AN ACCIDENTAL WITNESS

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A True Tell-All Story Revisiting Behind the Scenes of a Tour Manager’s 30+Year Career

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  An Accidental Witness is a behind the scenes history of some of the famous and infamous TV, Movie and Musical Artists of my time. There are and were so many musical groups from 1967 – 2002 that will and should never be forgotten. This is my honest recollection of those good, bad and wacky times that mostly only I had a chance to witness first hand, and I am happy to pass along these poignant and obscure memories… Artists from seven decades of musical history with different generational life stories that influenced their self protective decision making, interaction with co-workers dealing with fame (in some cases) badly. Some were absolutely great to work with, but others just had to deal with me and my rock’n roll P.T.S.D…….ha.

“Anyone who knows anything about cultural history, knows there’s simply no connection between a person’s qualities, and the quality of their art.”

 -adam gopnik-

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Foreward

C.F.Davinki has written an insightful and highly entertaining expose into the behind the scenes world of the tour manager in the music business. His stories reveal the often fractious, professional relationships and the tireless diplomacy required in working with a spectrum of major artists on the road. A much-overlooked part of the industry, this book covers his colorful 30 plus-year career in making the impossible happen on a daily basis, which makes for compelling and fascinating reading for any live music fan.

Charles ‘Dr. Rock’ White Official biographer to “Little Richard & Jerry Lee Lewis”

        Over the years I had to learn other stage crafts to continue to stay employed and sometimes there were two combined jobs to do at the same time. I started as a roadie lifting amps and P.A. stacks, mixing audio, learning to be a lighting director, an accountant, etc… I was elevated into tour management after my first year with Paul Revere and the Raiders in 1969 and found that I loved it.

          I did find out after many years of traveling the world, that there is a form of rock n’ roll PTSD. Dealing with musicians, airlines, promoters, artists had taken its toll on my patience. I became more demanding. Over the years, travel, technology, entertainment norms continued to change and advance, not always for the best. The beginning was just getting somewhere with everyone, the equipment and making music. It started to transform from listening, to watching music of video tape and TV. Then came Milli Vanilli, and Rappers, computers, I Pads and cell phones. I had to make these advances work for me, but each era of change made things less enjoyable for me and music lovers. Less live music on stage became the norm no matter the stature of the artists. Even the best used backup music during their performances to boost their vocal and musical standing.

          As Adam Gopnik said it perfectly, the difference between a person’s quality and their art can be miles apart. I have tried my best to go back over the years and find the good moments I enjoyed, but the crazy and awful moments I endured kept overwhelming the stories. So I decided to just go with the sharp, poignant moments that most music industry people are afraid to recall publicly. It is a tell all. It is truthful as I remember it. It is also rock n’ roll history that cannot be forgotten. As I said about the Coolio Gangsta’s Paradise Tour, you might think that I had a difficult time and hated a lot of it, but the truth is that as much trauma as I did endure from time to time, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

          One of the things I cherished about traveling around  the world were the people and their cultures. Working with the different people and finding that they are the same as me was an eye-opening experience. Actually interfacing not as a tourist made me realize that we are all more alike than people who travel as sightseers around the world have a chance to imagine. You can always find an asshole and someone to hate if you look for them, but there are good people everywhere if you open your eyes and heart.

Table Of  Contents

Chapter One                  Barry White

Chapter Two                   Mr. NDA

Chapter Three                 The Everly Brothers  Reunion Tour

Chapter Four                   Pia Zadora

Chapter Five                   Suzanne Somers

Chapter Six                     Motley Crue

Chapter Seven                Smith & Bodine

Chapter Eight                  Chippendales

Chapter Nine                  Paul Revere and The Raiders

Chapter Ten                    Tangerine Dream

Chapter Eleven               Sarah Vaughan

Chapter Twelve              Everlast

Chapter Thirteen         Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart – The “FIRST” Monkees

Chapter Fourteen           Arrested Development

Chapter Fifteen               Tavares

Chapter Sixteen              Mark Lindsay and The  Carpenters

Chapter Seventeen        12 Rounds and Marilyn Manson

Chapter Eighteen           The Original Fifth Dimension

Chapter Nineteen           Miss Nell Carter

Chapter Twenty              Christopher Cross

Chapter Twenty One      The Pointer Sisters

Chapter Twenty Two       Star Trek World Tour

Chapter Twenty three     Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise Europen Tour…A fitting ending

Miscellaneous Stories

Mike Post – Mr. Greedy

Henry Gross – Clueless Band

Roger Williams – Nice Man

Paul Westerberg – The most insecure artist I had ever worked with

Kenny Wayne Shepherd – Great Band

George Benson – Very Private

Julio Iglesias Jr. – Much fun to work with

Mikaila – Too young- too soon

Eden’s Crush – Made to fail

Doc Severinsen – Great Guy

About the Author & Epilogue

Chapter 1

Barry White AKA Eugene Carter    R.I.P.

