Where were you the first week of February, 1987, and what were you doing? If you can't remember, it's not surprising... as far as I know, nothing earth-shattering occurred that week. Twenty five years ago, this past week, I was on the road with our band playing in Billings, Montana. I was 28 years old and had been playing music for a living for several years. It was just another gig in another city, and I probably wouldn't have remembered much of anything about it either, except that I wrote letters to Pam & Patricia when they couldn't go out with us. I was going through some of my old band stuff today, and I came across a couple of letters dated February 3rd and 5th, 1987. With all of the letters I've saved over the years, what are the odds that I would come across one that was written 25 years ago... to the day. I thought that was kinda cool.
A brief glimpse into the wild life of a band on the road (ha!)
At that time, the band consisted of Rick Toombs (guitar, sax & vocals), Vinny Luciani (lead guitar & vocals), Dane Ward (keys and lead vocals), Ronald Wesley (bass guitar, keys and vocals), Becky Davich (lead vocals) and me on drums. We also had a lighting tech named Kerry Williams (who had been with us since the early 80s) and our sound guy, Darrel Sanders. We were living in Colorado Springs at the time, and had just finished a week in Durango, Colorado. Then we headed north to Montana. Our story begins on the afternoon of Tuesday, February 3rd, 1987.
Dear Pam and Patricia,
Hi - I love you! I'm sitting here all by myself in our room #9 at the world famous Stardust Motel, at 3621 Montana Avenue, in beautiful Billings, Montana. I'm just plain thrilled to be here! (Hmmmmm...) I sure do miss you two. It's going to be a long two weeks. After I called you last night, Wes called Joan, and then we went in search of the motel. It didn't take long. This is a pretty bad motel... you know, the kind where you don't know if the sheets are "clean" or not. It's down by the railroad tracks in the seedy part of town (who would have guessed that Billings had a "seedy" part of town? funny). It's not real bad, like Portales, New Mexico, but I am a little concerned about getting broken into... anyway... I hope not! It sounds like the equipment truck just pulled in, so Darrel and Vinny should be coming in any minute now. There are three beds in our room - two regular double beds and a bed that pops out of the couch. I'm sleeping on that one. It's not exactly what you would call comfortable. There are two support bars that run across it, and one of them lands just across the small of my back, if I lay out flat on it... so I ended up kinda curled up in a ball in my sleeping bag last night. It wasn't so bad. We went for set-up today at around 1:00 or 1:30. So far so good. The people aren't real friendly yet, and I just get a strange vibe around here. I don't know what it is... ya know? It's kinda redneck. Maybe that's it. The club has a few rules. It looks like it's going to be a low volume job, but the people like rock. Sounds like an interesting combination. I think we will find out what works soon enough. One guy sitting at the bar said that they don't start throwing beer bottles at the band until after 11:00 (ha!) (ha, ha, ha.... oh boy).
It will be a little strange doing opening night without Rick. He's supposed to fly in at 7:00pm Wednesday, I think. The last time we played in Billings was in early 1980 at a place called Grandma's, and we stayed out at the Econo Lodge. That was where Linda blew up her toaster oven with a can of soup. Remember?
Anyway... we are playing at The Casino Club in case you need to know. I hope you can read this, it's looking kinda sloppy. Sorry. I'll talk to you Wednesday. Well, I guess I better go for now. Everybody is coming in & out and they've got the TV on, talking, etc. so... I'll see you later. Love you both. Take care and be careful out there.
I'll be home in no time... right?
February 5, 1987
Dear Pam & Patricia,
Wow, only 2:00pm and we've already done so much. We got up at around 9:45 so we could practice on the new Peter Gabriel song "Big Time". It was hard to pull myself out of bed! Last night after work the manager told us about this place down the street called The Golden Nugget. They have full meals for only $1.25!! So... Wes & Vinny and I went over there last night for breakfast. I got a huge 3 egg omlet with ham & cheese, hash browns and toast. It was really good. They have some gambling here in Montana, so a lot of these places serve cheap food to get you in the door, so you will play their slot machines. We didn't play the machines. Got back to the motel at around 3:00 or 3:30am....