Don expressed to Bill what a pleasure and education it was working with him. Bill said likewise. Then Don said to Bill friend to friend, “You have to control your temper, it’s not healthy, someday you will blow a fuse.” Bill looked at Don, smiled and replied. “Its genetic, it’s my personality, it’s the way I am. By the way I just lost my temper to a faulty sound system, I heard you beat a crasher to an inch of his life. “
Don looked at Bill, smiled and said” Yeah. But I didn’t lose my temper. It’s not healthy.” They both laughed and said goodbye.
As Don drove to the hotel he reflected on how tired he was. Only one more show, hope everything goes real smooth and easy.
As Don approached his room he had to pass Chucks and Pam’s room. He could hear them talking very loud to each other. He heard Pam say to Chuck “Your friend Don introduced me to everyone as your wife. How come everybody’s married but us? Are we ever going to get married?”
He realized his stupid mistake. He assumed they were married. He had embarrassed both Chuck and Pam. They eventually did marry, it didn’t work out. After the marriage failed Chuck went thru some very hard times. Don still feels guilty today. He thinks he had a small part in Chuck’s misery for assuming and not asking. He still has fond memories of Chuck Negron, one of the all time great rock voices and personalities.
Don lay down and fell right to sleep. Had to get up in 3 hours, fly to Phoenix and do it all over again. No rest for the weary. Mick said it best in song “Its only Rock and Roll, but I like it”
With a total of 6 hours sleep in the last 3 days Don and company boarded a plane for the flight to Phoenix. Luckily it was Rich’s show and Don hoped it would be easy for him.
Rich Linnell was the King of concerts in Phoenix, he had been doing shows there for 3-4 years and almost everyone there loved him. The arena, media, the mayor, even the manager at the Holiday Inn where they always stayed. Holiday Inn was one of the few national chains that catered to the rock business. Most hotels felt it was bad for business to let those long hair, dope smoking rockers stay at their establishment. 1969 was the year of Charles Manson, the public at large felt all long hair hippies were the devils children.
But remember, this was Phoenix, Arizona, “GOLDWATER COUNTRY”. They were so right winged they thought even conservatives were too liberal. If you didn’t look like everyone, talk like everyone, walk like everyone, dress like everyone and think like everyone else, you were a person of suspicion and definitely mistrusted. Many city council, county supervisor and law enforcement members didn’t like rock and roll. It was polluting the minds of their young ones. They didn’t like rock stars, rock music, rock concerts and those evil masterminds of the whole decadent industry, ROCK PROMOTERS!
As soon as the plane landed, Don sent family and friends to the Holiday Inn, he rented a car and went directly to the arena to see if Rich needed any help. As he walked in it was like déjà vu all over again. Same people, building the same show as yesterday. Rich and Chip Monk were already fast friends. Chip even remarked how similar Rich and Don were to work with, same temperament, cool style, low key but professional. Rich and Don were so similar, when one was doing a show in one city and the other in a different city; they both could feel the presence of the other there.
The show went up with no problems, even the sound system. Sound checks were quick and smooth. The doors opened on time and the throngs of Stone fans started coming in. A Rolling Stone concert in Phoenix in those days was a big event. Phoenix was considered a secondary market and major tours did not regularly stop there. West Coast Promotions got the date only because of the hard work of Bill Siddons, convincing the William Morris Agency to book the date.
When Rich and Don did a concert together they usually split responsibilities. Don took the actual show and Rich handled everything else. But they were interchangeable and one never had to worry that the other would not take care of business in their dual fashion and with professionalism always.
In his years of doing shows in Phoenix, Rich adopted an aid de camp named John Sessions. John was invaluable to Rich. He could handle any responsibility given; organize street marketing teams, be a gopher or assistant. During a show he could handle dressing rooms or be a security man. He was big, somewhat toothless, always dedicated and fun to have around. The first time Don ever saw John he was at the Holiday Inn and John went from the ground level pool to the fourth floor by climbing up the balconies.
