Chapter 10 A Star is Born

Chapter 10
A Star Is Born
 
At the end of 1975 I got another phone call from Bill Graham, but this time he was calling for advice. He was going to put on a concert at ASU Stadium in the spring of ’76, for a remake of the classic Judy Garland picture A Star is Born. The movie was going to star Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Kris had made a huge name for himself, most notably for writing “Me and Bobby McGee,” which Janis Joplin posthumously had a career defining song with. Kris was perfect for this role.
 
The filmmakers wanted Bill to put a bill together that would pack a stadium so that they could take footage of Kris and Barbra to use in the film. They didn’t want a fake audience; they wanted a genuine rock concert vibe and crowd. So Bill had a list of acts to pick from that he hoped would pack a stadium in Phoenix. I was floored: here I was, working in a waterbed store, and Bill Graham was calling me for advice on which act to book for this big show.
 
We put together the package for the show right then. They already had Graham Central Station, Santana, and Montrose, who Bill managed. “Who should we get to headline?” Bill asked. “Here are your picks: ZZ Top, Johnny and Edgar Winter, or Peter Frampton.”
 
That was one hell of a spread! Those were some of the biggest names in rock at the time. I turned it over in my head before landing on Frampton, who’d just put out Frampton Comes Alive, which was on its way to becoming the biggest-selling live album of all time. That album was recorded at a Bill Graham show at Winterland in San Francisco, by the way, with Jerry Pompilli of Bill Graham Presents handling the introduction chores. I thought Peter would definitely fill the stadium, although he hadn’t played the market as a headliner yet. Johnny and Edgar Winter were stars, but maybe not big enough to pack a stadium in Phoenix. The city was still growing, and it takes huge stars to fill a stadium. ZZ Top was big, but they had just come through town not long before.
 
Bill was already leaning toward Frampton. He knew Frampton’s manager, Dee Anthony, who was also working with many of the biggest names in music at the time. They had a strong working relationship. My approval just sealed the deal.
 
Bill overheard a customer asking me what algaecides we had available to put in the waterbeds. “What are you doing?” Bill asked. “Where are you?”
 
I told him. I was kind of ashamed, but I wasn’t about to lie to him.
 
“We’ve got to get you out of there,” he said, “but good for you for doing what you gotta do. You gotta eat, right?”
 
And what do you know, he did get me out of there, at least for a little while. I went to work with Bill on the set of A Star Is Born; the film was in town for ten days, shooting on location, in Tempe, at Sun Devil stadium. I also got to act as Kris Kristofferson’s assistant. We hit it off and became good friends. He and his wife Lisa live down the street from our place in Hana, and we have great times together when we find ourselves there at the same time. Truly 2 remarkable people who love each other deeply. I am looking forward to our next visit there together for Taco Tuesdays. Lisa makes the best tacos!!
 
Anyway, we had a fabulous week and a half together, and Kris is still a pal to this day, so this show was a gift that kept on giving. The show was only $3.50 to get in, but the doors closed at 9am! Also once you were inside, you couldn’t leave and come back in, as they were filming and wanted everything to look the same. They used maybe 10 minutes of all of this stadium show magic for what amounted to 5 minutes in the movie. I get a kick out of seeing the helicopter footage with Barbra being left behind, by A Mountain, as well as Kris going off the stage with the motorcycle. I was right there for everything and it was amazing.
 
The show was great, all the acts were incredible. Barbra went on stage and sang a few of her biggest songs for the audience, and reduced everyone in front of the stage as well as behind in tears. There were some people saying she wouldn’t last 5 minutes with this rock audience. She KILLED them!!! She was nervous to begin with, but it all went away when she hit the stage and opened her beautiful mouth to sing.
 
