Touring With The Big Boys

            I’ve often been asked what’s it like going on tour with Superstars like David Bowie or Iggy Pop.
Sometimes I’m even asked to go overseas and tour in Japan, Australia, Europe or China. Touring has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

It started back in 1970 when I was hired to play guitar for Sesame Street on tour. Sesame Street premiered on November 10, 1969. As their first season was a phenomenal hit, they commissioned a children’s tour to promote the series and off I went. Before then I had not traveled at all.          

I was just 19, recently married and with my wife’s blessing and guitar in hand, I was ready to go out and conquer the world. 

      Touring by definition can also come to mean many things. A tour of Military duty for instance. It would seem from the above description that the only thing missing was the army physical and boot camp. But sometimes the lines do get blurred. Some tours can be national and others international, as you leap-frog from hotel to hotel. Some can last a month others a year. Some, even longer as Superstars try to capitalize on their popularity as they go from album to tour and tour to album, all in a mindless blur of one-nighters.

     Some of the Locales are breath-taking though. Foreign spots like Hawaii, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, and others offer the musician an ability to understand people and customs in their own setting. Thus the understanding of interpersonal relationships becomes much more developed than let’s say the non-traveler. Even the vegetation and wildlife makes you feel like you’re on another planet. It is sometimes overwhelming how vibrant life can be when it is found naturally. But that is not to say that beauty and culture cannot be found nationally. The sunsets in Tucson were overwhelmingly beautiful and if you should ever ride horseback in Wyoming, well… you would never leave. From the Grand Canyon to the Louisiana Bayou beauty can be found at home as well as abroad.

    But Touring also has its drawbacks. I’ve seen musicians mesmerized by the allure and glamour of the stage. Go buck-wild and crazy. Losing their self-respect, their honor, their families and themselves. Pumped up with accolades and adoring fans, drug pushers and groupies. Some leave behind their jeans and don the regalia of leather and eye shadow, that marks the beginning of the end. Others, I am happy to report, make life long friends and allow themselves the privilege of sharing the journey with others. It is a strong man who can keep his senses in a room filled with so many fragrances.

    But the friends/fans that you make in your travels are truly what makes it all worth while. Every time you return you expect to see them, as they wait on bated breath for your approach as well. And as the years pass, you see less and less of them. Some move on as the fragrance of a sweeter music draws them like bees to a flower. Some pass on to a better place and some overcome by time and obligation never leave their abodes. And when that time comes you know it’s time to go home.

    Musicians have a term that’s call “Road Shock” Just like the military have ” Shell Shock” . It’s that feeling that you get at the dining room table… it’s about 7pm…you’re finally home…you’re waiting for your food and yet you feel this adrenalin rushing through your system (your body and mind are still on stage, waiting for the applause). After dinner you feel uneasy and anxious (Where’s the after-party)…you can’t seem to go to sleep..(next club,anyone?).

Yeah, sometimes the lines get blurred….I guess that’s why they call it…a tour.

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