Saturday, August 30, 2008

I Partied Backstage With ZZ Top

I can't believe I haven't told this story before.

First we need to enter Mr. Peabody's WABAC Machine and journey back to 1975.

ZZ Top had just released their 4th album, "Fandango!" in April. This was the album that introduced the song "Tush" to the world.

As part of their World Tour, they were appearing at the newly built Kemper Arena, on Halloween.

The warm up act was Rory Gallagher.

The ZZ Top stage set was Texas-themed and had vultures tethered to perches and rattlesnakes under Plexiglas domes on stage. This was ZZ Top at the peak of their game.

It was a kick ass line up!

I was well known in Excelsior Springs for my high school theatrical performances and mad make-up skillz. Especially my live performances at the local movie theatres when they ran horror movie marathons. When I roamed the isles of the local movie houses in my Wolf Man makeup, the bitches screamed and the men shit their pants.

Charley came from a monied family. Charley's dad was a local politician of some note. Charley was well known for making spontaneous appearances at keggers in his full body gorilla costume. Over the drunken years, the gorilla costume had accumulated some wear. The gorilla fur had some patchy spots.

But Charley was determined to mount an all out party offensive on the ZZ Top Halloween concert. He had a bunch of tickets, some hot-ass bitches, and he needed help.

Charley offered my broke ass a free ticket and free transportation to the concert if I could patch up his gorilla suit and provide Halloween makeup for his friends and bitches.

I seem to recall their were some free fungus-based "refreshments" included as well. Did I mention this was 1975?

It was an offer I couldn't refuse.

So I patched up his gorilla suit.

I applied the obligatory Vampirella makeup on the hot bitches in the low-cut vamp-cleavage outfits.

"We have to get the make-up applied as far down your chest as possible. Otherwise it won't look right. Trust me. I'm a professional."

Yeah. A 20 year old "professional" with a woody that could break a 2x4 because I was feeling up MILF tits. HAWESOME!

Charley was quite a site at the concert. Picture a gorilla wearing exotic cowboy boots, a big-buckle belted "ZZ Top Fandango!" t-shirt, and a big black cowboy hat. He spent most of the concert roaming the arena while we just enjoyed the show. We eventually lost track of him entirely.

When the show was over and everyone was dispersing, we were looking for Charley. He was our ride. We were asking everyone "Hey man, have you seen a gorilla in a ZZ Top t-shirt wearing cowboy boots?" It was 1975. Reactions were mixed.

As the crowd got really thin and the lights got really bright, we were reduced to asking the roadies on stage if they had seen our gorilla.

One of them said "Yeah. He's backstage with the band."


"Tell him we need a ride! We're stranded!"

Instead of Charley coming out, we got a member of the crew inviting us in with backstage passes!

They guided us through the labyrinthine service corridors of Kemper Arena until we reached ZZ Tops tour digs.

And there they were. Billy Gibbons. Dusty Hill. Frank Beard. Surrounded by their fawning minions and adoring groupies.

Their were 50 gallon plastic drums filled with ice and beer.

They were all talking to fans and signing autographs.

The drummer, Frank Beard, had a system.

A hottie groupie would go and fetch him an ice cold beer from the tub while he signed autographs. When she arrived with the beer, he would stop signing autographs while he pretty much chugged the beer straight down.

Drumming for ZZ Top is hard fucking work!

Then he would dispatch her to fetch him another beer while he signed a few more autographs until she returned. When she returned with the beer, he would stop signing autographs while he chugged THAT beer straight down.

This pattern continued the entire time we were backstage.

At first, I was determined to be cool. I wasn't going to be some dipstick fanboy and ask for an autograph. I was going to act like I BELONGED backstage.

Until I finally sobered up enough to realize that everybody else was getting autographs. It was pretty much the only reason we were there (it certainly wasn't because Billy Gibbons spotted us from stage and told his roadies "That guy! Right there! He's the one I want to party with when I get off work! Bring him back stage! He's cool!")

So I finally grabbed a B&W 8x10 band photo off the stack and presented it to each of them for autographs.

I would love to scan it and post it, but much like the 10 Commandments and Joseph Smith's Golden Tablets, my autographed ZZ Top photo has been lost to history. I last remember having it in a rented home in Raytown.

At the end of the night, Frank Beard was too drunk to walk and had to be carried out of Kemper Arena into the waiting tour bus.


Midtown Miscreant said...

Great post. They used the buzzards and a buffalo or coyote at one of the summer jams, cant recall which animal, but if I recall correctly, they were on scissor lifts, its all a blur. Wasnt Beard the one who had a liver transplant recently?

Nuke said...

Great story man. The gorilla suit thing cracked me up!

travel said...

One of my favorite fun bands. Saw them at Sandstone.

Xavier Onassis said...

MM - Sounds right.

nuke - all true.

travel - Sandstone was about 30 years in the future.

m.v. said...

Note to self: refrain from "old age" jokes.