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Gig from Hell

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Marcus Willett, Mar 30, 2005.

  1. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    Just thought I might share an experience with you guys. This was a few years back and I originally posted it on TBL, but I thought it might be appreciated here.

    The company I work for, "Legends in Concert", was commissioned to bring their show to Beirut in December 1997. This, apparently, was to be the first show from the west since the civil war. We were brought over (a cast of 21: dancers, acts, musicians, etc.) for a 3 week run. When we reached Lebanon, we were treated like royalty; armed guards and TV
    crews, 5-star hotel, the works. AS IT TURNS OUT, the show was placed in am old theatre on the Muslim side of town. This is a problem for 2 reasons

    1) The Muslims (in general) weren't interested in this type of show,
    2) The Christians (in general) wouldn't go to the Muslim side to see such a show. It was in an area known as the "green zone"

    With no real monitor system, a bass amp (among other things) must be rented at a rate of $3,000 FOR 3 WEEKS!! -wait, there's more. Opening night, packed house (all comps tho); the US ambassador (who came to see the show) says to our light tech "...you were VERY BRAVE to come here." Well, a rocky start, but I'm sure it'll be fine...

    2nd night, there are 7 PEOPLE in the house (capacity about 1,500). Not good. 3rd night ZERO PEOPLE. None, nada , zip! Show is basically done. The promoter starts to get a little zany, as he has PREPAID for the show
    (about $500,000). The armed security that had been escorting us around town is discontinued. Things start to get tense. The promoter starts to suggest that the show be cancelled, and, of course, that HE GET HIS MONEY BACK.

    He starts to make veiled threats that he "...might not be ABLE to let us go if he doesn't get his money back." Needless to say, everything (salaries, plane tickets, freight, etc.) has ALREADY BEEN PAID by Legends- he ain't gettin' no money back. AS IT TURNS OUT the consulate is holding our passports; the promoter had to post a sizeable bond to bring us into the country. There is a General at the consulate (who just happens to be a friend of the promoter) who must stamp our passports for us to leave the country. We now CANNOT LEAVE UNLESS THE PROMOTER WILL ALLOW US TO!! -wait, there's still more.

    The US embassy says that they can't really do a whole lot unless we are actually threatened. Meanwhile, in a drunken rage one night in the hotel (we had to stay in practically the whole time- we were told it was UNSAFE to go outside), the promoter exclaims: ".. I OWN you people!! You will perform in my LIVING ROOM, if I say so!" -not lookin' good.

    Unbeknownst to us at the time, one of his goons has called the company in Vegas, claiming that we were now the prisoners of Hezbola (sp?), and we would not be freed until he received his money. THIS sets the American embassy in motion. They arrive in the next morning (we were told that night, be ready to go with 5 minutes warning with a dozen armored bullet-proof suburbans, Lebanese mercenaries, and a lot of guns.

    We are FORCIBLY EXTRACTED from the hotel (while the promoter's goons try to stop us), taken to another hotel on the other side of town; there is not enough room for us to stay at the embassy. AS IT TURNS OUT, THERE ARE NO FLIGHTS AVAILABLE FOR 2 DAYS. Also, the airport is what the military calls a "Hot Spot", which meant it was dangerous enough that the ambassador (with a dozen armed guards) doesn't use it. We are what is know in the military as a "soft target"

    We are put up in a hotel with mercs and Lebanese army guarding every floor and entrance for 2 days. Turns out the promoter is a quasi-mafia figure. We are escorted to the airport under armed guard again. In transit, one of the embassy guys, Ramzi (his real name), says: "...uh, look. Probably nothing will happen, but if you hear shots being fired,
    get down underneath those bullet-proof vests on the floorboard."

    Traffic is stopped by armed guards as we speed through downtown Beirut. Incidentally, our suburban had a turret mounted on the top; much like a tail-gunner on a military plane. Eventually, we arrive at the airport, escorted by Ziad, a Lebanese merc working for the embassy, carrying a CONCEALED WEAPON in the airport, (who, incidentally, the Sergeant at the embassy said of "..if I need someone TAKEN CARE OF, I'll use Ziad.") who says "..if you hear any shooting, get down, and I will handle it". We are supposed to keep a low profile at the airport, so naturally the girl playing Tina Turner decides it would be cool to buy a DAGGER as a keepsake at the gift shop and try to take it on the plane with her. This attracted a lot of attention.

    We fortunately leave without incident, and arrive home safely. Whaddayathink...all-time gig from hell?

    I got a pic of all of us at the embassy which I'll post if anyone wnats to see it. Again, I have not fabricated ANY of this. Oh, I forgo the part about our hotel room with a toilet that overflowed EVERY DAY, spilling sh*t all over our bathroom floor EVERY DAY. -also true.
  2. kjones


    Dec 4, 2004
    Gee, I guess that beats my "promoter only gave us $150 instead of agreed upon $400 story."
  3. nastyn8c


    Feb 7, 2005
    Tampa, FL
    Beats anything I've heard. That is an amazing story! I was rofl
  4. Is it wrong that I was laughing hysterically while reading the original post?

    Thanks for posting it.
  5. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    I can dig it; it's funny now, but at the time...

