Something in the music – part 5
Randy Hansen and Machine Gun captured Seattle’s attention and since Randy was a friend of Heart’s guitarist Rodger Fisher, seeing members of Heart and other name musicians and bands in the audience was a frequent sight as well as Heart’s manager Ken Kinner was also impressed by Randy, Tim and Larry.
However my first assignment was to get Randy out of the small lounges and into bigger venues. I had worked with his agent before and he told me Randy was available but had a manager I needed to talk to so I booked Randy into a downtown Seattle Club, The Library, near the U of Washington, and met his manager Ray Hartman. Ray owned American Music, a music store in Seattle and had the equipment end of the band world down but had no experience with managing a band. I explained to him that I had a guy who wanted in and had some start up money to help get Randy Hansen and Machine Gun on their way to the big time. Ray also wanted to deal with one exclusive agent so when I told him that was the plan he agreed to meet with Fun Phil. At that meeting that Machine Gun Music was born. It was wild, mishmash of personalities;Randy just wanted to play, Fun Phil wanted to make it big and Ray just kind of liked to stay in the background but soon we had a office, got the promo going and the band got an Itasca Motor home to travel in and the wheels started to turn. At first we had Randy, Tim and Larry play in Canada while I got to work on a tour in California using my connections and other agents I knew. The tour was set for Randy to just do his show and have other bands open for him. That was unusual in that he had no record and hadn’t been doing it that long, but we had a video of an appearance at the Ad-Lib made by a Seattle photographer we’d hired. We made copies and everyone one of the buyers who saw it had booked the band. They were rooms like The Starwood in Hollywood, The Golden Bear Ballroom in Santa Monica and others. It was a total rush for the band, Fun Phil and me. It was the re-incarnation of Jimi and the first time California crowds saw it. They flipped out. I had seen the reaction in Seattle but that was hometown and the California tour brought it all into focus. This was hot; the looks on the faces of people when Randy and the guys were blasting away were exactly like the looks I’d seen when Jimi and his guys were firing off. It was snowballing like the whole thing had a mind of its own. Suddenly I’m getting calls from magazines like Crawdaddy and Rolling Stone, newspapers like the L.A Times and The Orange County Register and the San Francisco Chronicle. We’d made our headquarters the notorious Highland Inn on Highland Boulevard in Hollywood right down the street from the Hollywood Bowl and it was a scene out of a great rock and roll adventure movie! It was like Jimi in Sacramento all over, party till the cows come home! By now the band also added four roadies/drivers, John Lambert, Bob Yellam, Ed, “the lost pilot” and Floyd Rose who later invented the Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo first endorsed by Eddie Van Halen so we had several rooms and after the shows they filled up with fans, mostly girls. Dawn would find people scattered all over the place but since Randy had to get up and do interviews I had the task of finding and waking him, not always easy!
We’d all been in, and around, bands but this was amazing. It was a mini Beatlemania or Jimi mania and began to really move. I was getting calls from all over the West and Ray in Seattle was getting them too. I’d lock myself away in the room when the band was eating or rehearsing or sightseeing and work on getting a follow up to California and bigger shows. Sleep seemed to come around occasionally!
Two things resulted from being in California, one was two young promoters with strong old line Hollywood connections approached me about their becoming an exclusive concert promoter for Randy Hansen and Machine Gun. They were planning to work with Concerts West doing strictly concerts, hardly any club work. That was appealing to the band, I thought it was good, but Fun Phil and Ray weren’t going for it. They believed we could do all the promoting and arranging. Plus they were worried about giving away a percentage of the management fee Randy was paying. In all fairness the business of managing a band was new to them and at the same time I got a call from Ken Kinner about doing several dates with Heart and that convinced Fun and Ray we could do it all by ourselves!
So armed with a truck load of great experiences in California we set sail for Seattle and the impending whirlwind world of rock and roll and music that had that something in it, it was the feeling of sheer magic; of taking off, but not knowing where you’re gonna land!