Road Days - stories from an aging roadie

Still on the Road
I was on the road when John Lennon died. I was in Ohio. Gonzo and I were on tour with The Babys, a band with a brief career and some good tunes. They had been the opening act for Journey’s tour, but within a year The Babys would break up, and Journey would snag Jonathan Cain, The Babys keyboardist, to replace Greg Rollie, Journey’s co-founder, keyboard player and vocalist (who is also the voice on classic early Santana hits).I don’t remember specifics about exactly what I was doing when I heard the news. That’s one of the downsides of actually being part of the music and concert industry way back when, at least for some of us. I’m pretty sure we were watching Monday Night Football, and we heard Howard Cosell make the announcement. I remember being stunned. played music and held on to a dream of some day doing nothing but playing music for a living, and living the music. We had those notions, for good or for bad, because we had been brought to the dream by the Beatles. I’m pretty freaking old in a lot of people’s eyes now days (I’m fifty-six), old enough to have gone to the Marquette Theatre on the corner of 59th and Kedzie to see a Hard Days Night (it’s where I also saw Ferry Cross the Mersey, with Jerry and the Pacemakers) the day it was released. I was already interested in the guitar before the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, but me and thousands of other kids ramped up our dreams by learning how to play Day Tripper and every other Beatles tune we could figure out. Hard to imagine that anyone else will come along in my lifetime and make a global, cultural change like the Beatles did. And so there I was, in Ohio, having achieved some tiny level of satisfaction as a roadie, for bands that got airplay, that played concerts in small halls and big stadiums, and I was just doing it, living it, feeling it...

It just wasn’t what you’d expect. It was a foreign concept, that John Lennon would be shot and killed. It made no sense. Then again, with a few exceptions, it never makes sense As I get older, I realize how whenever someone is shot. powerful the “Now what?” But, John Lennon? moments are in our lives, and I

grudgingly accept, with sadness, It hurt all of us, sure, but, me and Gonzo, we were in it, y’know? that the “Now what?” moments We weren’t rock stars, but we And John Lennon was dead. must occur, and all I can do is carry worked for a rock band. We didn’t hear our music on the radio, but Allow me to digress briefly: Years them with me, remember them, and we heard the music of the guys after Lennon’s death, the industry use them to guide me... that we hung out with every night. lost another great, influential soul We were getting good paychecks when Bill Graham was killed in a and having a great time because we were in the industry. helicopter accident. He didn’t have the stature of Little tiny specks in the industry, certainly, but, in it, Lennon, but he was a major force in live music. Shit, nonetheless. he was THE force. Clarence Clemons had a condo just beyond my backyard in Sausalito, and we’d see each We were in it, really, because of the Beatles. We were other, shoot the shit every now and then (I was on the in it for the same reason young guys formed bands and video crew for some of the Born in the USA tour), and -- 877-311-0577

we saw each other the day after Bill’s accident. Clarence looked at me and asked, “Now what?” He was asking how on earth do we fill that void? Who would we turn to now, who would keep things happening, who would put on shows that people would remember their entire lives, who could musicians and artists and managers and fans rely on to make the impossible possible, how would we ever find our way to nirvana without the guru? That night in Ohio was a “Now what?” moment. Everything would be the same after that, because everything keeps going no matter who lives and who dies, just as everything would be the same after Graham, but, just like it is for all our tragedies, personal and distant, nothing would ever be the same. As I get older, I realize how powerful the “Now

What?” moments are in our lives, and I grudgingly accept, with sadness, that the “Now what?” moments must occur, and all I can do is carry them with me, remember them, and use them to guide me, to remind me of how I should treat people, and make the most of every moment, because the next moment isn’t promised to anyone. Not to me. Not to you. Not to John Lennon. Lennon and millions of other souls are gone, and I can ask “”Now what?”, but, more importantly, I think John Lennon would say it’s okay to ask the question, as long as I move my ass down the road to look for the answer. It’s the moving that’s the answer; the journey is the answer; the knowing that life is full of “Now what?”, and you may never know why, but the only way you’ll ever a chance in hell of figuring out anything is to keep moving... On the road.

Mike Harkins, author and media consultant, has over thirty years experience in communications, design, media, and event production. His businesses -Writesite and Communicator.Pro -- provide creative services to business, entertainment, and non-profit clients.

The Way to Communicate is a practical and philosophical guide to understanding and building enlightened person-to-person communication skills in an increasingly technology-oriented world of personal disconnection. Everything we do – how we interact with people, how we stand, how we look, what we say, how we say it and how we listen – communicates something about us at every moment. The Way to Communicate teaches how to tap into our core and build upon our inherent sense of humanity, empathy, and self-awareness to become a better communicator. The book provides the mental, physical, technical and practical tools that enable anyone to markedly improve their personal communication skills and effectively communicate any message in any person-to-person situation, from a one-on-one conversation to a presentation for a packed auditorium. The Way to Communicate’s messages are simple, wise, effective, and timely. Straightforward principles and the tenets of basic humanity, spiritual quests, and ultimate happiness, are the foundations of many enduring ‘ways’. Now, The Way to Communicate presents and explains a new ‘way’, one that great communicators inherently know and that our digitally over-connected culture needs: true communication must come from within. While the development and use of presentation, speaking, and people ‘skills’ do matter, our internal gatekeeper accepts or declines messages based on how we feel about the people delivering them. The Way to Communicate presents a practical and philosophical way to connect with and develop the effective communicator in all of us, in and out of the workplace.

Michael W. Harkins
presenter skills coaching / presentation consulting
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