Ian Hunters 75th Birthday Bash Jubilee June 3, 2014. Part one. So much for normal.
It was a very unusual day for me. I had awakened at 8 am completely alert after going to bed the night before at a reasonable hour and having a refreshing evening of a perfectly adequate (as recommended by Drs) amount of sleep in between the typical hours of 10- 8 and by 11 am I was ready to get some serious writing done and submit my book to the publisher by the end of the day. Instead of the usual routine I had developed the over the last three years, procrastinating on Facebook until midnight then writing for three days and nights straight without eating or sleeping until I collapse in exhaustion just to get back then wake up the next afternoon or midnight and immediately do the same thing again. I was so proud of myself. For once I was actually going to have a “normal “day like real people.
All I did was make one little mistake.
I clicked on an interesting looking link on Facebook just as I was signing out I saw in the Ian Hunter group he was having a huge birthday bash in New York City that very evening which was, of course, completely sold out. But sounded marvelous! And if I started RIGHT NOW I could barely manage to get there in time if I didn’t waste a second and called my friend Tommy who was once in Ian’s band. A very old and dear friend who I had discussed trying to find a way to get us together one of these days at great length for months.
“Hey, are you going to Ian’s gig tonight?”
“His birthday gig! You bet I am” Tommy said with great enthusiasm.
“Well I was thinking of coming down.”
“Well come on down if you like but I really can’t talk about it now. I’m so busy working now and this has to get finished today. I will talk to you later.” So I immediately spring into action.
It’s now almost 12 and I must get on a bus or train by two to be in the city by 6:00 when the doors open to meet up with Tom somehow ,when he got there . I’m frantically packing a bag! My lap top! My Camera! My kindle! Oh shit. Where is my cell phone? I haven’t seen it or the charger in weeks, I literally cannot go without them. There is no way for Tommy to reach me or reach him. So I’m tearing the house apart looking for them and now I realize there is no way I will make the 2 pm bus. But by now I am packed and I’m determined!
The next bus is at 3: 30 okay that is all right, I can still get there by 7: 30 a half an hour before the show and since I’m with tommy I will be okay. Right about then I find the cell phone and a charger that works on my laptop. BRILLIANT! It’s settled then! I book and pay for the 3: 30 bus out of Union Station. When I’m 99 percent ready to go I call a cab to get me to the metro. “Okay ma’am but we are running at about 45 minutes behind right now “ WTF? At 2:00 0n a Wednesday afternoon?
I call Tom and say where this gig is and he gives me directions from the bus station but also says ” Now I don’t know if I’m going to be able to make it” (Dun Dun DAAAAH.) Call me later tonight I’m still really busy” Well, this is a bit of a monkey wrench in the gears.
But I know if Tom can find a way to get me sorted out like calling our friend Tommy two or if he can’t because the list is just two big already I will just do the ole ” fake it and make it in” Just like I’ve done all my life. I’m an expert. Easy peasy. Nothing was going to stop me now. I’m ready to go now, the taxis on the way and the bus is paid for so why the hell not? By now it has become a do or die situation. The cab arrives and gets me to the metro just in time to get to the station and watch the 3:30 bus disappearing into the distance with one empty seat. Well, I sure as hell am not going back now; I’m on a mission from God.
So I buy a new ticket on the 4 pm knowing it doesn’t even get into the city until 8: 15 and the show starts at 8:00 but I figure since there is a warm up band between now and then Tom and I can work it out, if he can’t go he will call Tommy two and tell him what’s going on and he would help out because he would definitely be there.
Tommy two and Tom and I were The Three Musketeers back in the day on the Ian Hunter tours in the late seventies/early eighties when they were in the band and I went to almost every single show of the tours for three or four years. They eventually just gave me a plastic laminate crew passes the start of every tour so I would never have a problem getting in every town, every tour with no trouble from anyone. This was because not only did I adore the Tommy’s but I had a raging teenage puppy- love crush on Ian, which I’m quite sure he was flattered by, and didn’t mind, but had no intention of doing anything about , which was obvious to everyone, including me. But that didn’t stop me from trying. Every chance I got. Ian simultaneously fascinated and terrified me, this grand old man of rock and roll, so mysterious and aloof who was always a goal just out of reach. I turned into the world’s biggest idiot when he was in the room, I was practically panicked and would walk into walls, trip over my own feet, tip over drinks and stutter and stammer and he knew exactly why which appeared to amuse him greatly. He was my idol as a song writer. I had writing aspirations myself so he quite intimidated me Just like one of his best known and loved songs among fans and incredibly beautiful and lyrically marvelous songs, he was my “ Irene Wilde.”
