The Scrapbook - Part 2
A collection of photos that I'm always wanting to show everybody, which don't really fit onto any of the other websites I do. Complete with the stories that go along with each. Most pictures have larger versions that can be seen if you mouse click the smaller versions, below.
Rick Springfield, May, 1982. In March 1982, I was hired to work weekends at Roanoke's new FM CHR powerhouse WXLK-92 with the likes of Bart Prater, Bill Jordan, Vince Miller and David Lee Michaels. At the time, Rick Springfield was HOT. He'd just put out his second big album and was starring as Dr. Noah Drake in the ABC daytime soap opera General Hospital. He was on what was called the "Success Hasn't Spoiled Him Yet" tour.
The radio station was doing a contest where people were encouraged to write us and tell us why they should win a trip to Los Angeles for a cameo on General Hospital and a dinner with Rick, and the person who sent in the best entry would. The winner sent in a doctor's prescription form that said she was sick had had been prescribed the cure of having dinner with Rick. The runner-up—the one we really thought was best but couldn't really pick because of the nature of the entry—was from some lady who said "I need to win the trip to Los Angeles because I have Tom Selleck's underwear and I really need to return it to him."
Right in the middle of this promotion he came to Roanoke. The K92 folks got to go to his show and meet him. Though he posed for photos, he was not the friendliest celebrity I've ever met...
Pat Paulsen, May 15, 1986. WKSF Kiss-FM in Asheville did a promotion with The Punch Line comedy club in Greenville, SC. Thursday night was "Kiss Night" and on this particular one I was nominated to be the guy from the station who went there to do the call-ins. My then-girlfriend Mary went with me. It was known beforehand that Pat Paulsen—the guy who became famous doing the low-keyed editorials, then running for President on The Smother's Brothers Comedy Hour was going to be there.
Mary knew this and seemed normal, but when she walked into a room and saw Pat sitting there she started acting like Lucy at the Brown Derby. The show was HILARIOUS. Vince Champ opened the show. Vince, a black guy, walked out there wearing a pair of sunglasses onto which he'd pasted life-sized cut-outs of some blue-eyed white person's eyes. He looked up and smiled and said "This is what happens to white people when they fall asleep while they're sunbathing!" I've heard and written a LOT of humor in my life but honestly, I don't think I've EVER laughed that hard before.
After the show several of us ended up going out drinking and bar-hopping with Pat. That truly was a night to remember, with one of the funniest guys who has ever lived.
At the Roanoke Star on Mill Mountain, May 1989. The Mill Mountain Star was built in 1949 for the Roanoke Merchant's Association by the Roy Kinsey Sign Company (Roy's son Warren went to Calvary Baptist Church when I did). Dave Garroway once did NBC's The Today Show from there. I'm not even going to begin to try to tell you some of the stories I've either experienced or heard which happened either under or near the bottom of The Star.
It is a mythical place. Sadly, several people have snuffed it out over the years IN STYLE by climbing to the top of The Star and jumping off. Not wanting to encourage such, but honestly, can you think of a better way you'd want to go? On a brighter note, most every single one of us—I mean "Roanoke Teens" over the years—experienced some of our earliest romantic dreams come true up at The Star (Billy Joel: "Cold Beer, hot lights, my sweet romantic teenage nights!").
Anyway, this photo was taken in 1989 when I'd gone to Roanoke looking for a radio job. In one day, WROV-FM told me I was "too up-tempo and too crazy" and K92 told me "I wasn't up-tempo or crazy enough" then WSLQ told me "We love you and will hire you for $6 an hour!" and I told THEM "YOU are crazy." That evening my old friend Sam Lacy and I drove up to The Star (for the umpteenth time over the years) and shot this classic photo.
Waylon, Summer 1989. Cliff called one day and said that Waylon Jennings was going to be appearing at The Tobacco Festival in Danville, VA (about halfway between here and Roanoke) and invited me to meet him there and go to the show. I did. We met at this small bar on Highway 86 as it comes into Danville (which these days is a women's clinic and has been for years, despite the fact that you'd think Danville would be the type of town where some guy like Eric Rudolph would walk out of the woods and blow the place up real good).
While sitting there at the bar, just bullshitting, we had the entire rest of the clientele believing that we were Waylon roadies and they were asking us questions and we were making up answers and they were buying it all and thinking they were mingling with the stars and loving every minute of it.
