Memoir time. Freshman year, 1978, Boston College. My parents traveling so I ended up staying at school over Christmas break.
During my first semester I wangled a coveted position on the Social Committee. The Committee was responsible for putting on the school’s concerts, and I was one of two freshman on the committee. Being on the Committee enabled me to get a taste for rock and roll. It also meant I was offered a job over Christmas break. The J.Geils Band rented the BC gym, to rehearse before a 50-city tour, promoting “Sanctuary,” their tenth album.
I was hired as a “roadie” for a month.
Every day, we’d unload the tractor-trailer full of equipment and set up the stage. Every night, we’d break down the stage, and put all the gear back on the truck, trying to figure out the most efficient way to load the truck.
I wasn’t allowed near the guitars but I do have fond memories of helping hoist a white grand piano up on stage.Every night for a month, I’d sit in the front row, actually the only row, and watch the band rehearse.
On my last night, when the band finished rehearsing, “Magic Dick” the harmonica player, tossed me the harp he’d just been playing. That was pretty cool.
We broke down the stage. When we were all done, one of other crew-members lit a joint we passed around. The road manager ambled over and pulled me aside.
“So, ready to hit the road?”
I must have appeared confused.
“You’re coming on the tour with us, aren’t you?”
I stood there, a little high, weighing pros and cons. Do I remain at BC, a school I didn’t love and would transfer from in May. Or, hear me out… do I join the Lost Boys and follow a path I had never imagined an option?
I grew up middle-class. Both my parents were college-educated. From the time I was young, I was inculcated that after high school, you go to college. After college you get married. Little boxes on the hillside.
Working with the crew for three weeks, I knew a roadie’s life wasn’t for me. It is extremely redundant. Set-up, watch the same concert you’ve watched five times that week, tear down the stage. Get high. Get on the bus. Get off the bus. Again and again.
That was why I turned the Road Manager down. I knew I’d get bored sooner than later.
Honestly, I’ve never regretted my decision. I just think I couldn’t see myself backstage. I’m too drawn to the spotlight.
P.S. Here’s a clip from the 1980 tour. I kinda dig this song.