UFO, Van Halen & High Wire, Golden West Ballroom, 05/09/1976
Michael Schenker of UFO is the reason I play a Flying V. When I was the school D.J. in my Freshman year (1974), I came across the Phenomenon LP and decided by tone only that whatever he was playing, I was going to buy. Luckily it was something as cool as a V and not a Fender Jaquar or anything :-) Schenker's tone was beautiful, and I wanted to be him when I grew up.
My 15 year old best friend Suzie went with me, and we were jazzed that Van Halen and High Wire would be opening. We went inside early and watched VH sound check and they were ON. Phil Mogg (UFO's singer) noticed too, and coyly sent VH two wine jugs as a gift... I'd try to get them drunk too if they were opening!
VH were at their best, and it must have took something out of UFO as they looked self conscious and not at all like they were enjoying themselves. They barely squeezed an encore out of the crowd, so when they came back out, almost as if it was a big f*** you to the crowd, they encored with a pre-Schenker number called 'Boogie With George' that is all of one chord (A!) It was awful. When it ended, with his three inch platforms, Phil Mogg walked over and kicked bassist Pete Way's Marshall stacks to the ground. I fully expected Pete to kill him after that, but instead he took off his gorgeous black Thunderbird bass and heaved it into the pile. That pretty much summed up their evening.
I took Suzie to the back parking lot to hopefully meet Michael, and within a minute of being there, Suzie was on his lap flirting with him. He spent the next fifteen minutes in his broken English trying to convince her to go back to his motel with him. I spent those same fifteen minutes wondering how I was going to explain to her Dad in the morning that I left her off with a drunken German guitar god. Thankfully she begged off and we drove back to Whittier, all the while discussing how they possibly could have sucked so badly.
- I called UFO's Los Angeles management once in 1974, and the lady I spoke with pronounced his name Mee-Shell (Michelle), like a girls name. I think she could have been right. On a live bootleg of early BBC recordings the announcer does the same, so perhaps he just went with it.
- Suzie and me saw UFO with Rush at the Santa Monica Civic a couple of years later, and Schenker was so drunk he was playing the wrong chords in some of their classic hits. Headliners Rush were so boring we bailed after three songs (this was their prog only and capes phase), and I freakin' love Rush. A magical night...
- Suzie and me (again) were upstairs at The Whiskey in 1977, and Pete Way sat with us for an hour chatting. He was the most interesting and charming drunk on the planet. When he left, he took a pile of drink umbrellas and little plastic swords to hand out to the kids at his motel's pool the next day. Rock stars can too be sweet.
- My ex sweetie Michelle said that out of her rock star conquests, Michael Schenker was the number one worst (rude, stingy, straight to nap land!)
Ledger entry from the show. UFO made $3000, Van Halen and opening act High Wire made $200 apiece.
Ticket from the show, no opening acts mentioned. $6.00!
Kindle page from Van Halen Rising with some of my jabbering. The book is on Kindle now for $6.00, totally worth a read!