Excerpt

1990 & 1992

          These were two very long European tours. I will reminisce as many highlights as possible without going into the day by day order of crazy events.

I got a call from Ron DeBlasio and Ned Shankman. I really don’t recall who exactly recommended me, probably Frank Rio. Ron and Ned seemed very nice and they needed someone with experience and patience who could be fluid with Barry’s funky productions. I had the experience over time, to work with not so reputable clients. It did give me insights as to how to protect myself and others knowing when I may not get paid and how to hold back certain things that would get me paid, i.e. ransom…ha.

I was told my first duty was to fire the current tour manager, Tony Seppi. I pushed back and said, “That’s not my job.” It was my first sign as to just how weak this management team was that they didn’t have the balls to make that call. At that time, I was not aware that Tony Seppi was the father of Brian Panella’s current girlfriend Lisa. Brian was Tavares’ personal manager for many years and a good friend. The current production manager was Bill Seppi, her uncle.

I was told the reason Bill and Tony were working with Barry to begin with, was that Tony’s American Express card was funding all the tour expenses. Ron and Ned wanted him out. I did say that ‘MY AMEX’ was not going to fund the tour. And they agreed. Later that week, Bill came to my house; as I thought to shore up all the things he needed for the tour. I wasn’t ready for him to berate me for taking his brother’s job. I did do well to keep my temper in my own home. When he left, I told my wife that that was the last time I would ever see him.

The next meeting was with a true thorn in my side. Barry was not a cash fluid individual. Not good as far as funding his tours. I don’t know how well off he was as an individual. I did take notice over time, that people like Barry, who managed to get other people to fund their ventures usually have plenty stashed away for themselves.

Andre Brown was his accountant. And quite a sleazy individual he was. He was about 5ft. 8in. and 110 lbs of unpleasantness.  He may have had an office, but I never did get a chance to see it. We met at the corner of Cahuenga and Hollywood Boulevard, where there was a newsstand. We spoke there for about ten minutes, where he told me how he was in control of all of Barry’s dealings. And most importantly, there was no money for touring, but if I played ball with him, he would make sure I got what I needed. I walked away shaking my head wondering what the fuck have I gotten myself into.

In the United States, Barry was dead meat as far as concerts went. He was doing a few dates but that was it.  Europe on the other hand, he was an icon and people revered him. This was the case in Europe for most aging stars. Especially American artists. After years of changing times in the U.S. concert industry, I always loved touring Europe. It fit my kind of work and I loved the people I met and worked with. It fit my aging demeanor.

Management had turned me onto Lazslo Hedgedus, owner of Multimedia Entertainment in Budapest Hungary. He had a production crew that was born and raised behind the Soviet Iron Curtain. They were seasoned and were cost effective. They became my very best friends for two tours with Barry. Peter Kopecsni was the production manager to be, and became my lifeline for years. It just so happened that Laszlo had close ties to the Czaba Lokos and the Ferenc Liszt Symphony Orchestra. Barry needed them for many of his big hits. I then talked Ned and Ron into firing Bill Seppi, as he was now unnecessary and was an extra expense. I was a happy camper and so was Barry and management.

Chapter 6

A Very Motley Year 1997

Excerpt

A note before going forward…..I had just come off the Coolio Gangsta’s Paradise Tour and a stint with Mr. U., I had PTSD from those days on the road and was in no mood for whiney musicians, crew and artists. I didn’t know it at the time, but I have figured this out in the way I treated some of the people on this tour and my minimal tolerance to silly requests, as when Laurie Quigley received all his crew airline tickets of which I managed to get them all upgraded to business class. He said I needed to change the departure date as he wanted to get to Tokyo two days earlier for a concert that was a week a away. I snapped and he never forgot it.

There was one other time when I had no idea what to say to Nikki Sixx. We had finished a short promo tour in Europe. Tommy was having problems with his wife, Pamela Anderson, the actress, and he decided to cut the trip short for her birthday. As we walked down the Schiphol Airport concourse, Nikki said something I will never forget as long as I live. I still have no idea where this came from.

We passed this pretty woman walking by and he turned to look at her and then said to me. “You know C.F., I have had so many women, I  can  look at them fully dressed and tell you what their beaver looks like.” (Beaver meaning lower pubic hair shape).

I had no answer other than, “Have a good flight guys!”

During Live Swine rehearsals, there were discussions about Vince as he wanted an assistant for the tour. Management and the guys did not want this as they felt it would be a ruse to cover up Vince’s drinking and night-clubbing habits. Toby Fleming was a capable production manager filling in for Dale “Opie” Skjerseth, who was contracted to be the production manager but was not available for the tour. He surprised everyone in the meeting by blurting out that Vince should have whomever he wants on this tour. This was not his place to say anything and everyone in management and the Crue were pissed off as this was Vince’s argument and he got his man. Toby and I never connected after that.

