So all that singing and all that playing up until sound check was a pretty crazy thing to do when you have to play a show that night, but hey, I'm Donnie Fucking Vie! Not to mention there was a whole lot riding on this, not only for the band, but for Clive Davis, BMG, Jagermeister, a sold out house, etc. After all that was done and in the synclavier, I did a sound check with Herbie Herbert, our main manager, the entire management team, the sound guy and the crew. After sound check and everything from the keyboard was mixed in, it sounded like the God damn record. I sat there thinking this is going to be fucking amazing! The crowd is going to be blown away. BLOWN AWAY!

For those of you who don’t know, Herbie Herbert, was a hardworking, self made businessman with a bigger arsenal of sarcasm than my own. And our family’s crest is Sarcasm: Great Talkers of Shit. In fact the Ackermans were jettisoned from the Mayflower for that very reason. Fun fact: Herbie Herbert started as Neal Schon's tech in Santana and went on to take Journey to their legendary status. Crack open that fun fact, my friends, and inside you will find that Herbie put Steve Perry in the Journey. I feel it is important to mention, Herbie was semi retired by the time he became our manager.

After sound check, I went back to the hotel to take a little rest before the show. I was exhausted. Now, I wasn't the only guy who was there for this sound check. I wasn't the only guy there to witness how devastating it was to lose 8 hours of work then complete another 6 hours of work and hear the awesomeness which it produced. So why would I be the only guy to leave and take a rest? Maybe because I'm the guy who needed the rest. Maybe because singing and playing all the instruments was a bit more exhausting than high fiving and back patting. Maybe because I'm not the guy hired to watch the equipment. Anyone care for an apple?

The opening act was a country band called Radney Foster. They planned on using all our equipment, and that's why it was so important that someone, anyone, stayed with our equipment. They were supposed to use our equipment under opening act status, meaning don't change anything; do the best you can with what we have given you and a big hearty: you're welcome. There was one problem: no one told the opening act what opening act status meant.

We came back to the club before the show to find the road crew had unplugged Ballard's board yet again. I mean, come on, seriously, what the fuckity fuck fuck fuck?!?! I had to do a rush job of singing all the harmonies into the board for a third time just hours before the show. So what had taken me 8 hours and then 6 hours, I had to do in 1 hour right before the show.

When we hit the stage, I could see the stench of farm animals and do-si-dos permeating the air. Is that my amplifier, a haystack or our dreams on the other side of the stage where Chip stands? It was my amp AND our dreams, my friends. Chip’s bass amp was right behind me where my amp belonged. I would have prefered a haystack to his amp actually. Derek's equipment was left alone because all of the crazy sound effects he used were just way too much and unnecessary for a country act. The monitors had also been moved around. Apparently, the opening band had been given free reign to do as they pleased with all of the stage gear, sound board, the sound itself and monitors. Even our drums were struck and the road crew had to reset the drums again. Everyone was scrambling, but it was showtime. I’m not sure who knew what, but I’m sure the sound guy had a pretty good idea of what was going on when he got back stage and saw what was going on with the sound board, and all of his dials and settings had been changed. Not a word was uttered to me or the rest of the band. Most likely because he was scrambling to put humpty dumpty back together again with no king’s horses and no king’s men.

Clive Davis was at the podium on the stage giving a speech about Whitney Houston achieving the world’s record for number one hits in a row. At that time, someone handed me a couple dozen red roses. That’s right my friends, open those nasal passages and put on your gloves because we are about to smell the roses, and I do not want you to get pricked. As you can imagine, I was feeling pretty invigorated by all this not to mention I am, by nature, just a bit off your rocker. That’s how crazy I feel sometimes, I’m not off MY rocker, I’m off YOUR rocker. Also, Clive and I had gotten quite tight throughout this whole endeavor, I thought. So I took a dozen of those roses and symbolically raised them from the dirt from between his legs to his face and handed them to him. Clive remarked, “Looks like everything’s coming up roses.” The crowd laughed, Clive gave me a hug and a smile and said, “Well, that’s Donnie for ya. But this kid is truly amazing, which you are about to see in a couple of minutes.” Clive took me to the side and told me I was about to be a wealthy man; we would make the deal after the show. The lights went down and a promo video played making us look larger than life.

