Hey, You in the Black T--shirt, Michael ChuggTwo things have inspired me to update my blog today.  The first being a long conversation I had last night with another ex-roadie who was hot on the touring scene in Australia in the 80′s and 90′s.  Names like Billy Thorpe and manager/promoter Michael Chugg, whose book ‘Hey You In The Black T-shirt’ I recently read, were thrown around.  It was a fun conversation – no doubt there will be more to compare stories.

Secondly, as I stepped out this morning to walk the dogs, I was wearing my sleeveless body warmer, an acquisition from one of the Michael Ball tours that we did. Swag was one of the perks of the job, and I have a lot… t-shirts – signed and unsigned, jackets, sweatshirts, hoodies, CD’s, tour ititneraries, bags, books, programmes, a cymbal signed by Pink and a tambourine and fragrance(!)  from Prince’s 3121 in London.  It was our mission on each job to become friends with and look after ‘swaggy’ or ‘merch’ as that was where the good stuff came from.  A lot of it got worn to death and all that remains are the graphics that we cut out and kept to someday stitch together in some sort of blanket or throw.  Some has been sold on eBay… well, why not, right?  I have been lucky to get down to see friends in Brisbane when they have come out with artists and have been given even more.  All of it in some way is wrapped up in memories from the road.

Michael Ball in HairsprayMichael Ball is well known in the UK as a stage musical star and was a huge hit on Broadway in Kismet.  I saw him perform in the West End in Hairspray which was fantastic (and he welcomed myself and a friend backstage afterwards for a glass of bubbles.)  In fact, Michael’s bio is as long as my arm and more.  He was such good fun and easy to work for.  He had a great sense of humour and an infectious energy – when he was blaming chef for giving him a cold!  The tours were enjoyable and we always said, even when we came back to Australia, that if Michael wanted us back for a tour we would go.  On the last night of the second tour, in Bristol, during the song ‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ of Scissor Sisters fame, three of us roadies appeared side of stage behind the backing vocalists and joined in with the choreographed dance and singing along.  The backing vocalists sooned noticed and moved aside for us and the next time Michael turned around he had three worn out looking roadies instead of three primped and primed lovelies singing and dancing with him!   That wasn’t anywhere near as offputting as the graphics that appeared on his autocue the night before which had him concentrating extremely hard to hold it together for his Cardiff fans.  But that’s another story.  We love you Michael.

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