Bands and Musicians

 

During the late 1970's I was trying to start a career as a stage magician, but I have also had a lifelong love of music and Capricorn studios was based in Macon, Georgia.
It is only natural that I met many musicians, both performing in clubs and while looking for gigs.
Some became close friends and others were only occasional meetings.

Stillwater
A band from Warner Robins, Ga. where I was living at the time.
They often played at local clubs, where I got to know them.
While they had limited success in the United States, they became quite popular, touring in Europe.
Their biggest hit was a song called "Mindbender" which made it into the top 100 list.

Doc Holliday
Another local band who I got to know while they were performing as "Roundhouse".
When they began recording, they discovered the name was copyrighted so they teamed with a local radio station where their fans could submit their choice of a name. The winner was Doc Holliday.
They also had limited success becoming very popular in Europe.
Grinderswitch Grinderswitch was already an established band, when I met them, but I became close friends with a few of the members. Mainly Dru Lombar and Ricky Burnett. Their most remembered song Was "Redwing" and they performed a European tour with Marshall Tucker Band and Bonnie Bramlett, billed as "Straight Southern Rock - On Tour".
 
As a magician, I was constantly searching for new elements for my act to increase its entertainment value and to increase my bookings. I was fascinated by Fire-Eating and wanted to learn more about it, but in those pre-internet days I was unable to learn the necessary safeguards. Having mentioned this to Larry, he replied that in his younger days, before his musical career, he had worked with a carnival and one of the performers had taught him the secrets of fire-eating. Larry passed this information on to me and fire-eating became a feature of my act for the rest of my career.
 
When a local club-owner asked me if I could get Grinderswitch to perform at his club. I contacted Dru and told him of the offer. He agreed with one stipulation. He wanted him to book me as their opening act, as they had never been able to see my complete show. I agreed.

Boogie Chillun'
I got to know the Boogie Chillun' through an old friend, Asa Howard, who was their singer.
Asa owned one of the first Headshop in Macon, Georgia, called the "Ultimate Eye" housed in a basement at the corner of Cherry and 2nd Street.
In fact, Asa introduced me to some other musicians who had just moved to Macon, collectively known as the Allman Brothers.
Doug Miles later became my student when I was teaching at Macon Technical Institute, where I taught him Aircraft Sheet Metal repair.

Wet Willie
My good friend and Manager for my magic show had moved into an apartment on Georgia Avenue, in Macon, GA. where he stayed with some friends.  I didn't realize until I went to visit him that he was sharing someone else's apartment. The actual tenants were members of the band, "Wet Willie".
I didn't get to know them well as they were usually on the road, promoting their first album.

Dixie Dregs
Another local band I never got to know too well, but performing in Middle Georgia and being friends with other groups, I crossed paths with them frequently.
Tall Dogs Tall Dogs was another local band I frequently went to see perform, but never really got to know.
They were an eclectic group of musicians, pretty much consisting of whoever was available and wanted to play, including Chris Hicks, Steve Gaines (pre Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jaimoe Johnson, Butch Trucks and many others.
It was while going to hear Tall Dogs, at Grant's Lounge that we met Bonnie Bramlett.

Sea Level
Sea Level was another Capricorn band that I met occasionally, but never really got to know.
I never dreamed that band leader and keyboardist, Chuck Levell would become a regular with the Rolling Stones Tour.
And you can't forget their singer, Jimmy Nalls.

Molly Hatchett
I became friends with Molly Hatchett when they performed at a local club called "My Brother's Place". My wife Lucy was with me on her 21st birthday resulting in the band singing "Happy Birthday", from the stage.
At another gig, at the Red Lamp Lounge in Macon, GA. the band wanted to delay the start of their show and asked if I would do an opening act, with my magic. I wasn't prepared for a large show, but I accepted, performing many of the smaller effects which I always had with me.