Back at the show Don’s wife Jill and Rich’s fiancée Linda arrived along with Bill Siddons and his wife Sherry. Sherry Siddons was a real Rolling Stones fan and the three couples traveled together often. Always trying to mix a little family fun time in with hard work. Rich had pulled tickets for the whole second row and wives and guests were going to have the best seats in the house to watch and enjoy Mr. Mick and the Boys. The three couples Bill and Sherry, Rich and Sherry and Don and Jill partied and played together, while the three men also worked together. They all got along well and really like each other.
Also Jim Morrison was going to fly in from L.A. with a couple of his buddies for the concert and Bill wanted to make sure all went well once he arrived. Bill Siddons was still in his young twenties and had been managing the Doors since he was 19, handling all their needs with extreme diligence, patience and hard work. The Doors rise to Super Stardom only took a couple of years and Bill was there from the beginning, handling the affairs of the four Doors was a 7 days a week, 24 hours a day job. On top of that handling the strange affairs of one Rock God, legend, icon, genius, drunk and trouble prone singer/song writer/poet named Jim Morrison was an additional 8 days a week and 30 hours a day impossible job. It would be easier to control a herd of 100 alley cats, while riding on a donkey, than to control the actions, antics and misdeeds of one Jim Morrison.
The third partner Mike Dillbeck arrived in Phoenix late in the afternoon. His show responsibilities were very limited, Rich and Don had everything covered. Mike came mainly because his young girl cousin lived in Phoenix and he wanted to treat her to the Rolling Stones.
Everything was going smooth and on schedule. Terry Reid went on exactly on time. So far, so good. Half way through Terry Reid’s ½ hr set John approached Don with some bad news. A large crowd was accumulating at the rear of the arena and it could be real trouble, they were threatening to break into the show at any risk. The Stones were arriving late that night, they were coming by private jet from Las Vegas and had to enter from that area. Don and John went to the back by a side door so they could recon the situation. As they rounded the back of the building they couldn’t believe their eyes. A crowd of about 50-60 had accumulated and somehow they had acquired a 30 foot telephone pole from the adjoining fairgrounds, complete with foot bars which made it easy to handle.
Nobody knew who Don was so he approached the group to figure out what was happening This was not a pack of hippies like last night, there were a few long hairs, but these were more or less cowboys from the fairgrounds. They were dressed in jeans, boots, belts and cowboy shirts. They were passing around bottles of Jim Beam and getting real fucked up. They didn’t like rock music, rock stars or rock concerts and were going to do something about it. One really loud and extremely drunk jerk was yelling at the top of his lungs “ These Rolling Stone Fags are in it with the devil himself. They even sing about how you should have sympathy for the devil. I say FUCK THE DEVIL AND THE HORSE HE RODE IN WITH. They are anti-god, anti-Christ, anti-church and anti-American. My Preacher John says they are gonna poison the minds of all those teens in there.
They sing about sex, getting satisfaction from under age girls, takin’ drugs like little yellow pills and all, they even tell kids its ok to play with fire. Preacher John says someone must put a stop to this blasphemy. We’re called on to do the Lords work, batter down the door to hell and save all those young souls before it’s too late. Whose got a bottle of Jack, mines empty?”
They also had no idea the Stones had not arrived yet and had to enter the building thru that roll up door. Don went back to John and asked him if he had any friends that could help us; we had to stop this from occurring. There was two rent-a-cops standing nearby but they were just watching. They entered back into the arena thru the side door they had left slightly ajar. John knew the head of the rent-a-cop security and sent him to Dons show office immediately.
Don asked him how many men he could muster up from the show to launch a counter attack on the drunken cowboys. Don asked him if they carried guns or clubs. He said no they weren’t allowed to but they did have mace. John returned and said he could recruit about 5 guys who could handle themselves. Don was searching for some kind of weapons backstage when the first ramming hit the aluminum door. It was loud and heavy. One of Johns catering girls found a closet with a dozen 6 ft long 2inch wide hard wood poles used for temporary wardrobe closets.
