REALITY: there is
a huge difference between fans and musicians.
get to see a finished product, fans get to listen to the
records that have been cut, mixed, mastered, and
anyone know what life is like outside of the
finished product? I certainly do.
Early in my life, I
fought with my family. I wanted to play music. They
wanted me to go to college, and get a degree.
I couldn't care less about going to
college. The last thing in the world that I wanted was
But they had it all planned out. Nobody ever
asked ME what I was interested in - that didn't mean shit. They
had their own plans.
I left home with a very good R&B group at age 13 - nearly 14.
(13 years and 9 or 10 months) All I did
was play music.
All I wanted from life was to play
good R&B music.
the beginning, I was a naive kid, and that was obvious.
But I was lucky, because I worked
in a large horn group, playing R&B, and we worked
constantly - approximately 48 weeks each year.
(I don't know why, but nobody ever
asked me for ID. I'm pretty sure the rest of the group "covered" for me
Playing 3-7 nights a week, all night long, is an opportunity for a lot of practice. Imagine about 5 solid years of this.
Eventually, I became a pretty good keyboard player.
I was almost always very fortunate
throughout my musical life.
I was also young and
crazy enough to take a chance and approach many people
who are considered "stars".
Sometimes I got what I
wanted: an audition, a chance to play, and be evaluated
for my musical ability, and my personality
to fit in as a member of a group. Sometimes, I
was dismissed immediately, because of my age and
Unknown until this page
is being written - (December, 2007) - I once auditioned at Wand Records
in NYC, for Chuck Jackson and Maxine Brown.
I remember I was REAL young at that time,
I probably just turned 14 years old.
passed the audition as a player, they liked my playing
just fine, but they thought I was too young to travel. I had no ID at
the time which would have allowed me to work in
establishments that served alcohol.
(But within a week or two, I sure
did have some fake ID.)
for James Brown, in Newark, NJ. He laughed at me.
The last thing he needed was a 14 year old
problem on the road with him.
That wasn't all - I
was rejected by Joe Tex and Wilson Pickett, too.
Rejection doesn't feel good.
There were a few
other rejections - I'd rather keep them to myself.
In early 1968, I
Soul Survivors - which was probably the biggest mistake of my life.
I walked out in May, 1969, and went to work at STAX.
I also had a wallet full
of REAL ID. I had my draft card and an ABC card.
Late in 1969, I met
Ike. Elsewhere on my website is a fairly
interesting story about "How
I Spent My STAX Vacation".
You might like
to read that story,
written in 1996, describing the very first
time I ever saw or heard of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. It's
intentionally incomplete. I left out the disagreements with Ike, the parts in which we
had some basic misunderstandings.
1996, I didn't want to put them on a webpage for anyone
to misinterpret. Now I'll explain a very
late 1969, when I first met Ike, he offered me a
job as his keyboard player. At that
time, I was working on staff at
STAX Records in
Memphis, doing recording sessions and
learning engineering work. After about 5, almost 6
years on the road, constantly traveling with
groups, I wanted to "settle down" and work in
the STAX studio. I really didn't want
any more "road" at that time of my life -
and Ike knew that right from the night we
met. Well - I thought he knew it.
a little. He said he had a recording
studio in California. In fact, he did
- however, it was not yet a studio. It
was an empty building - (you could actually smell that it was previously a furniture store) - which would become a
working studio within several months.
At that time - my first trip to LA - I
was originally under the impression I was
going to LA to record with Ike.
Ike's impression was that I was joining his
group. Understandably, some differences
On that trip, I rehearsed
and played some shows with I&TT.
quickly, Ike and I had our first serious
disagreement - that was in San Francisco. I flew back to Memphis the next
I would NOT make the commitment. I
wouldn't leave STAX, recording, engineering,
and trade all of it for another road group
I did NOT give Ike the
commitment, dedication, and loyalty that he needed for
It isn't hard to
understand. Ike needed and wanted a
reliable, full time player.
I wasn't interested in
that - I wanted to be able to pick and
choose what I did and when I did it.
After I returned to Memphis, we
discussed this on the phone - very calmly - and I
made it clear what I wanted in my musical
life. Ike offered me a very, very
generous salary, but I couldn't and wouldn't
make the commitment.