Allman Brothers
There is no way you could be in the entertainment business in Middle Georgia without meeting the Allman Brothers.
I knew them all by face and by name, but never became close friends with any of them.
I could tell a couple of stories about my dealings with them, but I'm not sure if the statute of limitations has passed.
I often saw them at "Yellow House", on Orange Terrace, in Macon, GA. where some friends lived.
Debbie and Dottie, (Downstairs Right), Octavius (Tav) Sparks, (Downstairs Left) and Barry and Linda Oakley (Upstairs)

Marshall Tucker Band
I met them a couple of times.
At one show, we were with our friends Grinderswitch, back stage at the Colosseum and I got to speak with Tommy Caldwell.
After the show we all went to the Silver Dollar Lounge at the Macon Hilton hotel, where the band was staying. Naturally I was performing close-up magic. When I got tired and ready to leave, we met another member as we exited the lounge. I was sleepy and had had a little too much to drink, so I just did a couple of coin effects and left. I didn't know until the next day, he was Doug Gray, the vocalist for MTB.

Charlie Daniels
Charlie was there the same night, but just made a token appearance, so I can't really say I met him.
A year or so, later were were invited to his concert at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.
As we waited at the stage door, we were informed that our names were not on the guest list, but that Charlie had not arrived. We decided to get a bite to eat, before trying again. Unfortunately the meal made my wife ill, so we gave up on our plans to see the concert.
We later learned that Charlie got tied up at the hotel and the guard had only Eric Clapton's guest list. Not Charlie's. His was in his pocket.

Iron Butterfly
I had to see the legendary Iron Butterfly, when they performed at a local club.
Before the show I asked one of the members which were original members and he told me he was Lee Dorman, and that Rhino (Larry Reinhardt) was also there. I knew Rhino from before he played with Iron Butterfly, so I took off, to find him, realizing as I rushed away, that Lee was indeed one of the four founding members of the band.
Fortunately, when I found Rhino, Lee joined us and we got to know each other. Later in the evening we were invited to sit at the band table, in the wings, beside the stage.
After the set ended and there were a couple of encores, the band returned to the stage for their last curtain call. Lee announced to the audience that he was dedicating this song to his new friends, Bud and Lucy. They launched into a keyboard riff familiar to anyone who has ever listened to them. Lee had dedicated "Ina-Gadda-da-Vida" to us.
As we left the club, I shook hands with Lee, then he leaned down from the stage and kissed Lucy on the cheek. As we left the club and were out of earshot of anyone she exclaimed "Lee Dorman Kissed me. I'm never washing my face, again"
With all the famous musicians we knew, it took Iron Butterfly to make her go groupie..

LeRoux
LeRoux had just recorded their hit single "New Orleans Lady" when they performed at the Duck's Breath Saloon.
My wife and I and a friend were late getting to the club, and even though we were well known there, we were told that the club was too full. They couldn't let us in.
Cheryl was rather persistent and managed to find what motel they were booked at. We went there, saw the band's trailer and she started knocking on doors, until she found the right one.
The band was flattered by her persistence and flattered that the club was so packed they turned us away.
When it was time for their set, they told us to come with them.
As we followed them into the club, Larry once again started to tell us it was too full, when the singer turned to him and said "They're our guests".
What could Larry do except admit us, without paying the cover charge?

John T. Leech Band
An Atlanta based band who regularly performed at a local club.
They had one album and there was one song my wife and I particularly liked, called "Desert Lady".
It starts with the line "Love a Lady Who Has Long Brown Hair". Since my wife had brown hair, to the middle of her back, we adopted this song, as our own.

