JANUARY 1977 - Man, I'm ever so busy, but I like it! January saw me doing sessions with Frankie Miller on his Full House album, produced by Chris Thomas, at Air London, Oxford Street. Nice sessions those were. Frankie is a real 'belter' of a singer, and his tunes are great too. Crawler were also in the studio this month, so I was doing my usual bit of flitting from one studio to another. On the move, man! On January 12th I started rehearsing with the Sutherland Brothers for and American tour with them. So, up until the 24th of January, I was in and out with Frankie Miller, Crawler, and the Sutherland Brothers. Quite a month. On the 25th I flew out to New York to start the Sutherland Brothers American tour, which was gonna prove to be a disaster for me. It started out well, but when we got to the CBS Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, I started to go off the rails again with the booze. We stayed in this beautiful hotel, with the glass elevators and all, going up and down the height of the building. I was getting so drunk that I would just ride up and down the elevator over and over until it got to a point that I was getting bored with just riding. I wanted to do something dangerous. On the ground floor were a lot of eating and drinking areas covered in glass roofs. Now me, personally like a bit of glass shattering, so I started taking my drinks on the elevator ride with me, getting to the top floor, take my glass of booze, after I emptied it first, of course, and then dropping the glass way down onto those very expensive looking glass roofs, just listening for the sound of 'breaking glass' when my bottle hit the roofs. Bang! Crash! What fun I was having! I would drop the glass, hear it crash, have a quick peek, and run for my room. Needless to say I did get found out, and the boys weren't too impressed. Then at the actual convention I walked into one of the guys rooms, where most of the CBS mob were hanging out, discussing deals etc., and I walked straight into the room, went to the president of CBS Records, and introduced myself in the following manner, "Hi ..., I'm rabbit, and you're a faggot". Wrong again Rab! The guy was actually gay, but there was no call for my redneck hassle. Sorry guys. I was quickly making these guys regret that they ever brought me on tour with them. Also in Chicago, I got myself arrested and spent the night in 'Cook County Jail'. I was all over the place, and we had a day off, so I went out of the hotel to get some take-away spaghetti. I brought it back to the hotel, but wasn't really having food because I was hungry. I was much more interested in getting drunk some more. So, standing in the elevator, all on my own with this huge spaghetti take-away meal, I thought, "Let's have some fun, Rab". I pushed the button to close the elevator door, pushed my room button and the doors shut. There I was. What was I gonna do with this mess of spaghetti. Then, "I know! I'll throw it all over the elevator, and when I get out I'll run to my room. The next time somebody gets in the elevator, they'll go, "Oh my God! What's all of this spaghetti doing all over the elevator!" But, when the doors opened, to my surprise, there was two big, burly hotel security guards standing in front of the doors. They immediately grabbed me, threw me on the floor and dragged me into their office and called the police. I was caught red handed. There was no way out of it. There was nobody in the elevator except me and all of this spaghetti running up and down the walls, ceiling and floor. The police came, took me away, and I spent the night in jail. Nobody from our outfit knew about it until I called them the next day from jail, to come and get me out. Sound familiar? I did have a great time in that particular jail. Because I was just there for drunken behavior, the cops allowed me to take my cigarettes in the cell with me, and I had, of all things, in my pocket, a 'Harmonica'. Don't ask me why! But the prisoners in the jail weren't gonna get any sleep tonight. The Rabbit was in there with them. Just to make things go smooth for myself in there, I knew that I was probably the only cellmate that had any cigs in the whole place. So I leaked it out, "Hey you guys. I got some cigarettes. Anybody want one"? I could hear voices up and down the long line of cells saying, "Yeah, man. I want one". So I passed some cigarettes down the line, and said, "Hey ya'll, I got a harmoncia here. Anybody mind if I play a tune"? I heard them say, "Sure, go ahead". Little did they know that I don't even know how to play one. I just blew on it to keep me occupied until the next day, when I could get out. That's what I mean when I said nobody in that jail slept that night. They put up with it though, but what could they do? We were all in separate cells. They couldn't strangle me even if they'd wanted to. I had a truly 'Captive' audience.
