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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Hotel Hijinx...or Funny Ramones Stuff

Joey1, originally uploaded by Cool Auntie.

In the Summer of 1981, Stiv Bators dragged me along on tour with his post-Dead Boys, pre-Lords of the New Church band, The Wanderers.

We had the distinct pleasure of being on the road for part of the Ramones tour. In New York City, we played the Palladium, which is no longer there. It was on 14th Street where Irving Place ended (or began, if you please) - between 3rd and 4th Avenues. Now, New York University dorms are there. can't imagine what a thrill it was to be doing a gig in NYC with the Ramones and Stiv. It was their town. They were local heroes. We were treated right where ever we went. It was the time when the Mudd Club was happening. Nightclubbing with Stiv taught me how to make grand entrances yet quiet disappearances. Stiv learned that from Jim Carroll, who managed to visit about four clubs a night and get his face or name in all the places that report about club life.

It was the first time I'd stayed in the Gramercy Park Hotel. It was the rock n roll hotel of choice back then. In fact, Paul Shaffer, who at the time was the band leader for Saturday Night Live, was living at the hotel. We all stayed in one suite. All of us - me, Stiv, his girlfriend at the time, Stacy, Dave Parsons, Dave Tregunna, Rick Rock Goldstein, and Dean Klevatt. I was still friendly with Stiv's ex-girlfriend, B-Girl Cynthia Ross, who was living in New York at that moment, and we took up her friend Pam Brown's offer to loft-sit nearby on Third Avenue. After Pam and her husband returned from their honeymoon, I had to go back to the Gramercy. Stiv and I picked the lock on an adjoinding room and got ourselves an extra bed, couch and bathroom at no extra charge. I'm sure this kind of thing happened all the time there. Its probably WHY bands of Stiv's level did stay there.

Now, let me say that right now, I can't remember HOW we paid for any of this. Not only did we stay in hotels, but we flew to each destination.

I'm pretty sure that Stiv was scamming cash from Greg Shaw, as he was pretty much charging all his phone calls to Greg's wife, Suzy's phone anyway, and Greg had just paid for Stiv's solo album and was very happy with it. On the other hand, I believe Stiv was also scamming money from Miles Copeland, Jr. (not to be confused with his father, Miles, Sr., who was also a friend and co-worker of MY father. Small incestuous world, you know?) Yes, Miles had recently launched IRS Records and was courting Stiv for a deal. So, Stiv took advantage.

All along the tour, we stayed in hotels (rather than on fans' or other bands' floors, as was the normal practice for bands on or being sought by IRS). They were mostly Holiday Inns, with the exception of the Nob Hill in San Francisco (I had stayed there with Pleasant whenever the Lobotomy crew went up to see Blondie.) We didn't even stay at Swingos when we were in Cleveland. Couldn't afford it, despite the fact we did have some money. Instead, we stayed at the Holiday Inn across the way but partied in the Swingos bar. Todd Rundgren was at Swingos, and we did indeed see him while we were in Cleveland. That chance meeting is one that Stiv never ever let me forget because I didn't have my camera with me, and missed a photo opportunity.

Dee Dee & Stiv

Dee Dee Ramone and Stiv had this unique way of messing up hotel rooms. While they wanted to pull off Keith Moon stature destruction, they really couldn't afford the cost of paying for it - so, at Joey Ramone's suggestion, we did things like turn the paintings upside down, make the beds as if we never slept in them - only removing the sheets... we put the sheets UNDER the beds, and smoothed over the bedspreads. We glued down lamps and ice buckets. Just moronic pranksterism. Now Joey did not participate in any of this. It was just Stiv and Dee Dee. Of course.

I've got another great Stiv and Dee Dee NYC Summer of 81 story to tell you, but I'm holding out til I can print and then scan a photo of someone else who rounds out the story. Wait a few days for that one. (I'm printing on Monday)

Dave Parsons

That's Dave Parsons, guitar player for the Wanderers, and also for Sham 69. If you hadn't already figured it out, The Wanderers were basically Sham without Jimmy Pursey. They even did "Borstal Breakout" and "If the Kids Are United" in the live set along with Wanderers originals and Dead Boys songs. After the Wanderers tour was over, Stiv went on to London with Stacy, ostensibly to make more Wanderers music, but in reality what he was doing was putting together the Lords of the New Church, and couldn't wait to get to get into the studio with ex-Damned Brian James. Both Stiv and I agreed that Brian was the brains behind the Damned's early success in the rock n roll aspect of punk rock. And Stiv wanted that noise in his own band. (And Damned personnel changes aside, we were still tight pals with Rat Scabies and would hang with him for years when Stiv and I were London roommates a few years later.)

After Stiv and the other Wanderers flew back to London, Dave Parsons and I flew back to LA. We went stand-by and had to traverse the entirety of JFK airport in the hot summer dragging our suitcases (which didn't have wheels on them back in 1981)and we simply were too burned out to care if we had to wait hours for another flight if we missed the one we were trying to catch. The beauty of going stand-by.

Dave stayed at my apartment for a couple weeks and enjoyed hot summer days and cool ocean breezes before getting on a plane back to London. My friend Che Zurro, of the Kim Fowley-created/inspired all girl band, The Orchids and I took Dave to his first ever drive-in movie! That summer, we saw "Excalibur" and "Escape From New York" at a Culver City drive in that's probably no longer there. I'll go check on it - but I'll bet I'm right in guessing its gone.

Later that summer, I would go on to work with my friend Ian McLagan on his last big stadium tour of the USA with England's newest hit makers. That band is on tour right now as a matter of fact - though Mac isn't playing with them anymore (Chuck Leavell is). Oh, next time we talk about Stiv, I'll have to tell you how he almost ended up in the music video for a song called "Waiting on a Friend," which was shot on St. Marks Place in NYC....

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