Crystal Palace 1974

With the Journey album a huge success, the scene was set to promote Arthur, or the Table Fable as we called it, to similar heights. So we kicked off at Crystal Palace. Big problem! The transmitter. All of Ricks synthesisers had gone radiophonic and were transmitting radio broadcasts. Panic! To make things worse, the insulator circuit designed to screen out the transmitter, had gone missing. I go backstage to find Rick tearing into the promoter Harvey Goldsmith, who was responsible for delivery of the insulator. The huge banks of keyboards designed and programmed to do Ricks bidding, were now announcing football results, Magic Roundabout and weather reports.

As the support band Argent start their set, a mad flurry of activity back stage as roadies and technical people set about the task of rectifying the problem. Then another blow, I get stage fright, I’d played scores of huge venues throughout the world,but this was my first open air gig. The stage lighting in stadiums and theatres doesn’t allow you to take in the capacity of the audience, but here in broad daylight with many, many thousands of fans, I felt that every one of those fans were waiting for me to blow it.

As Argent leave the stage and with moments to spare, the roadies announce that they have cured the technical glitch, but not so my non Marine jitters. As the choirs and orchestra take the stage, I’m standing in the wings, when Faces drummer, Kenny Jones appears and tells me that he had heard the first sound check ,that he liked my style on kit and loved the sound of the bass drums. That did the trick, I went on to play what the music press described as a set “sparkling with aplomb, from Barney James’ hard hitting drums” Whoa!! Somebody stop me!!!

Some weeks later, we’re back on the Ken Russell set, when I hear a story about Ringo Starr. Now here was one of the worlds greatest debunkers, it appears he was in the dressing room at one of Johnny Cash’s gigs. As Mr Cash, a man not known for his sense of humour, came off stage, up jumps Ringo proclaiming loudly “Oh! Johnny, Johnny I thought you were absolutely fantastic, I thought you were totally amazing, but you were’nt”.

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