The last straw came in New York, when I picked up this hooker and took her to my room. I was too far-gone to do anything, I just fancied having a bit of company. She soon tired of me and started asking where the Sutherland Brothers room was, that she'd like to meet them. So, I showed her where it was and went back to my room. The next day everybody was looking at me very weird indeed. We all got into the limos to go to the airport to head for Cleveland, Ohio, except I noticed I was in a car all by myself, apart from the tour manager. When we arrived at the airport, all of their cars went to one airline, and I stopped at a different one. I asked the tour manager what was going on and he said, "they are going to Cleveland, but you are going back to England. You've been fired off of this tour. They'll finish it without you". Yea, yea, yea again! I wanted off this tour anyway, and I managed to get myself thrown off without having to quit and probably get sued for leaving them in the middle of a tour. Yippee! My old trick worked again. So on February 8, 1977 I flew back to London on my own, and let them get on with it. We supported the Kinks, and I just found the whole crowd distasteful, boring, and amateurish. I didn't want this tour anyway...There was plenty more to do without this mob. I must say though that the Sutherland Brothers themselves are very generous, nice people. I did appreciate their work and efforts tremendously, it just wasn't me that they needed in their band. Too smooth and slick for me. I had been in Free, and knew what real rock and roll was!
February, My time with Eric Burdon in 1975 was fixing to make a return visit. He came over to England to record an album with the Animals bassist, Chas Chandler, as his producer who was responsible for sorting out Hendrix's fame. I always loved the Animals, and when I was still in High School in Houston, 1966, one of the pre-requisites of joining a band then was that you had to learn all of the Animals material. Now I'm in the studio with Eric and Chas, original members of one of my favorite groups of all times. It couldn't be better! During this month we completed Eric's album called 'Survivor', and I also did more recording with 'Crawler', and some more pub gigs with G.T. Moore and the Rhythm Tramps. I was having fun again. By the way, I got paid £250 for the Eric Burdon album. Whoops!...
March – Here comes March guys. Some gigs with G.T. Moore and the Reggae Guitars, some more sessions with Crawler, Glen Johns, a couple of Mike Montgomery sessions thrown in, (Mike, sadly no longer with us) was the other keyboards player in our Johnny Nash band for a while, and also did a stint in Kossoff's Backstreet Crawler band as well. A Southern lad from the States, and great fun with great humour. Always ready for a laugh. Sadly missed). This month is really Crawler month, cause we're in and out of rehearsals, doing bits in the studio etc. I did manage to stick in a couple of Rab solo sessions in between it all. I'm always ready for a Rabbit solo session. My time, My time..It's my time guys...No Hospitals or Jail this month. I must be slipping. Mind you I'm so busy, and the guys are all around me all the time, so I don't have much chance to get into trouble right now.
ARPIL – More Crawler rehearsals and studio work. We are working on a new record, 'Crawler', I think, which is our first as a band. Gary Lyons is producing and mixing at Sarm East Studios, 9-13 Osborn. Aldgate, London. E1. Telephone number 247-1311, if anybody's interested. I'm not. Hooray, it's pay-day today, April 7th. A whopping £50 for my Crawler salary. Boy are we in the Big Time or what! I did a session on the 12th for Chas Chandler, of the Animals and Jimi Hendrix fame. Here we find him with his Producer's Hat on, for a session on Brian Parish. I can't remember either. We're at Advision Studios in London. Work time is 10am to 6pm. I worked on this session all week. Chas was a wonderful guy, bassist for the Animals, from Newcastle. A great personality and a big guy. Very likeable, but who is also sadly no longer with us. Man we're dropping like flies. Total fee for the sessions was £245. Much more than I'm making in Crawler. Oh well.
Hey, what's this! It's April 26th and I just got an advance from ADC towards Crawler for £1000. Things are looking brighter. I can see clearer now. And the weekly £50 Crawler salary is still coming in. Plenty of Pub money all week. Great! Yee-haw!!
