October 21, 1997, France, Tourcoing, Le Grand Mix

Sixth day of the Ball Of Fire 1997 tour

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.

Continue reading October 21, 1997, France, Tourcoing, Le Grand Mix

October 19, 1997, France, Plouneour Trez, Les Hesperides

Fourth day of the Ball Of Fire 1997 tour

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.

Continue reading October 19, 1997, France, Plouneour Trez, Les Hesperides

October 18, 1997, France, Rennes – day-off

Third day of the Ball Of Fire 1997 tour

Already a day-off.

The drive today wasn’t too far:

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!

October 17, 1997, France, Apremont – Le Grand Duc

Second day of the Ball Of Fire tour 1997

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.

Challans, 1997
Church in Challans close to Apremont, where the Hotel was, 1997
Church in Challans close to Apremont, close-up with the entrance for the birds, 1997
Flyer of Le Grand Duc, Apremont from October 1997


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.

Lloyd Brevett, Devon James, Rolando Alphonso at soundcheck, Le Grand Duc, Apremont, 1997
Doreen Schaffer & The Skatalites, soundcheck at Le Grand Duc, Apremont 1997
Rolando Alphonso with Soprano and Tenor Saxes at Le Grand Duc, 1997

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).

October 16, 1997, France, Bordeaux – La Lune Dans Le Caniveaux

Beginning of the Ball Of Fire tour 1997

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.

Flipside of the Ball Of Fire 1997 tour pass
Ball Of Fire tour pass front with the picture scanned from my album
T-shirt of the Ball Of Fire Tour 1997

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:

Day 9, Sunday, august 23, 1992, Saint-Nazaire, second show | The Skatalites Euro Tour 1992, Sound Check, Saint-Nazaire, Les Escales, France

The Skatalites last show of the Euro Tour 1992

Today, 25 years ago, was the second show of The Skatalites at the Festival Les Escales de Saint-Nazaire. I went to the hotel before noon and took my first pictures of the members of the band and some recordings.

Continue reading Day 9, Sunday, august 23, 1992, Saint-Nazaire, second show | The Skatalites Euro Tour 1992, Sound Check, Saint-Nazaire, Les Escales, France

Day 8, Saturday, august 22, 1992, Saint-Nazaire, first show | The Skatalites Euro Tour 1992

This is the day when The Skatalites played their very first concert in France

The first thing I did today, 25 years ago, was to buy a camera. That’s why I have no pictures of the whole tour until this day. Don’t worry, it was the time long before digital cameras and each picture was one dollar to get it. That was awful, but on the other hand, the number of pictures was limited and does a lot of pictures make anything better?

Continue reading Day 8, Saturday, august 22, 1992, Saint-Nazaire, first show | The Skatalites Euro Tour 1992

personal memories all around The Skatalites in Europe from 1992

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