Later we went to the Holiday Inn where Waylon was staying and found him in the restaurant. Cliff had met Waylon several times before but not me. We approached the table and he looked like he recognized Cliff, who introduced himself. Cliff, who wanted to see "does he REALLY remember me?" then told Waylon "And here's Pat, you remember Pat, don't you?" and Waylon looked at me and said "Uh, yeah, hoss! Good to see you again!" So Waylon remembered me even though he'd never met me before (probably he just didn't want to hurt my feelings, bless his heart).
Paul McCartney, Summer 1989. Over the course of two summers there were four BIG shows at NC State's Carter-Finley Stadium. The Who, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd. Of these I went to the middle two. The Paul McCartney show was great. I'd bought tickets on the twenty-first row but, because they'd decided to put a camera on a stand where my seats were, we were relocated to Row 18.
And surprisingly I was able to sneak my camera and telephoto lens into the venue because of my wife and her temper. The camera was in the bottom of a great big bag she was carrying. As we approached the gate she was drinking a bottle of orange Gatorade. Some bitchy girl who was supposed to be searching all the bags told Mary that it no food or drinks could be taken into the show. Mary asked "Well just what am I supposed to do with it then?" The girl said "Pour it out NOW!" so Mary unscrewed the top and proceeded to pour it out on top of this girl's feet. She was so flummoxed by this that she just stood there as we handed the next guy our tickets and walked on in with the camera in the unsearched bag.
The show opened with a montage of film of Paul's career projected on a screen behind the stage, each proceeded by the year. You saw "1964" then a clip of The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Then "1975" followed by Paul with the Wings playing Band On The Run. After a few more clips, the word "NOW!" appeared, they hit the lights, there was a big pyrotechnic explosion and there he was. I guess this will be the closest I'll ever get to one of the Beatles.
WPTF-TV, 1991. Upon graduating from NCSU the first time with a Summa Cum Laude B.A. in Speech-Communication (concentration: Mass Communication) I got a job on the WPTF-TV 28 news crew. I worked on the studio floor, usually either as a camera man or as the Floor Manager. The on-air talent there at the time included Terry Thill, Val Holley-Dennis, Chris Thompson, Mike Fuller, Ben Garrett (no relation), Joan Murray and Ben Woods.
I can tell you some stories about the kinds of things that go on behind the scenes of a television news broadcast. I particularly loved working with Val who was a good person and friend. I believe she went onto be the anchor at KSTP-TV in Minneapolis then at a station in Charlotte, NC before taking a job as a corporate PR person. Another good friend was Chris Thompson who now can be seen occasionally on WRAL-TV in Raleigh.
In the above photos, top left is Val doing a news update (the camera man is Bob McKinney and the floor manager is Al Nibbs). Top right is Chris doing the weather in front of the green board (this is how the weather guy really looks in the studio without all the fancy graphics chromakeyed into the picture). The rest of the shots are me, one as a cameraman and the others just goofing around on the news set.
Harry Nilsson, February 1992. After hearing about them for several years, that year I decided to drive to New York and go to the Beatlefest (now called "The Festival for Beatles Fans" for some unknown legal reason). Mary couldn't go so I just drove all the way up there by myself. A fun, "deep thought" kind of trip where I went across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel then up through Delaware then onto my room at the Red Roof Inn in East Rutherford, NJ.
While on this trip I spent days in New York City and visited The Dakota (former home of John Lennon) and The Cafe La Fortuna (a few blocks away, John's favorite coffee shop). The Beatles festival was cool, especially the flea market where I bought a few books and bits of memorabilia.
One of the guests was Harry Nilsson. Harry is known for his hits Without You and Me And My Arrow also hits for other artists. At the flea market I had just bought a copy of Harry's LP Pussycats which was produced by John Lennon and, for a $5.00 donation to "Citizens Against Handguns" he signed it for me. He wrote his typical "H" then looked up and said "And here's a joke..." then he wrote "RUG" on top of the rug in the picture. Honest. Do you think I could make this kind of stuff up?
Ron Francis, October, 1999. I'd been a hockey fan since 1970 and had started going to Hurricanes games during their first season in 1997-98. The following year they acquired Ron who had been with the franchise when they were in Hartford then gone to Pittsburgh. When Ron first came to the Hurricanes, most people in the area were so ignorant of hockey that Ron could have walked through the Cary Towne Center mall and nobody would have known who he was. But to the roughly 6,000 or so "die hard" hockey fans and early supporters of the team, this was a BIG DEAL. On this particular day Ron was making an appearance at the big white Nortel building in RTP (known to us who worked for the company as "The Big House").