MAY – Even more Crawler rehearsals. What's happening? Are we going somewhere? On the 5th of May I dragged myself out to see Elton John's one man show at the Rainbow Theatre in London. Boy was I bored! It was only him and Ray Cooper on percussion, and it was so Loud for just 1 singer, 1 piano player and 1 percussionist, I thought, "fuck this", and left and went back to the Pub. Noisy, but at least you could talk. Elton was very good indeed. Just not my cup of tea. He's done better than me, both being piano players, but he writes better songs, sings better, and is better all round, so that warrants another pint of beer to wallow in my sorrow. Yep, I'm ready. I also did some sessions with the Crawler members for a guy named Brian Gasgoyne at Decca Studios, London. He was a sort of producer and we were all called in to do some work for him and Robert Campbell, the artist he was producing. Good stuff. Crawler were always on form as session guys. We could play anything you threw at us, no problems. While we were at Decca we met another Producer called Chris Dimitri, who thought it would be nice if we cut some of our own stuff too, so we did. Just some Jams and demos. It was great fun, drunken nights, but serious jamming going on. Well done guys. On the 14th we went out to Gravesend, Kent, where Geoff Whitehorn, Crawler's guitarist, lives and did a gig in his local boozer. It was just a good night out. Not serious, just great fun. We all spent the night round Geoff's place, and some of us at his mates house. The next day was excruciating. I was so hung-over; there was no place to hide. So it's back to the Pub for the 'Hair of the Dog' drink, to do it all over again and get back to feeling normal, which in my case normal meant drunk. After the Gravesend gig on May 15th I had the rest of the month off. Easy 'trouble' time here guys.
JUNE - CRAWLER are done for a while, so I'm joining forces with The Sutherland Brothers and Quiver for another go round with them. We start off with rehearsals for their new album on CBS called, I can't remember... In between these rehearsal I was doing Glen Johns Sessions for Joan Armatrading for her album called 'Show Some Emotion', which is brilliant. The Sutherland Brothers album was brilliant too. I was travelling back and forth between Abbey Road Studios doing the SBQ album produced by Chris Welch, rhythm guitarist from Cliff Richard's The Shadows band and Olympic Studios in Barnes, London, where I was doing the Joan Armatrading album with Glen Johns. And there was a few Crawler photo shoots thrown in for good measure. Busy, busy, and busy. I love it all. I got on much better with the Sutherland Boys in the studio than I did on the road with them. The studio was much more controlled than the road. There was more to keep me going in the studio so I didn't go nuts. On the road I just went berserk. Totally mad! I hated it. I was just hired to tour with them, and it wasn't my band, I was following orders, and I don't do that very well. So I went crazy and caused all kinds of grief to them all. They never took me out on the road again for sure. The 2 Sutherland brothers are from Scotland, but are quite laid back really, and not your usual Scot madmen, but I made up for it. I drove them up the wall, trashing Hotels, being rude, drunk all the time, insulting Record Company executives, all while we were supposed to be in America promoting their new album, but I ruined the whole trip for them. Got fired in the end. Oh well, Fuck it, it's over now and I didn't want to be there anyway. By the way, the tour I'm talking about wasn't this year, just in case you're confused. I'm just telling the story. It's documented elsewhere. On the 20th Crawler went back into action. More rehearsal, (is that all we do?) In amongst this, I'm still sessioning with SBQ and Joan Armatrading. It's weird how I can take on so many different things at the same time, but Crawler started an English Tour at the end of this month, during all these sessions I'm doing. Nice one Rab. Keep it up.
JULY – Crawler are touring England this month. We played Bristol. Torquay, Hastings, Portsmouth, Bridlington, Sheffield, Bradford, Manchester, Liverpool (at the famous Cavern Club, home of the Beatles), Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Swansea, Wolverhampton, Leicester, Hanley, and ended the tour at the Rainbow Theatre in London. On days off I was back in London doing sessions. What a month. Brilliant! On the 30th of July, Crawler did a gig at the CBS Convention at the Grosvenor House Hotel to promote our album, 'Crawler'. We were small time compared to other acts, such as The Beach Boys, to name but a few. But we hit it hard and did our best. I as usual got very drunk indeed, and Muff Winwood came up to me because I was causing such a stir at the event, and calmly said to my face, "Rabbit, your career is over. You're fucked!" I retorted, "Fuck you man, my career is over when I say it's over, now fuck off asshole." I was really out of order, cause he is really a very nice man, and I would have said the same thing to a dog in the street, I was that drunk. What started me off was, as I was walking to the Hotel to do the gig I found, on the pavement, a rubber mask of Yasser Arafat. It was brilliant! It even had the Tea Towel attached. Well, I ran to the manager and said that I wanted to wear the mask on-stage, set fire to my Hammond organ, and stand on top of it. The manager, Abe Hoch, went ballistic. He said, "Rabbit, you ain't wearing that, never mind starting a fire in the Grosvenor House Hotel. You'll start a war. Do you realise that half Of these record execs are of Arab origination? You're mad.!" Well, that pissed me off, cause I really wanted to show Crawler as an exciting Live band. We weren't that exciting live and I thought here's our chance. But I was vetoed, didn't get to wear my Arrafat mask, didn't get to set light to the organ, so I just got up there and played like a cardboard cutout. I was bored. After our set, I took it out on everybody that even said hello to me. That's why Muff Winwood said what he did to me. It didn't do Crawler any favours I can tell you. The record companies were acting very weird indeed, after my behaviour that night. What a way to end the month. Looks like I did find time to make trouble after all. With me, trouble is only a step away.