 I was thrilled some 30 years later, in 2006, when I was a part of bringing Barbra to town (Michael Cohl’s tour) on the same night I had booked Kris for a show at the Celebrity. We arranged for Kris to go to US Airways Center downtown after his show to catch Barbra at the end of hers. We are all standing on the side of the stage, when Barbra’s security guy came over and asked Kris to go with him. The next thing we knew, Kris was standing on stage, and she introduced him to the most thunderous ovation! FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 30 YEARS, HERE’S JOHN NORMAN HOWARD!
 
 You can’t make this shit up.
 
 
The poster art for the show
 
Barbra giving instructions to someone who needed guidance
  
Barbra on stage warming up the Star is Born crowd
 
Bill Graham cheering everyone on
 
Kris enjoying some caviar at my b-day party a couple years ago in Hana
 
Lisa Kristofferson, Mark and Nikki Tarbell, Jessi Colter, Kris and Leslie
watching the Cubs win the World Series in 2016 at our house
 
With Willie and Kris at Willie’s in Paia for some afternoon delight
 
Kris came by to see Joan Baez at her last show here in Phoenix
 
In Las Vegas with the Fiona and John Prine and Lisa and Kris Kristofferson, The Pearl, 2017
 
After Kris got on stage in phoenix with Barbra 2006

Chapter 9 Keeping My Head Above Water: The Very First Shows

Chapter 8 “Who Do You Think You Are, Bill Graham?”

Chapter 8

“Who Do You Think You Are, Bill Graham?”

 KDKB was playing the hell out of a self-titled record called Buckingham Nicks, by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, who were a couple back then. This was before they joined Fleetwood Mac. Buckingham Nicks was produced by Keith Olsen, who has produced a lot of great albums, including some for Fleetwood Mac, Joe Walsh, the Grateful Dead, and a bunch of other big bands. Sadly, he just passed away this year. It was a big record in Phoenix—everybody here loved it, me included—but not really anywhere else. Still, they had yet to perform in Phoenix. This was one of the out in the open secrets about promoting. No promoter was on top of this fact, because there was only one promoter in town, Doug Clark, at the Celebrity Theatre. Not sure how that one got by him, but I was happy it had.

There was also another new singer named Dan Fogelberg, who has since passed away. He had a song called “Long Way Home” from an album called Home Free, which was also a big record on KDKB. Another musician, Jerry Riopelle was getting a ton of airplay on KDKB too. Jerry and his wife Naomi,  became my life long best friend. Jerry turned into a full-fledged superstar here in Phoenix. In addition to playing more sold out shows over the years at Celebrity Theatre, he opened Compton Terrace, a place that I have serious history with (named after Bill Compton, and owned by the Nicks Family, at the Phoenix Zoo.)

Oddly, Jerry’s fame was limited to Arizona, He didn’t make it outside of here, which is still insane, because the music is so, so good. He died on Christmas Eve, 2019, a day which will never be the same for his family and all of us, his friends, again. We all miss him terribly.

Here’s a picture of me and the fox (one of his great song titles)

I figured that if I followed what they were playing heavily on KDKB, I could book some of these artists who hadn’t been here before and become their promoter. I tracked down Stevie Nicks through some agency, and it turned out that she was waiting tables in LA.

I spoke to Stevie’s Dad, Jess, and made him an offer. He told me that Stevie and Lindsey had nothing much going on and were living month to month, but they had this record out. Jess was annoyed back then about the album cover, which is a picture of Stevie and Lindsey, both shirtless. They look amazing. Remember, this was before they joined Fleetwood Mac, in 1974. This was a ground breaking cover for an album. I told him he should be proud of her looking so great. He knew she was beautiful, but as a dad had a hard time with it, you know, old school. He got over it!

             This is a picture of Stevie and Jess I took after one of the benefit shows I produced for them for the Phoenix Heart Hospital, early 2000s.

I offered them $1,500 each to do the show.  Jerry was actually the biggest name at the time. We would do the show at Symphony Hall, and Riopelle would close.

To get Dan Fogelberg, I had to call Irving Azoff, who was at that time was also managing The Eagles. This was 1974, however—the Eagles had some big songs, but they—and Irving—were nowhere near the force that they are now. They’d only been popular for a couple of years.

