June 21, 2020
Chapter 14: Gato Barbieri
Not long after the Outlaws show, the great saxophonist Gato Barbieri came in from Argentina. He had been one of my favorites for years. We used to listen to him in high school as kids, along with other jazz greats like Pharoah Sanders, Miles Davis, and Coltrane. Shamefully, there is hardly any good jazz music anymore. Gato’s covers of Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You” and Carlos Santana’s “Europa” are still two of my favorite songs.
Gato sold out two shows in the same month as the Outlaws. His wife, Michelle, was known as a tough cookie, but she loved me. He came off after the first show and people were still going crazy.
I said, “Gato, you’ve got to go back out there and do another song.”
He said, “I can’t. I’m so tired, and I’ve got to do another show. There’s no way. I can’t do it.” And he gave me a look like maybe there could be a solution.
Magically, with a little of his favorite marching powder provided by a local angel, the problem was solved. Gato got on stage and played a couple more songs. Then he came off and stayed in the corner the rest of the night getting high and having himself a good ole time: “Have a Coke and a smile.”
He then went on to do his second show and lifted the roof off the place. He was incredible every time I booked him, and I really wish I had done more shows with him before he moved on.
Back in the ’70s, the use of blow was pretty standard, although I don’t want to promote its use to anyone reading this. Musicians have hectic schedules, as do promoters and it was a different time back then. That medicine has been a lifesaver, so to speak, at various times in the careers of many in the music business. Also, a life taker in the wrong hands, sad to say. ’Nuff said.