JULY - The whole month of July was off, except for 1 session I did for Chris Dimitri at Decca Studios on the 5th. I was in big time recovery.
AUGUST - I didn't work again until the end of August. On the 24th me, Terry and Tony had to make our usual trip to Calais in order to renew our work permits and visas. We only had to spend one night out of England, but even so tragedy struck again. I was drunk on the hovercraft on the way over, and drunk the whole time I was there. That night in the hotel, I decided to play a prank on Tony. I was gonna hang out my window and yell help, just to wake him up in the early hours. When I leaned out the window, I fell all the way out of it and crashed through a glass veranda. I was really yelling for help. Tony leaned out of his window and found me hanging by my hands on to the broken glass of the top of the veranda, blood spurting out everywhere, and my legs dangling through the veranda's broken glass top. Blood was everywhere.
He got help from the hotel guys and got me down and rushed me to hospital, where a lot of sewing up of fingers and hands was going on. I nearly severed most all my fingers of both hands. Man I was yelling my head off. I really thought that I was never gonna play again. Well they sewed me up, bandaged it and sent me on my way back to the hotel. I didn't sleep all night, and the next day the three of us headed back to London, with new visas and work permits, and a couple of stitched up hands. What a nightmare, but it was real! On our return to London we went straight into Crawler rehearsals, just to make sure I was okay. It hurt, I took it easy, but I could still manipulate my fingers, so we carried on. The Show Must Go On! On the 29th, 30th and 31st we supported the Doobie Brothers Band in Manchester, Birmingham, and at the Rainbow Theatre in London. I don't remember much about these gigs, cause I was still hung-over from Calais. I got drunk for the world that night!
SEPTEMBER – I took September very gently. I had to recover fully, so on the 10th we supported Santana at the Crystal Palace open air festival, and that was it. I'm still causing trouble, damn it! What's up with me then?! Anxiety, that's what. Just look at next month. I hate touring, but love it all the same. It's just so 'anxious' all the time.
OCTOBER – On October 6th, Crawler arrived in NY for an American tour to promote our album 'Crawler'. Here we go guys. On the treadmill again. We rehearsed until the 10th, then hit the road. We took in Cincinnati, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Long Island, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia this month. Everything's going okay. I'm cool so far. I'm quiet and subdued, but not making trouble for anybody. In fact I think I'm having some kind of break-down, cause I'm just letting things happen, and not getting very involved with any of it. I'm taking a back seat on this one.
NOVEMBER – We started again on the 7th and took in Ohio, Nashville, Indiana, New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Kansas, Nebraska, Milwaukee, and Chicago. There's much more to tell, but all will be revealed in my book, if I ever get to write it. The only weird thing is that there is a lot of strange writings in my diaries at this time. I can't read them very well so they must have been written on drunken nights in Hotel rooms. And there's a few mentions in November about doctors bills, so I have done something. I think it might be after I smashed my foot through the plate glass front of one of the hotels we stayed in, and nearly lost my whole foot. This might be the tour that I did with my foot wrapped up and me on crutches. More on that later.
DECEMBER - Still on tour, but nearly done. We took in Chicago again, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. Thank God I'm in Texas. Home to Mom and Dad, and a rest. We ended this leg in Houston and stayed there until the 12th, then we moved back to NY. Crawler did gigs at the NY Palladium on the 16th, 17th and 18th, and that ended the whole American tour. I'm alive, I'm alive. Badly broken, but alive! On the 2oth I flew back to Houston to spend more time with Mom and Dad, and to tell them all about my escapades over the last months. They were shocked, to say the least. Surely their little boy couldn't cause, or wouldn't cause so much trouble. Wrong, Mom and Dad! I can, and did. What a year guys. Another one bites the dust!