Knock Knock Knocking on Eddie’s Door (or, Rubbing Elbows with Rock Stars)

I told a story at work about Joe Strummer encouraging me when I was a teenager, and a coworker suggested I start a blog for music-related stories. And look, here’s a blog now! 🙂

I’ve always loved music, not only rock music (top 40 radio back then played every conceivable kind of music, as long as it was in the top 40 selling records) but okay, mainly rock music when I was a kid. As soon as I was able, which turned out the be the age of 14, I began going to live shows.

First show? The New York Dolls at the Minnesota State Fair. That’s not a typo. They played there. They played a couple shows a day for a few days. Not in the big grandstand, but in a small circular dump called the “Teen Center.”

But I digress. Since most of my friends and I were also aspiring musicians, we wanted to meet the members of the bands that we saw, so we would stake them out at the only rock star-worthy hotel in St. Paul, the Radisson.

I’m pretty sure the bands would have rather seen some groupies waiting patiently for them when they arrived, but they got us. 99% of the time, it was a nod and a smile and a “How you doin’? Everything cool?” as they were walking past us. But sometimes they lingered, and we got to pepper them with our goofy teenaged questions.

Some encounters of interest:

  • Gene Simmons from KISS buying my friend’s belt buckle right off his pants (Friend: “I’ll give it to you, you can have it!” Gene: “No give. Buy. How much?”)
  • Alice Cooper repeatedly stabbing my friend’s KISS t-shirt with a ballpoint pen (the day after his concert was ended by a tear gas canister).
  • Brendan Harkin from Starz talking to us for a few minutes and then saying, “Want to come up?” Indeed we did. We hung around with the band and watched Muhammad Ali beat up Leon Spinks.
  • Punky Meadows from Angel asking my girlfriend (right in front of me), “How much for a tie job?”
  • Knocking on Eddie Van Halen’s door for half an hour (obnoxious and regrettable, but we’d cultivated contacts in the hotel who gave us room lists). He was in there but declined to answer. (Van Halen was third on the bill on that tour, doing a half-hour set opening for Journey and Montrose.)
  • Ace Frehley wandering onto an escalator in a bit of a haze while the rest of KISS went to the elevators. No one went to fetch him, so we ran up the escalator behind him and showed him where the elevators were on the second floor. “Thanks, Curly!” he said as the elevator doors closed. None of us had curly hair.
  • Walking along the banks of the Mississippi with Joe Strummer. (That’s worth its own post, so, coming soon.)
  • Going to a party with Rick Derringer – which probably also deserves its own post. (The last time I saw him was through a slightly opened bathroom door, begging some girl to give him back his pants).

You may not recognize some of those characters or bands. It was a long time ago, and I’d go see anyone who played in town. It was just my luck that it was the 70s, and everyone came through town.

The fact that I got to see a lot of legendary bands (not mentioned here) was just dumb luck and circumstance.

Me and Ace, in a previous lifetime
Me staring at The Clash in that previous lifetime, from Pennie Smith’s book “The Clash: Before and After”
day 23


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