the 1978-79 bowie band was like a small crowd.
not easy to direct us from airplane to hotel,
from hotel to bus, from bus to venue, etc.
that job fell to Eric Barrett, a sought-after tour manager.
eric was ace at babysitting big stars like george michael and madonna.
I loved to listen to him talk.
eric was scottish to the core and had the accent
(and the temper) to prove it.
(think "scotty" from star trek).
a decade before becoming our tour manager his claim to fame
was being the equipment manager for jimi hendrix.
as such, part of eric's job was to piece back together
the guitars jimi smashed on stage each night.
jimi gave eric the black Gibson Flying V he played on occasion.
(I wonder if eric ever cashed it in on a fat retirement plan).
nearly every day someone was late for the lobby call.
but it wasn't me. I prided myself on being punctual.
I was young, inexperienced, and stupid, yes,
but at least I was there on time.
weeks into the tour my perfect record stood
but never a word was said.
then one day for some reason I arrived
in the lobby a couple of minutes late.
perhaps the elevator was slow.
maybe I got a phone call just as I was leaving my room.
whatever the reason, as soon as I walked into the lobby eric was all over me.
in front of our entire entourge he growled,
"you realize, laddie, you've made all these people wait for you?
but I guess you're more important than they are!
I've worked with better guitar players than you
and I've seen them all come and go.
you better straighten up or you're gone too!"
"but eric", I pleaded, "I'm never the one who's late".
he shot me a glance and said something I'll always remember.
"you don't get points added,
you only get points taken away".