On many occasions, we compromised.
I'd call Ike or he'd call me, we'd set up
something for recording and some live
shows. I also wanted to do some engineering with Ike, and he was agreeable
to that, too. That was something I could live
with, and Ike had no problems with it,
either. After I left the
staff, I still wanted to do recording
sessions, rather than spend most of my life
on the road.
It wasn't limited to Ike. I was very fortunate and
honored to have several very good offers
from some supergroups, but I
never made the commitment to the road again.
If you read through
some other parts of this
website, you'll learn this same type
scenario has happened many times in my
musical life. For awhile, I was on
staff at Kingsnake Records, but I could not
make that full time commitment,
Fans can't possibly
understand life "inside the bubble". I'm referring
to the day in - day out interaction, the ups and the downs. The chaos, the peace, and the
Fans have it made -
they buy their tickets and go see a polished show - a
show that may have taken several hundred hours to
Fans don't know about
the crushed egos, when a player is just not making the
grade, and is humiliated in front of the rest of the
It's happened to me, and it doesn't feel
I could write a whole book of what fans don't
know, and it would use up 200 webpages or more.
rather tell you a story about Ike .... c'mon - we're goin' inside the bubble ....
READ IT - YOU'LL LAUGH
Years back, Ike threw
a tantrum, and fired almost everyone in the group.
Jackie, Claude, and I weren't fired.
wasn't really playing with Ike at that time, (ie; no road,
just sessions) he
only called me
to come in and help put together his new group.
then, I knew Ike well. I understood his
musical requirements, and I also understood Ike's psychology - most of the time,
Rhonda got on the
phone, and in no time, musicians by the dozen were
flying into LA to audition - and I mean dozens
of musicians. We used Ike's
rehearsal room - part of the block he owned on LaBrea
and Fairview, a few doors away from the studio.
I was staying in Ike's
apartment building, directly behind the studio, no more
than 200 feet from the rehearsal room. Rehearsal
was called for 2:00pm. I showed up at about
1:50pm. The rehearsal room was filled with dozens
players - all wanting to play for I&TT.
Immediately, Ike got
in my face, and yelled at me. Keep in mind, I'd
known Ike for several years at that time.
(we frequently played "word games" - these "word games" just
kept us busting up with laughter)
Ike: "What fuckin' TIME is
it, motherfucker? I call rehearsal for 2, and you
drag your lazy ass in here when YOU feel like it? Who the
fuck runs this show?"
Me: "Well Ike, the clock
in the apartment said 10 before 2."
Ike: "Fuck YOU
- LOOK AT MY WATCH -
watch says it's AFTER 2.
(He showed me his watch. It
showed about 2:05.)
You done this shit before, and you ain't fuckin' with me no more -
I'm fining you $500.00. I don't put up with this shit from nobody."
(Ike started a "word game")
Ike put out his
hand. There was nothing for
me to say. I handed Ike $500.00.
(Actually, I'd NEVER been late before - I
And - I had a feeling I knew what Ike was really doing - Jackie knew, too.)
All day (and night) "musicians" were being sent
(thrown) out the door - one after another. They couldn't play - they wasn't gettin' no traction.
Ike (to a useless "musician"): "ENOUGH. We'll let you know in a few days."
Ike (privately, to Jackie and me: "We'll let the mo' fu' know in a few years.")
Ike (to a different useless "musician"): "How
long you been playin'? You ever play any R&B?"
(again, privately, to Jackie and me: "40 minutes too long - Jackie,
just get'm outa heah
- 'n cross his name off the fuckin' list.")
Auditions and rehearsal went on (and on and on) until probably 2:00am.
Ike told Jackie and me to go into his office in the
studio, and ended the audition until the
following day. Everybody left.
In his office, we
snorted, talked, snorted, laughed, snorted, and snorted some more.
Ike: "Shit - that last tenor player like to
drive me fuckin' crazy."
Me: "Damn - where these people come from
Mo' fu' sounded better before he took his horn out the case."
