Readers of March 2015 CX Magazine might recall this – an ABC documentary from 1977 unearthed about life on the road as a roadie with Australian glam rock band Hush. Phil Eastick was one of the roadcrew.
Hush on Tour: Exploit the Crew
by Julius Grafton.
“My folks think I’m crazy. A lot of people think I’m crazy. At my age, there aren’t too many guys that have the responsibility I got”.
‘Roadie’ Phil Eastick is talking to camera, on an old ABC documentary called ‘Second Fiddle’. At the time, his weekly pay was just $50.
The half hour show was re-run on ABC Rage in January and is now on YouTube. It follows glam rock band Hush on a regional tour, from one nameless town to another across Victoria in the summer of 1977. Phil drove a crappy Kay Truck Rental, with his younger brother Mike, and veteran roadie David ‘Pops’ Houghton crammed into the uncomfortable cabin.
Watching how it was almost forty years ago is almost an out of body experience for someone who was there.
Before he died in 2010, Phil told CX: “When I took over the Hush gig in the 70’s I had a PA built by Jands with the old Tycobrahe (Jim Gamble) desk which was rumoured to have been the James Gang monitor desk.”
“Pops, Michael and I were featured in an episode of Big Country – very embarrassing footage now – mostly shot in Victoria – and featuring Geoff Schucraft as Tour Manager.”
OVERNIGHTERS ARE US
In the footage, the three crew routinely drive overnight in the horrible truck, and live on old fashioned hamburgers and milkshakes. They all work with a lit fag.
The early PA is horn loaded, the lights operated from side of stage on a Strand Miniset 10 channel dimmer. Steel Par 64 cans (alloy came later) sit bolted to a frame on pneumatic lifter lighting towers.
Colin Baldwin remembers touring with Hush. ‘It almost killed me’. His lighting company, Baldwin Lighting then hired the band their lights.
Typical of the day, the tour schedules were arranged with zero regard for crew. An example from the era, had Hush do Dalby, Brisbane, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville then Cairns – all without a day off, and all by road.
Band manager Peter Rix is shown in his office, Gold Records on the wall, opining how tough a business it is. ‘If the crew miss a show, or roll a truck, it is very marginal’.
Yet footage shows tour manager Geoff Schucraft counting $20 bills. A lot of them. The ticket price was $4 – high at the time, and as many as 1,000 kids would cram a town hall. That’s $4,000 a day. Contrasting with the $50 crew wage per week.
Someone was making serious money.
While they pack up, the band are in a motel room with a gaggle of girls. ‘Schucraft’s day goes on’ the narrator says. ‘He makes sure the band get enough sleep, is servant, jailor, and accountant’.
The crew come into his motel room. ‘The truck is packed’. He tells them the next gig is 270k away. ‘What time’s the access?’ asks Phil. ‘9, 9.30’ says Geoff. ‘Here’s $120, Michael can you get some explosives out of that?’
In the 1970’s flash powder could be purchased from a fireworks company without permit, or you’d visit any gun store and produce a gun license to get gunpowder. The FFF grade was the best!
NO SLEEP, NO GLORY
‘No sleep, no glory’, the narrator says as dawn breaks through the truck windows. ‘After two months you start to go numb’, Phil tells. ‘Every day becomes just another day. You’re starting to do things from memory’.
‘We’re doing it the hardest way, you’re leaving right after some physically hard work, you don’t have time for a shower. You get in the truck and it’s exactly the same as when you got out of it.’
‘When it comes time for breakfast, there’s often no where to get it. If you’re lucky, there’s a petrol station if not, there’s the cans in the back’.
Road crew in that era toured spare fuel.
‘For the band it’s breakfast in bed’, the narrator says as the motel breakfast is delivered through the slot in the wall. ‘You’re bacon’s crisper than mine’, one popstar says.
Shucraft is on the phone to Rix, suggesting he come down and show his face. ‘That’s your job’, Rix says, but agrees to visit the tour and sort out some ‘hassle with a promoter’.
‘The three workhorses of Hush are a highly disposable item’, the narrator says. Phil is saying the crew need another guy on the road, but it would mean an extra vehicle and salary.
‘Hush are extremely keen students of business efficiency’.
ABUSE AND EXPLOITATION RULE
‘We abuse the roadcrew a lot, they have to expect it’, says guitarist Les Gock. ‘We expect more than is humanly possible’, adds singer Keith Lamb.
‘Most roadies want to be a pop star’, says Dave. ‘Roadies want to be stars, and in trying to be a star they are the ones who chuck TV’s out the window’, says Les.
‘Roadies have as big an ego as a lot of people in bands’.
‘The idea is to take four guys on the road, a working rock and roll band, and exploit them’, says Peter Rix. ‘The show. Forget about access or power hassles, or what kind of hall keeper you run into. It’s (about) the show’, says Phil.
The narrator sums up: ‘Philip Eastick came to Hush as roadie number 28, and lasted longer than anyone else. During the 8 weeks it took to make this program, Hush acquired a new bass player, dumped their manager, and moved through roadie 29, 30, 31 and 32.’
As for Hush, they fizzled. Poor old Keith Lamb was found wandering on a country road some years later and a psychiatrist deemed him to have mental issues as he claimed to have 13 gold records. He actually did, and he is still around somewhere.
Les Gock went on to become a successful jingle writer.
(Footnote) At least 8 crew died in motor accidents across this decade. Worst was a Swanee truck that crashed during an overnighter in 1980 and burned, killing Allan Dallow and Billy Rowe. 22 crew from this era have committed suicide.
CX Magazine – March 2015 Entertainment technology news and issues for Australia and New Zealand – in print and free online www.cxnetwork.com.au
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