Whenever the occasion came up that it was getting late and the parties were breaking up and people were splitting up into twos I always made sure to be there and waiting in the vicinity and he always, sometimes more quickly and easily than others, gave me the loveliest, most kind, sweet and heartwarming rejection speeches I’ve ever had the grace to be on receiving end of , before disappearing into his room alone. It was driving me mad!
I wasn’t the kind of girl who was used to boys of any age saying no to. And no one on the tour ever even asked because they knew I was so besotted with Ian I was the kind of girl who could pick or choose any boy I wanted back then! How dare him! It was so annoying and frustrating! Which only made it even more maddening and increased my fascination with this forbidden fruit always denied me!
The adventures we had on those tours were hilarious. And even though I couldn’t have Ian I had lots of fun being a part of his entourage, thanks to my dear friend’s Tom and Tommy and Ian, Mick and the rest of the management and crew. Eventually Tommy and Tommy were no longer in Ian’s band together and so I lost contact with Tommy two but Tom and I had stayed in touch over the years and I saw him when he came to town. It was always the highlight of my year because I wasn’t going to any shows except ones by my very favorite bands or best friends; no more three-four shows a week od shenanigans for this (now) respectable old married lady.
I still went to see Ian but it was much harder to get backstage because I had to actually get to Ian to get in and there was an entire security system in place every show to make sure people wouldn’t would never be able to do just that and every year there were fewer people I knew behind the scenes. So after ten years or so I just started to buy tickets to the shows and say a quick hello to Ian on his way in or out. On a whim one year I woke up one morning and flew to Cleveland to see him at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was pleasantly surprised when he saw me outside and he recognized me and gave me a big hug and kiss and was genuinely happy to see me there. When I heard Mott the Hoople was doing reunion shows in London in 2009 I lucked into two fifth row tickets on the internet the week of the sold –out- for- months shows and flew to London to stay with my best friend Simon to see them.
I wrote Ian and he wrote back and he knew exactly who I was which made me very happy.
I was so excited to be there I bought a full color glossy program and I couldn’t decide which of the 5 or 6 tee-shirts I wanted so I treated myself to one of each! The show was so amazing we went back two nights later and bought tickets from someone outside the door on the THIRD ROW for the last show. It was like nothing I had ever seen a complete love- fest. I have never seen such a blissed -out, loved up, thrilled to tears audience for anything in my life. At one point someone carried a platform boot around the stage and everyone in the place stood up and just screamed! It’s the first time I ever saw an inanimate object get a standing ovation!
So when this chance came today to be at another really exciting sentimental event for Ian and for me for old times’ sake was not going to pass me by if there was any way in the world I was not going to do whatever it took to at least give it my best shot. And if I ended up being a fool, so be it.
I finally get settled on the bus and am headed for New York and after a few hours in a growing feeling of exhaustion and dread was definitely coming over me. I’m not a gorgeous teenage girl who can con her way into a gig anymore; I am too old and too smart to do something nuts like this these days. I should know better by now, dammit. But in my experience the one thing I am certain of is, sometimes the crazier what you do is, the more likely it is there will be some sort of amazing result.
I had checked all over the internet for a spare ticket at any cost, if anything goes wrong if? It’s already completely shot to hell what do I mean if? this is an out of control bad joke now So maybe then, at least, I can see the show if nothing else but no luck. The best I can do is get on the venue wait list.
My electronic stuff all seems to have gone mad! It’s incredibly frustrating. The wi- fi on the bus is so slow and terrible I can’t get into any of the ticket outlets and its taking my cell phone forever to charge and when I try to use it the call gets cut off immediately. So I wait until I really can’t afford to wait any longer to call Tom ( fearing the worst) to be sure I have enough charge for us to work out the details. I have a very bad feeling about this. It all may all have turned out to be a very expensive waste of my time and an incredibly stupid mistake.
I call Tommy at 7 on the nose and say “okay I’m on the way, I’m almost there” and just before my phone dies again I hear the words “UH-oh . Oh no.” and then my dell phone becomes a paperweight for the rest of the trip.
Well, that clinched it, I realize. Now there is no doubt. I am definitely fucked.
We arrive in NYC at the port authority and just getting out and hailing a cab cheers me up immensely. I’m mean it’s not like I’m out in boondocks in Idaho or in Beirut or something for the night if I don’t get in. This is the Big Apple Baby. If you can’t have a good time here, you can’t do it anywhere. Maybe I will just do it like I did when I first met Ian and the band or when I wasn’t going backstage just buying tickets and catch him as he came out and give him a birthday hug.
