by Jerry Honigman
Turns out, Dick Clark was a nice guy.
One day, in 1978, Dony Wynn and I were riding down Riverside Drive in the San Fernando Valley during rush hour. We had just gotten back to L.A. from Louisiana where I had gone to record the songs I dubbed “The Romeos” and had some of the tapes of the demos with us.
As we came to a stop at the light at Laurel Canyon, I looked to the right and saw, a couple of lanes over, Dick Clark who was apparently driving home from work.
I impulsively reached into the glove box and grabbed one of the cassettes. I got out of the car and made my way over to his and tapped on the glass. He rolled down his window, smiled and said, “Hello. What can I do for you?”
I said, “Hey, Mr. Clark. My name is Jerry Honigman and my band, the Romeos, just recorded this demo, and I’d love for you to hear the songs.”
He took the tape and warmly said, “Thanks, Jerry. Nice to meet you. Looking forward to listening.”
I went back to Dony’s car, and, of course, nothing came of it, but how gracious was that? Totally charming and friendly. Just think about that situation taking place these days. I’d be in jail… or dead.
Questioning the Universe
A good musical buddy of ours was Dan Ferguson. Dan is a world-class guitar player whom I had met on my very first session in Los Angeles doing a demo as a solo artist for Elektra Records. Alexandria native, Bobby Thomas, had secured the deal and was producing the session. He brought in some great players, including Dan (and others like Ed Sanford and Roger Johnson of the Sandford-Townsend Band).
Dan’s dad was Allyn Ferguson who was a well-known and respected Hollywood composer and arranger. He had written some of the great television theme songs, including the theme for “The Rockford Files” on which Dan played the iconic guitar part. Our friendship with Dan was further cemented through our association and work with the Toto circle.
Dan had a recording studio in the guest house behind his home called The Wheel of Cheese, and we used to hang out there quite a bit, playing and fleshing out ideas. One night, Dan Diefenderfer and I were back there with Ferg just noodling around. Typical hang. I decided to call it a night and headed home.
The next day, Dief and I were back over and Dief said to me, “Man, you shouldn’t have left so early last night. Keltner came by. (Keltner is of course, Jim Keltner, one of the greatest drummers and session players of all time. His credits are too numerous to mention here. Google him.) Yeah, he dropped in with an English friend of his named George. Nice guy.”
Ferguson looked at Dief in wide-eyed disbelief. “Dief! You dumbass. You didn’t recognize him? That was George Harrison!”
Dief said, “Oh, was it? Like I said, nice guy.”
Once I pulled my jaw off the floor and reigned in the malice that I felt toward Dief in that moment, I looked up toward heaven and asked out loud, “WHY!? Why HIM and not ME!?”
Sometimes things just don’t make sense.
The Ultimate Air Guitar
Tommy Heath and Jim Keller were Tommy Tutone. They were on Columbia records with my band, The Romeos, and we were all good friends.
In 1982, their song “867-5309/Jenny”, which Keller had co-written with Alex Call of the band Clover, was racing up the charts. They had a big following in Southern California and were playing the rock club, The Golden Bear in Huntington Beach. We went to the gig offering our love and enthusiastic support.
The place was packed and the joint was rocking. When they kicked in to “Jenny”, Keller caught my eye and motioned me to climb back stage. When I got there, one of the roadies was waiting for me with an unplugged Fender Stratocaster which he draped over my neck and pointed me to the stage. It was time for the solo, and Jim slipped offstage and winked at me as Tommy told the crowd, “Ladies and Gentlemen, on the guitar, from the Romeos, our good friend, Jerry Honigman!”
I quickly caught on to the gag, and as Jim started playing the ride from behind the curtain, I started faking it. I realized he was watching my hands and trying to follow what I was pretending to do on the neck of the guitar, so I switched into Rock God mode and let it rip, making all the appropriate moves and faces. As the solo came to a climactic end and Jim came back on stage, I raised my arms in triumph and saluted the adoring crowd goodbye!
I was certain that everyone knew it was a joke, but at the end of the night as we headed for our car, a couple of typical SoCal stoner kids nodded their heads and said, “Righteous playing, dude.”