After the Daytona deal with Don quitting or what ever happened. We all came back to Memphis and got to work on Billy's music. Now we started sounding a little more like a rock band. Tony and Norman did a little back up singing, but Billy did all the lead vocals. We only had two weeks before the job in Lincoln Nebraska at The Royal Groves. Larry quit, he didn't like the idea of getting Norman with out asking him. Billy got out and got us a gig at the Sham Rock in Millington, we needed the money to get to Nebraska. We played Friday and Saturday night at The Rock, left for Lincoln after the gig Saturday night.
The Royal Groves was huge, as big as a football field. It was by far the biggest club I'd ever seen, much less played in. The stage was as big as some of the clubs I'd played in, no acoustics, just a big open building with lots of cool lights. The capacity was 1200, there was that many there every night for two weeks, on week ends you couldn't more. Nebraska State was right across the street. This was all back before we had a sound man, I didn't even mic my drums. We weren't equipped for a job this size, but we pulled it off, we were getting good money for it too. Our friends from St.Jo came up the first week end, it wasn't very far for them to drive. We got them to talk to Neil about us playing The New Orleans Room after the Grove's job. Back in World War 2 the government drop hemp seed all over that part of the country, it was good for making rope but not for smoking. Some friends from Memphis came up to get some of it, so we got to party with them a few days too. We didn't get to know any one in Lincoln, it was the club and back to the motel. The best thing that happened at The Grove was on the last night, last set, last song.
Billy had a song called ‘Freight Train Ride’, a cool little up beat number. Sometimes in the middle we would all do solos. Norman first, then Tony and then me. Norman did a great and extra long one, maybe five minutes or so. Then Tony did one of the best bass solo’s I’ve ever heard, much less be a part of. We were pushing each other, which set the tone for me. The stage was about four foot high and you could come right up to it. When the song started there was a few people standing around. By the time Tony was finishing up there were 75 to 100 people really getting in to it. Billy was jumping around and putting on a great show. It was time for me, I was nervous but very much into the moment. When I first started my solo I look down at the front of the stage. There was a black dude with a white suit and sunglasses. He was cheering me on. My solo was kind of spacey, sometimes light and parts and very heavy other parts. The band helping out by doing fills and slides. When I felt like it was getting loose I would look at the black dude. He inspired me to go a little longer, a little deeper, harder. By the time I finished my solo there were 200 people packed in around the stage. We did a three minute fantail, everybody up front really enjoyed it. It took a bit to get our composure back. It ended up being a twenty minute song, one of the longest songs I ever played. After the set I looked for the black dude to thank him, but couldn’t find him. I only had seen him once that night, during my drum solo.
After the two weeks were up we went through St.Jo, got there on a Sunday afternoon. Neil gave us a job back in The New Orleans Room, not the money we made the first time, but it was work. A few weeks before we got there a couple of dudes jump on a guy in the man restroom of the club. They beat him up pretty good, broke one of his legs. It was over a girl, but it had a little to do with long hair too. Ken had a few words with them over it, there had been some threats back and forth. The first night we played there was a rumor that it was going to come down in the club that night, it didn't. But a few days later it did. Like always we were doing something, this night it was speed. J.R., Ken, Art, and Tudor always set on the front row of tables right in front of the stag. No body really thought it was going to happen, but there was some tension in the air. On our last brake at midnight there were some dudes that looked out of place. Neil had a couple of football players for bouncers and we were told to keep playing if something started.
The club was set up with the stage on one end and the bar and front door on the other. Just about 1:00am Art came up and got Tudor and then Tudor came back in and got J.R. and Ken. The club was real long, from the stage we could just barely see the bar, and couldn't see the front door at all. We were right in the middle of a song, it looked like a fight or something was happening around the bar. When we finished the song, we all wanting to go help, we didn't know what to do. These four dudes were very close friends of ours, we spent all of our off time with them. It was time to do our brake song anyway. We kicked it off, just about that time they came back in.
