Rock stars do the darnedest things
After nearly four decades in the music business, much of it at the upper levels of the rock and roll stratosphere, Roy Young has met, toured, recorded, or partied with just about every British rock star of consequence, and quite a few important American rockers, as well. Along the way he has amassed a prodigious collection of anecdotes involving everyone from Ray Charles to Rod Stewart. Some of them are kinky, some mundane, and a few downright scurrilous. Without further ado, then A a sampling from the Book of Young:
Keith Richards: "The Stones were in Toronto for the Steel Wheels tour. I had dinner with them in their dressing room at the stadium A they always had this elaborate spread of food from every part of the world. Keith gets up to go pee or something. As soon as he leaves the room, Ron [Wood] starts tellin' me about something that happened prior to the concert the night before.
"Keith's contract has a rider that says he has to have shepherd's pie and baked beans before every show. When the road crew finishes putting the stage up, they're told by the stage manager to clean up and go and get their food. So they do, but they walk into the wrong quarters. They go into the Stones' dressing room and they see all this incredible food and they're lookin' through it and going, 'Well, that can't be ours.' They get to the end and see this shepherd's pie and baked beans, and they figure that's for them. So right before the concert Keith arrives and sits down to eat. There's no shepherd's pie or baked beans left. He goes crazy, screaming, 'Aw fuck! Who stole my shepherd's pie?' Screaming away. There's 60,000 people outside waiting. 'That's it!' he shouts. 'If I don't get my shepherd's pie, I'm not fucking playing!' And he storms out to his private dressing room.
"So the promoter goes crazy, scouring Toronto looking for shepherd's pie. Eventually they find a place and they cook it in a microwave to get it done quick. They bring it back in a limo. And the guy's running down, and they got the walkie-talkies bringin' him in. They've spent like an hour, searching, willing to pay thousands of dollars for this shepherd's pie. They knock on Keith's door -- 'Sir, we've got your shepherd's pie.' And he goes, 'Stick it up your fuckin' ass! I don't want it now!'
"So I'm sitting there with Ron and he's just finished tellin' me this story when Keith comes back from the bathroom. I'm laughin'. And he goes, 'Well, I suppose he told you about the fucking shepherd's pie.'"
Chuck Berry: "We were walking through the airport terminal in Glasgow. He's very tall, Chuck, and he's talkin' away to me, and he spots like 30 photographers down at the end of the terminal lookin' our way. And he says to me, 'Hey, Roy, put your best foot forward, we're about to be photographed.' He's walking very upright. And we're gettin' closer and closer and we're up even with them and they're still not snappin' our pictures. He's slowin' down so they can get a better shot, and we're startin' to pass them, and I look up at Chuck and he's doin' this [leaning back, craning his neck]. And we walk right past them all. They were waiting for Jackie Stewart, who was walking about 40 feet behind us. He'd just won the world racing championships. Chuck was so pissed he didn't talk to me most of the rest of that day, like he blamed me for it."
Little Richard: "Black artists like Little Richard were always being taken advantage of. He was the most honest person you'd ever meet. When I booked him at the Star Club, I got him for 1500 pounds for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks I was payin' him his money, and I got up to a thousand pounds, and he said, 'Hey Roy, you're giving me too much money.' I said, 'What do you mean, it's 1500 pounds.' 'Oh no,' he says, 'it's only 750.' He'd been told by his booking agent that he was only getting 750. The agent was keeping the other half."
David Bowie: "David obviously is bisexual, but I've been with him many times when he's totally into girls and very much into black girls. One night we were doing a show. He was flying out at 7:00 in the morning. He said, 'I'm flying out early in the morning, I'm not gonna go to bed. Why don't you come back for a drink?' So I go to his hotel. His manager met me at the door and took me up to his suite. The door was open. He claps me on the back and says, 'See ya later, Roy.' So I walk in and there's no one in there. All kinds of food, a big bar set up. And there's this huge wall with mirrors and a door. So I fix myself a gin and tonic and I'm sitting there. The door opens and out comes runnin' a little black girl, she's about fourteen years old, with a little pair of knickers on. And I'm goin', 'Oh my God, what is this?' And she comes over and sits on my lap, and I ask her, 'What are you doing here?' And she says, 'I'm with my mummy.' I'd thought at first -- well, it was her mummy that David was with in the other room.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"You'd often see him, if he had any black guys in the band, and they had their wives there, and if he was in that mood, he'd just sort of walk up and grab them. I mean, I'm surprised he never got punched out, because he really took advantage."
George Harrison: "George used to have this strange habit of putting his arm around my neck and almost strangling me. He used to do this quite often. One time in Hamburg I went up to [the Beatles'] room and they had these four bunk beds where they slept, and George was on top of the top bunk bed. And I banged on the door to see if they were in and I didn't hear any noise like they were there, so I went in. George was in the top bunk bed. He threw his arm around my neck and gave me a hug that almost broke my windpipe. That freaked me out. I mean, my voice was my instrument and I couldn't talk for a couple days!
"I've worked with him a few times, like with Eric Clapton on a strange project with the Shakespearean actor Nicol [Young pronounces it Nee-coal] Williamson, who couldn't sing. I guess it was a tax write-off. It was Eric, Ringo, George, [bassist] Klaus Voormann, and myself. It was quite funny. Nicol Williamson just could not sing. We were doing all these old rock and roll songs like "Be-Bop-A-Lula" and "Shakin' All Over," and we'd play half the song and he'd go, 'That's enough! That's enough! Let's have a drink!' and bring out these cases of champagne. It was just an excuse for a huge pisser.