Singer/songwriters Kenny Loggins, Georgia Middleman and Gary Burr have created the new band Blue Sky Riders, and were profiled by Huff/Post50 in February. The band will release their debut self-titled album "Blue Sky Riders" on January 22, 2013 and will be chronicling their experiences as a band in this blog.
Sometimes I am asked what it's like to be in a band with someone famous. Is it weird working with him? (For so many reasons.) Do I get tongue tied? (Maybe just a bittle lit.) Do I feel inconsequential and ignored? (Only by Georgia.)
It made me realize that in my life and career I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet famous people and you know what? It rarely goes well. I remember occasions where meeting my idols brought me more embarrassment than awe. Allow me to take your collective hands and stroll down Lane Du Mammarie with you:
When I was making my first and only solo album at CBS studios in NYC, I heard that James Taylor was in the building. He was producing a record for his sister and I desperately wanted to catch a glimpse of him. The vending machines were right outside his studio door so I upped my intake of soda to about one per hour and hung around, waiting. The door opened, James Taylor (with a cast on his arm...vivid detail) steps out, looks at me and says: "Is there a bathroom on this floor?"
To my everlasting shame I replied: "Yes... (pointing down the hall) just up those stairs."
I went to a party once honoring Paul Simon. I was asked to go because they wanted to have a good old fashioned guitar pull and they knew that, because of my curious lack of a shame gene, I would gladly go first. I sat next to Paul Simon, played and sang one of my songs and waited for the inevitable: "Wow, that song was amazing" or "That was the missing song that should have gone on 'Bridge Over Troubled Water!'" Instead he muttered "Strong voice." Strong voice? What am I? A yodeler? A professional hog caller? "Strong voice." Geez.
I was at a function in London. Very black tie. I sat in this large ballroom and looked through the booklet on my plate listing all the tables and guests and where they each sat. (My seat was labeled "Guest") I saw a few names I recognized. Then I saw the words Elton John. Then I saw Sir George Martin. I said to myself, "If he is here then..." I looked farther down the Ms. Yup. There it was... Paul McCartney. It even said what seat he was in. I looked and there he was indeed. Shining in all his McCartney glory.
After a great deal of prompting of the "You may never get this chance again" variety, I crossed the room and stuck out my hand. Just as he made eye contact with me someone jumped in his lap. Elton John. That bastard. They snuggled for a while and then he left. Paul looked up to me again. Suddenly a woman cut in front of me and asked for an autograph. As I stood there and watched him sign her napkin I distinctly remember thinking (and I do not make this up) "That looks just like Paul McCartney's autograph." She left and he gave me one last look that said "It's now or never, mate." (I threw the mate part in. Sounds kind of Liverpudlian, don't it?") I said hello and ran away like I was leaving a flaming pie on his doorstep.
I had the chance to meet Neil Young and passed. If HE had been a bastard I would have been crushed. (I hear he is very nice.)
I had lunch with Ozzy. My friend Mark Hudson excused himself to go to the men's room and as he left he said, "Hey Ozzy, tell Gary about..." And with a chuckle he left. Ozzy then told me a 15-minute story and I did not understand a single word. Ever try to guess what facial expression to use when someone is speaking Swahili to you? Mark Hudson IS a bastard.
Thirty minutes into my first rehearsal with Ringo Starr, we were working on harmonies and I said, "When we hit the bridge... Mark will sing the high part and I will double Ring..." Ringo turned to the band and sarcastically said, "He's been here for half an hour and I'm already "Ring?!" I was crushed till someone explained that in Liverpool they only give you shit if they like you. Ringo liked me a lot, apparently.
So many more. Maybe I will make my humiliations a recurring feature. I will never run out of material.
Follow Gary Burr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@Garyburr