After working over 30 years in the Music industry, I unfortunately had to learn some things the hard way. For example, getting booked as an Opener for a National Act, you would first need to get the Artist’s approval.
The “Catch-22” is that you can’t get approval from the Artist unless you’ve worked with one before. Thankfully, some of the time, it’s their Manager that actually makes the decision.
BUT, if you’re willing to perform for free, and the venue is responsible for the approval, you might be able to book the show, which satisfies the criteria for the old adage: “you can’t work a big time show unless you’ve worked one before.”
So… Before I was actually paid to open for a National act, I found out from Mickey, an agent friend in Connecticut, that Buddy Rich was doing two shows in Poughkeepsie and the theater needed an opener. “There’s no money, but if you want the gig, we will let you open for Buddy.”
Saying NO was not an option. I hired a photographer for $50 bucks and drove 2 1/2 hours to Poughkeepsie, hoping to have a great show and also, get a picture with Buddy Rich.
I was elated to arrive at the “The Last Chance Saloon” as it was one of the last of the old vaudeville stages, complete with a huge asbestos curtain. Names of the local entrepreneurs were plastered all over it.
I opened the first show for Buddy and it went really well. After I performed, I watched the remainder of his first show from the wings. He destroyed the place with his mesmorizing drum performance and his complete understanding of rhythm and music.
After his last song, Buddy stood up from behind his drum set and walked to front center stage, bowed and moved briskly out the back stage door and into his Silver Eagle Bus.
No chance for a photo opportunity there. So I approached his Manager and asked if I might be able to get a picture with Buddy. He said, “Buddy NEVER takes photos.”
He saw my excitement turn to sadness. “But,” he continued, “Buddy’s going to sit in his bus for a few minutes before the start of his 2nd show, where he will walk back and just sit on his drum stool. When the curtain goes, he will start his second show.”
What I heard was: THIS is the perfect opportunity for a photo with Buddy Rich.
As soon as Buddy sat down on his drum stool, and right before the curtain went up, I ran out on stage with my photographer who was reluctantly following behind, and said to Buddy, “Mr. Rich? My name is Paul Wayne, and I was your opener tonight… can I get a picture with you?”
Buddy looked at his manager and said, “Who is this F****** guy?”
But as the big asbestos curtains started to slowly creak up to start the show, Buddy said, “Alright, alright… go ahead.”
We looked like “The Buddy Rich Duo,” guitar, drums and vocals, private parties, clubs and colleges… ‘you can say I am Dreamer, but I am not the only one…’
I was so thrilled to get the photo of us together at that moment, and even moreso, that Buddy actually forced a smile. Nice guy after all.
The photo is at the beginning of this story.