    Us at the embassy:
  6. Broach_insound


    Jan 25, 2005
    New York
    Thats crazzzy!!! Awesome story!
  7. That is absolutely insane. It definitly beats all of the "My amp broke" or "nobody showed up" stories that you hear around here.
  8. Wow! I don't think I could lie about a bad gig and beat that! LOL!
  9. The guy on the bottom left looks like a kid that graduated from my HS a few years ago.

    He was from out of the countrie, so maybe that's his dad.
  10. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
  11. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I'll never tell another "gig from hell" story again.
  12. srxplayer


    May 19, 2004
    Highland, CA
    As soon as you metioned that the gig was in Beirut I knew this would be the King of all bad gigs.
  13. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    That can't be true.

    It's a good thing you're still alive.
  14. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    Oh, it's true allright. The drummer for the 50's at The Hop show here in Branson and the guy who runs CityWalk studios here were both with me. Our guitar player has since passed away. I was rooming with the keyboardist, and while we were stuck in the hotel, the only food we could get was room service, and the only things they had that I liked was some hummus (sp?) dish and a chicken-wrap type thing called chicken taouk. Not bad, but have that 2-3 times a day for a week. :spit:
  15. That's it, I'm cancelling my tour of Iraq.
  16. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    I've had these tucked away for a while. None are anywhere close to the Beirut story in terms of WOW, but funny & sometimes tragic stuff, I think anyway. Again, all true.

    I was working in Helsinki with a group called Clouds in 1992. There were a contemporary of Miami Sound Machine in the late '70's/early '80's, but they never "made it". The lead guy, Frankie Marcos was OBSESSED with vests. He once told me "...Marcus.....maybe you can wear a shirt with no vest if it cost maybe, 60 dollars, but not one that cost 20 dollars; that's no good..." I would often wear my $20 TJ Max shirts and when Frankie would look at me and ask what the shirt cost, I would just say "Frankie...this shirt cost 80 dollars!" To which he would reply "..okay Marco, you can wear that shirt with no vest". Anyway, one day we were eating our hotel supplied dinner of Reindeer meat (quite common in Finland I found out), when we saw a man stab another man, and run out of the building (there was a casino inside the hotel). It happened really fast, and no one was really sure what had happened. Turned out the man died from the wounds; he had just won a considerable sum at the casino, and this other guy saw an opportunity and....


    I did a salsa gig once at the Bayfront Auditorium in Miami, backing up Olga Guillot. I was a sub, and there was no rehearsal; a sight-reading gig. Anyway, the last number was a medley of Latin favourites. The chart I was handed (seconds before the countoff) consisted of a page of sheet music with the names of the songs (in Spanish) to be played. That's it.
    1) there were no indications of any chords or even a key for any of them
    2) I had never heard of any of these songs
    3) I don't speak Spanish

    Tough gig.


    I was on a gig with Othello Molineaux where the whole PA wouldn't work. He was mystified until he realized he had plugged the PA power strip into itself. Also, when I used to work for Othello we used to do a rather hip jazz-reggae arrangement of "Somewhere over the rainbow", that was very tough to sing. We had vocalist named Eugene Goss, a VERY talented singer; this guy could sing his ass off. Anyway, there came the day when Eugene was no longer working with us, and Othello decided that he would give it a try. Well, we played the arrangement and Othello sang it.....

    When the set was over, he asked me, our keyboardist Abel, and our drummer Johnathan what we thought. I started by saying
    "...I tell ya man, I really admire you for having the guts to get up there and even TRY." Othello said "hmmmm" Next, Abel said "..well man, it's a REALLY hard tune to sing." Another "hmmmm." Finally, Othello asked our drummer Johnathan what he though, to which he replied "...hey, we could always just do it instrumentally". "Rainbow" was never sung by Othello again.


    I was working on a cruise ship in 1996 that went to Cozumel, Mexico. At that time they were building a Hard Rock cafe. My friend Mark and I were standing on the dock, and heard a loud bang. We turned around to see a man who had been working on the sign on the facade facing the street; apparently get electrocuted, and fall 3 stories to land face first on the street below. Quite gruesome, actually; but he was mercifully killed instantly.


    Same ship in early '96. There was a TV monitor set up facing the band, hanging from the ceiling. There were also several throughout the room. It was supposed to be a multi-media type show, and there was a point where we had to play along with a video retrospective. The rest of the time, it would just show what was happening on stage. One day, during one of these lulls in the show, our soundman Burt decided it would be funny to show a porno on our monitor. It was. What was even funnier was that he forgot to send it just to our monitor feed, and instead had it going throughout the room, about 15-20 monitors, dispersed throughout the room. Burt doesn't work for the cruise line anymore.
  17. Corbis

    Corbis Guest

    Feb 19, 2003
    Wamego KS
    That by far is the best gig story I've ever heard.
  18. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    WOW! Looks like a family photo from an NRA meeting!

  19. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    LOL. Well, when we went to take the pic, somebody said "let's get all the guns in the pic". Well, as you can imagine there were a lot of guns to be had... :p
  20. daofktr

    daofktr irritating, yet surly

    Feb 15, 2005
    aurora, IN
    my stepson is supposed to be in branson may 12-15, doing a show choir thingy with a bunch of other show choirs....umm, how do i say this nicely....yer not gonna be involved, are you??? :eyebrow:
    you seem to be a BS magnet, dude!!!
    just kidding, of course....or AM I?!?!?!?
    :D :eek: :bag: