The Pin Spot was on Tim, so I left the stage

The pin spot was on Tim, so I left the stage.

excerpt “Drummer’s History” Russell Buddy Helm copyright 2013 all rights reserved

1973. The pin spot was on Tim, so I left the stage. Let him finish the encore without me …The tradition had evolved that the rest of the band would leave the stage and I would finish up the encore with just Tim vocalizing and me drumming. He would sing, talk, yodel, in tongues, making up sounds and words, reaching for high notes standing on his tiptoes, in thrall, while I pounded out a vodoo beat. It was a crowd pleaser. But lately, Tim was getting this star attitude.. I let it ride for a while but in Houston, at Liberty Hall, he forgot to introduce the band. The whole night was spent in shadows because they didn’t light the band. I wasn’t going to put up with this second class citizen treatment.  So at the moment in our duet encore that had evolved spontaneously over the months of doing it live, I would drop out and let Tim get the people to clap, then I would come back in and bring everybody up to a frenzy, then applause, standing ovation, etc, etcetera, etcetera…Only tonight I was pissed, so at the moment when I give Tim and the audience a moment together without the drums, I slipped off  the drumset, no one noticed because I was in the dark. I went upstairs to the dressing room. When I entered, the other band members almost puked. “What are you doing up here! He’s still on stage!!!”

I listened and the applause was confused and sporadic. There was silence. Then we heard the clopping of Tim’s platform shoes up the steps. The band stood back, afraid of a real fight. Tim burst into the dressing room, anger flashing from his Irish eyes. “What the….”

“Don’t you EVER do that again.” I interrupted him. It stopped him cold.

“What???” He was angry and completely baffled.

“You forgot to introduce the band.” I said slowly and distinctly.

His eyes lowered but he was still pissed. The others wouldn’t look at him or at me.

Thirteen years later, Tim’s widow tracked me down, and gave me bootleg recordings that Warners was distributing. She asked me, in my capacity as a film executive at Lorimar, to get some money for the widow and the orphan. I figured I could do that. I read the newspaper articles from across Europe; ‘Tim Buckley, Godfather of New Wave, etc…’ I listened to the tapes, and I heard Tim’s voice.

“…and on drums, my good friend from Coconut Grove,  Mr. Buddy Helm….” Then with some anger and threat in his voice he added,

“Let me hear some RESPECT for my people!” The crowd dutifully cheered.

excerpt “Drummer’s History” Russell Buddy Helm copyright 2013 all rights reserved


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