.38 Special
At a magic Convention in July of 1976, I noticed some long haired guys at the hotel. Later I found that Lucy had been in the elevator with them and found they were members of .38 Special and Montrose who were performing at a concert, the next night, at the Colosseum.
She set up a place to meet them after the convention closed for the night, so we could take them to the rooms where we knew magic was being performed.
About 4:00am I was getting tired and said I needed some sleep and asked "Since we entertained you tonight. Are you going to entertain us tomorrow night"?
They provided us with backstage passes
It wasn't until we got to the concert that we found the headline band was the world renowned Lynyrd Skynyrd.
We also found that drummer Jack Grondin had broken his hand from getting in a fight at the Waffle House, after they left us, at the hotel. The other band members had to get him drunk, to dull the pain, so he could perform.
They invited us to the after-show party in their rooms.

Lynyrd Skynyrd
At the after-show party, I was performing magic, for anyone who wanted to watch, when I noticed Lucy sitting on the bed, talking to some man. It wasn't till later that Donnie, the lead singer for .38 Special came up to me and said "Bud. I want you to meet my Brother, Ronnie". All that I could think of was that I was shaking hands with Ronnie Van Zant, the Freebird, himself. I guess it was my turn to go groupie.
This was the band's first and only appearance in Macon since Steve Gaines joined them. Steve was from Macon and had previously played with "Tall Dogs". He was killed in the tragic airplane crash on October 20, 1977, along with his sister Cassie, lead singer, Ronnie Van Zant, and several others.
Just to avoid confusion, Donnie Van Zant was the singer for 38 Special. Ronnie Van Zant sang for Lynyrd Skynyrd and later a 3rd brother, Johnny, took the singer's spot for the re-formed Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Bonnie Bramlett
We met Bonnie at Grant's Lounge in Macon, GA.
She needed a ride home, so we obliged and stayed to visit. After all, she was 1/2 of the legendary Delany and Bonnie and Friends.
As we sat there, having drinks she noticed my teeth and became fascinated with them. I had an under-bite which was rather uncommon, and she wanted to examine them. I never learned why. Maybe she was once a dental technician? As she felt of my teeth, she got distracted by the conversation. The next thing I knew, I was sitting there with Bonnie's finger in my mouth, while she talked to the others. It seemed like she would never realize she still had her fingers in my mouth.
We later visited her while she was living at Dickie Betts farm. She had moved there, while Dickie was on the road, so the beautiful and tranquil setting might ease her mind had help her songwriting. While we were there she made a phone call and, of course I could only hear her side. It was something like, "Is Rita There?" - "No? How about Kris?"
That was when I realized she was casually calling Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge.

Nazarath
(Manny Charleton)
While I was waiting for my wife to finish her classes at the secretarial school she was attending, I went to Hank Hassler's Tavern, just to kill some time.
There was only one other customer there and he asked me where the rock and Roll was in town.  I suggested a few places, including nearby clubs in Warner Robins.   I told him of my favorite club, where I was going that night and mentioned "The band plays Kiss better than Kiss, themselves and plays "Hair of the Dog" damn near as good as Nazarath".
After talking for a few minutes I realized I hadn't introduced myself, so I told him my name and that I was a local performing magician.   He replied "Magician, Huh?.  I'm Manny Charleton of Nazarath".
I sure am glad he wasn't Gene Simmons.
Naturally, I spent the next few minutes performing some of the coin effects, I always had with me.
Manny is on the left in the photo.

Randy Howard
At that time, Randy was living in Macon, GA. and trying to make a career as a songwriter.
Not being very successful, he supplemented his income by performing his songs at local clubs.
He later moved to Nashville, TN. to have more opportunities to get his songs recorded. It was there, in 2015 that his drinking got him in trouble with the law. He vowed he'd never go back to jail, and when a process server tried to present him with a subpoena to appear in court, Randy opened fire. The process server returned fire, killing him.
R.I.P. Randy. You will be missed.

Bobby Whitlock
I only met keyboardist Bobby Whitlock for a few minutes, but I did get the chance to ask him if he really played the piano on the Derick and the Dominos song "Layla".
He told me that was Jim Gordon, but a lot of people made that mistake.