The head of security was named Mike. He was a big man, with a big gut and had been at the arena for 20 years. Phoenix Coliseum Arena was built 30 years before and was rather old fashion. It had one giant ramp in the back big enough for trucks to drive in load and unload. It had an up and down sliding door which was what the target was. The battering could possibly dent the door enough to allow access, but Mike said the problem was if they dented it bad enough the door would be unusable and that meant no truck or limo access. That also meant the trucks could not get in to load out the show to get to Vegas for tomorrows show. Don asked why the police couldn’t respond. Mike said they stayed away from rock concerts because of the drug usage and their inability to arrest for fear of starting a riot.
Don asked Mike if they had any megaphones or means of communicating with the crowd outside. He said they had a former police car with a built in speaker, they used it for roaming the outside fences to keep trespassers away from the fairgrounds.
The battering ram pounding was getting louder and more frequent. Don had to think quickly. He came up with the following plan; Mike would drive the roaming car to the rear of the arena and start announcing that the crowd was an illegal assembly and everyone who didn’t leave was trespassing and subject to arrest using any means possible including mace and pepper spray. In the mean time the security team and Johns rag tag security team would approach the group from the other side. Pepper spray and wooden rods exposed to hopefully scare away the crowd.
The whole counter offensive only took 7 minutes to organize and start execution. Mike met his car on the west side of the building. Don took the rag tag army to the east side, a total of 13 including himself. Ike and Tina were just going on and the Stones were due in any moment. It was now or never!
Mike pulled around the corner to face the battering gang with all lights flashing, high beams on, and siren on and started his dispersal dialogue at full volume. The cowboys were startled by the noise and commotion. They were really drunk and some not very coherent.
He inched the car even closer to totally distract the band of drunken jerks. From around the opposite corner came the Calvary, Don and John in front, the 7 rent-a-cops with mace sprayers in extended arms, clearly visible, behind them was Johns boys. Don had everyone with wooden poles pound them on the asphalt to make loud noise. He had seen this in an old ZULU movie. Mike announced that they were trespassing and would be arrested with any means necessary, including spray or clubbing. The cowboys were taken by total surprise; they dropped the battering ram and didn’t know whether to fight of flight.
Don stopped his crew about 10 feet from the cowboys, he walked about 5 feet more and announced to the drunken herd. “OK cowboys you have two choices, leave right now or the only thing that will beat you to the hospital will be the lights of the ambulance you’ll be in very very hurt. If that squad car hits his siren that door is going up and in the other side is 50 very pissed off stagehands and crew armed with pipes, wrenches and any other deadly weapon they have, including a few guns. You’re trying to fuck with our show and were not going to allow it. This is your last chance. Get the fuck off the property now as fast as your boots can go. “Don raised his arm as to get ready to signal to Mike to turn on the siren. A few of the cowgirls in the crowd said “ Come on guys it’s not worth it lets leave and go party” The group grumbled, one threw his empty Jim Beam bottle, shattering it on the asphalt. But they left and no violence had to be used. Just as the cowboys disappeared in the dark of the fairgrounds where their trucks were parked the Stones pulled up in 3 limos, one of Mikes men had a door key and ran inside to chain up the door if it worked. It did, the door raised and the limos pulled in the arena and the door was lowered closed.
Don walked along the limos as they pulled in. First one out was Tony Funchess, his usual big smile and a warm hug for Don. “Hey brother what’s the haps? This must be a boring night compared to last night! Sorry were late. Got hung up in Vegas”
Don just smiled and nodded. Tina was on her last song and Tony had to get the band ready to go on. He went to his office, shut the door, sat at his desk, put his head in his hands and said out loud. “HOLY FUCK!! WHAT ELSE COULD GO WRONG? I THINK I’VE USED UP ALL MY BAD LUCK IN THE LAST 4 DAYS! PLEASE GIVE ME A BREAK!!!”
Those thoughts echoed repeatedly for about a minute, when Rich walked in.
“Don we have a major problem.”
Don replied” You mean the battering ram cowboy gang out back?” “I already took care of it.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Rich, where have you been, you missed it!”
