lighthouse, all on the same show. It was great.

Anyway, I was working stage and assisting monitors on this one show and this band shows up. About ten black guys in long colorful robes and headgear. Now, we knew what to do with a drum set, lead vocal, lead guitar and bass, but had no idea what to do with these guys and no time to figure it out. They had congas, and lots of strange little percussion toys and if I remember right, four or five mics across the front of stage. They came out with these little boxes with metal tines attached and started thumb picking this plink, plunk stuff into the mics. Well we were grabbing faders left and right trying to get a mix. I had no idea where the particular sounds were coming from and about the time we figured it out their set was over.

It was Earh Wind and Fire.

Another show that was interesting was a big festival I did with ZZ Top in Houston around the same time. It was at Jepperson Stadium (I believe that is what it was called) and it was an all day afair. There must have been about ten acts on that show. So I was standing stage right and this old guy walks up and stands next to me. He is wearing rags and smells really bad. He has no shoes on and is carrying a guitar that has a HOLE in the middle of the sound board!

I looked at this old man and started to worry. He was obviously stoned and was standing right next to me looking all the world like he was going to run out on the stage. I had been in some hairy situations on stage (almost dragged into the crowd in Detroit) and was ready to take action if needed. I thought I might have to grab him and hold him down until security came and drug him away for me. If he moved, I was ready.

As the band  went into the end of their last song, we had some feedback on the vocal mic and I took my eyes off the old guy for a minute. All of a sudden I looked back and he was running out on to stage! Shit! About the time that I was deciding whether to run out from behind the monitor console and grab him, the crowd of about 50,000 went wild! I reconsidered.

It was Willy Nelson.

Best Regards,

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: J.J. Blair on February 25, 2005, 10:03:29 pm
What?  You guys had never seen a kalimba?  You mean Humble Pie didn't do a kalimba solo in the middle of their set?  Not even an okarina solo?
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Barry Hufker on February 25, 2005, 10:09:39 pm
I used to do a lot of pipe organ recording for broadcast.  Joseph O'Connor (the host and organist) and I produced a weekly program called "King of Instruments."  We visited a different organ installation each week, recording music composed to be played on that style of instrument.  This week we were at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis.

The Cathedral, which is located more or less in the heart of the city, has an outreach to all people, especially the poor and homeless.  We were allowed to record at the Cathedral provided people were allowed to enter unimpeded to pray, tour, etc.

For some time, Joseph and I had been mulling over what was a new concept (to us anyway) about recording the organ.  We reckoned that pipe organs were really voiced to be heard by the people standing below the organ loft on the main floor and not 20' up in the air.  For this session then we were miking the instrument a reasonable distance away but on stands a little higher than head height.

As recording started and people wandered in, I quieted them by holding my finger over my mouth in the classic "sssshhhh" and then pointing towards the mikes.  Everyone was quick to see me and remained silent.

Things had been going surprisingly well.  The recorded sound was decent.  We had quite a number of pieces down and we were ready for the huge finale.  We had had several incomplete takes of the finale as the piece was a bear to play. Once again I rolled tape, called the take number and Joseph started out with a monstrous chord at a fiery tempo.  The sound was big, bold and sweeping.

Standing, listening and praying that this would be "the take", I looked up about midway through the piece to see the doors to the center aisle push mysteriously open.  A homeless man from the streets just outside slipped through the parted doors.  He was tall, thin and obviously drunk.  Seeing me, he shuffled ahead.  I spotted him instantly and gave him the universally understood "ssshhh" signal.  He continued to shuffle up the center aisle.

The organ continued its roar as the man shuffled closer.  I tried to make sure I got his attention.  I pointed to the microphones and put up my hands signalling he had to stop.  The organ continued its roar and the man shuffled closer.  I again signalled him to quit moving.  The organ roared and the man shuffled closer, all the time moving slow step by slow step unswervingly towards the microphones on the stand in the middle aisle.  I hurried towards the microphones as quietly as possible hoping to still save the take.  The organ roared. The man, having now made his way down the long aisle, finally reached the mikes.

