Queens Hall Edinburgh. I knew I had played there before but I couldn’t for the life of me remember when and who with. I’d been racking my brain for days but just could not come up with it.
As a professional musician, when you have been doing it as long as I have, you will have played in most theatres in the country and my memory is usually pretty good when it comes to who, what, when, where and how.
But I just couldn’t get this one.
And then, as soon as I walked in the place, it came to me. The Buddy Rich Band in 1984!
No wonder I couldn’t remember. It was almost 30 years ago (I started very young…..;_)
I think perhaps the reason I couldn’t remember was that that day back in 84 went past in a bit of a blur.
I was a last minute replacement for one of the trumpet players (who was fired mid-tour) and I was thrown in at the deep end. There was no time for rehearsals so I had to go in on the first gig and sight read everything on the actual show. Of course if that weren’t bad enough, doing Buddy’s band is not like doing Lisa’s band where you rehearse a set and then pretty much do that same set every night.
The Buddy Rich band has a pad of music about 6 inches thick with hundreds of tunes in it – the vast majority of them fiendishly difficult. And every night we played a different set depending on the mood of both Buddy and the audience.
Up until that point I had never really encountered that level of micro accuracy, and about 8 bars in to the first tune I realised that this was sink or swim. I would really have to raise my game or get found out. And, believe me, you do NOT want to get found out by Buddy Rich!
Thankfully the other guys in the band were great and they really helped and supported me until I got up to speed.
So, if I remember correctly, that night back in 1984 was the second or third gig and I was still in full panic mode. I stood at the end of the four trumpets with Buddy to my right and to my left one of the finest trumpet players it has ever been my privilege to play with.
Tony Gorruso subsequently went on to become Frank Sinatra’s personal lead trumpet player and thankfully he took good care of me. We are still friends to this day – and I believe he actually follows this blog. (Hi, Tony)
Anyway, all these years later, my trip to the Queens Hall was much more relaxed and from the word go the crowd were totally up for it. We had barely gotten one bar into “Can’t Dance” and they were.
Dancing, that is.
That set the tone for the rest of the show and it was a right royal rip roaring affair, with the crowd piling to the front of the stage to get a closer look.
Big shout out by the way to the lady who, in the middle of the show, came to the front of the auditorium and lay down on the floor!! We’re not sure what it meant but it was certainly a topic of conversation in the dressing room afterwards. The general consensus was that it was probably a good thing?
After the show it was back to the Malmaison Hotel for the usual after show do, only to find that the bar shut at midnight! To be honest, it was probably just as well as I was still feeling a little delicate after my debacle in York.
Next morning, reasonably civilised trip to Newcastle for the next show and a chance to catch up with some of my family.