A newsletter has been well overdue
for some time, so many apologies.
After a 5 month sojourn from touring to collect our thoughts
and do some serious writing for the next studio album we embarked
on a 3-week expedition around the US east coast and beyond.
This time we welcomed on board new crew members, Charlie Lewis
as tour manager and Jerry Carillo as sound engineer. Charlie
and I go back a LONG way to the early 80s when he was my guitar
and keyboard tech back in my MSG days. We hadn’t seen
each other since 1981 and he hasn’t changed a bit, bless
him, and did a fantastic job for us!
Jerry took over sound duties
as our long-serving sound man Martin Leissner decided to retire
from life on the road. I’m sure many of you will remember
his long, flowing white hair at the mixing desk over the past
eight years - “Gandalf” as he was affectionately
known by us. He will be sadly missed, not only for his expertise
twiddling the knobs but also his great sense of dry humour.
Barry Sparks joined us on bass, having also played with us in
Europe and the UK last year. However Barry is moving on to play
with Japanese stadium rockers “B’z”, so for
the forthcoming west coast leg of the US tour it will be our
old friend Rob de Luca doing the honours on 4-string.
Those of you who have read Andy’s
newsletter on his website will know we got the tour bus from
hell this time out. Our ex tour manager Tonio decided to go
with a different company from our usual provider, with disastrous
results. First the trailer axle broke, then the a/c broke down.
Then the bus itself gave up on us. Bus #2 was a great improvement
except it only had six bunks and a queen size bedroom at the
back (complete with shower cubicle), to accommodate ten people!
So who ended up in the double room? Well, Andy and me actually,
much to the delight and hilarity of Phil and Vinnie who were
convinced Mr Parker and I had finally realised our undying love
for each other, (yeah, right!). 35 years I’ve known Andy
– if we were hiding a secret passion, I think someone
might have noticed before now, huh?
I think it’s fair to say
that the gigs this time were largely better attended than the
tour in 2009, which I hope means the economy in the US is rallying.
Many of you bought my new 4-CD boxed
set – a collection which spans 22 years of solo efforts.
I was amazed at how popular it was and sincerely thank all of
you who bought it. I’m now trying to put together the
next one, titled “Terms & Conditions Apply”
but keep dipping into the material for UFO’s use, as UFO
comes first. It’s difficult trying to write for two projects
at the same time – the lines get somewhat blurred!
Most recently we have been in
Europe again. The high point was playing at “Hellfest”
in Nantes, France in front of 80,000 people. These outdoor shows
are always a bit nerve-wracking as you walk out on stage not
knowing what to expect. The crew have minimum time to change
over between bands and make sure everything is set up correctly
(High Voltage Festival in London last year springs to mind...
poor Vinnie) Happily, it turned out great! UFO and Thin Lizzy
– two of the more “senior contributors” were
enthusiastically received. You see, you just can’t beat
a well-constructed rock song, and the young crowd embraced us
with open arms!
Just before we embarked upon
the Europe dates, I was invited up to the John Hornby Skewes
distribution complex in Garforth, near Leeds to try out some
of their guitars, where I spent a really fun afternoon with
Gavin Coulson, JHS’s artist liaison manager. So I am now
proud to announce that I am an official endorsee of Vintage
guitars. I plumped for 2 guitars, a Vintage left-handed V100
Tobacco Sunburst and (my favourite) a left handed Vintage ICON
Series V100 “Lemon Drop” with an out-of-phase pick-up
which I took with me for the June tour. In addition to it being
a great looking guitar that attracted lots of positive attention,
it also sounds terrific - see the pic below, from Hellfest.
So, if you don’t want to shell out 1,000s on a certain
famous American brand guitar – get one of these, I highly
recommend them! I also tried a beautiful “Rimini”
semi-acoustic 12-string guitar by Italia. It sounded fantastic
and for a 12-string is incredibly easy to tune so it is definitely
on my Christmas list if I can get a lefty version!
Next up is a show in Poland
at the Dolina Charlotty Resort & Spa on 12th August followed
by a slot at the Lillehammer Rock Festival the following day
( no sleep on the night of 12th!) and of course will be coming
to the US starting on 15th September. Hope to see you there!
Bye for now,