Or maybe I would say screw this and just go out on the town and have a fantastic night on my own! I get to the venue and to my surprise Ian is playing already. I had thought Wreckless Eric a band I know from London was going to be on first. So I have already missed 15-20 minutes of the show. But on the bright side while I’m arguing with the staff I will at least get to see ten minutes of it if nothing else.
Oh it looks so nice in there and the band looks and sounds so great and there is good old Ian up on the stage. Watching him up there always makes me feel like that love struck little girl again There is no one in line. the reception area is deserted because everyone is already seated and there is just three or four gentleman organizing the door.
“They look very young,” is my first thought. My second is” Well, it can’t hurt to try.” I put on my game face.
Maybe it would all be okay , after all Tom knew I was coming all day. Maybe, just maybe he put my name on the list, I think knowing I am lying to myself. I feel the odds of this are slim to none , in fact I know this in my heart because the guest list for this show must already look like a phone book full of names much more important than mine. I ask if‘ I’m “on the list” and the lovely doorman and “concierge” start rustling papers looking for the most recent up to date one, while I go into” get in at any cost” mode. Meaning being willing to lie like a cheap Chinese rug on a slippery kitchen floor.
“Oh dear I was certain to be on it! I’m with the band ” Well, he was in the band, once upon a time and who knows if he’s here or even coming at all, I had no idea! I just came all the way here from DC and if I’m not on the list I just don’t know what I am to do!” Batting my eyelashes and doing my best Blanche from Streetcar named Desire. My cell phone broke so I couldn’t contact the person with the band I am here to see to confirm. I know it is sold out but what AM I to do? Can you just sell just one more ticket under these circumstances? Then I can find my friends with the band myself.”
To my complete and utter disbelief the concierge smiles warmly and says… ‘Of course not. Don’t worry about it. We will take care of everything. Here is your wristband, let me take your bag to our coat check for you, right this way. No don’t worry , no charge .” As soon as I could shut my mouth which was now hanging like a ripped shaggy velvet curtain, I got the hell out of there before they could change their minds and in minutes I had a double tequila and coke and was seating in one of the best seats in the house, which for some reason no one had taken. No one in the world could have been more thunderstruck (or relieved) than I. Depending on your point of view they were either the greatest security or the worst I’ve ever seen !
After watching the show awhile which was mostly their newer songs mixed with a few classics I slip into an empty lit corridor to try out my phone one last time, just in case, to let Tom know I am in and safe and having a good time so he wouldn’t worry and tell him where I was sitting so he could find me if he ever got there. I manage to text him and run right away into some familiar faces including Andy York, a fantastic guitar player I’ve met with Ian on many occasions. I ask him about the two Tommie’s and he says Tommy two will definitely be there as he is playing on song at the encore but his doesn’t know about my Tom. It isn’t long before I see Tommy two walking in. I stop him and say “You probably don’t even recognize me we haven’t seen each other in so long” And he gives me a big hug and says “I would know you anywhere Sherry “(awwwwwwwww) It just keeps getting better and better.
Tommy two says he doesn’t think my Tom was going to be able to make it, which was sad because I haven’t seen him in a very long time either. And then said as he went up to the dressing room he says over his shoulder “ I will see you and take care of you after the show” Oh my God! I am definitely into the private after party / birthday party for sure now. What a relief! I go back to my seat deliriously happy. The show is fantastic and Ian and I both did very well. I didn’t even cry once this time. Until he sang All the young Dudes at the end, of course. The crowd all starts leaving and I notice they are not hustling me out and I discover I didn’t need Tommy twos help after all. The wristband I had been given at the start was the after show party pass! Everything had turned out perfectly. Easy Peasy.
As it always did, remember, I was an expert at this and had done it all my life.
I don’t even know why I was even worried at all. Rolling my eyes so far into the back of my head I can see the guy standing behind me Coming soon! Ian’s Birthday Party
Published on Jun 4, 2014
“I filmed this performance at the NYC City Winery on June 3, 2014. The evening was billed as “Ian Hunter’s Diamond Jubilee Bash’ to celebrate Ian’s 75th Birthday, which just so happens to have been on June 3rd (in 1939). This is an UnsteadyCam Production. ALL THE YOUNG DUDES is of course MOTT THE HOOPLE’s breakthrough hit, written and produced by DAVID BOWIE. Many members of “the extended family” were up there singing as a chorus: I can see CHRISTINE OHLMAN, ELLEN FOLEY, ANDY YORK (also on guitar), IAN’s Son JESSE PATTERSON, ANDY BURTON. Forgive me if I left your name out.” Unsteady Freddie