RTH: Who had the best table manners in rock? Who had the worst?
Table manners? Well, they didn’t always sit down at a table in my presence, but I guess I’d have to say Sting; he always displayed a gentlemanly manner in everything he did and still does. As worst manners go, anyone that had anything to do with Van Halen, at least during a certain period. They were just a bunch of rude guys.
RTH: Who’s the fussiest eater in rock?
I’d probably have to say Prince for me. He’s a veggie/vegan guy and they are the hardest to feed. I never fed McCartney, but I’ve heard about his tours and, like Prince, guys who are non-meat eaters don’t want anyone on the crew eating meat or any meat on the premises at all. If anyone is caught eating a hamburger they can be fined or fired from the tour. Chrissie Hynde is another strong anti-meat person, and I’ve heard the same about her.
Oh yes, I did Bob Marley once and he had a cook with him to prepare his sacred Rastafarian food; no one else was supposed to touch it.
RTH: Offstage, was Eric Burdon in as foul a mood as his musical persona would suggest?
Nah, Eric Burdon was a pretty nice guy. His bark is way worse than his bite.
RTH: What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think rock musicians and condiments?
Ha! That’s funny. Condiments, huh? Condiments never seemed to be an issue that I had to deal with. Many other things were issues, but not condiments.
RTH: Were opening acts ever scolded if they tried to eat before the headliner or if they took the last portion of a food being served?
Not really. They are usually included in the meal count and generally eat first since they play first. The headliners are mostly friendly to them and want to make sure they are taken care of.
Here’s a story that concerns being scolded. Ray Charles came to the Uptown once and brought a small orchestra with him, maybe a dozen people. There were no food requirements on their rider except for a few things in his dressing room. The promoter told us to provide a complimentary deli tray and soft drinks for the orchestra in the dining room, so we did. When Ray heard about it, he threw a fit and made us take the food away from them, even though he didn’t have to pay for it. I was stunned. Never had any respect for him after that, he was a real ass.
RTH: Did an artist ever request onstage snacks? I could imagine ZZ Top, for instance, needing a little solid-food nourishment between songs.
Yes, there was the occasional artist who wanted food on stage. When The Police toured, Sting requested slices of pineapple on stage to help his throat. Also Roger Daltry requested jars of warm, runny honey onstage to soothe his throat. It was usually for a specific purpose, not just because they had the munchies.
Although if you want to talk about the munchies, the Pink Floyd guys were real stoners and ate just about everything in site. They ate all the food in their dressing room, they always ate dinner and they were ready for more food when they came off stage. We always thought that was pretty funny. I’ve got a really good story about feeding them in two different cities on their “Momentary Lapse of Reason” tour.
Thanks to Dave Simpson of The Guardian for asking some similar questions of Penny a few months, which were edited out of a published piece on behind-the-scenes concert industry workers and which saved Penny the time of retyping answers to some of my questions. As with so many Townspeople I’ve had the good fortune to run into in this joint, a bit of thanks must also go to a fellow Townsperson for the introduction, in this case my close personal friend and partner in crime, sammymaudlin, and his lovely, Don Felder biography-reviewing wife, two more folks you won’t meet on any old street corner.