The Daizies Part 2 : The Further Fall and Faltering Failings of the Rock Legends
The Daizies Part 2 :
The Further Fall and Faltering Failings of the Rock Legends
In Part 2, of this 4-part interview, Wayne Starlight tells us all about the truth behind their long-awaited tour of America.
About their wild parties and crazy nights that eventually got them onto the front pages of the scandal sheets.
Then their venture into the field of Progressive Rock in the mid-70's.
"We were shocked to discover that Hardick couldn't enter the USA because of his criminal conviction.
What a shower of hypocrites!, America is full of criminals, some of them in prison, what possible harm could another one do?
But, we had to bite the bullet, leave him behind and find someone else to handle the tour, someone tough, someone formidable, someone of the same calibre as that screwball.
Probably with a Mafia background or a similarly ruthless job in the financial sector. Perhaps an auditor or a forensic accountant with tax experience.
Another new man in charge
We ended up hiring Joey Canafanta. A high profile executive in the entertainment and leisure industry. We were impressed. He ran a casino, 4 night clubs and a string of massage parlours. Oliver was glad he wasn't connected to the Mob. I quickly changed the subject. So we were ready to hit the freeways of our promised land"
"The tour was an unmitigated disaster from start to finish, except we didn't finish it. The bad omens were there from the start"
"On our first night in New York it was no surprise that Jacky got mugged, you'd expect that in The Big Apple. What we didn't expect was that he was robbed at gunpoint by his own guitar technician, right down to his plectrums. What kind of crew had we hired? It became pretty clear not your usual lot. Our Head Electrician ran off with half our lighting rig. We later found out he used it to help grow cannabis in his apartment in Brooklyn."
Saloon Bar Blues
"In Boston, two of our roadies Hank and Frank had a shoot-out in a bar-room brawl over a bowl of pretzels. Real Wild West situation, man. But they were so out of their faces they completely missed each other and survived without a scratch. The 8 customers they wounded sued the band and the barman never got over his near fatal heart attack. Into the bargain they blew the nose off a prize buffalo head hanging on the wall"
"The police turned up all guns blazing and shot 3 more customers as well as impounding 48 bottles of whisky.
They charged Hank and Frank with severe wounding, unlawful discharge of firearms, non-payment of a bar bill and hunting without a permit.
The cops really had it in for them.
They were even implicated in a conspiracy to assassinate President Ford, but they admitted to that just to see their faces on the TV and get crazy fan-mail from chicks. We didn't think things could get any worse, but we knew they probably would......"
In it deep in the Deep South
"And sure enough things got progressively bad but depressingly familiar. In Bullhorn, Mississippi, Bash was accosted by a crowd of rednecks with a combined I.Q of 47.5, this was after the gig with a combined audience of 42 people, including security staff. This was in a town with a population of 60,000 with a combined hatred of long-haired hippies.
They didn't like his flowing mane and took exception to our song "The Devil's Brothel" because of it's satanic overtones, obviously your devout Christian types not averse to the occasional biblical stoning of an evening."
"Luckily for them a passing police patrol intervened and saved them boys a torrid time. But not before one guy had the bonnet of his pick-up truck specially customised by the contents of his nasal passages, you know?. Another one got a souvenir from Bash and later went through pioneering surgery to have the drumstick removed.
Could be worth a fortune on e-Bay nowadays. Eventually we were run out of town by their wives and the local Mayor banned us from ever coming back. He even put a curse on our fortunes at a specially convened council meeting around a burning cross. I don't think our luck could've got any worse anyway"
The Lonesome Highway
"Half our gigs on this highway to hell were cancelled because of serious logistical problems.
It turned out our driver Stan had undiagnosed early onset dementia and kept getting disorientated and getting us lost, which I guess are pretty serious drawbacks in the driving game.
When we were due to play in Minnesota he took us to North Dakota, and instead of turning up in New Mexico we were heading over the Rio Grande to Old Mexico, but even we knew we were going the wrong way there.
We certainly saw a lot of the USA that year, we did more travelling than Alan Whicker."
"So!, either we never got where we were going in time or we ran out of time to get where we going. Even if we got there in time we often got somewhere where we weren't meant to be going. Meanwhile, whoever was where we were meant to be going were wondering where the hell we were.......and so were we!!!...No wonder we got nowhere"
"We lost a lot of fans on the tour, quite literally, and things came to a grinding halt in Nevada. Canafanta disappeared, and so did all our money, we were left stranded. We had to run away from the crew who hadn't been paid for a week and were baying for the blood of an Englishman.
End of the Honeymoon in Vegas
We'd had enough, we scraped what money we had, and hit Vegas.
We got blitzed, played the blackjack tables and roulette wheels and won a bit of money.
We even went to see Engelbert Humperdink, at The Riviera Hotel I think it was.
But when he sang 'Please Release Me' even Bash broke down in tears, we were all really homesick"
"The next morning, totally down and out and hungover I tried, but couldn't get a hold of anyone at 'Screech Record Company' as they weren't returning our calls. Oliver's dad was out of reach at a trade conference in the Colombian jungle so he couldn't help. So we ate humble pie and called Uncle Walter back in Blighty to beg his forgiveness. A man of great dignity and equanimity, he quietly and respectfully told us to 'Go to Hell!.
But eventually I got a hold of Harvey Duffmonger at 'Screech'" and they wired us the money to book flights home. We never even made it to L.A, so it seemed our manifest destiny wasn't to be the great American Dream. No my friends, following in the illustrious footsteps of T. Rex, Slade and Status Quo we totally stiffed in the USA.
Time to go home
"The flight was smooth, as smooth as the barrelful of whisky we knocked back on board. Passport check was easy, customs was a breeze. The 6-hour Police interview was the only blot on our copybook. Jack got totally smashed on the flight and had to be carried off feet first.