John Lee Hooker
Shortly after Lucy left me, I was at the Duck's Breath Saloon.
I came in while the band was on break and saw an old black man at the bar nursing a drink. Since this was a little unusual, I came up to talk to him, a little surprised someone his age was in the club.
Surprisingly, he was the featured performer; John Lee Hooker.
Amazed that someone his age would still be touring, I asked how old he was.
His answer was Classic as he replied, "Now, that would be telling".

Travis Tritt
In 1989 I was teaching Western Dance at a club called the "Longbranch Saloon" in Macon, Ga.
It was part of a chain and they had 3 or 4 bands that rotated for their different clubs, including "Miss Kitty's" in Marietta GA.
I was at the bar talking to the singer of one of them, when he informed me that he had gotten a recording contract. I warned him about getting his hopes up too high, mentioning that I'd known several bands that recorded, but were never successful.
The band's name was Travis Tritt and True Grit. Yes, it was that Travis Tritt.
Confederate Railroad Another of the Longbranch bands I really liked, had a gritty Redneck/Biker sound.
Not knowing my history, the lead singer often teased me about a song I requested called "Live to Ride" saying I didn't even look like a biker.
The band was Danny Shirley and the Crossroads Band. When they began recording, they changed it to Confederate Railroad.

David Allen Coe
Coe came to the Longbranch, while I was teaching there.
I had heard he was a magician also, so I caught him before the show and sat in the lobby, talking to him about magic. A friend saw me and came over to say hello, then went into the club. When David began his set (accompanied by Danny Shirley's band) my friend came up and asked me who that was I was talking to in the lobby. I hooked a thumb at the stage and told him "Him". Paul's mouth dropped open and he responded, "You sonofabitch. You didn't even introduce me"? It seems Paul was a big David Allen Coe fan.
After the show, my wife and I went to Davids room, where we showed each other magic, till the sun came up.
And, of course, there were a multitude of independent bands who never became recording artists.
We ran into 38 Special a month later, at a concert at Atlanta Stadium in Atlanta, GA. (August 29, 1976)
I wanted to hear a couple of the bands, but as we walked near the fenced off area for "Performer's Only" we heard a voice holler "Bud. Lucy. What are you doing here"? It was Dennis, one of the Road Crew for 38 Special. We didn't even know they were on the lineup.
He invited us to their hotel, after the show, but the concert ran longer than expected and I was supposed to go to work, the next day.
I still can't believe I turned down a chance to party with 38 Special (again) Blue Oyster Cult, Bob Seger, Johnny and Edger Winter and Kiss.
Especially since I was too tired, after the long drive home, to make it to work.

About 1978 my wife Lucy had gone to Great Southern silk screening, to see if we could afford some t-shirts for my magic show.
Thinking of something I wanted to suggest to her, I called Great Southern, and was answered by someone with a strong southern accent. I asked for John (Bear) Copley, but was told he wasn't there. I then asked for Scooter (the owner) but he wasn't there, either. Then I asked who was I speaking to, and the voice replied "This is Willie".
In surprise, I blurted out "Willie Dixon"?
The reply was "Hell No. This is Willie Nelson".
Shocked at the phone being answered by the country music legend, I just thanked him and hung up.

I later found that while my wife was waiting, the other man in the waiting room told her he hated to be in a room with someone when he didn't even know their name and introduced himself as Willie Nelson.
She talked to him until Scooter came out to talk to her and told me that it wasn't until she was driving home that it occurred to her who that Willie Nelson was.

I tried to keep my reminisces brief.
There are many other stories I could tell, but I didn't want to bore you with too much information.
Catch me in private and maybe I'll tell the other stories, that are not suitable for the general public.
The Musicians were mostly, as wild as I was.

If there are any bands I have left out, it wasn't personal. It's the fault of my pore ol' aging memory.
Not to mention the multitude of smaller, independent local bands who never became well known

It was fun, to get to know all these performers who were well known in their field, but accepted me as another performer.
I enjoyed their musical ability and they enjoyed my magic.

 

 

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