Thursday, June 28, 2012

Don & Me

It was at a cool little club in West Hollywood, The White House. A session-musician hangout, studded with second-string gigmen such as myself, with the occasional appearance of Someone Bigger ("Hey, that's Boz Scaggs's tambourine guy!").

No liquor license there, but some of us would brown-bag it in the teensy dressing room. After the regular gigs, a few guys would hang out to jam, mostly in the jazz vein. Which was, after all, the music we really enjoyed playing, even though it usually earned us no remuneration.

On one such night, I headed back out to my car to get some sticks for Harry Stinson's (Al Stewart's drummer at the time) kit. Standing under a streetlamp, he wore khakis and a London Fog 'Cuda. He looked like a college guy, out of place from the early 60s.

Sheesh, it was Robbie Douglas. As I fetched the sticks, he ambled toward me. My brain burrowed more deeply. What's his real name?

He said, "Hi!"

Years of cramming minutiae into my cranium finally paid off. "Hi, Don. Howzit goin'?"

"Do we know each other?"

"Nope, but I did own a TV not too long ago." I was amazed at how young Grady (he was about 34 at the time) looked. He could have just walked off the set after trading quips with Uncle Charley.

He laughed. "Sorry about that. It's just that the only people who call me by my real name are friends of mine. Not the ..."

"RD thing," I said.

A grin. "You must be good at trivia."

I said, "I'm a musician, so sometimes I have to support myself via game shows."

"I can hear music," he said. "What's the deal? Can I come in?"

I explained that it was just an after-hours jam. And that he was welcome.

Back in the club, I jumped up and threw down with Michel Jackson's keyboard player and the Pointer Sisters' bassist on Chick Corea's "Spain." Grady sat in the back of the house, shy-like, leaning forward, intent on the music.

About fifteen minutes later, things started to wind down, Grady waved to me and left. I tried to catch up with him, but by the time I got to the door, he was already walking down Pico, hunched into his jacket.

One of the other guys came out and said, "Hey Ace, was that..."

"Yes," I said. "It was."

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