“I’ve been with Siddons up in administration on the phone. Frank Luciandro got here about a ½ hour ago. He flew over with Jim. Our friend Mr. Morrison got drunk on the plane and apparently caused a ruckus enough that the pilot had to leave his control twice to tell him to settle down. When the plane landed here in Phoenix, he was arrested by the FBI. We’ve been on the phone with The Door attorney, Max Fink, trying to locate a local attorney he trusted. They won’t release him until the morning”
Don put his head back in his hands and mumbled to Rich ”A perfect ending to a perfect weekend. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The only thing left is if the plane home tomorrow crashes. Let’s get this show over. Go back to the rooms and get real fucked up. We deserve that.”
Rich simply said “Sounds like a plan to me.”
The Phoenix show ended with Don not seeing one Stones song. And frankly he did not give a damn. After the show ended Chip Monk came over to Rich and Don, handed them a couple of small packages, and told them it was a real pleasure working with them, hope to do it again, real soon. “Enjoy the present, you guys have earned it. Until again.”
The ride back to the Holiday Inn was in total silence. Rich and Don had nothing to say. Each just kept sayings to themselves. It’s finally over! It’s finally over!
As they pulled up to the hotel, Rich extended both arms with closed fist. “Pick a hand.”
Don tapped his left hand and Rich handed him one of Chip’s presents, the bigger of the two. Don said “Feels like smoke, lets save it for home. I brought my last four caps of THC.” He put the package in the rental car glove box and they went up to their rooms.
Don’s wife, Jill, was waiting for him, she knew it had been an incredible hard 4 days, but she didn’t know just how unbelievable it really was. She had a clean tee shirt and shorts laid out for him. “Go change your clothes, wash up and just rest and relax, it’s over”
He went into the bathroom took off his clothes and for 10 minutes splashed cold water on his face. He only stopped when he heard a knock on the door. It was Rich and Linda.
Rich sat down at the table and Linda went and sat on the bed with Jill. Rich seemed happy as a jay bird, he pulled out the package and poured the white powder on the table. Took out a business card and split it in two even lines. Pulled out a bill rolled it up and handed it to Don. “Enjoy”
Don picked the line closest to him and snorted the whole line in one fell swoop. He gave a funny look at Rich and said “This is weird tasting coke”
Rich was taking his line and said” It’s not coke. Its heroin.
Rich repeated “Chip said its smack”
Don was not a happy puppy. He never would have snorted it if he knew it was smack.
Rich said “Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the trip. It will cool us out. We need to just relax and not think about anything for awhile. Its over! I don’t want to rehash the weekend but I got to ask you one question. John Sessions said you bluffed down a 100 drunken cowboys, who were battering the big ramp door. He said you told them if they didn’t leave you were going to open the door and behind it was 50 union and stage crews armed with pipes, wrenches and even guns. And they believed you and left. Did you really do that?
“Yep. But thats a slight exaggeration. There wasn’t a 100 drunk cowboys, only about 50-60. Besides I mingled among them for 10 minutes, they were so fucked up on whiskey, they were way beyond reason. So I tried the unreasonable. I got lucky, it worked. Besides these were all straw heads. There are fifty doors around the arena that open in and out.
They tried to batter down the only door that opens up and down. The funniest thing is that even if there were fifty armed men behind door #1. They dented it so bad, I wasn’t even sure it would open.” They both laughed.
“John also said you had your army armed with closet poles and had them pound them on the asphalt as they walked up.”
“Yep. I just saw it in a Zulu movie. It scared the hell out of the white soldiers. Rich I wanted to try anything, because the next option was to start knocking heads with closet poles. I had enough violence last night in San Diego”
Don looked around the room. All three had a look on their face like this was far worse than they thought.
He broke the silence by saying” Ok no more talking about the trauma of the weekend. It’s over. Onward and upward. It could only get better from here!”
And on cue the phone rang, Jill answered and said “Rich it’s for you”
Rich took the phone, he listened for a minute and said” Now this is for real. You’re not pulling my leg. Right? They are coming up right now? They have all our room #’s? Thanks for the warning.
