Sunday, March 20, 2005

No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith: The Sequel

Umlaut and Old Metal friend John Marshall have known each other at least 22 years. He's seen a million faces as he's rocked them all.. Old Metallica fans will remember John as a member of their original road crew (stage manager / guitar tech) and fill-in guitarist in 1986 and 1992 when Hetfield couldn't play guitar due to injuries. Metal fans will know him as guitarist for the Northwest's mighty Metal Church from 1987-93 (Trivia: The Melvins opened for Metal Church at their debut show in 1984). John can also tell you what Kirk Hammett was like as a teenage Burger King employee.

One of Umlaut's favorite Metal memories is seeing John onstage with Metallica at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA playing in front of a MASSIVE sold out crowd of 90,000 people (The bill: Guns 'N Roses / Metallica / Motorhead). Twas a long way from the Keystone Berkeley.

John onstage with Metallica - 1992
(from the A Year And A Half In The Life Of Metallica DVD)

Anyway, just to show y'all that Umlaut isn't the only Music Geek freak, John was kind enough to share HIS Hammersmith Odeon memories.

Submitted by John:

I first heard about the Hammersmith in high school when I saw a picture of the marquee in a Rush tour program, Permanent Waves, I think. I thought to myself... "Wow, that's in England, a whole different country, maybe I'll go there someday!"

Well, not only did I get to England, I made it to the Hammersmith and actually PLAYED there... TWICE.

The first time I made it there was in 1984, when I saw Accept with Udo. We were late, but somehow made it down pretty close to the stage, off to the side a bit. We were right next to the PA, and it was LOUD. I remember Wolf Hoffman started playing a solo by himself, and turned on his wah pedal and an effect called a Blue Box. The Blue Box is a basic, raunchy effect that adds a note one octave lower than the note you are playing. With a wah and some distortion it sounds WAY cool. He uses it on the solo on the song 'Fast as a Shark'. Anyway, (sorry about the guitar player side trip!) somewhere during this solo he hits a note that just pierces my eardrum, and I could have sworn my ear was bleeding.... I've never had sound actually cause pain in my ears. I remember frantically tearing out the lining in my father's old Army issue B-9 Parka so I could stuff it into my ears and make it through the rest of the show! The show was awesome, and that's my first memory of the Hammersmith.

The next time I was there was in September 1986, playing guitar with Metallica, filling in for James.

At that time, I was doing two gigs, basically playing in the band and being my own roadie, and getting paid for both. I think I was making about $500 a week, which at that time for me was astronomical! (By comparison I made about $4K per week when I filled-in in 1992). I would show up in the afternoon, help unload the truck, set up my (James') gear, do the soundcheck, eat dinner, play the gig, tear my (James') stuff down, help load the truck and go to bed. It was a weird time for me because I found out later that I was actually sick with cat scratch fever (not a misprint nor a lie), and wasn't enjoying myself too much.

My next memory of Hammersmith: The last one was in 1991 playing with Metal Church, when we opened for Saxon on a European tour. I remember having a lot of fun on that tour, and relishing the fact that I was actually PLAYING at Hammersmith. Much more so than in 1986. Maybe it's because I was actually IN the band rather than being a hired gun. I know I played MUCH better the second time around (probably because I was a much better player!) and I'm pretty sure we sounded good that night.

An interesting side note: Duke, our bass player, was a HUGE fan of Saxon. Saxon was to Duke what UFO was to me. Anyway, one night somewhere in Germany Duke got to go up and play about 3 or 4 songs with them, and he was in heaven! I wish I could have done that with UFO. Maybe if I see Dave Meniketti again, I'll be able to convince him to let me jam at their next "reunion" gig.


John and Kirk Hammett - The Keystone, Palo Alto, CA - Halloween 1983
(Pic by Umlaut)