Tudor and J.R.'s shirts were almost torn all the way off, Tudor had a bloody nose, J.R. had blood on the side of his face. One of the few time I ever saw Art with out his sunglasses, Ken didn't have a scratch. They were laughing and cutting up, Neil came up and was laughing with them. As soon as we stop playing they all came out on the dance floor right in front of the stage. Neil said we missed it, they had dudes crawling under cars to get away from them. This was one time the hippies beat the rednecks, these hippies had only been home from Vietnam a few months and they were full of speed and beer and no fear. They said Ken picked up one and through him in to another. Neil gave them some beer and thanked um, he didn't want that type in his club anyway.
A mile or so from the club was a old park they call Indian Hill. It was where Indians use to pray to their gods, they would hold their hands up over their heads some times for days. That’s what we were told. Anyway, the bridge was out of service and we could park on the street and walk up to the park. We could go up there and party and nobody ever came up on us. It was all ways 2:00am before we got there, just about every night. This was a huge hill, almost a mountain, you could see all over the city. One night some friends from Memphis were up there with us. We were drinking wine, smoking reefer, and one of the dudes from Memphis, Bobby my brother-n-law had some ammo. Art had a little piece of opium and we were trying to light it. The pipe got so hot he laid it on the rock we always stood around.
Out of the corner of my eyes I seen light on the trees, there was a car coming in the park. All of us seen the light on top of the car at the same time, it was the cops. We all broke and ran and all six of us hit the cable at the same time. The park had huge rocks at the front part of the parking lot, so you couldn't drive off the cliffs, that's where we were standing. It had cable about a foot high all around the rest of the parking lot so you couldn't drive on the grass. I, and everybody else hit the cable full speed. It got me between the ankle and knee, I was smoking a cigarette at the time. Fire from the cig went all in my face and eyes, I also had a bottle of wine, it got all over me too. It was a little funny, if you could have heard it, (oh!#@>shit-dam>">?~*^) all at the same time. We didn't have time to stop and cry the lights were almost on us. It was so dark I didn't know what happened to everybody else. I crawled as fast as I could to the edge of the cliffs, the grass was high and there was some trees. I went over the edge and about ten foot down and got up in a wash out. I could hear the cops talking, man I was hurting. They only stayed five minutes or less. As soon as they got out of sight, everybody came out laughing and moaning. I had a cut four inches long on my shin, and grass burn on my arms and stomach, but we didn't go to jail. No body got left out of getting hurt, it was still funny. Tudor said one of the cops put his foot up on the rock where the pipe was laying. That little mountain became a big part of our stay in St.Jo, we went up there all the time, night and day. Sometimes the bridge was open and sometimes it was closed. I’m not sure what was up with that. It’s like a dream, but it happened.
The next thing that happened, some other friends of our from Memphis came up. They came to Lincoln to pick some pot but didn't for some reason. I had told them Tudor knew where there was tons out in the country. So everybody got two pillow bags, it only took about fifteen minutes to fill sixteen bags, with nothing but tops. After we got through the field looked funny with out any tops, as far as you could see. We didn't have to play on Sunday and Tudor had got some acid ( LSD ) he was wanting us all to do. Late in the afternoon on a Sunday we were setting out front of the hotel talking about doing it. We were all going to do some but Billy, he had never done any. Tudor was trying to talk him into it and so was Tony. I had done acid a few time, and it was no big deal, just a drug. I really didn’t understand what it was myself and don't till this day. But if we were going to do it, I wanted everybody to do it. This was a day I will never forget.
Billy finely said he would do it, so the whole band was in, I like doing thing together as a band. It was the band and Tudor and Art, we did it late afternoon (brown microdot) setting out front of the hotel. We went over to J.R.'s and walk up to a corner café waiting to get off. While we were in the café the riggers got so bad I couldn't even hold a glass of water, this was a first for me. Walking back over to J.R.'s we were talking about what we were going to do. Tudor said he knew where we could go and nobody would bother us, it was out in the country. That sounded good to us. Ken and J.R. had girl over so they didn't want to go, but they had done some too. It was six of us in Tudor's car, a 68 G.T.O. The next thing that happened I still don't believe, so much like the whole trip. It was a four lane highway, out by where Jesse James use to live, we were going to Tudor’s brother and then to a haunted house.
