Houston, the Who, Colerado
January 1978 - At the end of the Crawler USA Tour, I spent the rest of December 1977 in Houston visiting my Mom and Dad.On January 5, 1978 I flew back to London. January 10th I was back in the studio recording an album with a band called Slade, produced by Chas Chandler. We were also rehearsing Crawler again, at the same time as the sessions. Back to work in a big way. I'd had a nice holiday in Texas though, so I was ready to work again. The Slade album lasted 2 days, but the Crawler rehearsals were on-going as usual. I got paid £160 for the w days of Slade album work, and my Crawler weekly salary has jumped to £75. We ended our rehearsals on the 13th and then I took time off for the rest of January. I had £75 a week, time on my hands, so I went to the Pub for beer the minute they opened and stayed until they shut - everyday!
February - I carried on like this until Crawler started more rehearsals on the 13th. I was so bad with booze by now that on the 20th of February I checked myself into 'Re-hab' to try and get myself sorted out. The people I chose to help me out were Meg and George Patterson. They were re-nowned for helping Eric Clapton, Boy George, and many others in our business, so I decided it was time to have a go. They were experienced in eastern methods, and their approach was a simple device that I wore on my head, 24 hours a day, with one electrode worn behind each ear, at the base of the brain. These were attached to a little black box that I wore on my belt, like a belt pack. On it were a couple of knobs that I could control the strength and the wave form. This would send an electronic signal through my brain, apparently repairing damaged enkefelins in the brain that were destroyed by the years of alcohol abuse. I stayed with them at their house in Edenbridge Town, Kent, and became part of the family for the duration of my treatment. I ate dinner with them, watched TV with the kids, chopped wood, ate raw eggs, ran a mile a day, and started feeling better. This little black box was doing the business, so I thought anyway. Part of the treatment as well was that I had to sit at the dinner table with them, and watch them all down bottles of wine, while I was limited to water. It's a bit like Chinese torture really, but I knew it was to test my endurance. At any rate, I stayed until the 27th, and then had Tony Braunagle, Crawler's drummer, come and pick me up. The whole treatment cost me £800. When Tony arrived, and after I said my thanks to the Patterson for the help, me and Tony drove off. He said, "How do you feel Rab?" I immediately replied, "Fine Tony." He said, "What would you like to do now, go home...? I said, "Fuck that, no way. There's a Pub just up here on the left. Pull in there and let's see if this £800 treatment I just had really worked." Reluctantly he pulled in to the Pub and we both went inside. We stood there and just looked around for a while, then Tony suggested that we leave. It wasn't good for my situation. I said let's stay a bit longer, and by the time we left, I had downed 8 pints of Guinness beer. I knew that treatment wasn't going to work. I just wasted £800 on treatment that I could have spent in the Pub getting blasted for the next year or two. Oh well, I must say though that the treatment did have a real effect on my drinking of hard liquor, not beer and wine though. It made me hate the smell of hard liquor, so I just stopped drinking that and drank more beer and wine instead. Let's face it, I'm not cured and the Treatment did not work. Good try, but no cigar! Never mind, cause March is gonna be a Big Month for me anyway.
March - On March 6th I went to audition for a band called The Who at Shepperton Studios, on the Mstage at 12 noon. Exciting or what! This is also the day of the well documented night out with Keith Moon, when I broke my hand falling out of a Taxi leaving his house in the wee hours of the morning. I auditioned with them. We played and jammed for hours on end. Then at the end of it, I was told by Pete, "You've got the job if you want it." Wow! and Wow again! I can be in The Who if I want to be. My ultimate goal has finally been achieved. I set out from Texas in 1970 just to reach this goal. It only took me 8 years to do it. I'm on top now, and I'm fucking glad about it too. I was still in Crawler, so some changes were gonna have to be made, cause unlike my usual 'do as many things as you can at the same time' scenario ain't gonna work this time. It's gonna have to be one or the other. I rejoined Crawler for more rehearsals from the 10th to the 13th, and then took some time off to think about my career, and what direction I wanted to go in. It's not everyday you get asked by a super group to join forces with them. Some serious deciding had to be done. I'd lose my status as a key member of a band, and would become what is basically a 'side-man' in an already established band. I had to weigh up what I would lose in order to gain higher acclaim and a different sort of status. In Crawler I wrote most of the songs, and in the Who, there's Pete who writes all the songs, so my songwriting would have to take a back seat from now on. That hurts. But then again, Crawler had a good stab at trying to get somewhere in the business, and didn't really achieve what I had hoped we would, so in that respect, the move would be good for me. Lot's of angles to look at and make decisions on. Crawler were my best mates, I didn't even know who Keith Moon was. In the 60's I always thought the Who were the Hollies, and during the audition I asked them if we were gonna play Bus Stop. They laughingly said , "Rabbit, this is the Who, not the Hollies." So I was off to a great start, on the humor side of things anyway. When they said let's try Substitute I said, "How does it go, I've never heard of it." Again more laughter. I think they were wondering whether or not they made the right choice. I didn't know any of their songs. Anyway I took the rest of March off to do some thinking, but I didn't mention any of it to Crawler. Best left till later, when I've made my mind up. No sense causing a stir yet.