He hung up the phone and calmly said “The police are here for us. They are on their way up as we speak. I’ve got to warn the whole floor. All the rooms on the fourth floor are show related people. They have the hotel surrounded”
Rich ran out the door yelling down the hallway “The police are coming, get rid of any stash, quick”
Don ran and shut his door and double locked it. He went to his suitcase and got out his little stash box. It contained two joints and his precious treasure. The last four capsules containing THC, a synthesis of the active chemical in marijuana that gets you high. His all time favorite high. He proceeded to the bathroom and flushed down the two joints. The whole fourth floor was a volley of toilet flushes. Then came the ugliest sound he ever heard, a pounding on his door. “Police, open up “He took the four capsules in his hand and held them over the toilet with his other hand on the flusher.
He motioned to Jill to not make a sound. The pounding and commands continued for over a minute. He finally decided to go ahead and flush away. The room would be clean. He was too tired to fight. He dropped the brown capsules and watched them swirl around a couple of times then disappear down the toilet. Don felt like he just buried his four best friends. He never ever again found THC in its synthetic chemical form.
As soon as the toilet flushed, the pounding on his door ceased. He could hear other door pounding and commands down the hallway. But he and Jill were safe with a clean room, no drugs.
The room was total dark, no lights, no sound. He laid silently on the bed starring upward into the blackness and in his best video replays of the past 4 days was playing. When mentally spliced together the events and experiences seemed unreal. Like a bad Fellini movie trying to document the evils of rock and roll. Or was it just a small test of was ahead for Don Branker and the wild and crazy world of rock.
The mental pictures disappeared instantly when the phone rang, startling both Don and Jill. It was Rich, he said he was coming over, we have a new problem. Perfect.
Rich knocked lightly on the door and don let him in to the still dark room. Rich and Don sat again at the table.
Rich said “You won’t believe this? Well since Mike arrived late this afternoon, he was put into a room on the third floor. He let his cousin have the room key and told her he would meet her there later. He found some girl at the concert and they are still out somewhere”
“Get to the point Rich, nothing personal but I don’t care about Mike’s love life.”
Rich, with his omnipresent RC Cola, cigarette and playing with his mustache, continued “Well when the police came, they made the manager give them the room numbers of all people connected with the Stones show. After the cops rattled the doors of everyone on the 4 Th floor, by the way, nobody opened their doors, everything was flushed, and the whole 4th floor was a big nothing for the cops. But, when they knocked on Dillbeck’s door, he wasn’t here but his cousin answered the door. Apparently, she had a small bag of weed and when the police yelled thru the door who they were, she hid it in Mike’s briefcase. When the cops came in they opened Mike’s briefcase and found a ¼ ounce of pot. The police are in the lobby and stationed outside the doors waiting for Mike’s return to arrest him. And Mikes’ out somewhere with some girl and we have no way of contacting him to warn him”
Don started laughing at the total complete irony of the present situation. Mike Dillbeck was unlike Rich and Don. College degree, clean cut and had never done drugs of any kind. In fact he was the only person Don associated with that didn’t get stoned. In those times stoners were very suspicious of anyone who didn’t get stoned, they could be a snitch or narc. And now HE was a wanted man for drugs.
It was now past 3 am and
Rich and Don changed the subject to go over plans to get Jim Morrison out of jail at 8 am and get him back to LA, safely. The story had already hit the wire services and would be an international lead story in the morning news. Rich had made arrangements with his local attorney, Craig Merrens, to meet with him at the federal building at 7:30 and we would get Jim released and sneak him out to avoid the anticipated throngs of press. While they were finalizing these details, a slight knock come from the door. Don asked who it was and heard the voice say “It’s me, Dillbeck” Don opened the door reached out and pulled him in. Mike had a big grin on his face” I figured you dopers would still be up. I just had the best time of my life. These local Phoenix girls are wild, crazy and nymphs. “
Don was very short with Mike and said “How did you get into the hotel?”
