Like anyone else that enjoys live music I have attended countless shows that were part of both major and smaller tours throughout the years. What most people don’t realize about touring is the “machinery” it takes to sustain a tour. I got my feet wet in 1979 by attempting to do a Chris Youlden (ex-lead singer of Savoy Brown) tour of America. It sounded easy before it started; he had a record deal (London Records), a band, and tour dates in America. However, the entire tour ended up as just one memorable show at the Diplomat Hotel in New York City, as part of the RockAges Rock and Roll Flea Market. In spite of the difficulties, that show turned out to be one of the greatest jams of all time. Youlden was joined on stage by the members of Foghat (they were all his ex-bandmates from Savoy Brown) as well as Southside Johnny on harmonica. I quickly learned that if I wanted to continue in this line of work there was a lot of logistics to be sorted out. First off, does the band have the stamina and experience that it takes to sustain a tour? Then, does the tour have its finances together? Are the shows all booked by solid promoters? Does the record company have the advance marketing strategy needed to build some interest in the tour? If any or all of these elements are not in place you can wind up with a tour that only has one date (see above) or possibly none at all.
As I’ve gained experience things have gone much smoother, and I have been on both sides of the touring “fence.” I’ve been involved as band manager, tour manager, promoter and record company. I’ve worked with such artists as Ten Years After, Alvin Lee, Mick Taylor, Paul Oscher, Scott Holt, Peter Green, Savoy Brown, Mountain, and Dale Hawkins, just to name a few.
Some memorable moments include having the opportunity to go to South America with Mick Taylor as part of the Eric Clapton World Tour, as well as going with Mick to the Dead Sea Festival in Israel along with Jimmy Witherspoon and the Climax Blues Band. But the one that will always stand out in my mind was the Savoy Brown Tour in the early ’80s when they played a date in San Francisco.The late, great John Lee Hooker came to the show to jam with the band, and if that was not enough he came to the next show in San Jose the following night and sat in again with the band! That was a fantastic opportunity for me as I got to travel with him to and from those two shows and that began a friendship with one of the most legendary music icons of all time.
I had the chance to attend last year’s Chicago Blues Festival and the lineup for the main stage one night was Bob Hall, Savoy Brown, Mick Taylor and John Mayall. When the show was over and the bands were packing up and getting ready to leave for the next city, it all hit me at once of how much I missed the touring life. Touring has always been and always will be the best way to promote music, anywhere in the world. Don’t miss your opportunity to support live music.