April - Still thinking about March, and had the whole month off, apart from a few Crawler rehearsals on the 18th, 19th and 20th. Crawler were due to record a new album, 'Snake Rattle and Roll' in America and do a tour there again as well, so I did have to tell the Who of my commitments to Crawler, and their general response was to go ahead and finish my Crawler duties, and when done to return to England and take up my position in the Who then. Fair enough. I could finish the Crawler stuff and then later move on to better things.
May - It's May 12th, and Crawler set out to Texas for some, you guessed it, rehearsals for our upcoming album sessions, and it gave me another chance to visit Mom and Dad for week or two. We hung out, got drunk, played football, clubbed a bit, rehearsed, wrote songs, and generally had a nice time. I knew what was in the back of my head about the Who too, but didn't let on at this stage of the game. All was going to plan. On the 21st we all headed out to Denver, Colorado, the place we were to record the Snake Rattle and Roll album, produced by Gary Lyons, and recorded at Caribou Ranch, the studio complex owned by the famous band 'Chicago'. It was a beautiful place, all laid out with log cabins, in-house chefs, a brilliant recording studio, and surrounded by mountains and woods, up near the old gold mines. Fucking great place. They were even trout ponds attached to the log cabins. I could drop acid, smoke some joints, and just sit on the porch of my chosen log cabin, and trip away sitting in a rocking chair, and just fish for trout all day that I wasn't in the studio. What memories. What Trips! In the log cabin I had set up a Grand Piano with a Mini Moog on top of it. At night I would drop acid, drink booze, smoke joints, and jam my ass off all night long. Man I had a good time on my own. The cabin that the other guys stayed in had stuffed animal heads hanging on all the walls. For a prank one night, when they were out in Bolder at the movies, I slipped into their log cabin, removed all the stuff animal heads and took them out to my trout pond and threw them all into the water. When the guys returned, as they drove past my cabin, they looked into the pond and saw all these animal heads sticking out of the water. When they got to their cabin they knew. There was pounding and shouting on my cabin door. I was inside tripping away and jamming on my piano and mini-moog, full volume. I wasn't answering the door to no body, so they burst in and found me at the piano, great grin on my acid face. I said, "Howdy guys, was it a good film?" They were astounded. "Did you throw all those animal heads in the pond?" I said, "Yep, it was great fun too". They gave up and left me there and went back to their cabin. What could they do? The owners af the studio complex weren't too happy though. I got in trouble over it, but didn't really care. The whole trip was about having my own good time, not some stupid stuffed deer head. I fished all the trout out of the pond, put them in the freezer and left them there when we finished recording and left Colorado. A freezer full of rainbow trout. Nice acid though. Needless to say the album turned out great. It's one of my favorite Crawler albums. Excellent stuff. One of the things I wrote while on acid at my piano is:
"When will you leave me little girl? I'm gonna remain free. I'm a free spirit flying, trying to get back to love. I'm a free spirit flying, trying to get back to you. I've seen you in dreams, but you had no face, and still you were crying."
Not prolific, but it sums up my move from Crawler to the Who.
June - We spent all of June in Colorado recording, and finished the album on the 23rd. On the 26th we all flew back to Houston for a break, and another visit with Mom and Dad.
July - I stayed in Houston until July 8th, then left for a long Holdiay in Stockholm, Sweden, the place where it all began for me with Johnny Nash and Bob Marley. I love Stockholm, and could easily live there. I stayed with my long time girlfriend and partner. I was part of her Swedish extended family. I knew the whole bunch. They knew a little bit of English, I knew no Swedish, but we all muddled through and had a great time together. The only thing they didn't like about me was my drinking, but then again who did like my drinking? I spent the whole of July in Stockholm and just had the best time of my life. Swimming in the lakes, eating shrimp and bread, fondue and drinking lots of Swedish beer and wine. It was summer, and Stockholm is always a great place to be in the summertime.
August. On August 9th, I flew back to London after saying fond farewells to all my loved ones in Sweden, and they remain that to this day. But work must go on and it's time to head home. On the 21st Crawler started rehearsing again, not again, please. We did it for the whole month, but I was refreshed again and could take the load of it once more. All was fine, and the Who were just around the corner. Happy days.
