Andy Warhol Was At His Usual Table At Max’s Kansas City

Andy Warhol was at his usual table at Max’s Kansas City in Manhattan.

by Russell S Buddy Helm copyight 2013 all rights reserved.

Andy Warhol was at his usual table at Max’s Kansas City, his entourage was in attendance. Debbie Harry was waiting tables, not yet Blondie. Patty Smith was hanging out with Maplethorpe. The tables had little bowls of hard chick peas. I couldn’t eat them. Best not to eat at Max’s Kansas City at all. Too expensive and not that good. We headed on up the narrow stairs to the performance room. We were a hit it seemed. Lots of faces checked us out. Dave Mason, some kid named Springsteen, Village voice wrote a serious musical criticism, lots of fans. Tim was being gracious to everyone, but very guarded. The crowd could turn away from a new trend in a New York second. Late at night Tim and I would walk around the village, he would point out the places where he used to stay. He had performed at the Cafe Au Go Go for Howard. There were a lot of connections to Coconut Grove. One night, in the dressing room, I met one of the Bethlehem Asylum’s road managers. He had also been Tim’s road manager. Destiny runs in circles sometimes.

We had a great time in Atlanta, It was like a homecoming for me. Lowell George’s band, “Little Feet” played Richard’s, a huge Rock n roll club, the week before us, We all hung out and jammed together. Bonnie Bramlet tried her best to steal me away from Tim but he wouldn’t have it. John Hammond Jr tried to bust Tim for going commercial but I wouldn’t have any of that either. Lots of jive around a hit rock n roll band. You have to watch out or get sucked in by vampires. When we hit Baton Rouge, I felt like we had gotten close to my roots. The bayou was home to me. Lots like the everglades. I was writing and trying to get up enough nerve to show Tim. He had his writing partner, for many years, but we were now treading very new ground musically. I was hearing a melding of styles; rock and Afro Cuban, with aggressive high tempo trances that went for a long time, with Tim yodeling in some alien language. The more I pumped, the more he would sing in trance. It was unheard of at that time. The closest example is the live “Honeyman” album cut in New York on WBAI radio. Herb, Tim’s manager, just wanted him to sing love ballands which had made him popular in the sixties. But Tim wanted to go for the brass ring. When we hit the stage there was no telling what we would end up playing. Sometimes he would make up a song onstage and the rest of us would have to make it work. I loved that.

We stayed at the One Fifth Avenue in New York. That will always be a great memory for me; twenty two and living the life that I thought I should be living. Working at keeping sane, looking for opportunities to develop the art, the music, the writing, the drumming. I was being a good boy. The drugs and the booze really didn’t interest me. It was around and if you weren’t careful, you could turn into an alcoholic in a couple of weeks playing clubs or concerts, never mind the risks of the other stuff. I stayed on my game as best I could. Mack would yell at me through the bathroom door of our shared hotel room, “What are you doing in there?” I sat on the floor, “I’m meditating.” I answered him quietly. Anything I could do to maintain the stance of a balanced magician, I was willing to investigate. I was vegetarian until I saw myself in a Holiday Inn mirror and scared myself so bad that I started to eat meat again. I was skinny, brittle hair, pallor white, and slumping posture. Tim cracked up when two working girls called me a “Dangling Protestant”, as they past us up by Central Park around the corner from the Circus Deli..

Tim was fighting with his label and management about what kind of music he was going to be able to record and play. He had a reputation for eclecticism, but we were pushing the groove now, it was dynamic and exciting. We were defining the music that would happen in the future. He would also do his ballads, and that was always a treat. His voice had as much power and depth as Freddie’s, a different quality when he went up the high registers. He was defining a scale of notes that Coltrane might have used. This was not pop music the way it had been packaged. It was fresh. And we were getting a good audience. Very hip; even by Coconut Grove standards.

by Russell S Buddy Helm copyight 2013 all rights reserved.



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