Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Neil Young - The Phone is Broken

It's 1987. I'm living in California where I managed a cellular phone store in San Jose. One day, the phone rings and it's a guy asking for the manager;

"You gotta help me."

"What's up?"

"My bosses cellphone is busted and you've got to fix it - today. He (the boss) is really pissed."

"OK- I take it your boss is a customer of ours?"

"Yes. His name is Neil Young."

"OK. Can we see the vehicle today?"

"Ya - I can bring it too you. I'll be there in an hour or so."

"OK- we'll see what we can do."

I'm no fool. I know exactly who Neil Young is as I've been a fan for decades and I was aware he was a customer. So this is cool.

An hour later Neil's tour bus pulls in. I've seen this bus before when I worked at Poplar Creek Music Theatre and at the first Farm Aid Show in Illinois. It was an odd thing with the tops of two cars welded on top, surfboards and "Buffalo Springfield" printed on the back. Not to be forgotten. So, the day is getting brighter.

As my tech and I walk out, the door swings open and we are greated by a cloud of smoke and the stereo playing The Grateful Dead's "US Blues." A longer-haired guy comes out, "Are you gotta help me." Nice guy.

We climb aboard. I remember lots of woodgrain, a built-in piano, and the rest cool but not too fancy. Except for the cellphone hanging by a wire on the side near the front. It had obviously been ripped off the wall. These where the dark ages of cellular when most phones had to be mounted.

I asked, "What happened?"

I was told, "Bob Dylan has been touring with the Grateful Dead."

"Yes, I know, I saw the show in Oakland earlier this year."

"Well, Bob leased the bus from Neil for the tour. They returned the bus yesterday and the phone was ripped out - just like you see it. We think Bob did it - Neil is pissed."

My head was spinning. This was off the bizarre charts for sure. I had to step back and ask, "You mean to tell me I'm standing on Neil Young's bus, staring at a cellphone that was ripped off the wall by Bob Dylan?"

"Yep, Neil's pissed. You gotta fix it"

We did fix the phone but not after we had to go through some crap to find a similar model. The re-install was kind of tough as well, but it worked.

"Thanks man"

"No problem"

"Are you a fan of Neil's?" Little did this guy know that I've seen Neil 25+ times.


"Neils playing a gig at a small club tomorrow night in San Jose under the name "The Blue Notes" ... would you like to come?"

Magic words. The next night, we pulled into a strip mall that included a small club. The parking lot was jammed with about 1000 people and THE BUS. We walked to the door, my name was on the list and we got in. The club sat about 150 or so. Out came the Blue Notes with Neil. They played the entire Blue Notes album, took a break, and played it again................

You never know what can happen!

A year later. Neil's guy called me again. "You gotta help me......" This time, he brought in a nice BMW that was full of grass and mud. The cell phone was busted. "We where 4-wheelin' on the ranch and the phone broke." Of course, everybody 4-wheels with a 700 series BMW.

We fixed it................


Thrasher said...

Great story Lowell!


Matthew Lintzenich said...

Awesome story!

HGS said...

That's what I call "phoning it in" Thanks for sharing your experience

Stringman said...

Great story


Crris said...

Epic !

Mary Hagopian said...

That must’ve been quite an experience. You really don’t know who’ll just pop out at your door for a job! Makes for one heck of a story to tell after a few years, though.