The radio was wide open, with Jimi Hendrix tapes ( 8 track ), I don’t know how fast we were going but we were picking um up and putting um down. We past a cop car like it was setting still. Nobody knew it was the cops tell we past them. We all just laugh, Tudor never checked up. They didn't even turn their red lights on, talk about a fluke. By the time we got to Tudor’s brother the acid was coming on. I don’t know what we did there, I think Tudor got some tapes or something. The haunted house was just down the road out in the woods, two hundred yards off the road. The acid was coming on strong, it was a dare just to walk through the woods. Nothing happened at the haunted house, but nobody would go in it. Tudor fill off in a hole walking back to the car, that was funny. It was like the ground was trying to eat him. It was time to go to the place he was talking about out in the country. On the way, Hendrix's was playing The Star Spangled Banner America and stars were falling out of the sky hitting the ground, I couldn't believe it, it was beautiful, but it felt so weird, like it was the end. I didn't get to say good bye to the people I loved, I kept telling myself, it's only a drug.
The road looked like a rope wiggling around, and cars going by on the wrong side, sometimes it felt like we were going side ways. I don't know how Tudor was driven, I couldn't keep up. We were going to a cemetery, the oldest in Missouri. It had huge head stone, it was very outside of town with no one around. I didn't like the idea of tripping in a grave yard, but I didn't have much of a chose. I was glad to get out of the car, but it was like getting out of the skillet and into the frying pan. I couldn't look anyone in the face, every thing was so deferent, I didn't care much for the feeling. Art and Tudor had gone out in the middle of the cemetery and were running around in circles calling us to come on out. Like a dummy, I did. All the acid I'd done in the past was nothing to compare to this. It was like what I had told the Doctors to get out of the army, I was terrified.
I got about half way to them and I felt like I was dying, I though to myself, those two dudes are insane, and they looked it too. I turned to go back to the road, all of a sudden I could feel something pulling at my feet, I could see shadows coming up out of the ground, grabbing my legs and even up as high as my waist. I was so freaked out I started to run. I didn't think I was going to ever make it back to the road. When I did I turned to look for Tudor and Art, there were thousands of shadows. I knew then I was in trouble, everybody else was having fun and laughing. I ask Tony what the hack was going on, he just laugh and said, what do you thank. Tony said come on, take it easy, lets walk. Tony, Norman and me started walking down the cemetery road, I told him how I felt.
We're seeing stuff we're not suppose to see, at any time they could come out and get us. The road just went down a ways and turn and came back. I seen Billy up ahead get behind a tree, he jumped out and try to scare us, that was kind of funny. My heart had slow down a little and I could almost think again. The shadows had gone but I could still feel the presence of something. Tudor, Art, and Tony was climbing in a tree, I was setting on the side of the road talking to Norman. The colors were so incredible, I thumped a cigarette but it hit the ground and exploded in a million colors, and the trail was still in my hand for a few seconds. I hated the body feeling, the smell and taste, I wouldn't want to get stuck like that.
The sun was just about to come up and we decided to head on back to J.R.'s. I look up at the stars and for some reason I felt my unborn baby soul or something. It was like I knew her, Brenda was due at any time, maybe that was it. It put it in my head to go home, I knew I couldn't do that for a few more weeks. When we got back to the house we were standing in the kitchen talking, Art was fixing something to eat. There was a fly on the refrigerator and he jump off and flew over to the other side of the room. His bluish green trail was still on the frig, somebody else said something about it, so we were all seeing some what of the same things. If I had to judge the acid right then it would have been bad, it was to strong for me, it was about to get worst. I was in the living room they had a few lights going. They had a big florescent peace sign on the wall, with a strobe light going. We were listening to an underground radio station out of Kansas. Everything was rocking along, sparks flying off the peace sign and all. New flash, Janis Joplin found dead in her hotel room.