Jackie: (choking with laughter) "I
can't even talk, man. Ike, don't you never pull this shit on me again, or I'm gonna be 3 DAYS late to
rehearsal. (the "word game" kicks in - Jackie couldn't resist)
I don't put up with this shit from nobody."
we snorted, we didn't bother with "lines" or "straws" or "rolled up bills" or
"coke spoons" - that shit was for KIDS.
had a candy dish - about 12" in diameter - FILLED with coke. We
weren't gonna run out for at least 4 days.
took a business card, bent one corner of it, making a little "V" fold, and
used it like a Goddamn shovel.
Ike TOLD me he intentionally
set his watch fast - so I would HAVE to be late
He handed me my $500.00, and an
We just cracked up laughing at some of the clumsy
players. And we talked serious about some of the better ones.
I invented a
NEW PHRASE: "U&TT"
- "Unskilled and Timeless Tuneless".
(It's a takeoff on I&TT, if you didn't realize it.)
we were REALLY, REALLY laughing. We talked about one of the "bass players" ....
Ike: "That U&TT bastard wasted
over a fuckin' hour on ONE song! 'N he still
fucked it up!"
Jackie: "Man - y'all see him sweatin'?
Damn near had a nervous breakdown."
Me: "But he Gawddamn sure was tryin'."
Ike: "TRYIN'? He tryin' to get
his ass throwed the fuck OUTA heah!"
Me: "Mo' fu' did a good job of it, too!"
Jackie: "Sandy - why din't you throw his
(Jackie is sho' 'nuff baiting me into the "word game" - and I knew
Ike (to me): "You makin' ME do all
the work? You can't do NOTHIN'? Tomorrow, YOU throw some U&TTs out - or I'm gonna fine you $500.00."
(and IKE is definitely baiting me, too)
Me: "Yeah - I shoulda THROWN him out. I don't put up with this shit from
(now I couldn't resist the "word game" either - we
were all laughing too much)
Ike humiliated me in
front of a room full of people. I was a FOOL - an asshole.
But he did it for
a very good reason.
Everybody in that room learned
something: it's Ike's group, and whatever Ike
says is the way it's gonna be.
play by Ike's rules? There's the fucking door.
The three of us laughed our asses off
.... Jackie nearly collapsed - and me, too - we were
laughing so Goddamn hard.
FUCK IT! That was the funniest
thing Ike had done ALL YEAR!
We were having a GREAT time, and - for
some reason - THIS
was OUTRAGEOUSLY funny to us.
Ike was having the BEST time, because he
was at the center of it.
I really wanted to call Rebecca, my wife,
and tell her about it.
But I wanted to do it exactly RIGHT. I
had a plan ....
I wanted to start by telling her,
"Honey? Listen - don't get worried or excited, OK? I
really screwed up bad today. Ike fined me $500.00."
Then I would put Ike on the phone,
and HE could tell her the whole story.
understood our crazy sense of humor. She would have laughed just as
much as we were.)
But I would have woken her,
so I didn't get to call her until later that day.
By then, our hysteria had died down - the "magic moment"
- I was
FLYING. That would have really upset her.
Bec never told me not
to snort - but she didn't approve of it. She knew in less than a heartbeat if I was
snorting too much.
That morning, I was definitely snorting
We just snorted some more - and kept laughing,
while Ike and I kept doing our "replays" ....
Ike: "You know what
TIME IS, motherfucker?
You ever seen a fuckin' CLOCK?"
Me: "Oh, fuck you. You're lucky your dumb
Mississippi ass can even TELL time."
(laughing too hard to speak)
Ike: "Maybe I'll
buy you your own watch."
Me: "Good - you can stick it up your ass.
I don't put up with this shit from
nobody." (still got the "word game" going)
This is how it
We worked like SLAVES - but when we
weren't working, we had more Goddamn fun than you could ever dream of.
For US, this was OUR idea of fun. Calling each
other names, putting each other down, insults, ridiculous LIES about who did what to which Ikette ....
And we didn't REALLY
mean one word of it.
planned it so those people would learn a powerful lesson
in just a few seconds - AND THEY SURE LEARNED!
Maybe you think I'm crazy
for putting up with that.
NO - YOU'RE CRAZY.
That little act did more to help Ike than
48 hours of non-stop rehearsal.