I didn't know it, but even in his own mind the man understood he had microphones before him.  He leaned in towards the pair in order to be clearly heard.  "I don't mean you no harm mister.  I won't bother you." were the words spoken plainly and directly into the mikes.  Stunned that the inevitable had actually happened, I gave him a couple of slight nods and a half-smile-half-grimace acknowledging his statement. Satisfied he had made his intentions known to me, the man turned away and shuffled down the center aisle, exiting the church through the main doors.

When the final building-rattling chord ended and the reverb faded, I yelled to Joseph that we had to do the piece again.  Turning from the organ console in disbelief, Joseph was stunned by the story I told.  With a heavy sigh, I called another take.
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: David Kulka on February 25, 2005, 10:41:12 pm
Well, my little stories are on a small scale and not nearly as dramatic as some of the other offerings, but here goes.  Both took place in Studio 3 at United/Western, home of countless hit singles.

Nearly all the old Beach Boys hits had been recorded and mixed in 3, by the wonderful Chuck Britz.  In about '79 a Beach Boys comeback project was booked, with an unusual kicker.  Instead using the resident MCI console and 24-track, we set up a vintage tube mixer and (I think...it's been so long) an Ampex 350 2-track, with tube electronics.  Everything would be recorded live, kinda like the old days, on the old gear, old school style.

The "Closed Session" sign was on the door most of the time but even from the shop, it was clear that things weren't going too well.  Heated arguments rang down the hallway and retakes went on with numbing, Groundhog Day kind of repetition.  For us staffers the initial thrill soon turned to sadness.  My most vivid memory of that project is a group member jumping up and down on a cheeseburger in the hallway.  The burger was still wrapped, but the jumper seemed rather unwrapped.  After about a week the project was abruptly cancelled, the recordings were never released.

One day in '78 or '79 we got word that Glen Hardin, Elvis's piano player, was coming in to do a session with a mystery singer.  Who was the vocalist?  An Elvis fan who'd spent his life savings to book the room and bring the pianist in at triple scale, to record a vanity album.  Tragically, he was oblivious to the fact that he had no voice, and couldn't sing his way out of a phone booth.  As he butchered I Really Don't Want To Know and Unchained Melody, Mr. Hardin looked close to tears.  I kept a cassette copy and dubbed it to CD a while ago, and I assure you, it's awfulness stands the test of time.
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Barry Hufker on February 26, 2005, 08:56:29 am

Both of those are great!

Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: Consul on February 26, 2005, 09:24:15 am
That second story is a perfect testament to what can happen if EFD (Elvis Fandom Syndrome) stays unchecked. Please, please don't let that happen to your loved ones! EFD is a serious disease that requires medical treatment.

Typical treatment usually consists of shock therapy induced by playing early Beatles albums over and over again (Beatles Shock Therapy, or BST). There are other, milder forms of therapy now available, though. Please check with your doctor.

Very Happy  Very Happy  Very Happy

With tongue firmly in cheek...
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: J.J. Blair on February 26, 2005, 11:49:37 am
On a side note, you know that Jerry Scheff has played with both Elvises?  (Or would that be Elvi?)
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: jimmyjazz on March 02, 2005, 02:14:50 pm
Bill Mueller wrote on Mon, 21 February 2005 19:56

Of course that kind of stuff is typical for St Louis. I too am from St Louis so I guess we should stick together.

Sign me up.  Born in St. Louis, raised in the area.  My mom's dad was probably the only lawyer in town who never owned a house -- but he rented his half of a Clayton duplex from Dizzy Dean!  They caught Dizzy splitting a beer with my mom's littlest sister late one afternoon, when said sister was only 5 years old.  As if to compete with mom's famous Cardinals connection, my dad's mom was Stan Musial's bookkeeper, mostly for Biggie's Restaurant.

Barry, if you've been involved with the St. Louis Symphony or Symphony Chorus at all during the past 15 years or so, you might know my sister Gail.  She sometimes plays odd keyboard parts (clavinette, etc.) with the symphony, or even the piano when their pianist can't make it, and she is the pianist for the Symphony Chorus.  She is also a vocal coach at Washington University.