The peace sign stop spinning, and melted down the wall. Everybody stop laughing, everything got quiet. The first person I looked at was J.R., he talked about her all the time, we all did. She was our girl, we all really loved her. I almost got sick, everybody got ugly looking, I couldn't stand it. I went in the bedroom and laid down on a mattress on the floor. If I opened my eyes I felt like I was going to get sick. With my eyes closed from the left side came a black shadow. At first it was way out in front of me, it started walking straight for me. It happen so fast it came right up on and then in me. It made me jump, I though it was Satan, it scared me so bad I open my eyes. The house was full of evil spirits, I had to close my eyes back. I couldn't move, I felt like I was really about to die, the feeling was unbearable. I soon as I closed my eyes there was a little red speck. It started to move around and then there was a green one, right behind the red one, and then a yellow one. It got my imagination, anything was better then what had been happening. Pretty soon there were ten colors going around, it was very pretty. Going in and out of each other, they were about two inches long and quarter that wide. They got a foot long and very uniform, colors I'd never seen before. This was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, the colors were florescent and going in and out like I couldn't believe.
Now there were twenty or so four feet long, sometime coming right up in my face. Almost taking my breath, blowing my hair, the warmth and fell was so incredible, I didn't want it to stop, it was so enjoyable, I didn't dare open my eye. Jose Feliciano was playing the Door's Light My Fire I was so digging it, I reached out and put my hand close to it, it just moved by my hand so gracefully. So I decided to grab hold of the last one when it went by. Man! talk about a rush, this was so cool I could hardly stand it. Then it made a turn, I almost fell off, then it picked up speed and made some more fast turns. I was holding on for dear life, it was going so fast I couldn't think straight. It pick up more speed, it was going so fast my body started stretching out. I couldn't stand it, I couldn't open my eyes, I couldn't call for help. I knew right then I was about to die, I could not go any faster and live.
That's when I turned to God, I said, God if you can hear me, please help me. As soon as I said help, it slowed down, with in thirty seconds it stop. I let go of it and opened my eyes. I've always believed in God, but never as much as right then, He was with me, and He did help me. I got up and told Tony I was going to Memphis, our baby was due that week. Tony took me to the bus station, we pulled up and parked. He was trying to talk me out of going, the truck got full of flies, I'm talking hundreds. It was like we were dead meat or something. We were still tripping our brains out, I had to get away from there. The bus ride wasn't that much better, it was like I was dead, I felt so weird. The only thing I could think of that made it easier was Brenda, she was my link to reality. I got home and mama fixed me something to eat, the food was moving around on the plate. I was so glad to be able to hold Brenda and go to sleep. That was forty hour I'll never forget.
The drummer replacement was only for a week, a week came and went and still no baby. As bad as I hated it I had to go back. I was going to wait till the last minute Monday morning and fly back. I got up early and of all things I had an abscessed tooth. I went to a dentis and he gave me a shot of sodium pentothal (for $65) and pulled the tooth. Talk about a cool shot, he told me not to drive or drink any alcohol. I drove myself back over to mama's, daddy and Brenda took me to the airport. I didn't like to fly, so I drink a couple of beers before getting on the plane. As soon as the plane took off I got a double whiskey and water and then a few more. I don't remember the plane landing, Tony and Norman had to come on the plane and help me off. I kind of remember rolling around in the back of the truck, playing that night was like a dream. Brenda had our baby the next day, I missed being with her by one day, what luck.
George, a friend of mine from Memphis that I hitchhiked to California with came up to see us. Don't ask me why, after the last time, but we all decided to do some more acid. It was on a Sunday again ( our day off ) Art and Tudor were going to a friend’s in St.Louis to copy some of my records, one of which was Black Sabbath's Paranoid. Billy had really got into the LSD deal, they had done some while I was in Memphis. We did it early noonish again as soon as the riggers were over we headed for Indian Hill. Norman's girlfriend Linda from Memphis was also with us. This acid was a lot smoother then the brown stuff, it was call autumn haze. Something happened that day again that we couldn't explain.
