Little Richard - Bronze Liberace - Queen's University 1971
been decades since I’ve smoked a bowl of hashish and none finer than sharing
with the Bronze Liberace - Little Richard at Alumni Hall January 1971 – Queen’s
I was keyboardist/vocalist with
Toronto outfit ‘Homestead,’ an act that caught the attention of Guess Who producer Jack Richardson in
1970. Jack understood my position with the American military and opposition to
the Vietnam War and did all he could to rectify. I just made the task near
Homestead concerts were testimonials
against war and degradation of the environment. I wore more Canadian flags than
springtime on Parliament Hill. Jack just rolled with the situation.
We were invited to open for Little
Richard – 7:30 set. The stage was outfitted in these humongous Traynor
speakers. Back then they were cheap and sounded like stampeding caribou when
We play our opening set which was received as if we had been sentenced to an embalming until my ‘save the planet’ pitch – things then
heated up. We won round one..
Now we are downstairs in dressing
area and Little Richard is yet to arrive due to a bomb scare over Cleveland.
Richard refuses a chartered flight to London, Ontario fearing plane would
crash. He arrives at 11PM half hour after second show was to start by ground.
I’m killing time with a quarter ounce
of Lebanese hashish. I don’t think anyone other than me and I smoked.
Suddenly, Richard’s band arrives and catches the action.
Hey bro,’ what’s that you smoking,”
says horn section. ‘Hashish’, I reply. ‘Well, give me some.’ Smooth huh? So I
cut a couple grams loose and the guys disappear in the john find a toilet roll,
unravel foil from a cigarette pack, punched a few holes – Wah la – ‘Big High!
I’m kicking around with promoter when
Richard walks in demands pay. The promoter tells him to play first. Not far
away is Richard’s bodyguard packing heat and sinister look. ‘Pay me
mutherfucker or I don’t play.” Well, I have to go up to box office and count
the money, I hope they will do this.” Get moving”, says, Richards”
So I’m sitting there looking at this
made up cosmetic icon not knowing what to expect when he goes off and lectures
about ‘taking care of business’ then horn section returns. “Give me more of
that good shit.” I can’t believe the audacity of this clown. Quickly, Richards
jumps in – “what shit? The hippie got some bad hashish,” says the viper man.
Richards looks at me – “Is that so, I
ain’t never smoked hashish – is it any good.” I look at him and think – fucking
Little Richard! “Yeah man- this is Lebanese and it’s got a nice froth on it.”
‘Light me some hippie guy – I need to
get high.” I do just that and LR gets his love on. “This shit is outrageous.”
The next half hour we continue bowl
lighting. “What’s your name? It’s Bill! Your band? Homestead! Tell you what
Bill – I like you man. Paul McCartney is playing on my next album and me on his
– then I’m playing on yours.”
I’m young and cynical and don’t give
a shit. Little Richard is in the house. He's playing me for the remaining gram.
Richard collects half pay and hits
stage and rocks the room. I feel like a miniature entertainer. This was big
bold history and I’m a witness. The sound was horrible but who gave a damn. His
foot hit the floor like a sledgehammer and he sang in ungodly tones – ‘Lucille,
Blueberry Hill, Be Bop A Lula, Good Golly Miss Molly, Satisfaction, Midnight
Special, Tutti Frutti’ and on. I’d rocked with Chuck Berry in 1968 but it in no
Half time! We’re back in waiting
room. “Hey B, got anymore of that killing shit? Sure do – light me a bowl. “That
I do. Band arrives – “give us more.” Are you kidding I’m with the man and ain’t
blowing anymore on greedy horn section.
Paymaster fucks up. “Sorry Mr.
Richard. We have to wait until closing time.” Richard – ‘ What are you saying?
Get my money or the night is over.” The dude reaches down and touches Richard.
“Get your fucking fingers off me queer. Then bodyguard moves in and clutches
hidden gun.” Richard intercedes- “Did you get the message – get my money”
Richard looks over at me – “fill the
bowl Bill - looks like a long night – you say that shit is Hebanese?”
Eventually, promoter pays up and
Richard does second show.
We’re on our way home and stop at one
of those unfriendly late night diners. I walk in with Kris and the catcalls
start. ‘Hippie, dick sucker, fuck face…when suddenly this tall lanky black dude
in pimp suit strides in and slithers to bathroom. All action ceases. Not a
sound - everyone hesitates. A few minutes pass and the guy exits and you can
see a gun under short jacket. He taps – looks about and gives one of those
stares that freeze the fearful then exits. The last words heard were – “Fuck
me, who was that – Shaft”!
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