Tim Buckley’s new band was good

Tim Buckley’s new band was good

excerpt Drummer’s History by Russell Buddy Helm

copyright 2013 all rights reserved

I sat in the cafeteria at San Jose State along with everybody else and watched Tim with his new band. This was an unusual event. There were never concerts in the cafeteria. I didn’t even know about it until I went in for my usual lunch break. I saw a sandwich board advertizing the impromptu event. It had been at least six months since I had seen him. I was living like an art student while Katherine ran the office at the campus psychological counseling center. It was a hotbed of new techniques in psychotherapy. The staff expressed interest in me to Katherine. I was definitely not a regular student. They asked me to take the test and I rewrote the psychological questions instead of answering. I would have no part of someone diagnosing me. When they had seen what I had seen, then let them give me advice.

But here was Tim, out of the blue, unannounced, playing in my face. They were good. New keyboard player. New bass player, the drummer was barely capable.

They finished a hot set with Tim sweating, eyes wide, he steps down off of the stage right into the packed audience while everyone was clapping. He was pissed off. He came back to the row I was sitting in with a few of the faculty. Tim jabbed a finger at me, then hooked it back toward the dressing room. With a look that said, “Now!”

“You know Tim Buckley?!!” a few of the students and faculty said with amazement as I excused myself.

In the dressing room, everyone was steamed up. I knew the feeling. Tim glared at his drummer slouched on a bench, sipping Southern Comfort from a bottle.

“This…….” Tim said angrily at the drummer, while pointing at me, “…is Buddy Helm!”

They had staged this concert on my behalf.

“Are you still drumming?” Tim asked bluntly.

“Yes.” I lied. I had been knee deep in performance art. San Francisco was a hotbed of conceptual and performance art expanding the limits of entertainment and ritual. I was also going to Palo Alto and visiting Standford Research Institute. They were up to some pretty cool things. They let me play on what became the internet, only back in nineteen seventy five there was no network available to the public. It was for invited guests only.

“We broke contract with Herb. We have a new deal with United Artists.” Joe added,¬† “Tim is starring in the new movie about Woodie Guthrie called ‘Bound for Glory’.

Tim jumped in “You can be in it.” This had been rehearsed.

Joe chimed in, “We’ve gone through twenty drummers. Every drummer in L.A. Nobody can do what you do. The Alpha Band drummer, Matt…none of them can do what Buddy Helm does.”

“We’ll book the tours around your schedule here at school so that you come back and do your….art…or whatever it is that you’re doing here.” He added with¬† mock contempt. “Three days a week out on the road. We’ll put you up at the Tropicana and we’ll rehearse at Studio Instrument Rentals. And…we can share song writing credit and publishing.”

“Name your price.”

I thought too quickly, Merely tripling my earlier salary. They both nodded without any hesitation. Damn, I should have asked for more, but I sensed a desperate edge, they were on their own. So I gave them a bargain. Tim was too much fun to play with.

excerpt Drummer’s History by Russell Buddy Helm

copyright 2013 all rights reserved

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.