“I had to park in the back, just walked in the back door and came directly up here. I knew you guys would still be up. You party animals. Hey, what’s going on downstairs? There’s police cars parked all over the front of the building. It looked like a police convention was here.”
Don and Rich looked at each other and then over to Mike. Rich spoke up,” Mike they are here to arrest you. They came here to bust all of us for drugs, but my friend the manager, tipped us and we all got rid of any drugs we had before they reached the 4th floor. As it turned out, apparently your cousin was in your room and had some pot. When the cops came a knockin’ on your door she panicked and put it in your brief case. They found it and they are going to arrest you for possession of marijuana. She told them it wasn’t hers; it was in your case, to them that means it’s yours.”
Mike Dillbeck was very smart but very naïve to the ways of the street world. He really didn’t fit in with the likes of Rich and Don but he brought in the financial backer, Bill Tappan, was very business oriented and having a straight partner in these precarious and changing times had its advantages.
Mike turned white and sat down; this was new territory for him. He saw his life change before his eyes.” Guys! What do I do?” This is going to destroy my whole life. Please help me!”
Rich and don talked it over and came up with a plan that might work. At least buy them time. Rich called John Sessions and told him to get over asap. John was there in 15 minutes. Mikes rent a car was in his name so Don gave him the keys to his. West Coast had a Iron Butterfly date in 3 weeks in Albuquerque. They sent Mike and John out there to justify the fact that Mike wasn’t crossing state lines to flee. John drove around to the back door Mike came in and picked him up. They were off and out of Phoenix. Mikes story would be he had no knowledge about what happen at the Holiday Inn and had to move on that night for business purposes. The police didn’t know they were aware of what happen in Mike’s room. The story was that Mike came back to his room in the middle of the night, walked into the hotel, went to his room, got his belongings and went to Albuquerque. The funny fact was that the police had the lobby and every door covered but the one door Mike walked in. Mr. Magoo was alive and well in Phoenix, Arizona.
Rich said he’d be right back, left and came in with his RC Cola and two cans of Coke for Don and Jill.
Don said laughing “thanks but the last you gave me what I thought was Coke turned out to be smack, what’s this a can of LSD?” and took a big cold swig.
Rich said “No its peyote, remember you’re in the desert!”
“You know Rich, I believe NOW everything that could go wrong, did go wrong! But after we take care of Jim, I think its best we fly home on separate planes. Planes crash all the time, but two planes leaving from the same city going to the same city, crashing, are a zillion to one. And one of us has to live to tell this story. If someone wrote a book about just the events of the last four days, it would be published under fiction or fairy tales. I still can’t believe what just happened actually really happen! I don’t believe it and we were there!”
Rich in his best Cronkite voice said” This is Walter Cronkite and you have just witnessed 4 average days in the life and times of a rock and roll promoter, AND YOU WERE THERE!
Don countered with “This is Rod Sterling and you have entered and are now leaving: THE TWILIGHT ROCK AND ROLL ZONE” do do do do
The phone rang, Don answered, and it was John calling from 50 miles out of town saying all was clear. Don said “Good work John. Don’t go one mile over the speed limit until you’re out of the state. And hey Big Boy, thanks for helping me deal with that crazy drunk mob tonight. You covered my back and I really appreciated it. The next time I get in a gang fight alone, you’re my first round pick. Be careful and get my rent a car checked back in here in Phoenix. If they wonder how I put on a 1000 miles in one day, tell them I got lost. And tell that fugitive in your car, Don and Rich said Welcome to the world of outlaws. While in Albuquerque he should register in his hotel under the name Dr. Richard Kimball and when they ask what he is doing in Albuquerque say he’s still searching for the one armed man”
Don and Rich laughed, they knew that would go over Mike’ head, but it was funny at the time. The sun was starting to rise and now Don had a total of 6 hours sleep in FOUR days and they still had to go in a couple of hours and deal with the FBI and the government to get Jim Morrison out of jail. AND THE BEAT GOES ON!!!!!!!!!