From the tour rider (I’m not sure, if this was the final plan):
Marseille – Sete – Barcelona – Madrid – Bilbao – Toulouse – Grenoble – Torino – Milano – Piacenza
And then from Piacenza to Geneva and finally Berne, where I met the band again and joined The Skatalites with my flute. To see some pictures and listen to this show, come back not before 9th of November 2017, exactly 20 years after the real event.
Second last day for me on the Ball Of Fire 1997 tour
I have a single room (I don’t remember why). We’re in the Hotel Ibis in Nancy. Because Shay was with the both Lloyds in Paris, I have seen the rooming list and I wasn’t on the list, but a name of an old friend of mine. It was a bit strange for me to see this, without knowing about it. I mean, I knew, I have to leave the tour in Strasbourg the next day, but I didn’t know why. Now, I realized, that I was out and another was inside. But I wasn’t angry, it’s the way it is. Life goes on…
At the breakfast I was talking with Lester Sterling about Peter Tosh. Lester told me, that Peter Tosh used to call him “Mr. Sterling”. Later, when Tosh was famous, Lesters brother Keith Sterling was in the Tosh band, so they met again. Tosh didn’t recognized Lester, so Keith introduced him to Tosh. And Tosh said: “Hello Lester”. That’s how things are chaning.
The breakfast in Rennes was as small as all the other ones so far on this tour. Brevett is a lot talking in monologues. The feeling in the crew is not that easy as it should be. It’s too much moaning about this and that. I don’t know who is talking shit, but nobody is on the same line. The way to this wonderful place was all through the nice Bretagne.
So there was plenty of time to walk through the city. But it was weird. I almost get lost, because I had no address with me. I had no idea, in which hotel we were settled. But with good luck I refound the hotel. In the evening there was a very strange thing happening. I saw as many birds as I never have seen before and ever since. Thousands of thousands of birds, all over the place. On the roof tops it was black and the trees, they were almost breaking under the weight of all those birds. I felt like in Alfred Hitchcocks Birds movie. And it was terribly loud. Do you remember these sounds in the movie? Scary!
The breakfast in Bordeaux I was talking with Will Clark about his wonderful session last night and about Lady Diana. He told me he’s in a new life since 10 days. Barney the driver told me, he has less troubles with the young american ska bands.
The band took too long for soundcheck. So Shay and I played soccer in the audience. They tried to play My Boy Lollipop (a Millie Small hit from 1964 and Barbie Gaye Original from the 50s), but it was awful. Lester Sterling had the idea, but there was nothing but a horn idea, no arragement.
It’s about 3 AM the show is over. I have seen nothing. There are still a lot of fans. Lester Sterling is talking about his time with Lee Perry (because Lee Perry is on the schedule for Le Grand Duc in October also). Roast Duck was his first song. He wasn’t engineer, Lester said, Coxsone never leave him on his equipement. Hard Man Fe Dead was Busters first song and on Indian Summer is Ska Campbell playing the tenor. Between 68-71 he was working a lot for Bunny Lee. At Treasure Isle he played for the Palmer Brothers (PAMA) who never gave him any money. He still have his album ready to release since 1976. I told him to release it.
Lloyd Brevett was talking about Peter Tosh, when Lloyd Knibb said, that there was a guy sitting beside him, and said “your Knibb”, he replied “and who are you?” The other man said: “Don’t you remember Peter Tosh?” So Knibb said: “I haven’t seen you for years”. Then Brevett was talking about Herbie Miller, who took Tommy McCook and he went to Lloyd Knibb and Brevett and built-up The Skatalites again. He (Herbie Miller) organized the visas, which wasn’t easy and realized the shows at Sunsplash 1983 in Montego Bay and 1984 in London among others. Bill Smith said, Herbie Miller is still working for an agency (called ABC).
I have no particular pictures of this date in Bordeaux. In my diary I have found the following about that day.
It is Thursday, 16th of October 1997 (exactly 20 years ago), 2.45 PM, I am at the Montparnasse train station in Paris. I should sit in the train to Bordeaux now, but I was running to the wrong train. I wasn’t easy, because I only had little time for changing. And there were two trains called BORDEAUX. One “promené” the other “depart”. This two french words upsetted me a little. That’s why I run to the train FROM Bordeaux instead of the train TO Bordeaux. I lost 90 minutes.
Everywhere is highliy armed police in the station. It looks, like a war is coming up. I don’t remember, what crisis it was, 20 years ago… but the picture today can’t be very different from that.
Finally I can take the TGV to Bordeaux. I’m travelling since 5.40 AM. At 6.57 PM I will arrive in Bordeaux.
It’s already Friday, 17th of October, 3.21 AM when I wrote the next thing inside my diary. I’m in the Hotel with Bill Smith. Bill told me, that Delta overload the airplane, therefore they had to flight to Amsterdam, where every flight was full-up. The Skatalites arrived Paris at 2 PM instead of 8 AM. Barney, the driver, was waiting in Paris with the van and had to drive around the airport all the time. 6 hours!!!
At the club there was the same crew as last year (see Skasplash 1996). The same cook with his ital food. The merchandise box was very messed up and I had to clean it up. Shay helped me to put the things in a good order again. There was a lot of merchandise, many different CDs (most of the Groover label), Stickers, Buttons, T-Shirts (including working shirt and hooded tops), caps and prices. The people entered and asked already for things, but I wasn’t ready yet. Brevett came for his own with his US-release of African Roots. But Shay told him, that it isn’t allowed to sell this version in Europe, because Brevett sold the licence already for Europe to Ossi’s Groover records.
The warm-up band played their first tune, when they had technical problems. After that they played a mixture of Dub and Rocksteady.
While the Skatalites played their first show of this tour, I was selling some T-shirts, stickers and batches. The air was full of smoke. They played Swing Easy and Ball Of Fire for the first time (I mean, it was the first time for me!).
Two weeks ago Lester Sterling was in the hospital. Will Clark played an extremly great show tonight. And Lloyd Brevett is moaning all the time about me, because I haven’t sell any of his CDs. He needs the pocket money for smoking stuff.
The trip to Apremont and the Grand Duc is always a little adventure, because it’s far from any highway…
Second day: driving from Bordeaux to Apremont:
personal memories all around The Skatalites in Europe from 1992