Everybody was out on the cliffs just tripping, the colors were beautiful. I went back to the parking lot, Tony and I were standing there talking. The sun dropped a few inches, I looked at Tony and he looked at me and said, did you see that? Just about that time it did it again, it freak us out. The sun went from 2:00pm to 4:00 with in a couple of minutes. We laugh and said if it keeps that up it will be dark in a few minutes. We call every body to come back to the truck, by the time they got there it was dark. We talked about it the next day, we still couldn't figure it out. The sun went from 2:00pm to dark in what seem like five minutes. I’ve heard about people burning their eyes staring at the sun. I’m not sure if that’s not what we were doing, nobody got hurt.
We all decided to go try and find that old cemetery, I don't know how, but we found it. I realized why hippies call each other freaks that day, everything looked really freaky. Disfigured, retarded, very weird. It was best not to look at anybody for very long, or it could get away from you, like it or not. The first thing we did was climb a big old tree out in the middle of the cemetery. We were all up in it except Billy, we didn't know that at first. This acid was real good, if you have ever seen the Quicksilver Messenger Service "Happy Trails" front cover, that kind of what everything looked like. The truck was parked fifty yards from where we were, the doors were opened and The Who's "Live at Leeds" was playing on a old eight track machine, it had one speaker that had a small hole in it. We all thought we were at a concert, it sounded great. We were out in the middle of nowhere, no light at all, but just over beyond the tree line, it look like something was going on. At one point we talked about it being heaven, we had to go look. When we got down out of the tree, we realized Billy wasn't with us.
Tudor had told us about a care taker that live somewhere around there, we needed to find Billy. The first place to look was where we thought there was something going on. When we came to the tree line we were like a bunch of kids, nobody wanted to go first. We didn't know what was over there, I didn't want to go first. George finely went, there was nothing over there but another field. We started walking back across the cemetery when we got about a hundred yards or so from that tree line, somebody looked back and saw that someone was coming out of the bushes . We just figure it to be Billy, the only light we had was from the moon. It was pretty cool and a little cloudy, so the moon came and went. We started walking back toward him, when we got with in thirty or forty feet from him, George call out, where have you been? No answer, Tony said where have you been Billy, still no answer. We're talking among ourselves, is that Billy, it's to big to be Billy.
He walk right between all of us, we still couldn't till if it was Billy or not. I got right up in his face and couldn't till, weird is not the word. Tony grabbed him by the arm, he pulled away and ran into the tree line. We're all asking ourselves if it was him or not. We could hear that he stop running in the bushes, so we went over to where it sounded like he had stop. We could just barely make out a shadow, it didn't look real, it look more like a scarecrow to me. I pulled out my cigarette lighter, and with out thinking, lit it. It was like a bomb going off, it blinded every body, ever who it was ran back into the woods. We weren't trying to disrespect the cemetery, we had a lot of respect for it and the souls in it. LSD and cemetery are very close for some reason, it's a drug you can't explain.
This cemetery had three level, each one was about fifty yards wide and two hundred yards long. We were on the highest one at the time, we decided to look on the middle one. We had looked for him for an hour or so, we were walking down to the bottom one and seen someone out in the middle of it. Tony said, I'm going to catch ever who that is, and we were all right behind him. Tony was just about to catch him and he jump behind a headstone. They went out of sight, when we got there Tony came walking out with Billy. He had a red rose for everybody, and one black one for himself. He said it wasn't him we seen up on the top level, he had been down there the whole time. He said he had been laying on graves talking to sprites, you would have to have been there. I or nobody else laugh, it wasn't funny at all. By the time we got back to the truck it was time to leave, the sun was coming up.
We had two more weeks in St.Jo and we were doing way to much chemicals. We did some one night on the second set, we didn't start getting off till the start of the last set. It was crazy, I couldn't hear anything, just a lot of noise. I didn't know where the changes were, it had to have sounded like crap, Tudor and Art like it. An artist friend of mine had painted a face on my kick drum, when he first started he was using the wrong kind of paint, it kind of melted the drum head. That was right where one of the eyes of the painting was at. It was a spooky face of Gundy in florescent colors. Tudor said he was digging the music and the eye started wicking at him. Him and Art were watching it, thinking it was a hallucination, and it fill all the way out. It freaked them out, all part of the show. By the time we got through for the night we were tripping pretty good.