As for strange studio tales, I can't even hope to compete.  Keep the stories coming, guys.  This thread is too much!
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: CCC on March 02, 2005, 03:21:49 pm
I have a story related to one of the not-very interesting-or-talented "trash the place" kind of bands mentioned earlier.

First time I assisted on a gig with not-very-interesting-or-talented band they wrecked the place. It was only a problem in so far as it was so tedious, predictable, non-threatening and utterly innocuous. Between the end of their gig in the wee hours and the next morning we had the room cleaned, refurnished, painted and ready to go for the downbeat of a string date the next morning. At their expense. I guess it worked out for everyone.

Some weeks later not-very-interesting-or-talented band is back in another room and I'm not on the gig. This time they trashed their lounge and the lounge for the room I was in as well...which really pissed off the not-very-sober producer I was with....so he went home and brought back a gun and went prowling for not-very-interesting-talented band. (I don't know much about guns, but this didn't look like a starters pistol - could have been a Glock, I guess). Not-very-interesting-or-talented band must have left for the day and they didn't cross paths with the other clients again, which, in retrospect, is a bit of a shame since the world "could" have been spared some pretty awful records. Not that I advocate the murder of rock stars per se....

I've got some other, better stories. Ask me about the band of cheese-heads who thought they were vampires that broke up in the studio before recording one note, followed by the lead singer having a nervous breakdown and curling up in a fetal position under the console. ....nevermind, that's most of the story right there...
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: compasspnt on March 02, 2005, 03:41:21 pm
Cool John...come on, out with the whole thing!
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: RMoore on March 02, 2005, 05:16:41 pm
John Sorensen wrote on Wed, 02 March 2005 21:21

 I've got some other, better stories. Ask me about the band of cheese-heads who thought they were vampires that broke up in the studio before recording one note, followed by the lead singer having a nervous breakdown and curling up in a fetal position under the console. ....nevermind, that's most of the story right there...

Thats pretty funny - breaking up before playing the 1st note..
Must have been a bizarre  scene to witness..
Was it a Toronto band?
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: CCC on March 02, 2005, 06:03:56 pm
Ryan Moore wrote on Wed, 02 March 2005 22:16

Thats pretty funny - breaking up before playing the 1st note..
Must have been a bizarre  scene to witness..
Was it a Toronto band?

Hi Ryan,
No, not a Toronto band - but Canadian. They were unknown beyond their home city, so you wouldn't have heard of them.

The story in it's entirety is kind of funny, and although it sounds like it might be exaggerated it's not.

So anyway - I had meetings with the band, talked on the phone, been to gigs, etc...and read their press (which came in VERY handy in fact). The night before the session I even went to see them play live again, and the band appeared to be intact, if somewhat ghoulish looking.

The next day the singer/complete-lunatic shows up at the studio with a bass in hand - apparently in the 12 intervening hours the bassist had quit. Bad sign. The drummer was very late, and in the meantime the musicians who were there were squabbling, and it seemed like singer/complete-lunatic was having some extremely serious trouble connecting with reality. He kept talking about the fact that because he was omniscient (all knowing and all seeing) he had already seen the session in the future in his head and that it was good - this was supposed to be reassuring to all concerned. He had "willed" the session, had "willed" the drummer to show up, and because his "will" was so forceful it would all come to pass. There was some other stuff about how he had sent his spirit out of his body to look for the missing drummer and so on.

At first it was amusing, but after a great while it became pretty scary - moreso as the general intensity of his prophecies rose to a fever pitch - really rambling, wacko stuff. At this point in my musical career I'd not met people quite this crazy, and I started to get really, really nervous - I mean, you never know what someone like that is going to do. I kind of gripping the edge of the console for support (with sweaty hands) and wondering how the hell I was going to get out of the situation...they'd been with me in the control room for a couple of hours arguing with each other, waiting for the drummer, while the singer made alarming prophecies - and we hadn't even gotten around to getting sounds started or anything. Then crazy dude crawled under the console, curled up in a ball, and kind of rocked back and forth, which was pretty unnerving.

