Who's The Boss?

The year was 1990. Curtis had a new record out and though it was not the huge hit we all had hoped for, it resulted in more work for him, not only abroad but in the US as well. Until this release, Curtis’ gigs in the US were few and far between as a headliner. When he did play a show at home, it was usually part of some package with The Impressions and or Jerry Butler. Now he was appearing on Letterman, The David Sanborn Show and performing more and more gigs in the states as a solo artist again. He was on his way to making a return to public eye and deservedly so. More tours and TV appearances were sure to put him back in the forefront again.

Due to his newfound popularity and his increasing tour schedule, and my schedule in the studio as a producer, it was time for me to make some career decisions. I had my dream gig, and although I loved touring and going new places, my schedule was becoming increasingly more difficult and I could not continue to do both effectively. I had to leave one and I had decided the touring was going to have to go. This was not an easy decision. Curtis had opened up many doors for me. My current gig as a producer was due in large part to him. He had become more than just an artist to tour with. He had become a true friend and I loved and respected him as one, and not just as a mentor/boss.

After many talks, we agreed I would finish up after the west coast tour he had booked. We were to perform in several clubs in and around the LA area and ending with Curtis doing a speaking engagement in SF at the university, where I was to accompany him.

We had a couple of nights under our belt and were gearing up to play The Strand. I don’t think it was in LA but can’t be certain. It was most likely a nearby city, but apparently it was an important venue for Curtis, so we needed to be on!

On the night of The Strand gig, (as I remember) Curtis had a great show. Yeah, I can tell you what venues the shows were good and which weren’t, just don’t ask me to name the exact cities all the time!

After we finished playing I had gone back to the green room to decompress and change clothes. Since it was rare that Curtis played on the west coast, the green room was swamped with people and Curtis had hardly a chance to breathe before music journalists, fans and the like assaulted him. He was usually pretty gracious and he seemed to be handling it all in stride like the pro he was. I’m not much for crowds and typically just want a bit of solitude after a gig. So this night I ducked out of the green room and headed back into the club. By this time, most people had cleared out but there were still a few folks milling around. I no sooner walk into the club when some guy approaches me. Great. So much for solitude. Anyway, this guy comes over to me and starts saying how great Curtis sounded and the band was tight, blah blah blah. Don’t get me wrong; I do enjoy hearing a compliment as much as anyone. I try and take them with a dash of humility, say thank you and move on. However this guy was not letting up. He wanted to talk about several of the songs and just things in general. After a few minutes of standing around chatting he invited me to the bar to have a drink. Considering the green room was full and extremely noisy this seemed as good of an alternative as any so I accepted and thanked him.

We made our way to the bar and he asks me what I would like to drink so I ordered a Bailey’s and excused myself for just a second as I headed to the restroom. As I was just about to push the door open, this girl rushes over and practically accosts me. I’m usually ok with stuff like this but when ya gotta go, ya gotta go right? Well she’s waiting for me when I get out and I’m thinking, hmmm this might be better than a drink at the bar with some guy after all! Then out of left field, she asks excitedly, “Would you introduce me to Bruce Springsteen?” I’m not sure WHAT she’s talking about but I play along just the same. Maybe this is some weird LA (or surrounding city) mating ritual like “I’m an actress!” or something. All I could think to say was “…uh sure, if I ever meet him …” She looks at me with that “what planet did you just arrive from” look, (now THAT I’m used to) and she says “well you’re sitting with him at the bar!” I just sort of laughed it off and excused myself. I’m thinking to myself uh huh, sure I am.

I made my way back to the bar where my bar mate was sitting. I’m not a visual person in general and have a tough time recognizing people I don’t see on a near daily basis. On most days, I barely recognize myself in the mirror. Anyway, I sit down where my Bailey’s is waiting and thank him for the drink all the while really focusing on him. After a clink of the glasses and cheers, I then ask, “Hey, are you Bruce Springsteen?” Well I’m sure this is not a question he’s asked too often by a fellow musician but he handles it pretty well. He just smiles and apologizes for not introducing himself. I did the same and we shook hands and hung out until Curtis and the band were ready to leave for the hotel. We talked about some of Curtis’ music as well as his tour plans, etc. Pretty much the usual musician banter; exchanging road stories and the like.

I get word that the green room has emptied out and Curtis is about ready to go, so I ask Bruce if he’d like to meet Curtis. He downed his drink and we headed to the green room where he and Curtis got a chance to meet and hang out a bit. My work was done!

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