Billy and Norman didn't want to go, but the rest of us went to the hill. We were drinking boiler makers and decided to go over into Kansas to an all night truck stop to get something to eat. Not only were we tripping on acid, we were drunk. I should have known we were in trouble when we got there. Tudor drove that GTO wide open all the time, it was a hundred mile an hour every where we went. When we pull in the truck stop, he floored it, fifty mile per hour in between two park semi trucks, and sledded in sideways between two others, that's the way he parked it. We got out laughing, I couldn't believe he got by with some of the things he did. I didn't feel much like eating, Art's the only one that did. It was a weird feeling, it looked like everything out side was under water. I had a pair of LSD glasses and we were taking turns wearing them. The waitress ask if she could try them, at first we said no, but she kept on so I let her see them. She tried them on and said Oh!, I've got to let the cook she these.
Art got through eating and Tudor was crawling on the floor acting like a dog, barking and getting under people's table. He was hitting tables and spilling coffee, Art was acting like his was the owner of the dog, but the dog wouldn't do right. I had ask the girl for my glasses two or three time, we were now waiting on her to bring them back. She came back and said the cook wouldn't let her have them. I didn't know what to say, Tudor got up off the floor, slammed his fist down on the table, knocking stuff all over the place, pick up a butter knife and saying it loud enough for people to hear out side much less in the kitchen. If you don't give him his MF glasses back right now, I'm going to cut your f--king guts out. She back up with a scared look on her face and went and got my glasses. As we walked out to the car, a cop car pulled up to the gas pumps.
We got in and drove off, the cop came out behind us. As soon as we cross back into Missouri there was a cop car with his red lights on coming at us. The cop behind us put his lights on, and the cop in front pulled cross ways in the road. It was a road block, a truck pulled up and the sheriff got out of it. You could tell he had just got out of bed, he was half dressed and had a shotgun five feet long. George had a pocket full of pot, and I didn't know if I had any of the acid on me or not. The sheriff called Tudor by name ( Earl ), and took him over by himself. We were standing over by a squad car that had a police dog in it, we were still off on the acid and got to talking to the dog. The cop that the dog was with looked like Barney on The Andy Griffith Show, it made him made that the dog stop barking at us. We were laughing and cutting up, Barney was wanting to mess with us but the sheriff told him to lay off. The sheriff told Tudor that the truck stop had turned in a complaint on him, and that he could take him to jail. He told him any more trouble and he would take him to jail. Man! We got a laugh out of that.
I think it had something to do with Neil, some other things happened that they turn they heads on too. Like one Saturday afternoon we all decided to go up on the Hill. It was Art and Tudor in Tudor's GTO,and all of us were in the band's truck, with Norman driving. Tony was in a girls car he had just met. The bridge was open, so we could drive all the way up to the park. We were all about half drunk, same old thing as usual. When we turned on the road up to the park the cops fell in behind us. There was a flag pole in the meddle of the park-in-lot. Tudor was first, us second and Tony was bringing up the rear with the cops behind him. Instead of parking when we got there, Tudor went around the flag pole, so did we, and Tony too. The cop went around one time too, and then he pulled over and parked. We kept going, I was laughing so hard it hurt. We must have went around that pole twenty times, the cops finally left. The only thing we could think of is that it must have been Barney. Neil, the owner of the club we were playing in had a lot of pull. He wasn't the only club owner to own cops.
Everybody was after us to record 'Mother Nature's', and we wanted to. It was Billy's best song, he had a lot of good songs. Billy decided to go for it, he was going to pay for the studio time. He booked time in The Cavern's Studio in Independence Missouri. The time was set for Monday morning at 8:00. George and me went in to Kansas City the night before to party. There was a place they called Freedom Palace, it was really cool. Lots of music, we ran into a dude selling acid so we got some. It wasn't all that good, but we'd been doing so much it was hard to get off sometimes. About five in the morning we decided to fine the studio, we new about where it was.
