Chapter 13: The Outlaws
The Outlaws were one of the first big acts I got for Dooley’s. I booked them with an agency called Paragon out of Macon, Georgia, which was run by a man named Alex Hodges. He also had groups like Marshall Tucker, Charlie Daniels, the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Wet Willie. Today, Alex is now the CEO of Nederlander Concerts in Los Angeles.
One of his young agents was Ian Copeland, who booked a great new band called the Police. His brother, Stewart Copeland, played for this legendary band and his dad, Miles Copeland Jr., had been in the CIA (the actual intelligence agency, not a rock band). The other brother, Miles III, ran a record label called IRS. Ian later went on to form the FBI, the great new-wave booking agency. (Ian actually coined the term New Wave.) They came up with this really fun idea in the ’70s to use all these government names. In fact, the real FBI actually called them and told them to quit calling themselves the FBI. Ian told them it stood for Frontier Booking International.
Anyway, I booked a show at Dooley’s with the Outlaws. It was two shows in one night — the seating capacity was 750 people per show — and this was the first legitimate headliner with which I actually sold out two shows. They were flying high with their hit “Green Grass and High Tides,” (The ultimate air guitar track!) among others.
The Outlaws were known for their hard drinking and partying ways, and they were one of the best live bands around at that time. They were managed by a guy named Charlie Brusco, who still manages them today along with Styx, Don Felder and others. Charlie is known as one of the best managers in the business. He and his wife, Cindy, became best friends with my wife and I. Charlie loved Cindy so much that he married her twice.
Charlie was on the road with the Outlaws. They had been in Las Vegas the night before playing with Heart at the Aladdin Hotel. I guess they stayed up awfully late because the next day, none of us could find the band and nobody had heard from them.
Usually you have a conversation with the band at least a week before the show. To go over when they’re going to show up, what they need, what they want in the dressing room, how many stagehands are needed and what time doors will open. You go over everything. They call that “advancing the show.” Remember, there were no emails or cell phones back then.
Nobody at the club had advanced the show. The club tech guys said, “We tried to reach them, but they just wouldn’t call us back.” Nobody had told me that and if anybody had, I would have chased them down and connected the band’s tech people with the club guys to figure it out.
It turned out, this was the last date of the tour.
Around three o’clock Don said to me, “Here’s a check for $10,000. Go over to the bank and get cash for it just in case they don’t show up tonight and we have to do refunds.”
At that time, everything was done with cash. Very few people had credit cards. You would either go to the record store or the club to buy tickets. There was none of this online stuff because people didn’t have smartphones, or the internet and personal computers were not powerful enough yet.
The show was slated to start at seven o’clock, where a UK blues act called the Frankie Miller Band was set to open. What’s funny about Frankie Miller was that he had a very short concert rider specifying that they needed two sober stagehands — but their two stagehands came in drunk as could be. In fact, they were probably still drunk from the night before in Vegas.
They ended up getting into a fight with the bouncers at Dooley’s. Those big jocks didn’t take kindly to these little squirt roadies with their funny accents and smart mouths, so they closed their mouths for them real quick. I had to break it up. You can’t have your security beating up the opening act’s roadies.
The Frankie Miller Band went ahead and set up their equipment. Usually the opening act is the last one to sound-check because they want their stuff in place so they can go on stage right at seven o’clock. Well, what happened was, the Outlaws showed up in this huge semi at six o’clock, with a huge logo of the big steer head on the front of the truck, with the horns and everything. I was relieved to see them because I’d been afraid they weren’t going to show up. Plus, they were one of my favorite bands, not to mention my first sellout.
Charlie Brusco got off the bus and came up to me and said, “Hey, Danny, come on. Let’s go have a talk.”
I didn’t know what he was up to but I was glad to see him. It’s like when you lose track of your kid for just a minute, and you’re worried and you’re crying. Then you find him, and you spank him for getting lost.
So needless to say, I had a few words for Charlie but before I could start, he said, “Well, if you thought that was bad, come on in here and listen to this.”
He closed the door to the office, put his briefcase on the table, opened it up and said, “I’ve got to ask you a big favor.” Then he opened up this big bag of blow and emptied it onto the desk.
I said, “Whoa. What do you got there?”
“I got some really great shit here, man.”
“Well, why are you breaking it out now? It’s so early. We haven’t even had dinner yet or anything.”
“It’s like this. Two of the guys from the Outlaws have flights at midnight tonight out of Phoenix. They’ve been gone for a long time. They’re really dying to get home and their wives really want them back. They’re going to take the red-eye back to Atlanta.”
“Well, we got two shows tonight, so Frankie Miller will open the show and the Outlaws will close the first one. But what we want to do is open the second show so we can be done and get out of here so they can make this flight.”
“People aren’t going to like that.”
“Don’t worry. We’ll play plenty long enough. They’ll get their show. Nobody’ll be unsatisfied.” And with that, he scooped up some blow and shoved it in my nose and said, “Are we OK?”
I said, “Yeah, sure. Anything you say.”
That was his way of schmoozing me, but what the hell? It didn’t hurt.
So, they did their show and killed the place. The second show, they came out and tore it up again. When they left, I told the crowd, “Stick around. Frankie Miller will be right on.”
It was late by then, pushing midnight and I’d say about two thirds of the audience had left because they came specifically to see the Outlaws. The Frankie Miller Band went on and did a fine set but there wasn’t much of a crowd left to see them. They were a great band but sometimes these things happen. The good news was, we rode the emotional roller coaster and lived to talk about it. One minute, you wonder if you are going to have a show, the next, you are shaking your head and driving home happy. It all worked out.
Chapter 13 Photo Gallery
Charlie Brusco, Jon Bon Jovi, me, and Michael Bolton the night Charlie was put into the Georgia Hall of Fame, 2010.
The incredible Ian Copeland and I in his Beverly Hills nightclub one fine night. I sure do miss Leroy, one of a kind, to be sure.