I called Irving up. We had a nice conversation or two, and Dan wanted to do the show. Dan would have been in the middle, before Jerry, and Buckingham Nicks would have opened … if we’d done the show.

If I had done this show, every ticket would have sold out, since the bill was totally unique to Phoenix. It was a regional thing, because of the radio station. It’s just proof that any station that plays legitimately good product, regardless of whether it’s known or not, can make it big with air play. Everybody’s ears were wide open, and wanting new stuff. KDKB and their fearless leader, Bill Compton, delivered the music to the people of Phoenix.

But I never pulled the trigger on the show. I never called everybody back one more time. That’s all it would have taken, one more time to say we’re in, we’re doing the show. I got cold feet. There’s something to be said about your gut when you’re doing stuff like this, and when you think about it, $1,500 wasn’t too much money even back then. But you’ve got to be right. I put so much pressure on myself to be right … and this show just didn’t feel right.

Irving never forgot that. You could ask him today, and he would remember that all the way back in the 70s, I was the guy who didn’t have the balls to pull the trigger. When you put a show together, everybody gets hopeful and excited, especially when you’re a musician and you don’t have work and you’re trying to make it. Everybody’s looking for that next break, that next cool thing they’re going to do. But it just kind of faded away and died, and it was a shame.

My next bill was Herbie Hancock with Weather Report, both great jazz-rock acts. It was a respectable show, and I was excited to get it booked. Then, out of nowhere I got a call from the booking agent, Sol Saffian, telling me we had to postpone it. Turns out the agency he worked at in New York, ATI, had booked Deep Purple at the local water park called Big Surf, for the same night my show was scheduled for, April 8, and they didn’t think the two acts should be in town the same night.

“What, are you kidding me?” I said. Deep Purple were all English white guys playing rock, while Hancock and Weather Report were jazz and funk artists.

“Who plays Herbie Hancock on the radio?” the guy from the agency said.

“KDKB.”

“Who plays Deep Purple?”

“The same radio station, among others.”

“End of discussion.”

That was it. Imagine a radio station playing both Deep Purple and Herbie! That’s how great they were back then.

The show didn’t happen, and you’d better believe I was bummed. Apparently, the agencies didn’t want to cause undue competition for one another’s acts. Agency politics. This was the wrong move, as far as I was concerned. I thought so at the time and I still think so today, because this show was taking place in the right theater at the right time of the year, while school was still in session. This town would have supported both shows, without question. I ended up rescheduling Herbie in June at Symphony Hall.. No Weather Report, and ASU was on summer break. Not good for selling tickets. We ended up doing 1700+ out of the 2400 tickets available. Not a stiff, but not a money maker. Remember, tickets were $5.50 then!

Here’s the poster from that first Phoenix show, signed by Herbie, some years later.

The first show that I actually got booked was the Mahavishnu Orchestra at the Music Hall in Tucson on June 2, 1974. They were a great jazz-rock fusion group led by John McLaughlin, a guitarist who’d gotten famous playing with Miles Davis. The opening act I hired was a new band from California called Journey. Their guitarist, Neal Schon, along with vocalist/keyboard player, Gregg Rolie, had just left Santana after three great albums, which included the now classic songs, Evil Ways and Black Magic Woman. I offered Journey $500, and they accepted. The show was a big deal for them—it would be their first gig outside of the Bay Area.

Then I got a call from Elliot Sears, who managed the Mahavishnu Orchestra. He was working for Nat Weiss’ management company, who’d managed Janis Joplin and Dylan, among others, in the 1960s.

“Is this your first concert?” Elliot wanted to know.

“Does it show?”

“Did you really book Journey to open up for Mahavishnu?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, great, very artistic. But now you’ve got to cancel them.”

“What do you mean?”

“You can’t just go hiring bands. You’ve got to talk to me. I’m the manager. I have to approve this,” he said. “Who do you think you are? Bill Graham?”

