He not only knew most songs but he also knew the changes, so he often launched into unrehearsed routines, passing clues back to the band via hand signals. We came to be fairy good at reading is intentions after a few years of wondering what he would do next and being prepared for anything. But I was not prepared for this.
In those days, I still sang if Will wanted to give me another last chance, and often as not, I would be joined at the microphone by Ricky May, our band singer, who would lean in to add his gutsy Maori harmonies.
Before Rick joined the band we had another great singer, Terry Holden. He was lost to entertainment when the NSW club scene collapsed, returning to Melbourne to become a lawn mowing contractor until his death from heart failure not long after. League fans might not know, but it is Terry’s voice with the Will Dower Sounds they hear when the Rabbitos anthem is played.
Terry gets a mention here because I want to introduce another character, a young woman of maybe mid twenties, very heavily made up thirty years before the Emo look caught on. I walked into the dressing room to hear her exhorting an embarrassed Terry to ‘come home with me and I’ll tie you up and do things you will never forget!’
I backed out of the room but Terry had seen me and called me in to protect him. Anyway, she and a few of her cronies always took a table front and centre, eyes at stage level from where they smiled and applauded everything and were still regulars when on this afternoon, Ricky and I were right in front of them singing a duet.
My old Maton acoustic is a bulky instrument, requiring me to lean forward to reach the microphone, so my eyes were drawn to her face. Every time I looked, she appeared to be fascinated by my crotch and continued to stare as I tried to concentrate on the song. But her eyes never wavered and as I recalled the scene with Terry in the dressing room a few months before, I wondered what she was staring at and turned to Ricky. He had noticed her staring too so I asked between notes:
“Is my fly undone or what?”
I should have known better. He took his time checking out what I couldn’t see below the body of my guitar then came back to stand with his lips near my ear.
Nothing had changed at the front table except that Ricky’s theatrical and exaggerated actions, standing back and staring, then lifting the guitar to draw further attention to my embarrassment brought open hilarity to the girls that spread to adjoining tables. His facial comedy kept them laughing until we were almost through, when he and gave me the verdict.
Of course in retrospect, I would have said something similar but at the time I wanted the old cartoon theatre trapdoor to open up and swallow me out of sight.
“Yes mate,” he laughed along with the idiots in front.
“Wider than a brothel door!”