September - Crawler are still rehearsing, but we have an English tour this month. It started the 14th at the Granary in Bristol. Then we hit the Nottingham Boat Club, the Marquee in London, the Bridge House Pub in London, then on the 20th we filmed a live show for the BBC called 'Rock Goes To College', a gig which has since been released on various boot-leg cd's. I even have one too. Lot's of radio press interviews and promotions took place as well. 'Rock Goes To College' was broadcast on the 29th of September. I have a video of it, and man were we youngl looking back then. Age is something else, I can tell you. It fucks you up Big Time.
October - The tour is still on as we take in Sheffield, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bournemouth, Exeter, Plymouth, Hull, the Lyceum in London, and Manchester. There was lots of other Rabbit activity during all of this, as usual. Me and Terry and Tony did sessions for Mutt Lange, and Mark Ashton. I did sessions for John Burns recording a band called 'Straight 8', and on the 17th I did a session for Pete Townshend, which he paid me £30 for. My weekly Crawler salary was £75, so I guess £30 for one session was cool. One can't complain about one's company, can one? Also did a session for 'The Only Ones' band on October 31st.
November - This month is starting to liven up. There's sessions with Joe Boyd, and Lo and Behold, on the 6th I went in to Rampart Studios with, you guessed it, The Who. It was just some preliminary work I suppose, just to see if I would fit in the studio side of things, of which I did. Don't forget I'm a seasoned session pro. We worked from the 6th to the 10th, and then on that last day is when Bill Curbishely asked me to come upstairs and have a chat with him and Pete. That's when they officially asked me to join the Who. It's also when I told them I had to do an American tour with Crawler, and they acknowledged my commitment and said when it's done, if I want the job, to return to England and take up my position. It's like joining a football squad ain't it? "Okay lads, take your positions." Still I did not let on to the Crawler members what was a-foot. I've got to pick my moment and do it right. So I'm all happy about my career again, and all I need to do now is finish the Crawler tour, let them know I'm out of the band, come back to England and start work with the Who. What a life, man, what a life! On November 13th, off I went with Crawler for what was to be my 'very last ever' Crawler American tour, ever! Now I just have to figure out how to tell them that. We all stayed at the Ramada Inn in NY, rehearsed a bit, celebrated my birthday, I'm 53 now, born in 1948, you figure it out. The tour started in Boston at the Paradise Club, then on to Philadelphia, NY's Bottom Line club, (there's funny anecdotes to all of these gigs, as are for the other tours too, but all will be revealed in my book, if I ever get it written).
December - On December 1st we hit Washington D.C., then on to Youngstown, Ohio, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and back to Buffalo NY to end this last American Crawler tour. I still haven't told the guys yet. Still figuring out how to do it. I've known these guys since High School, so care must be taken. The tour ended in NY on the 14th, and on the 15th we all made that final trip to Houston, for time off, rehearsals, and another visit with Mom and Dad. We did record some demos while there, partied, clubbed got drunk, got stoned, and had a nice time off from the tour, but I was getting very weird to everybody, because it was getting to the point where it's now or never. I had to tell them something about the Who. Apparently they all put my weirdness down to the fact that Rabbit was just being Rabbit - weird! Not so, something big was at stake. A choice between two different careers. I'm getting ready to tell them now. It's boiling up and ready to explode. When or how is the question. Well, like a volcano it did erupt, but in the funniest of situations. We'd spent all of December in Houston, no one knew what our next step was going to be. Were we going to record some more, were we going to tour some more, were we going back to England or staying in the States? To discuss the situation Abe Hoch, our manager took us all out to dinner towards the last days of December. There we all were, drinking, eating, talking about what to do. I was sitting quietly at one end of the table, destroying one bottle of wine after another, listening to all the whispers and comments about our situation, like when you hear the hush of a crowd of people you're with, but you're not really involved. Then Terry Wilson looked at me, and noticing how far away I was from the converstaion, and looking a bit worse for wear. I heard him say, "Hey Rabbit, are you okay? You don't look right. What's up?" This is it, this is when it is gonna be told about the Who. It just came out of nowhere. As soon as Terry spoke to me I jumped up out of my chair and said off the top of my head. "Okay guys, that's it. I quit. I'm off. I don't know what you guys are gonna do, but I'm gonna join the Who. I quit Crawler and am gonna join The Who." They busted out laughing, knowing that Rabbit has finally flipped his lid. "Join the Who, what are you talking about. Who asked you to join the Who. You don't even know them. What are you on?" After a minute or so, and when they saw that my expression had not changed, then they knew it was true. They don't know how it was true, but they knew it was. I said, "Yes, I do know them, and they've asked me to leave Crawler and join them, and I said yes, after this tour. So I'm off, you guys can do what ya'll want, but I'm on my way back to England to join the Who. This is my last stint with Crawler. It's been nice, but I'm done with it." Off I went, back to where I was staying, and left them there to accept it. Crawler was over. Once I left, no one tried to do anything with Crawler again. The band was dead in the water. All over, finished. End of the road. I hung around for a few days to make sure they were all gonna be okay with my decision, and then left for London and the Who.