Well not yet, but I wanna be, I wanted to say to him, but that was that. He went on to explain the show was 3 hours long with an intermission, with 25 people on stage performing, and there just wasn’t room in any way for my creative booking. I got my first show under my belt, albeit short of success, doing a little over 1000 tickets paid at $3.50-5.50 per. I am still doing shows in that hall, I am happy to say!

So this turned out to be the first show I promoted, on my own. Although it was a loser, I felt very proud to have gotten this one under my belt. Little did I know what had just begun.

Chapter 7 The Sun Comes up on Sundown Productions

Chapter 7
The Sun Comes up on Sundown Productions
 
After the Led Zeppelin show was over, I found myself boarding an airmail flight with a few guys from Bill Graham Presents. Back then, you could get $10 tickets between LA and San Francisco by riding with the air-mail on the midnight flight. I got into a great conversation Arnie Pustilnik, one of Bill’s right-hand men. By this time I was still learning how important it was to make connections.
Arnie took me behind the curtain on that flight. He could name the people booking every major act, right off the top of his head, every agent and every manager. He had a lesson for me, and it was to learn names. Know who to contact, and get to know the network so that you can join it.
Arnie gave me the names of people from half a dozen major agencies, and as soon as I got home, I called every one of them and let them know I was promoting concerts in Arizona. I didn’t have any money to promote concerts, but they didn’t need to know that. There was no other way. I needed chops and street cred to get money to begin promoting, and the only way to build that kind of reputation was to actually get out and do it!.
I went back to Chicago again in the fall and took a job in shipping and receiving at Univac, a large computer company in the suburbs.

But this time I raised $11,000 from my Dad, along with my high-school friend Larry Kopald and his Dad, Buddy. When Larry and I approached Buddy about investing in my new concert promoting venture, he asked me a few important questions: “What makes you think you can do this? Have you ever put on a show before? How much money are you putting up?” He went on to explain that he made it a point never to invest in anything if the other partner didn’t have money of his own involved.
Leslie with Buddy and Rurh Kopald at the opening of Glendale Arena 2002. Very proud moment as Buddy and my Dad staked me to be a promoter almost 30 years earlier.
This is where I learned the expression “You need to have some skin in the game.” I convinced my dad to put in $5,000 and Buddy put in $6,000. Together, we formed my first concert company, Sundown Productions. We were going to focus on doing shows in Arizona, specifically Phoenix, where the market was smaller and the competition less fierce than in Chicago. I headed out there, got set up, and continued reaching out to booking agents.
Things were coming together. I had raised some capital, and I was trying to book shows. It was slow going, but I had made a start, and for the first time I was getting closer to the kind of work I’d been dreaming of for years.
Around the same time, spring 1974, I got a call from Bill Graham offering me a promoting job in Denver. The guy he worked with up there was a big promoter in his own right—but he’d developed personal problems that had just become too much to deal with.
I was only nineteen years old and hadn’t booked a show of my own yet, but Bill was impressed with how I’d handled myself around him, and he remembered I needed a gig. What I lacked in experience, I made up for with my enthusiasm.
A month earlier, I would have lunged at the offer. Now I was standing there with $11,000 and a dream burning a hole in my pocket.
“What’s the pay?” I asked him.
“$400.”
“Wow—$400 a week? Really?”
“A month.”
“Four hundred a month? How the hell am I going to live on that?” I said. I mean, even in 1974 that was barely any money. You couldn’t live on $400 a month—you’d starve. And I was tired of starving.
I passed on the offer with as much respect as I could muster. I didn’t need a poverty-wage job, not even from Bill Graham. I was on the verge of putting together my own concerts now. It was really flattering to get that call, to have him even think of me. I was honored, even if I had to turn him down.
I stayed in Phoenix and struck out on my own with Sundown Productions. I was pumped, I was motivated, and I was ready to get shit done.
I was also green as hell and had a lot to learn.