Ricky counted it out, we hit the first big introduction chord--usually for our own line check before we go into our set--and I Shit My Pants right there. I did not hear anything in my monitors except Derik Frigo’s guitar. I couldn’t hear what I was playing. Remember, my amplifier was no longer behind me. It had been replaced with Chip’s amp, which was louder and bigger than the hat on his head. Chip’s amp is the last thing I want to hear when performing. In fact, when I hear bass to this day, my pitch goes sharper than a KFC spork to the ol’ eyeball.

Being ever the green cock a doodle doo, there was no way we could have stopped the show and corrected all the egregious errors. Silly flock of geese we were. We looked at each other in the moment knowing how ridiculously retarded our road crew was, saw all the faces of our adoring fans from back home who came to cheer us on, and said we’ve done more with less, so let’s do this shit. And let me tell you, my friends, we made a glorious shit bird out of a steaming pile of straw filled poop. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

We jumped right into New Thing, which is already a difficult song to sing because I get very little breath then add all the other b.s. going on with me not being able to hear any of the cues, the sharpness from the bass amp plus, and this is a huge plus, I struggle with severe anxiety. Those of you who know me or have any type of mental illness are already familiar with the traits, but I shall save that for another blogg. Put all that together in a giant pig sty of a petri dish and you get a mildly retarded auctioneer with a speech impediment. I was sure I blew my voice on the opening song. Then came Right By Your Side, another extremely difficult song for me to sing live. In between New Thing and Right By Your Side, we played, One Step Closer to You. This song was fitting and I’ll tell you why, but first let me set the scene.

The ever eccentric Chip Z’Nuff decided to go onstage wearing a Chip’s motorcycle police helmet and a great big thick leather jacket with our faces air-brushed on the back. He was sweating profusely and his eyes began bulging out of his head. During my solo, I took one step closer to him and asked, “What the fuck are you doing? Take that stupid helmet off your head, you look like an idiot, you idiot!” He looked over his sunglasses at me, eyes bulging. I grabbed a screwdriver that was sitting on the drum riser, stuck it in the strap and twisted until the strap finally broke, not giving a flying fuck if i choked Chip Z’Nuff to death because the show was already a catastrophe. (Actually, I think it was Marky B. who removed the helmet at my request/demand) The helmet came off and he looked like a rat. He then proceeded to regain his charisma by doing a David Lee Rothesque jump from the drum riser, if David Lee Roth was a quadrapledric. What he did smelled worse than the look of the stench the opening act left our equipment in. (That sentence is on purpose, my friends). After he literally fell on his ass, split his pants, bass: boing, going, zoing, then figuratively fell on his face, he took his soaking wet leather jacket off and threw it off to the side of the stage. It landed on the power cord plugged into the wall. Anyone want to venture a guess as to what that power cord was attached to? Yep, you are correct my friends, Kim Ballard’s synclavier. Ballard folded up the shirt I gave him to wear during the show, set it on the keyboard, walked up to me as I was getting ready to sing Right By Your Side, whispered in my ear, “Chip’s jacket just unplugged my computer, and I lost all the information. Good luck. By the way, I wouldn’t have known the cues anyway because I couldn’t hear my monitors.” Z’Nuff said.

During Right By Your Side, which was a total disaster by the way, Clive Davis and the BMG crew left. They just got up and walked out mid song, my friends. There would be no meeting after the show. There would be no half a million dollar check for me tomorrow and a publishing deal. In fact, there would be not much of anything on that label at all. Not having known any of this yet, I did what I always do and pulled every trick out of my ass's hat. I dropped the guitar, grabbed the microphone and cocked my rooster out into the crowd's face. Like any good front man, I danced on the tables, hung from the rafters and swung from the light fixtures. That turned the show from disaster to a well received club show with three encours including CC Deville. We felt we pulled it off.

9 Comments

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  • Tony DiCristofano  
    Donnie, dude, PLEASE just write a book! At least do these stories in a video format. I'll pay for that. Man, don't keep us in suspense for another week. I had heard of some stuff happening that night at The Roxy, but not the story about Chip throwing his jacket. What happens next with Donnie and Clive? I hope you knocked him on his ass! Also, I would've beaten that country band and your own road crew as well. Talk about sabotage. That country band knew you guys were gonna get a great deal so they sabotaged you. Man, the bad luck these guys had to deal with from early management to Atco to Arista.
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  • Tony DiCristofano  
    Chip at The Roxy gig 1993...

    https://www.sitcomsonline.com/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/248933
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