He was so out of it he tried to join the 'mile-high' club with a stewardess when the plane was taxiing on the runway. So he decided to get romantic with a piece of luggage on the carousel, insulted an American tourist and punched a security guard who just decked him in annoyance."
"He got hauled into the Police room where he was questioned, searched, stripped searched and anally probed. No fun man! The sniffer dog discovered traces of cocaine under his toe-nails. When asked how it got there, he honestly couldn't reply. Jacky that is, not the dog. We hadn't a clue either. He was still nicked for possession"
Stoned by the tabloids
"The Press had a field day at our sorry plight.
Rock Band Flee U.S.' said The Express , 'Drug Shame of Pop Group' ran the headline in the Mirror, 'Lower Than Expected Dividends at Screech Records' the Financial Times reported.
Those hacks at The Sun cried out 'Panned Band Land Half-Canned'.
They always hated us"
"Drink and drugs contributed to our downfall. Aerosmith, Ozzy and Keith Richards hadn't a look in.
We lost our dignity and our self-respect as we descended further and further into degradation and debauchery.
Great fun it was too!! With Bash it was more the booze, culminating in a frenzied attack one night when he smashed up his drumkit during a recording.
We got it all on tape and put it out as a B-side. Some wag in the studio gave it the working title 'Mopey Dick' but it eventually went out as 'The Drumbusters Theme' with full orchestral accompaniment. Cozy Powell nicked the idea later, or so we thought"
"Jacky was suffering worst of all, he avoided jail but couldn't avoid the temptations of hash, speed, acid, coke, smack, glue, hairspray, furniture polish, uppers, downers, sideways, anyways, askit powders in gin, space-dust in meths. I mean everything!! We tried to help him but we were pretty screwed up ourselves. He tried rehab but got kicked out for dealing. I was struggling with a serious coke habit myself as well as downing a bottle of Gonzales Byas every morning before a liquid lunch"
"So that was the state we were in, staggering through the late 70's, difficult times for Rock bands. The mucus was gathering, mohicans rising, a revolution revolting, Mothercare and Boots were shifting safety-pins by the truckload.
Yes!, Punk had taken over, vibrant, violent, totally raw and pared to the bone. A new energy, a new force. So perhaps our decision to release a mammoth triple concept album based on the life and work of Charles Dickens was ill-advised....."
The Dickens fiasco
"It took us a year and a half to record the album, despite the fact we worked late nights and weekends. The budget went through the roof. We even started bringing our own packed lunches and tea-bags to the studio. Eventually the album came out in Spring 1977, Silver Jubilee year, and we were overshadowed by the Windsors in Buck House. The Queen was cool, Royalty ruled.
The Dickens album was launched in a blaze of publicity to a chorus of disapproval or downright ignorance and ridicule. The time was wrong for 15 minute epics based on 'The Pickwick Papers' and 'Barnaby Rudge'. We had high hopes for our spirited cover version of 'Food Glorious Food', but that was absolutely slaughtered. Lionel Bart launched a viscious attack in the paper and even Ron Moody had a go at us. The whole fiasco was a complete critical and financial disaster"
"Our old pals at 'Sounds' magazine asked 'What The Dickens?'
the NME screamed 'Daizies Go Round The Twist'. ...They always hated us.
'Touche Ross Called In To Scrutinise Pop Group's Tax Returns' said the Financial Times.
And of course The Sun couldn't resist carping with their 'Proper Bunch of Charlies' splash in the showbiz section.
It was time to batten down the hatches and withstand the incoming"
"These were without any doubt the wilderness years for The Daizies. Financial problems led to the 'Chuck Dickens' Tour being cancelled by the auditors. Bash and Jacky were in Hi-Hi-Honolulu Land anyway and in no fit state to tie their own shoe laces let alone go on the road. Oliver got hell in the papers for performing 'I'd Die With a Little Help From My Friends' at a benefit gig for the Euthanasia Society.
To escape the heat he took off on a round-the-world sailing trip with some sea-faring chummies. They were doing fine until they got hijacked by a gang of pirates off the coast of Indonesia and dumped on a Pacific island the day before a nuclear test. Mind you, that got us a lot of publicity in France , 'Le Crusoe Anglais, Ils s'arrêtent la bombe' declared Le Monde. We sold a few records on the back of that and got a free booze-cruise on the Rainbow Warrior from our new pals at Greenpeace."
A country squire
"But I had to take time out and get away from the madness of the Rock scene. I bought a farm and settled for the quiet, tranquil life of a melancholic alcoholic for a couple of years. I could wake up with a clear conscience that I was smelling real manure instead of the manufactured BS of the music biz.
It wasn't all plain sailing as I was wrongly accused of sheep stealing by the local village idiot. That sobered me up I don't mind admitting, but the local Bobbies were sympathetic and after a few quid changed hands I felt safe that The Sun would never get hold of that story"
"So!, they were the worst of times, not the best of times for the band. But bad times all over the place. It was the late 70's Man!! England out the World Cup, the Winter of Discontent, Right-wing Tories on the rise, Maggie Thatcher milk-snatcher, Strikes, price-hikes, Eric Sykes. Booze, junk, Punk, clunk-click every trip, not too mention accountants, lawyers, Toyah and bloody Ayatollahs. I was glad to see the back of that decade I tell you, it could only get better"
"Bring on the 80's I said.........."
The Daizies Part 3:
- The Risible Rise, Further Fall and Demise of the Rock Legends
In Part 3 Wayne talks about the rebirth of Rock in the 80's with the 'New Wave of British Heavy Metal', more problems on tour, but this time in South America, their involvement in the 'Band Aid' charity phenomenon and the challenges of Grunge, Thrash