Chapter 6 DJ-ing for Led Zeppelin

Chapter 6: DJ-ing for Led Zeppelin
Where is that Jimmy Page hiding anyway?
 
After a mind-blowing Alice experience, which I flashback a little later, my next gig came from one of Bill’s main guys, Dave Furano, who had offered me some new work while at the Alice Show in Tucson. This time it was about a month later for Led Zeppelin at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, where the 49ers played. The show was slated for June 2, 1973. This was a huge thrill for me, as Zeppelin was one of my favorite bands, and I was on the inside now, or so I thought. Little did I know that exactly one year later, I would be promoting my own first concert, as an honest to goodness rock promoter. What a difference a year can make!
 
The downside for this Zep gig was that I had to show up at five in the morning, even though the show didn’t start until much later in the afternoon. It was June, and I froze my ass off in forty-degree bay air all day – like I should care, right?  For my first job of the day, I was trusted with lining every single trash can in the stadium field. I didn’t care. I was just happy to be involved. I do admit I was pissed when they told me to clean them a few more times. I heard, “it ain’t gonna throw itself out!” Nice, but spot on. We all want to be an executive before we pay dues, but there ain’t no getting around it.
 
Jimmy Page somehow didn’t make the band’s charter flight in favor of taking a commercial flight so that he could “be with the people,” which meant hours of delays. The band wouldn’t be able to start until Page landed and made his way to the stadium, whenever that would be. There were no cell phones then, remember, so he was officially AWOL. Look, it’s 1973 and a guy has to do what he has to do. I would have done the same thing under all the pressure, which means WHATEVER.
 
I was given the daunting task of entertaining the sixty thousand people who were waiting for Jimmy to finish his vision quest—with just twelve eight-track tapes. The openers, Roy Harper and Lee Michaels, had already played and left the stage, and there was still no sign of Jimmy. I had to come up with a way to stretch out those tapes over a couple of hours to keep the restless crowd pacified. So I played the songs in different orders to keep things interesting; this way, they weren’t getting the same list of songs on repeat forever. And what do you know, it worked, and everyone was happy with my improvised DJ set. The Leon Russell songs and Traffic went over best.
If you look real close, you can see me out there in the middle of the crowd, by the scaffold.
Jimmy eventually showed up and Led Zeppelin took the stage. From the mixing platform high up in the scaffolding, I had a great view of the band, the stage, and the immense audience of sixty thousand people. The tickets were priced at $6 a head, and the newspaper the next day said the band had earned about $1,000 a minute for their three-hour show! Do the math.
 
Despite me showing up way too early and having to pull audio sleight of hand on the crowd, I’ve gotta say, it was an eye opening incredible experience. It was Led fucking Zeppelin. This was my brother Jimmy and my favorie group. He had an 8 track in his ’64 Malibu SS we would blast Communication Breakdown. Also, I got paid $50 for 14 hours on the clock. I was in heaven. The easy part was getting to LAX that night after the show as they had a midnight air mail flight for only $10 from SFO-LAX. Then I’m in LAX with nowhere to go once we landed. I slept in the airport, waiting for a plane to leave at 7am back to Phoenix, but found out that I was $3 short when I went to buy the ticket ($30 back then). The ticket guy wouldn’t loan me the money despite my promises of sending it back. Lot of money to give to a stranded stranger?) Now I’m hosed, and I swore I had to dedicate my life to never being in this position again!
 
So I did the only smart thing I could think of: I spent $5 to get to the freeway ramp, which was a couple miles away, and hitchhiked to San Diego to borrow some money from Otis, who lived there with his mom. Then I had to endure her lecture for being so stupid to be traveling without money – she was right of course – and so forth. Talk about a cloud being burst, going from Led Zeppelin to getting yelled at by my friend’s mother. Humbling, even to a 19 year old who was just with the Zep.
 
