by Jerry Honigman
Same Old Song
In September, 1981, I was living at Jamie Shoop’s house in Studio City. We had plans to attend the show that night at the Forum – the finale of the Jacksons’ Triumph Tour. When the car arrived to pick Jamie and me up, the couple we were going with was already inside. Jamie introduced me to “Ray” and his companion. Nice folks.
Once we were in our seats at the sold-out venue, I couldn’t help but notice the continuing line of young girls bashfully approaching Ray and asking for his autograph. I turned to him and asked, “Who ARE you man?”
He just laughed and said, “Nobody.”
I looked at Jamie and asked, “Who the hell is this guy?” She told me he was Ray Parker, Jr. I was still in the dark and was informed he’d been in a successful R&B group called Raydio and was now going solo. Fair enough.
That was all forgotten once the show started. The concert was fire, and Michael, of course, KILLED it. On the stage, I recognized my friend, David Williams (“Big Brother”) on guitar, leading the band with crack precision. After the concert, we adjourned to the Forum Club for the after-party. Very festive. The Jacksons were all there mingling, except for Michael, who was probably hiding somewhere with his chimp.
I tracked down Williams to tell him how great the show was (like he needed my validation), and we started making our own plans to get together. Which we definitely did. Over the next two or three years, David and I collaborated on an album’s worth of tunes which still hold up, but are perpetually shelved, like 99% of recorded music.
Cut to the summer of 1984 when my concert buddy, Ray Parker, Jr. suddenly was topping the charts with the theme song to the number one movie, “Ghostbusters.” He had, of course, lifted the bulk of that song from “I Want a New Drug,” Huey Lewis’s smash from the previous year. Litigation ensued.
The public, swallowing what they were fed, had, unwittingly and lemming-like, made both songs hits
without recognizing they were virtually identical.
Ya gullible sons-a-bitches.
I had a friend named Jill who was a stewardess with Eastern Airlines.
Let me say that again. I had a friend named Jill who was a stewardess with Eastern Airlines. That’s a group of words you won’t hear today. No more stewardesses. No more Eastern Airlines. Although, at the time, early to mid-80s, both were going strong.
Jill lived in Miami where Eastern was based, and we’d get together when she came to Los Angeles and had a layover.
On one such occasion, a Saturday night, on the television there came a commercial for the next day’s NFL game between the San Diego Chargers and the Miami Dolphins. I mentioned that it would be a good game, and Jill said, “Wanna go? I can get tickets.”
My reply was a razor-sharp “if only”, and she said, “No, really. Pack a bag. I’ll have you back by Monday. Piece of cake.”
As morning came, I found myself being secreted on board the jet by Jill and her conspiratorial crew, who treated me like royalty and kept me fed and lubricated all the way across the country. That afternoon, I was at the game.
The whole time there, I kept singing a song by actor, comic, artist, and writer Martin Mull, “Am I in Heaven, or am I in Miami?” Couldn’t get it out of my head.
We repeated this stunt a month or so later – this time for a party in Coconut Grove. Pretty much the same routine, except this time I had to ride a claustrophobic little elevator down to the galley for part of the flight with one of Jill’s co-workers while she prepared the meals to be sent up to the cabin. Small price to pay (as in, no price).
Any shenanigans like that these days, and I would more than probably be on Homeland Security’s no-fly list along with the FBI’s most wanted.
In the fall of 1980, my band, the Romeos, was wrapping up its national tour in New York. Our friends in the band LeRoux were in town as well. They were opening for the Doobies at Radio City, and we were opening for Roy Orbison at Town Hall.
That afternoon, we (Bootsie, Dony, Dief, and I) went over to visit LeRoux’s Leon Medica and Jeff Pollard before their gig and to walk around and take in the famous venue. As we were leaving, standing outside under the marquee with Leon and Jeff, a pigeon, perched on the sign, dropped a deuce on Bootsie’s balding pate. This was enjoyed by all, except Boots.
Over recent years, Leon has developed an ever-increasing and debilitating case of Alzheimer’s. He’s really no longer with us. But, as you may know, as the disease starts to take its insidious toll on its victims, they exhibit repetitive story-telling as they cling to some of their favorite memories.
For the past decade, up until the past three or for dark years, whenever we got together or spoke on the phone, Leon would brighten up and say, “Hey, Jerry. Remember that time that bird crapped on Bootsie’s head?” And then he would just crack up. A real knee-slapper of a recollection.
Around 1990, when Leon and his wife, Mary Masterson, were living in Baton Rouge, and I was visiting, Leon was showing off a lot of his career memorabilia – his platinum record for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack album, his songwriting accolades for “New Orleans Ladies”, his pictures from USO tours with other notable music stars.
And Mary turned to me and summed it up beautifully.
“You know, Jerry, Leon is just like a big ole dog walking around the neighborhood, and bones just fall out of the trees.”