TOM SLICK 50's REVUE
(click to read the article about Tom Slick in The Denver Post)
Marc's reminiscences of Tom Slick:
Since it appeared that the Triple Agency wasn’t promoting EBR (East Broadway Rundown) in venues where we could play original music, after awhile a number of us became disillusioned. An opportunity arose from the Al Roth Agency for the drummer; Terry “Red” McCloskey and myself to join the Tom Slick 50’s band. Slick was currently playing in Florida and due to play in Denver in a week at Taylor’s Supper Club.
Tom Slick (Lenny Maday) wanted to hire a new rhythm section and his agent in Denver offered it to Red and I and a guitar player named Allan (later to become Jinx Jones). They sent us a rehearsal tape and we had a week to learn the songs. The plan was when they finished their engagement on Sunday night we were to “jump on the bus” on to the next gig in Lafayette, Louisiana. The three of us learned the “show” including the songs and arrangements. I remember packing my bag and waiting at the club. When they finished at midnight they started tearing down all the equipment and packing up which was a fairly big production with lights, sound systems, props, costumes, and cases of Dippity Doo etc. We had a 40 foot truck packed by 4AM and it was off to Louisiana with the only stops being for gas. The caravan included the truck, motor home and van and we would all take four hour shifts driving. The group consisted of four singers, five musicians, soundman, light man and roadie. From this point on I felt like I was in the army. Everything was very regimented. We were all paid salaries and were given room and board, and our lives were very controlled. Tom told us, 'Welcome, you are the 112th,113th, and 114th musicians to join Tom Slick!'
We were all to pick stage names, mine became Speedy Gonzales. The guitar player became Kid Gloves. Later on he changed his name to Jinx Jones and made a name for himself as a solo act, including playing lead for Chuck Berry. He was and is a monster guitar player www.jinxjones.com. The drummer, Terry McCloskey, became Red. Tom’s wife was named Bonnie. She was the keyboard player. The shows were all choreographed with different skits for each song, and we all wore makeup and tons of dippity doo. At the end of each show the lights would turn down and the sax player; Alan Hutchinson, Jinx and myself would all “mount” the three upfront singers, and when the lights came on we played the finale riding the singers. I rode Rocky Rydell. The first time at rehearsal he told me relax or it will hurt! I learned pretty quickly to relax as he grabbed my knees and jumped up. These guys would dance around on the stage with us on their backs. I’ll bet Tom doesn’t use that part of the act now!
From Louisiana we went to Houston to play a month at Astroworld, and then to Florida. In Houston we appeared on the Good Morning Houston TV show. Getting up at 3:30AM after doing a show the previous night wasn’t fun. Also on the show was Chuck Norris the TV and movie star. I remember thinking what a pompous ass he was. I think he had small man syndrome. One really sweet guy we met was in a club in Dallas. We were doing "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers and after the set guess who walked up to us, Bobby Hatfield! He had been in the audience and really made us feel good by saying he thought we did a great job on their song. The southern tour ended with a week at the Inferno Club in Orlando, Florida.
Again every time we finished a gig it was pack up immediately and take off for the next gig, and no stopping except for gas. By the time we arrived back in Denver we were smelling a bit ripe. The gig in Denver was at the Turn of the Century. On the bill with us was Gallagher the comedian watermelon smasher. He was about to become more famous squashing the melons and I can tell you he really knows how to make a mess of the stage. After this Denver performance I decided to get off the bus. After that it was a day job in real estate and on to other musical adventures with Bob Webber and Windfall.
Recently I contacted Jinx
Jones to see if he had any reminiscences. Here
is what he had to say:
Wow thanks for reaching out to me. I remember having to get up on those guy’s shoulders, which always scared the heck out of me. Those were good times despite the Tom Slick internal mayhem. Do you remember the “Inferno” in Orlando, and the “After Dark” in Lafayette, LA? I still think back to the time we had to get up at like 6 am to appear on Good Morning Houston, (and you played your upright string bass for that show).
I’ve recently connected with our old pal Rocky Rydell on Facebook after a couple of decades of not knowing what happened to him.
I have a great deal of treasured memories from the Tom Slick Band, most of which involve breaking the law or tormenting Lenny. I guess the statute of limitations has run out on most of the things we did. I do recall playing in Fort Collins when we were unloading the Ryder truck and Rocky and Bud tossed a lit pack of firecrackers in the truck (with Lenny in it) and closed the door. The only problem with this well-crafted prank was I was also in the truck with Lenny at the time. As you’ll recall, Lenny had three serious phobias: riding an elevator, being closed in a small space, and fireworks. So I got to experience a full throttle Lenny meltdown while locked in the truck dodging firecrackers!
I’m sure you remember Red McCloskey, our drummer. I remember him telling our brand new light guy Joe Pierce that his girlfriend was probably at Mr. Lucky’s in Denver picking up guys while he was out of town. The next morning Joe’s room (in Lafayette, LA) was empty and he’d split for Denver. As I recall, Red had a permanently attached can of Budweiser in his hand at all times.
One of my fondest memories of our trip to Florida that summer of 1978 was when Alan Hutchinson and I borrowed Lenny’s 1972 Toyota and decided to make a day trip to Daytona and Cocoa Beach. This is when you could drive your car right on the beach, and since it wasn’t really our car anyway, we decided to experience the dune buggy qualities of the car. While driving about 60 in the sand, I tried to dodge the pylon for the pier and plunged the car into the ocean. Several bystanders helped out by running out into the water to help push the car back. After a complete soaking with salt water, the car wouldn’t start. We figured we still had a few hours to get back for that night’s gig, (we played every night there as I recall), so I disconnected the spark plug cables to let them dry out and we went up to the pier for a cold beer. When we came back, I realized I hadn’t remembered which wire went to which spark plug. After hooking it up randomly, the car started coughing and emitting black smoke from the exhaust pipe. We sort of limped back to Orlando and just barely made it to the gig on time. Of course we had to explain what happened, and I can’t remember what cock and bull story we made up for Lenny but that may have been the last time I was allowed to use the car for quite some time.
Man, I could go on for days with these stories. You get ten or twelve guys who are in their early 20’s on the road and this is what happens.
Let me know how this connects with Sugarloaf, I really liked them and saw them play at Mammoth Gardens when I was in 10th grade. Is Jerry Corbetta still around? Do you ever hear from Larry Baird? I played at Lannie Garrett’s club a few times in the past couple of years.
Hi Marc, great photos. I remember quite well the Chuck Norris appearance on Good Morning Houston. We thought he was a bit effeminate because he was wearing makeup. Rocky and I were all set to give him grief, but then they showed a clip from “Good Guys Wear Black, (his first film starring role) and he was kicking through the windshield of a Camaro, and then kicking the guy’s ass who was driving.
I remember Alan meeting up with the girl who played Wonder Woman at Disney World’s water ski show in Orlando. Her name was Carmen. He even wrote a song about her.
You’re welcome to use my anecdotes about Tom Slick for the website.
I assume you’re still living in Denver?
Let’s chat more,
Below are some photos from a show at Astroworld in Houston, TX in 1978:
For more photos
from this show click here.
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