The good news was this was truly a character builder for me. I got to be Danny (Swansong guru and visionary) Goldberg’s local guy on the Phoenix show which was going to be at Tempe Stadium. Then one tragedy led to another for the one of the most important rock bands, ever,  in the world, and that was it for Zep. I went on to work with the guys later in one form and/or another, over the years. I loved Jimmy’s long time attorney Stevens Weiss, who looked after Jimmy in the solo years. The Who’s legendary manager Bill Curbishley, who is the epitome of what a manager should be and we became friendly over the years. He also took care of Page/Plant. Our best times were the Page/Plant reunion in the 90s where I put on their shows in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Denver. Truly as good as it gets.
 
I truly wish they would do some shows with my good man and heir apparent, Jason Bonham, like they did in 2007 at the O2 Arena in London. A funny story about going to that show, Bill and Phil Carson, who were running the event,  called and asked who I was bringing to the show, as I had requested two tickets. When I told him it was my daughter, Danielle, he said “her ticket is free, but you are paying $5,000 for yours.” Best $5k I’ve spent on a show. They were sweet enough to send along a Ronnie Wood portrait of Ahmet Ertegun when we got back home, which was a nice touch.
 Needless to say, I love the era that this grew out of and the individuals who made it happen.
Chapter 6 Photo Gallery
 
print ad for the big show
 
Ticket for Bill Graham Presents Led Zeppelin at Kezar Stadium, June 2, 1973.
 
can you see me on the platform?
 
review of the show at Kezar
With Jimmy Page and Robert Plant backstage at red Rocks 1995 with our Red Rocks awards!