It was call Cavern's for a reason, it was a mile underground in a cave. We drove around in there for a long time just looking, it was like a dream, like being in a submarine you could drive a car around in. We parked in front of the studio, and laid down to rest. I woke up to lights every where, I thought at first it was hallucination. Then a dude with a loud speaker was saying for everyone to get out of the cave. There was a machine shop three mile down on strike, and a bomb was suppose to go off at 7:00am. There was a mall down there too, and some other businesses. We hung around the main entrance tell Billy and the guys got there, at 8:30 they let us go in.
The studio was real cool, one of the Royal Guardsmen help engineered, he was from the same home town as Billy. Norman said I was speeding up and slowing down, I couldn't tell, things were moving around a little. No sleep and acid is not good for recording. We got it done in four hours, mixed, mastered and everything.
The last thing we did in St.Jo was acid, we did it before the last set. After the show we went out riding around in Tudor’s car, and on the way back to the motel, as always at a hundred miles per hour. There was a train up ahead about a mile or so. Tudor turned the car key off and put his foot up on the dash, he coasted with in four foot of the train. It freaked all of us out, Norman was the first to say it wasn't cool. Norman, George and me were in the back set, Tony and Art were in the front. Art was setting in the middle next to Tudor, he laugh and said "is that as close as you can get"? Tudor started the car up, put it in gear, and was gunning it with his foot on the brake. Burning rubber about two or three feet from the train. The train was going pretty fast now, and Norman started hollering at Tudor, telling him to stop acting stupid. If I could have gotten out of the car I would have, the only thing I could see was a pole next to us. If the train did hit us, it would take us in between the train and that pole.
Of all the crazy stuff Tudor had done, this was the craziest. Thank God the end of the train got there, just in time, the front of the car was actually under the train, within inches of hitting it. When we got back to the house, Norman was still mad. It was hard for me to get mad, I was just glad we didn't hit the train. We got in the truck and went back to the hotel. Every thing was cool, I was still off on the acid but there was nothing to do. I picked up a new paper and was looking through it, on the back page was a picture of a dude that got killed in a car wreak. It freaked me, it looked just like me. When I move the paper, it looked like worm crawling in and out of my legs. Just for a minute I thought I got kill in that train wreak. Billy had done some of the same acid, but he hadn't gone out with us, and his room was right across the hall from mine. I needed to talked to somebody.
I went over to his room and knocked on the door, I could hear him talking to someone, or something. He was into the spirits, after the brown stuff. He wouldn't come to the door. His room was the next to last room on the floor, all the way to the end of the hall. The hall was about a hundred and fifty feet long, with very little light. Just about the time I decided to go back to my room, somebody came around the corner. At first I thought it was Tony, the closer he got the more I knew it wasn't Tony. I knocked a little harder on Billy's door and said, hey Billy let me in, no answer but I could hear him talking and walking around. This dude is getting very close and there's no reason for anybody to be in this part of the hotel. The hallucination are kicking my but now, stuff is falling off this guy, it looks like a monster. He got with in ten foot of me, I was getting ready to hit him and run. At the very last second I realized who it was, it was the guitar player in the country band, that play in one of Neil's other clubs.
His room was the last room on the floor, straight across from Billy's. I almost die of fright, I made it back to my room, that was it for me, I was in for the night. That was it for St.Jo too, our time there had come to the end. It was time for me to go see my new little baby, she was almost three weeks old. George and me left as soon as we got through Saturday night, every body else left the next morning. I'll never forget, I got home about eight in the morning. Brenda was across the street at her mom's, she was on the couch asleep. I woke her up and ask where the baby was, she pulled back the covers, and there she was. The most precious thing I'd ever seen, this was truly love at first sight.