I had grown dissatisfied with Nortel by then and was actively looking for another job and on that particular day had an interview at a small RTP firm named Tekelec. I went to this interview and was immediately handed a copy of their draconian "official drug policy" by their HR guy and after reading it—before I even talked to any of their managers—had decided "there's no way in hell I'm going to work for these people." At about 2:30 the HR guy said "Now you're going to go talk with the senior manager you may be working for" and I looked at my watch and said "No, sorry but I have to leave."
The HR guy got all indignant and appeared to be shocked at my disdain for their company. He told me "He won't like this! He is a 'very important person!'" I told him "He's not as important as Ron Francis!" and walked out the door. I got to the car, put a Hartford Whalers jersey on over my interview clothes and headed to The Big House. Ron was every bit the approachable, nice guy everyone says he is. He posed for these photos then signed an 8x10 of himself for me.
Sami Kapanen, Tommy Westlund, Sean Hill, Martin Gelinas, January 2000. These pictures were taken at the Hurricanes "Team Skate" event on January 23, 2000. The very next day was the day that the Raleigh area got the 18" snow storm. I'd collected hockey jerseys for years and on this day stuffed my Vancouver Canucks Martin Gelinas jersey and my Detroit Red Wings Paul Coffey jerseys in a bag and went to the Raleigh ESA (now the RBC Center).
Marty Gelinas was one of the nicest guys I've ever met, seemed honored that I had his old jersey and signed it for me. He and Sean Hill, then Sami Kapanen and Tommy Westlund posed for these pictures. Note that at the time we shot these, I was walking around in my hockey skates with the skate guards on the blades. This is why I appear to be as tall as these other guys who were just standing there with their shoes on.
After these photos I stood in a line for 20 minutes to get Paul Coffey to sign my Detroit jersey. Coffey left Detroit a few years earlier, apparently he did not get along with Coach Scotty Bowman. After trading him, Detroit won the Stanley Cup and Coffey apparently felt they'd denied him another chance to win it and held a grudge. He saw my Detroit jersey and started yelling "I'm not signing that damn thing!" right there in front of all the fans and the kids. What an asshole.
Joan Osborne, October 6, 2002. On this particular night, Paul McCartney was appearing at the RBC Center. The price of the "fairly good" seats was $200 and if I'd gone I'd have ended up taking my wife and kids, buying shirts, and spending well over $1000. So instead I decided to go with Steve Murry to Chapel Hill to see Joan Osborne at The Cat's Cradle for $15 a head. I'd been a fan of Joan's since she put out her first album Relish which contained the song One Of Us.
Joan has one of the best voices I've ever heard sing, and politically her thoughts are very close to mine. After the opening act, I bought a 25-oz Foster's Oil Can from the bar and went and stood at the front center of the stage right below the microphone and kept this spot as the place began to get crowded. Joan came out and stood right there—so close to me that my beer can was sitting on the edge of the stage about one foot from Joan's toes. Throughout the night I talked to Joan between the songs.
At one point I told her I could have seen Paul McCartney but wanted to see her instead and she seemed to be honored by this. At the end of the night she sang Make You Feel My Love which is a real tear-jerking love song and through my half drunken haze it really felt like she was singing it to ME. After the show we hung out by the bus and the guitar player took a small Joan poster on board, she signed it for me and he returnted it.
Jack Fisher, August 21, 2005. From 1964 through 1970, all of us in Roanoke had the pleasure of being able to listen to Jack Fisher on WROV. Jack is one of the funniest people who has ever lived, and with his old partner Fred Frelantz, Jack played us all the Sixties hits and made us laugh until we cried. There is much about Jack on the WROV History Site that is well worth the read.
Jack was one of the dancers on the original American Bandstand show during the 1950s. He then worked with Philadelphia TV stars Grady & Hurst on their show which originated from Atlantic City's Steel Pier. I believe that—other than Elvis—Jack knew all the music stars of the Fifties and Sixties including Bobby Darin, Peter Noone, Eric Burdon, Ricky Nelson, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson and the rest.
There are two other "firsts" in Jack's life: he is famous for having been the WEAM disc jockey who introduced Paul McCartney at America's very first Beatles concert in Washington, DC in 1964. And one summer night in August, 1967 as the host of WROV's Mr. Moe's Request Line show, Jack was the first person ever to put a kid named Pat Garrett—who was nine years old at the time—on the radio to dedicate The Beatles' All You Need Is Love to the neighborhood kids.
All these years later Jack has become a good friend. This photo was taken two years ago at a high school reunion in Roanoke, which Jack said would be "his last ever gig." This was four days before I had a knee operation and had put on a ton of weight from not being able to exercise. It hurt to just stand up, but the pain was the last thing on my mind while enjoying a night with an old friend and radio idol!