When I used to tour in my early days, I surely learned an awful lot that has probably not really changed too much since those times. Of course, I was always experiencing touring on many levels; I mean, when I walked into the Red Creek Inn in Rochester, NY, I was touring with my band, and basically sleeping on the floor of the van we had. But to show a complete contrast, I was handed a note as I walked into the club, saying I had to call Paul Simon, which turned out to be the Simon and Garfunkel tour asking me if I’d play lead guitar! Needless to say, that tour offered slightly better accommodations! Still though, there was something sad about the fact thatit always seemed to be just when my own solo career and band was taking off, I’d get a call from a much bigger and established touring act, asking me to do yet another big time road trip!
These early days we all have to put in when we are “learning the ropes” as they say, are truly critical to later success, and especially to your ability to really see what kind of “stuff” you’re made of when it comes to touring. Tours really do take their toll, and my hat is really off to anyone who has done it for many years, especially those who have literally given their lives to the music, and who have toured forever. Those are the kind of people who have learned that the touring world is an entire universe unto itself, and the life that you lead on the road has a rhythm all its own. This started to happen to me, when I started seeing that I was playing over and over again in places I’d been before, but seemingly each time with a different act! It felt as if I had a kind of mental “map” in my head that preserved all the places I’d been, and all the stories I had to tell about them! I am working on a book about my life, and I promise it will chock full of incredible road stories, among many others as well!
Young bands have to be truly resilient to handle the road and all it can throw at you, and it’s always important to have either a road manager who handles all the details, or at least one band member who is willing to take on those extra responsibilities for the rest of you. Of course, when I did the really big tours, there were countless folks working for us, and you can get real spoiled when you never have to lift an amp or a guitar until you actually have to play it! I can remember on that S&G tour how at least 7 guitars just kept flying to me and from me all the time thanks to my trusty roadie/guitar tech!
As I see young students and their bands, and as I see my daughter Lexie making her way through her early days of the music business, I see it all through the misty eyes of someone who has seen it all, feels it all and most of all, wants the best for everyone. I know it’s a hard biz these days, but there’s nothing like “cutting your teeth” on the real experiences of the road, which will sure help shape you as a musician and as a person as you go along! So, best of luck to you all in your touring endeavors!