We were playing at the Troubador

excerpt: “History of the Groove” Russell Buddy Helm ©2014 all rights reserved

1972. We were playing at the Troubador, sharing the bill with the remains of the Zombies. Tim and us had just finished a grueling tour through the Midwest and East coast over the span of a few months in the snow and we were road weary.
A very sweet young woman talked to me after our first show, on the stairs up to the dressing rooms. Then she fainted. I sat her down on the steps and interrogated her about what drugs she might have taken. She was recovering from a sinus infection she got while shooting a breath mint commercial where she had to sit in a waterfall all day. I listened while she talked about leaving her rock star boyfriend because he was getting really weird; wearing a pyramid hat in the recording studio while he cut a hit song, and also while they were in bed. Being new to LA, I naively offered my knightly assistance in case she had to have someone protect her from a wacko rock star. She responded saying that she had the unwanted protection of her ex boyfriend’s bodyguard who was not leaving her alone. He was always hovering around keeping tabs on her.
On stage while we talked was Colin Blunstone, the lead singer from the Zombies, with his new band. They were doing very well. The reviews in the LA Times said they were very good and gave short shrift to Tim Buckley, the hometown artist and his hardworking band. Tim took offense at the snub. I started venting in the dressing room while we were trying to rest, about American music getting co opted by English musicians and then selling it back to uninformed American kids at inflated prices. Colin’s band was doing the rock star raving drunk routine in the next room. I yelled out the window at them in my best mock redneck voice,  “We’re trying to git some sleep over here!” I meant it as a joke. Colin came over and apologized. He was very nice. When we got onstage, Tim picked up my refrain, “What we’re doing here is AMERICAN music! I’m sick of English musicians ripping us off.” He repeated what I had said in the dressing then he improvised remarks impuning the masculinity of the other band,  “I don’t care what someone wants to do, but if I drop my car keys and I have to kick them around the corner before I bend over to pick them up then I have to say something.” He got quite a response from that remark. Colin and his bandmates at the back of the room immediately gathered up as many groupies as they could find and made a big procession out the door while we were still performing. I was the last to leave at the end of the night. Loading out my drums through the Troubador’s alley door, the English band’s rental station wagon pulled up, driven by their road manager. He threw the girls out of the car and drove off. “Hey!” The party girls griped at him as he sped off, “I thought there was going to be a party!”

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