"Almost Famous"

A former assistant roadie

"I earned my stripes as a 'road dog' in the fall of 2001. Two days after the 9/11 attack, RCA Records shut down its entire Black Music division, which left me without a job. My boss was gracious enough to extend an invitation to me to join him on a mini tour he was putting together for another very prominent label. The concept was to take the label’s junior acts on the road and have them return as stars.

"Since the majority of our acts were start-ups, we had a plethora of managers, assistants, and executives vying to be part of the event, and since the artists didn’tknow each other and were all seeking fame on their own terms, there were plenty of personality clashes and lots of head-butting. The level of trust was non-existent and getting them to cooperate with each other was like pulling teeth. However, it was my job to bring everyone together as one oiled machine. Not an easy task for a novice road manager.


An argument ensued between me and one of the group members. We were just about to come to blows when the lead singer stepped in.


"Our first show was in Philadelphia and pretty uneventful. However, my boss used the crowd's reaction to determine the lineup. By the time we hit Virginia, he changed it up and put a different one of our male groups as the opening act, a decision the group and their manager were not at all happy about. Their manager at the time was at his wits' ends with the executives at our company and instructed the guys not to trust anyone. When word reached the guys about the new lineup, they placed a call to their manager and wouldn't set foot on stage until he called them back.

"I recall being in the middle of this dark parking lot, at this small club, screaming at the top of my lungs, begging them to come on stage. They refused and an argument ensued between me and one of the members. We were just about to come to blows when the lead singer stepped in. (There was another time when said lead, who suffered from severe depression, disappeared for two days in North Carolina. No one could find him; he just vanished. He later showed up and apologized profusely, but his whereabouts to this day remain a mystery.)

"Regardless of the many complaints and fires I had to put out, I made a commitment to do the best job I could. I had to be the first person up each morning; when the bus driver grew tired, in an effort to prevent him from crashing, I was the one who stayed up to keep him company. Although it felt at times like I was babysitting a group of adults, I never complained. This eventually paid off: by the time we were halfway through the tour, I had everyone's full confidence."

As told to Lauren Otis (@LaurNado)

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