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Road Worrier

Be Prepared: It’s Not Just For Boy Scouts Anymore

I was once the drummer for an artist who had left a successful group some years earlier, due to “artistic and personal” reasons. (It was actually one of those juicy, hate/drug/alcohol-fueled breakups that you older readers would undoubtedly remember). Several years after his departure, he sobered up, assembled a batch of songs, picked up our band, and got himself signed to a major label.

We soon found ourselves giddily aloft on the dual wings of our first Top Ten single and the planning of our first “rock star” tour. Several weeks later we were living the dream (after years of dreaming the life). One night as we floated off stage after two enthusiastic encores that followed a wildly successful New York show, we were greeted by the artist’s manager, who blandly handed each of us some sort of papers, while declaring matter of factly, “Da tour’s over. We’re goin’ home. Here’s yer tickets.” Our first (and only) U.S. tour was terminated without any advance notice or hint. We were totally blindsided and completely devastated.

Apparently, due to a combination of weak vocal cords and ticket sales, some shows had been cancelled, and the word spread to other promoters who pulled the plug on just enough upcoming shows to make the tour financially unfeasible. It was a simple matter of economics, but one we felt impervious to in our ivory tower of incipient stardom.

Our leader could continue to live well on royalties, while none of us had prepared a Plan B. Not only did we have to face the fact that we had stored no nuts for the winter, we had to skulk around town with our squirrelly little tails between our legs. Not only had we blown all the money we had made, but we had unwittingly puffed ourselves up to the point that, when we returned home under less than conquering hero circumstances, more than a few potential employers were happy to see us squirm for a while before offering us some life-saving bar gigs. Without realizing it, we had cultivated something of a “so long, suckers” attitude before embarking on the tour, which made us excellent and deserving targets for a bit of ego deflation.

I suppose the moral of this story is this: living in the moment is an excellent philosophy, however, one must also remember that, in a moment, everything can change.

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