We named her Christina, but we all called her Nina. I knew from the second I seen her things had changed. Love went to a new level, I had no idea at the time how much God had given us. I sure wish I had slow down a little, but that wasn't to be. Billy had booked us in Jacksonville Florida Christmas week, nobody wanted to do it, but it was a job. By then we were all broke, I borrowed money from my daddy to get us down there. We went down a week early so we could work up some new songs Billy had. We stay out on Billy's mom and dad's farm. It was funny, the name of the club we were going to play was Bob's Long Horn. Billy didn't know anything about it, we just figured it was a country place.
It was about a hundred mile drive to the club, we were in Ocala. We didn't have money for a motel so we were going to drive back to Ocala. The first night we had to take two cars, Billy had a V.W. bug so he road in that. The club was small, about a hundred sets or so. We go there early in the afternoon to set up, I didn't know what was up but something was. The place was really cool, black lights, strobes lights, a nice stage. The main thing was carpet, shag, thick shag all over everything. They had two small stages for girls to dance on, it was a topless club. The girls came over and ask what we were going to open with, they were wanting to hear something by Grand Funk Railroad, or Led Zeppelin, we told them we didn't do covers. Talk about getting off on the wrong foot, on top of that, the carpet soaked up all our sound. We couldn't hear us, much less the girls on their stages feel us. After the first song, one of the girls came over and said she couldn't tell what we were doing. Something that had never happen to me before, we got fired after the first set.
By the time we were getting all our stuff out, another band showed up. They were using double stack Sun amps, a Voice of Theater p.a., we weren't ready for all that. We had just played a club that had two thousand people in it with no problems. The owner was cool about it, he paid us for the whole night, Merry Christmas. That was a slap in the face and we were down over it. I got in the car with Billy so we could talk about what was going to happen now. A friend of mine came down with us to help out with the equipment, Tommy Cook our roady. So it was Tony, Norman and him following us in the truck. Billy and me were talking about the future of the band, he was going to try and get us another job. If wasn't very likely, it was Christmas week and everybody was out of town. I was trying to keep an eye on the truck and I thought Billy was too. I guess I lost it, there was a few cars on the road that night.
We got back to Billy's house and started a fire, and just setting around waiting on the guys. After about an hour went by we knew somethingwas wrong. We were thinking about going to look for them and they pulled up. They had a flat tire on the truck, with no spare. I know they had a reason for being mad, but they over reacted as far as I was concern. They were mad at me too, but they took it out on Billy. Opened up the truck and pulled all of his stuff out and put it on the ground. With in ten minutes after they got there we were leaving, it was all I could do to get in the truck with them. They were going to leave me if I didn’t get in. We drove for two hour before they said anything, and then it was just griping. The alternator went out on the truck just inside Alabama, four o'clock in the morning. We were in a all night laundromat and some dudes came up and said they would help. Tommy went with them to find an alternator, didn't get back till almost daylight, with out one. The truck would run without the lights, so we came on into Memphis during daylight. It got dark on us but we didn’t stop, we mad it without any lights. I ended up taking everybody home. It was well after dark when I finally got home. Nobody would give me any of the money I barrow to get us down there. Can’t blame them, it was Christmas after all.
The three of us, Norman, Tony and me got into another band together with Finley Brown. Billy came to Memphis to record a song he wrote with Barry Winslow. Winslow was in Cavern Studio when we recorded there. The song we recorded was 'Mother Nature', and some of the words were ”on butterfly colored wings". Billy said Winslow had used that line so he called him. They ended up writing together and started a band. It had been a year, Billy called Tony and wanted us to get back together. Tony call and asked Norman and me, we were all for it. Time had held us, Billy after all was a great song writer and entertainer. Tony was going down ahead of us to set things up, he called right before he got ready to leave. Billy's mom answered the phone, she told Tony it was no need coming down. Billy and his wife had been killed in a car accident the night before. Billy had made a right hand turn on green right in front of a car being chased by the cops. Of all the musicians I've ever played with, he was by far my favorite. I didn’t believe it, so I called the Ocala Police Station. Sure enough, that’s the way it was. May he rest in peace... Next Story - Toad
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1970 / 71
Billy Sandlin – vocal - guitar / leader Norman Brown – guitar - vocal Tony White – bass - vocal Roger - drums