Chapter 5 Alice Cooper and Shep Gordon They Broke the Mold

Chapter 5
Alice Cooper and Shep Gordon
They Broke the Mold
Making connections wasn’t exactly easy. Phoenix was a small desert town back then,  but there was this incredible radio station called KDKB. They played Billy Joel, Jackson Browne, ELO, and broke Jerry Riopelle and Bruce Springsteen back when these acts were still new, and they would go on to be legends. People forget nowadays, but the “old” rock gods were once upstart newcomers too. A large part of how they broke big was by getting played on stations like this one, which don’t really exist anymore, except for a couple around the country. Like dinosaurs. We need “dinosaurs” in this business, not electric meters to hear what we are listening to.
When I finally moved here for good, there was a bumper sticker like this on almost every car I saw! Never saw anything like it, before or since.
When these acts came to town they would play at the Celebrity Theatre. But back then I didn’t know who to talk to about getting involved or how.
Then one day I got lucky. I was driving down Van Buren Street toward Tempe on a hot April afternoon, and I picked up a hitchhiker who turned out to be Larry Hitchcock. Larry was the production manager for the Alice Cooper show.
Our meeting was a complete coincidence. Here Larry was, barefoot, standing on the blazing hot asphalt, trying to hitch a ride. When I pulled over to pick him up, Larry got in and asked if I could drive him to get some shoes. I said “Why not,” and we headed to Tempe.
Larry and Alice
As it turned out, we had the music business in common. I talked about working shows in San Francisco, and Larry talked about his job as a production manager. Alice was opening his Billion Dollar Babies tour later that week in Tucson, featuring Flo and Eddie of the Turtles, who I was a huge fan of.
“Why don’t you come down?” Larry asked. “I can get you a gig at the show.”
Of course I jumped on it. It was random, crazy luck, but it was somehow meant to be. Oh, and guess who was promoting the tour? That’s right—Bill Graham.
So that’s how I got paid for the first time to work a concert: picking up some guy with no shoes on the side of the road. A couple of days later, I was doing security for Alice Cooper. It was easy—I just had to stand in front of the stage, a scrawny kid weighing about 140 pounds.
When I got there, I accidentally stumbled into Alice Cooper’s dressing room. He didn’t kick me out like a lot of people would have; he just offered me a beer and we chatted for a while until his manager, Shep Gordon, came in. 
“Who the hell is this?” Shep asked.
“Oh, it’s my friend, Danny,” Alice said. “We’re just having a beer.”
Shep wasn’t having it. “What are you doing here?”
“Working security.”
“Oh, you’re going to be great at security tonight if you’re drinking beer with Alice in the middle of the afternoon.” He had a point.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’ll be fine.”
I hung out with Alice all afternoon, until the show started. Officially, I was protecting the man, but honestly we mostly just drank beer and shot the shit—and definitely got a buzz on.
Positioned in front of the barricade, I did security and watched Flo and Eddie, who were great. Then Alice came on … and I’d never seen anything like him before. There were props and dancing girls, and Alice moved like a manic street preacher.
Bill Graham came over and told me, “When Alice gets his head cut off from the guillotine, make sure you jump behind the barricade or you will be crushed. Got it?”
Sure enough, the crowd lost it when his head came off, and I went over the barricade. The other guys and I had to put our backs to the stage and our feet directly in front of us against the barricade, so as not to get crushed. Everyone in the arena was trying to get to the stage. Alice was singing “I’m Eighteen,” holding Alice Cooper money on the end of a sword over my head and making the people jump at me, laughing his head off the whole time. I had a huge scab on my arm from a motorcycle accident the week before, and some guy grabbed it and ripped it off while I was trying to hold the barricade up with my legs, along with the other security guys. There was blood everywhere. I popped him one right in the nose, which just added more blood to the mess.
 I was heading backstage with the medics to get patched up, when all of a sudden we got knocked over by Shep and Bill Graham, who were slugging it out in a fistfight! They were two big guys, and this wasn’t playtime—they appeared to be trying to kill each other! They were tossing each other around and throwing haymakers, until finally one of them shoved the other straight through Alice’s dressing room door. They tore up the room Alice and I had been drinking in just a little while before, like a scene out of a movie. The food and drinks table was destroyed, along with everything else in the room.
They kept going, spilling back out into the hallway, still fighting, punching, and screaming at each other. When they finally looked up, bloodied, their clothes torn, everyone backstage was staring at them, totally frozen. Bill cleared his throat and Shep started brushing himself off, both trying to regain some kind of professional composure.
“I better never hear anything like that out of you again,” Shep yelled.
Bill said, “Fuck you, we’ll finish this later.”
They went their separate ways, and Shep winked at me as he passed by. I knew I loved him right then.
That’s how I met Shep Gordon, and that’s also the first and last time I ever saw either of them do anything like that.
I talked to Bill later that night. He remembered me from Berkeley. We didn’t really get to talk much, as the guy had just been in an all-out fistfight. But he acted like he was glad to see me trying to make it, and he found it funny to run into me in Tucson, of all places, under these circumstances.
That night in May ’73, with Bill and Shep, the fight and the beer, the blasting rock music, and Alice Cooper’s now-legendary stage show, cinched the deal: this life was for me. If there had been any doubt that this was what I wanted to do, it disappeared that hot spring night in Arizona.a
Since then, both Shep and Alice have been important parts of my life in one way or another. Alice invited us to come visit Shep for Christmas in 1988, when I told him, “don’t invite me, because I will come!” and did. Since then, I have enjoyed Shep’s unique sense of aloha, and welcoming ways. He has shown me you can work in this business and be a cool cat while doing so. Over the years I figure that I had spent over a year combined, staying as a guest at his place in Kihei, for days up to 3 weeks in the guest facilities. His wonderful house has been my home away from home for many years.
        I met my wife, Leslie, through her sister, (Shep’s former employee) Melanie Wicker.  In the early 2000s, Shep invited me to join in as a partner on what became our second home in Hana, Maui, and we are partners in it to this day, with the best lawyer in Maui, Paul Mancini.
          Every year, Alice and his wife Sheryl and I present a holiday concert called Christmas Pudding to benefit Alice’s charity called Solid Rock. 
           To say the impact they both have had on my life is immeasurable, and We are all so fortunate to have each other. is an understatement.