Then a solution came to me - and I gotta tell you - I am REALLY proud of this one. In the press I'd read and in conversations with the singer I'd noticed some of the goofy terms he used to describe his music, and so I conjured up a tremendous load of BS using the terms he was fond of using .... just kind of spoke his language and explained to him why it was probably best to call off the recording under the tense circumstances - and he BOUGHT IT. He stood up, picked up the bass, and walked out the door. The others apologized profusely - they thought they were vampires, but they had manners after all, and they shuffled out....and so ended the inauspicious career of the Canuck vampires.
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: compasspnt on March 02, 2005, 06:12:33 pm
Well done John!  Baptism under fire!  That was a great introduction to....THE BAND!  

.....(not The Band w/ Robbie R, Garth, etc., of course!)

You mention that at that point you hadn't met people that crazy yet....
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: RMoore on March 02, 2005, 07:26:53 pm
John Sorensen wrote on Thu, 03 March 2005 00:03

  they thought they were vampires, but they had manners after all, and they shuffled out....

Lol - great quote.

Sounds like a bizarre scene,

Bands - indeed.,  

Seems like quite the accomplishment they even got as far as the studio doors.

Lucky you didn;t keep your sword collection up on the walls - you never know!

BTW I am a Canuck in exile..
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: compasspnt on March 29, 2005, 12:30:38 am
Here's a funny one:

A number of years ago (won't say how many) I was working on an album (won't say which) for a very famous female singer (won't say who).  The session consisted of very long, hard days, and there were a lot of odd, story-worthy happenings.  But one in particular will never leave me...

This particular singer wanted to be VERY involved with EVERY tiny aspect of the recordings, and indeed that was the artist's right, I would say.  On one particular day, there was a well known session guitarist (won't say the name) who had come to play.  This very good player had his whole setup there, and was playing in the control room, seated, with his very large pedal board on the floor in front of him.  He had switched on the wah-wah pedal, not to vary it for the wah effect, but to use a static position for a particular tone.  The artist wasn't satisfied (never was) with the tone, so she actually jumped over in front of him, and began turning the knobs on his guitar, as he was playing and recording.  Of course, this is not done with session players (if with any player)!  But the guitarist soldiered on, not wanting to create any bad vibes...he just wanted to get the session over with!  As he played, she kept turning anything she could find on the guitar (even the volume knobs).  Finally, she began to tire a bit, so she knelt on the floor, and leaned her elbow on his right knee.  This created pressure downwards, and threatened to change the tone of the wah pedal by the movement.  This went on for quite a while, the artist turning knobs looking for "the" tone, and the guitarist trying with all his might to counteract the force of her weight on his knee, and hold the tone!  She started yelling over the music that the tone seemed to be changing in the wrong way...he continued to try to hold tight.  Finally, he couldn't take it anymore, and just screamed out, YOU'RE PUSHING ON MY LEG DAMMIT, AND CHANGING YOU ARE CHANGING THE WAH WAH PEDAL TONE!  THAT'S WHY THE TONE IS CHANGING!  He actually jumped up, and ran from the room.  The artist was merely frightened, not understanding.  They finally made up, though she never understood what had happened, and somehow the overdub was completed...

It was just one of only 105 guitar tracks which were kept on that particular song!
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: adam_w on March 29, 2005, 01:12:56 am
Well, this one's not as fun as some of you guys stories, but it is weird. I was scheduled to do a session and the band were REALLY late. HOURS late..Eventually they showed up, and I gave them a really hard time in my usual sarcastic manner only to be told..

"Our singer's dead. He OD'd last night"

At which point I felt about one inch tall.

We transferred the dead singers vocal off a casette portastudio onto the multitrack and did the tracks around the dead guys parts. It was one of the eeriest sessions I've ever done, part recording session, part wake.
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: compasspnt on March 29, 2005, 01:20:16 am
Wow, Adam.  Pretty gruesome.
Title: Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
Post by: J.J. Blair on March 29, 2005, 10:05:23 am
Hey, but like true pros, they showed up to record.  Wow.  I hope the record was a hit.