Tuesday, April 4, 2017

TheTime I Played Drums for Fleetwood Mac

I wasn't EVER going to tell this story, but what the heck.
I have to leave a LOT of details out, because there was at least one misdemeanor involved, and probably a felony.
I was recruiting high school seniors for a college at the time (1979), and that's what took me to the Los Angeles area. It was basically a scam; I had just bought a new car, and I needed to put a lot of miles on it, so I could get the mileage reimbursement, so I could make the car payment. Sound  complicated? Not really. As long as I had SOME results, or could fake them, they never looked at my expense statements that closely. And all I had to do was bring in a couple of students, and I essentially had a summer vacation paid for. Heck, I was 26 years old; who cares?
So, I'm basically hanging out in Los Angeles, doing pretty much nothing. I had picked Will Rogers State Beach as my main hangout because it was closest to where I was staying, but there are seven or eight pretty good beaches in the area, so I'd swap around. It was early summer time, and all the really hot college prospects had long ago made their commitments; I was just picking up the few who didn't get their first, second, or third picks, and were on a stand-by list for number four. Sort of like picking late apples off a tree. During the day, I'd make a few phone calls, in the evening I'd drop by for a home visit. Really low pressure stuff; I didn't care, but often the parents of the kid did. They rather liked the idea of having an admissions rep from back East trying to recruit their Susie or Johnny; it gave them something to mention at the Rotary Club lunch. After my usually short visit, I'd drop by the hotel where I was staying, dump the coat and tie, and go out to the party scene.
But it was actually a home visit, not the beach boogie, that got me the experience. Seems that the kid I was visiting had an older brother who was in the USC Trojans marching band, and they were set up to do a gig at Dodger Stadium while the Dodgers were on a road trip. It was bizarre: they were going to be doing a set for Fleetwood Mac. The older brother, and I can't tell you his name, was rather put out; he played the bass drum, and he wasn't going to be able to be there for the recording. He was also enrolled in ROTC, and he was on duty then.
And I had an idea.
I had actually played the bass drum. Once. For about three days. It was when I was in the Army, and even though the only thing I could play was the radio, I told them I was a bass drum player, just for something to do. So for a few days, I marched with the drummers, instead of being in ranks, until our syncopated rhythm got me tossed out, and I went back to first squad. BUT: I could say I had experience. So, I asked the older brother if I could have his spot.
It cost me $300, which was all the cash I had on me, and I had to agree to keep it a secret. Which I have done, until now. He said the money was to protect him in case I messed up his uniform. I think he slipped the band manager some cash, too, because I never got challenged.
It was no big deal, really. Everybody in the band got paid $1, and had to sign a release. I signed mine "Mickey Duck," because I figured Mickey Mouse would get noticed.
It was hot, I do remember that.
I got to see Stevie Nix twirl a baton.
The bass player, John McVie, was a no-show, and they used a cardboard cutout of him for the group picture.
Mick Fleetwood came over to talk with the percussionists, and that was cool, but I hung WAY back at that point, so I wouldn't get caught.
I didn't get caught.
You can see the back of my head at 3:03 on the official music video.
That's it.
You were expecting a better story, weren't you?


  1. Oh, farfle. I tried to post this disclaimer, but something ate it.
    WHAT'S NOT TRUE ABOUT THIS POST: I have never been to Los Angeles. I did not go there to recruit students in 1979. I did not go to Will Rogers State Park. I did not pay $300 to appear as a stand in bass drummer. You can't see me at 3:03 on the video, because I wasn't there.
    The reason I got kicked out of playing the bass drum wasn't because I was playing wrong; it's because I was in the wrong platoon.
    Everything else is true.

  2. Whole time I'm reading it, I was thinking "bull loney, extra bull loney, bull loney with horse loney on top."