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Saturday, August 17, 2013
MY FAVORITE OLDIE
For several years back in the mid 70's to the early 80's, I was the band leader and guitar (or bass) player for a bunch of bands who'd had big hits in the 50's or 60's. But by the time I got to play with them, there wasn't much left. Stardom was well in their past. And thus, state fairs, six-nighters at off-the-beaten-path clubs, or oldies festivals were where you'd find me and whomever I was backing. As you can imagine, some of my employers were reasonable...some were horrible...and occasionally, I really liked my boss. And if you asked me who was my favorite I would tell you without hesitation "Bobby Lester from the Moonglows."
Bobby and I had an instant rapport - and even though it was my job to extract as much money from him for me and the band as possible, our adversarial relationship couldn't have been friendlier. Bobby used to call me Dracula...except he pronounced the "u" like an "a" rather that like "you" which gave it a funny sound. That or he just called me "Drac." The schtick with the Dracula thing was endless.
BOBBY: "Drac! Where are ya?" he asked from phone booth to phone both a few hours before we were to meet.
ME: "Not far, Bobby! About 2 miles as the bat flies," I responded.
But it wasn't all me reaching in his pocket, because Bobby was broke. The first weekend I worked for him, Bobby opted to rent mikes and stands for the job...a reality which blew my mind. He didn't actually own his tools of the trade! That or they were somewhere else. So rather than rent the equipment at what was 75% of what it would cost to buy the stuff, I lent him the money until we got paid.
"Bobby! What the fuck are you doing? Are you gonna rent again the next time we work? That doesn't make any fucking sense," was my thinking.
And of course, we had our black and white schtick as well.
BOBBY: "How long before you get here, Drac?"
ME: "About an hour."
BOBBY: "Is that NST or WBST?" WBST (White Boy Standard Time) meant I'd really be there in an hour. NST (Negro Standard Time) meant God knows when.
In truth, Bobby and I only worked together for a few weeks before I moved on. But it wasn't because I didn't love the guy. It was because he just didn't have enough work. I couldn't hum you one Moonglow song at this point. That's how little effect the group's music had on me. But again...if you ask me who was my favorite oldie? Bobby Lester right away. Not even close!
In the photo, Bobby is on the bottom left.