The crew, not the Crue, consisted of guys who had worked for them over the years. It became very obvious with all the positioning for status, that it was going to be very interesting. It was a matter of time before they were all at each other’s throats for prominence. I didn’t know that I would be hanging on for dear life as this developed. But it got very interesting.

Davie Moire was the front of house engineer and Philip Wilkey was the stage monitor engineer. Philip was an old mate of the band for years. And in charge of all sound on stage. Davie was new to the band. They complained about the stage sound for nights and I happened to be in the dressing room when they cornered Philip about it. I was taken back when he blamed Davie for the problem…I was convinced then that these guys would sell anyone down the road, including me. All the band techs just kind of stayed together and out of the fray. I was really surprised that after all of Laurie Quigley’s behind the scene complaining and battering of me, they didn’t hire him for the tour. Of course, it did make me unhappy that he lost the gig.

This was a crucial time for the Crue as they had all pledged sobriety if they were to stay together this time. Vince was not sober and this really made the other guys paranoid that this was not going to work. Nikki and Tommy told me on a few occasions that it was my job to keep him sober. That did not make me happy that they were passing the buck off onto me.

Vince was elusive to say the least. He was not sober and not good at hiding it. He was very fragile this trip and became hostile to me after this incident. We were in the dressing room when Vince walked in wearing a green jump suit with only his head showing. This was for a music video shoot that I think never aired. He left the room and Tommy who was never complimentary about Vince, said he looked like a green frog with a red dick on his head. Referring to his new red hair. Everyone broke up completely. When Vince came back dressed in his regular clothes he laid on the floor and starting crying like a baby. I watched for a minute and left the room. Tommy didn’t say anything afterwards as I suspected he would, but had plenty of things to say about Vince during the tour.

Chapter 10

Tangerine Dream – 1995  (Sieg Heil Edgar)

Excerpt

I went to Berlin to meet them. There was Edgar, his wife Monica and Jerome, their son. We met in the studio and they were being as nice as they could with their personalities. We later met at their country home outside of Vienna to finalize my tour plans. That is where I met Dieter Gross, their German accountant which would be traveling on tour with us.

There was Eddie and a guitar tech that came over with them. Steve Venezia, headed up the audio department from Delicate Productions. I had hired Steve Belkin to shepherd the group in and out of hotels and getting to the gigs. Everything was in place for success.

We were a team until a few days into the tour when the crew invited Edgar and the band down to the lunchroom to share a meal. We got a message from Edgar: It said, “It is not possible for the Lion to lie down with the sheep.” We all basically looked at each other and said, “Fuck You!” This was the first of many volleys fired during this tour. Things got very tense and truculent especially after we found out that they didn’t play live!! They were a Milli Vanilli group all the way except for guitar, sax and drums. They were fakes.

Chapter 11

Sarah Vaughan   The Devine One

Excerpt

We were doing a show at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Count Basie’s Orchestra was the band and Frank Sinatra was the headliner. We had done a few shows with Count Basie, so it was very comfortable for me to be around them. Frank had taken such a longtime to rehearse that Sarah was really uptight and pacing the floor. Count had noticed this and said something to Frank like, why don’t you take a break, and we can get Sassy out of here. He obviously agreed.

That didn’t make Sarah much happier but at least she was ready to go. I set her stage with her stool down center. She strolled up and I handed her this thick mass of sheet music of which she threw to her right and it unfolded like an accordion across the stage. The band knew that they were in for a long rehearsal. The Count just laughed and we got on with it. Frank was not very happy but It was Sarah Vaughan and he had the reverence to let it happen.

I was backstage on the phone and Nifty, Frank’s road manager, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Mr. Sinatra would like to use the phone.” I was being my usual funny self and said with my back to him, “Tell Mr. Sinatra I’ll be finished when I’m ready.”

As I turned around I could see that Frank was standing next to him. So I quickly turned and held out the phone and said, “I’m ready!” Luckily Frank was slightly amused…..It could have gone much worse…….

Chapter 15

Tavares

Tiny, Ralph, Butch, Pooch, & Chubby Tavares

         Mexico in 1978 was a very open and wild place to be touring. We had a tour promoter by the name of Antonio Bazurto, a real scumbag. I learned a real big lesson that tour. I surrendered our passports to him to take them to the embassy for verification.

On our way south, we had a security guard on the bus as banditos were prevalent in the jungles. In Minatitlan. we played at a modern fortress for US oil workers and then over-nighted to Vera Cruz.

We were in the dressing room of this cavernous underground. We had just had a huge argument with the promoter and told him we were not going to perform that night.

