From Timm's Update Of August 1, 2011
Today is the 30th anniversary of my first show with Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush. Joining FMMR was certainly the big step forward in my career. I will always be grateful to Frank for believing in a kid from the DC suburbs all those years ago, and to my late friend Terry Gleason for telling Frank that he should check me out. (You can click on any of the photos to view larger images.)
That first show was the "Heavy Metal Holocaust" at Stoke-On-Trent in the UK. We were on a bill with Motorhead, Ozzy Osbourne (w/ Randy Rhodes, Rudy Sarzo, and Tommy Aldridge!), Triumph, Riot, and a host of other bands from the US and UK. This was actually Motorhead's show, and the PA they assembled was allegedly the largest ever assembled in the British Isles - over 100,000 watts!
This show was, without a doubt, a turning point in my drumming life. It was the day I began to learn what worked and what didn't when playing in front of a stadium full of people. And believe me, it's a whole lot different than playing at My Brother's Place in Salisbury, MD for an audience of 9 - 4 of whom are shooting pool! I've written in the past of how I had very little rehearsal for this show, but I don't think I've ever explained in print that I really wasn't sure of the endings to the tunes. When I asked Frank about this in our last rehearsal, he said "You'll be fine." And I was! His cues were so spot on there was no way I could muck it up!
As a side note, I don't think I've ever played a solo that fell flatter on a crowd in my entire life than at this gig! Over time, Frank helped me suss the performing-in-front-of-a-big-crowd thing out, and I'd like to think I've gotten better at reaching the folks in the back of the room than I was on that day.
One of the high-points of the day for me was meeting Tommy Aldridge. Tommy had been a player I'd looked up to since I first heard him in Black Oak Arkansas, and I'd worked for years to emulate his double kick drum licks with my single kick setup. He was very kind, even offering me the use of his kit when he saw the single-headed Gretsch rental kit I was using this day. Much as I wanted to climb behind his kit and pound away, I thought it best to play on a kit that was at least configured like my own. Looking back, I still think I made the right choice on that one.
After our set, Frank and I sat watching Ozzy's band put on what I thought was an amazing show. About halfway through, Frank turns to me, points toward Tommy and says "he's playing your licks!" I said "no man, I'm playing his licks!" I guess I managed to pull off enough of Tommy's double kick licks to be convincing!
Later that night, several of us were sitting in the hotel bar. The big topic was the debut of MTV, which, as you probably know, happened that same day. The consensus of opinion was we were witnessing the death of music as we knew it. A certain someone, who shall remain nameless, was very vocal about this, saying how he would never be caught dead on MTV. Ironically, MTV would later be an important avenue for his career, jump-starting it on a couple of occasions. I suppose one should never say never.
As great as the gig was, there was another big event in Britain that weekend - Charles and Diana's wedding. We arrived in the UK the beginning of that week, and had the chance to go to the fireworks display in Hyde Park the night before the wedding. Paul Harwood and I found ourselves in the midst of a crowd that we thought had to be over 500,000 (though I have heard that there were nearly 1,000,000 people there). We were inching along next to each other when all of a sudden, Paul disappeared! I found myself alone in a crowd the likes of which I'd never seen, in a country I'd never been to before! It was pretty frightening, to be sure. To make a long story short, it took me nearly 45 minutes to move about 25 yards to a rope fence and escape from the craziness. I hailed a cab and made it back to the hotel just in time to watch the fireworks on television in the lounge with Frank. Whew! (An interesting note is that my wife Tam was also at this event with her family!)
To top off my first trip to the UK, I was on the plane crossing the Atlantic to JFK when it was announced that the US air traffic controllers had gone on strike and connections from NYC were going to be handled by bus. This was the last thing I wanted to hear after a 7:30 hour flight! Once we landed and cleared customs, we were told it would be some hours before transportation to DC was sorted. I found a pay phone and called my friend and musical mentor, Bob Lessick, out on Long Island who came into JFK to have dinner and wait it out with me. During the meal, he asked "did you try the shuttle?" (In those days, Eastern airlines flew an hourly shuttle from DC to NYC LaGuardia and back again. You filled out your ticket by hand at the counter, boarded the plane, and paid en route, much like a train. Bob and I made extensive use of the shuttle during our recording sessions together.) Well, Bob and I high-tailed it over to LaGuardia and discovered there was going to be one last shuttle heading down to DC - and I was just in time to make it! I ended up being one of two folks on this last shuttle from LGA before the strike shut it down. An exciting end to an amazing trip.