winning entry of the OnlineRock writing contest. John Griffith of
Music Production tells a tale about an experience with the man
behind Mad Dogs and Englishman and his missing bag of pot!
been a lucky guy. Ive had more than my share of good times and
fun since I played my first paying gig at the age of 15. When youre
a teenager, and you get to party with the college girls, and drink
all the free beer you can, and also get paid for it, well, life just
doesnt get any better than that! I was blessed to be on stage
with Janis Joplin, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Blue Cheer
and many other legendary artists before I was out of high school.
I was always blessed to be in bands with guys that were my musical
superiors. Being raised in Northern California, a short stony drive
from San Francisco, put me right in the middle of the whole trippy
scene going on in the Haight Ashbury. I saw so many tremendous triple
bills at the Fillmore and Winterland that are still embedded freshly
in my mind today, and some that are just a vague, but warm, fuzzy
memory. One of the really striking shows that I saw (twice) was Joe
Cockers Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tour with Leon Russell and a
whole all star cast. He really blew me away. That voice! Those spastic
contortions! Wailing and flailing away with a feeling that only Ray
Charles could rival. As I watched him from about ten feet away, I
thought that I better dig it now, because there would be no way that
this guy would have a voice left in the future. Pity, I thought. This
guy had to be seen to be believed. I wondered, "Whats this
guy really like?"
forward ten years or so. Im playing with Spider Kelly and weve
relocated to Los Angeles to be near the hub of the music business.
Weve begun working with Rob Fraboni, who is a giant in the world
of rock. He had already produced Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, The Band,
as well as Joe Cocker and many other heavyweights. I had completed
my tracks and we were listening to some rough mixes and sweetening
a few things. We had recorded previously, but we were still quite
green, and Rob had to guide us quite a bit. I thought Id better
not smoke any pot during my tracks, but busted out the last of the
green I had brought with me as soon as I was done. As I was scraping
together a hooter, one of the guys came in and said Joe Cocker was
out in the kitchen. We always pulled pranks on each other and I thought
it was a joke, but went to check anyway. I looked around and, just
as I thought, no Joe. I headed back to the control room to snag my
favorite spot, and whos ass is in my chair? The mighty Joe!
Awesome! I actually got nervous and didnt know what to say.
We shot the breeze for a few seconds and I fired up, not knowing if
it was uncool or not. It wasnt great smoke and that was the
only complaint. Joe had been on a long flight and was quite tired,
but graciously pulled out a small amount of Jamaican, which our singer
rolled up. We were smokin Joes stash! Joe mentioned that
the song on the speakers (Call Me Up), was kinda bubblegum, and fell
asleep right there. We continued on with what we were doing. When
the joint was finished, Jeff (against my protests) continued to roll
up Cockers stash, which we finished off rather quickly. I would
glance over and trip on the whole scene, and wonder if he would be
pissed when he woke up. As the days session came to an end,
Fraboni went to the track "Made In Heaven", and cranked
the speakers. Joe shot straight out of his chair saying, "What
the hell is that?" We all laughed and said that it was still
the same band. He said, "I like that!," and I was in heaven!
As he began to look around and gather his senses and belongings, Joe
saw his depleted bag sitting there. He gave it the "what happened?"
look and just raised his eyebrow. I dont know to this day if
he was pissed or not. He didnt say anything but, "nice
to meet you guys, good luck with the album", and disappeared
into the night with Fraboni.
forward another bunch of years, and Im sitting here gathering
together material for the new Spider Kelly website Im building
at OnlineRock. Im flashing on the recording sessions, and this
particular episode, when I get an Email announcing this writing contest.
Theres something cosmic about that, and, at the risk of sounding
like were a bunch of stoners, I couldnt resist telling
you all about it. Bear in mind that it was a different time, and weve
all cleaned up our acts since then. Joe, if you werent pissed
then, I wonder if you are now!
the Runner-Up's Story in the OnlineRock Writing Contest