I worked for a concert promotion company for two years while attending college in the 70’s, which helped feed me and partly funded my substantial partying expense budget. In the beginning I was a stage hand, but as elder classmates continued to graduate, I eventually fell into managing the local stage crew, arranging security, band catering, electrical contracting, transportation, and all other local responsibilities related to our concert venue. My younger sister, who was probably 18 or 19 at the time, took over the catering portion and did a great job.
Personally, I found that most everything that you might expect about rock bands was true, and then some. Many were spoiled, demanding and ill-mannered. But some were also were surprisingly nice and down-to-earth. You just never knew what to expect. My charming little sister seemed to be able handle the big egos that demanded everything be just a certain way, especially when it came to their food. I was glad it was her handling that part of the business and not me.
One of my most interesting nights involved working a Styx concert during their heyday. I won’t get into too many details, but suffice it to say that there was plenty of rock band drama that night. Again, some of the band members were very cordial, some, not so much. After spending a little time at their after-hours party, I determined that my sister and a band member appeared to have left the hotel, nowhere to be found. I was a little concerned. He seemed like a nice enough fellow and she had a good head on her shoulders, but still, it would have been good to know what she was up to. In the days before the cell phone, it was anyone’s guess as to where they had fled.
I felt relieved went I went outside and saw that my sister’s white 1968 Mercury Cougar wasn’t in the parking lot. Assuming she had gone home, I headed back to my place. I was probably out before my head hit the pillow, hoping to catch a little rest before my first morning class.
At about 6:30, I was awakened by a phone call. It was my father, who wanted to know where the hell my sister was. I was shocked into action as he slammed down the phone, saying he was on his way to the hotel where the band was staying. I jumped into my ’68 Mustang and drove in a manner you might expect when trying to save your kid sister from a horrific scene, and your father from being thrashed by a seasoned rock & roll road-crew.
I flew into the parking lot just in time to see my dad entering the Red Lion. As I sprinted towards the hotel, I could hear his voice booming through the doorway. Upon arriving, I saw him in his business suit, surrounded by three or four half dressed roadies who had been through this type of thing more than once. “Dad, calm down!”, I yelled, as all of them turned around to see me. “Is this your dad? You better get his ass out of here before he gets the…..”.
Being totally prepared for the worst at this point, I grabbed him from behind just as he began to close in on the jumbo-sized roadie who very close to cleaning his clock. Holding back my scrappy dad in this irate state of mind was a handful, still attempting to calm him down. “Look, you don’t know if she’s even here, let’s go outside and look for her car.” It was a very tense situation for about the next twenty seconds until the scene took a crazy, unexpected turn. My sister and the missing band member came strolling through the hallway door like they were out shopping, just killing some time. Her relaxed demeanor changed very quickly upon realizing the makeup of this little group in the hallway.
Struggling again to contain my father, he said what most any dad would have in a similar situation. “Where the hell have you been?” The band member who I will not name, courageously and calmly approached my frothing father father to explain that they had driven up to the ski resort after the concert to watch the sunrise, and that nothing had happened. None of us really knew if that was true, but my sister, who is now sixty years-old, is still sticking to the story. Things began to de-escalate as I escorted my overly-protective father out of the hotel.
Almost 40 years later, I find myself in Tokyo, walking the streets alone at sunrise as my 22 year-old daughter is back at the hotel, snoozing away. Looking up at a pedestrian bridge, I see the spray-painted word “STYX”. Lots of memories flooded in as I walked up to the overpass to take a better look.
I don’t remember seeing much graffiti in Tokyo, so this really grabbed my attention. I took a picture of the scene that day, not only as a memento of my morning walk, but also as a reminder to myself as to how interconnected this world really is. It kind of made me feel more at home. This morning I had to zoom in to find the four letters that brought back so many memories in this far-away place.
Although she doesn’t follow my blog, I’m really writing this for my sister. She’s gracious and reads with enthusiasm whatever I send her way. I appreciate that about her. This was only one out of several interesting concert evenings that we worked, but it was certainly the most eventful. Even Dad got into the act! Looking back, I’m just thankful that I didn’t hesitate too long before running out my front door that morning, or this story may have been told in an entirely different way.