The next thing we heard was this thunderous sound of marching and then these soldiers entered the room with rifles and bayonets. We were, to say the least, gob smacked with fear. We didn’t know, at the time that all promoters in order to do business in Mexico had to partner with the Mexican Government. Yes of course we did the show.

Peter Grosslight, the vice president from Regency artists, flew down to rescue us………we thought. Peter managed to get our passports back to us, but did not get us released from our performance contract with Basurto and then left town. We were shocked and pissed very off and wanted out of Mexico. Then the plan was hatched.

We did our show at the Fiesta Palace Hotel and had three days off until the next. I had Barsurto book a small side trip in the next two days. I had our travel agent secretly book flights to Miami late at night the next day and all our luggage shipped to airport out the back door. The plan was set.

When we got to the airport under the cover of darkness and received our new airline tickets, I was totally relieved and tossed all the promoter paid tickets in the air and we boarded our flight.

From 1978 forward I have never visited Mexico again knowing my name could be on an arrest onsite warrant to this day.

Chapter 21

The Pointer Sisters   One Funny Bunch of Ladies

Excerpt

These girls had a way to aggravate and at the same time make me laugh. I had worked with the Pointer Sisters in 1982 on a USO tour of Europe while I was working with Suzanne Somers.  The girls were always very nice, but their management (which was June’s boyfriend Bill) was tense and distant.  Nothing much had changed, after a week’s shows in Las Vegas, when I was hired as their tour manager in 1995. There was family tension between the girls but they liked me and it was OK.  In May of 1995, we took off for Auckland and Australia.

Ruth was dry and calculative, Anita was happy and a little ditsy, and June was crazy and funny. Together they made me laugh.

Along with the usual culprits was June’s girlfriend’s brother, Robert Trimper Esquire.  My first encounter with Bobby was in Auckland when he inserted himself into the crew as lighting director.  I noticed he was in the lighting booth with the local LD and lights were going everywhere during rehearsal. I looked up and Bobby ducked down.  When I questioned him the LD said Trimper told him he was with the crew.  Bob was just the brother of June’s girlfriend and was tagging along only because June got him a ticket.  When I questioned him about his credentials, he was unable to produce any.

Without mixing my words in front of the entire traveling entourage, I said…“Get the fuck out of my showroom, and stay out until show time!”

His connection to June empowered him.  The little prick was everywhere, which annoyed me more by the day.  He finally made his big play in New Zealand.   His new claim to fame was that he had nailed the promoter’s assistant. I made him pay big-time with his only pair of shoes…ha.

Epilogue

            My professional life was a series of short stories. My family life was a steady and guiding experience that I could only hope people could experience as I did. It wasn’t an easy way to raise a family with me on the road most of the time, but my wife jokes that the reason we have been married for 48 years was that I was gone most of the time. She jokes but I know she sometimes struggled while I was gone. There is nothing more important in my life than her. We talked on the phone almost every night.

I had the time of my life when I look back and realize where I have been. I have been very fortunate in life and especially in being able to see a lot of the world and how other people live and work. It has been very obvious to me for a long time that we are much more alike than we are different.

Reading this, you might think that I had a difficult time and hated a lot of it, but the truth is that as much trauma as I did endure from time to time, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything… and Yeah..I know…I’m a crazy Texan.

*****

Show Business!  A deep money trench; a long dark plastic hallway. A place where pimps, thieves and whores run free, and where all good men die like dogs.

Hunter Thompson * Refined by Reverend Ike,  circa l969

PUTTING SOCKS ON THE OCTOPUS

Now available on Amazon

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Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite An Accidental Witness: To Music History – Putting Socks on the Octopus by C.F. Davinki is an entertaining and engaging book that will interest readers who are passionate about music. It gives a peek into the ‘behind the scenes’ history of the famous and the infamous musical artists of both movies and TV of the artist’s time. The memoir showcases artists from seven decades of musical history and C.F. Davinki also speaks of his experiences interacting with co-workers dealing with fame badly. There are glimpses of his first Chippendale show and he also speaks about the difficulties of dealing with artists, musicians, promoters, and also the airlines while touring. Though the author speaks of his difficult time in the memoir, he also says how much he enjoyed it, especially the traveling part where he could meet people from various cultures. It is a good treat for music lovers as they get to know about the musical groups from 1967 – 2002. An Accidental Witness is entertaining with a lot of pictures that give readers knowledge about the author’s musical experiences. C.F. Davinki is honest when speaking about his association with music groups. The memoir is a good treat for music lovers when it comes to learning what happens behind all the glamour on stage, and the reality of it all. The author not only captures his moments with the artists but also his travels and his associations with different music groups. What I like about the memoir is that it is not only about music and entertainment. If you look at it closely, it also captures the fragilities, complexities, and strengths of human connections and interactions in a subtle way, making it a good book.

Contact: C.F.Davinki  –  cfd@anaccidentalwitness.com