I’m happy to report that everything went according to plan as regards the CD presentation gig in Amersfoort, Holland with Mick Taylor as ‘special guest’. As soon as all the details were agreed, including rehearsal time, I dug out all my old Stones vinyl that had Mick on them to give them a spin. I also got busy searching for any info I could find on him on the internet. You know, the more I read and the more I listened to those old albums, and his solo material, the more excited I got to think that this man was going to be sharing the boards with me in a very short while.
The evening’s festivities got off to a great start with Slidin’ Slim (my friend from Sweden), his slide and his resonator guitar. I think only about 10/15% of the audience actually got to see what he looked like as the venue was jam-packed and as Slidin’ sits while he plays there was no way you’d see him if you were at the back of the hall. The main thing is, they could hear him and from what I could hear from the dressing room they enjoyed his show very much.
Because Mick was going to be playing quite a few songs with us, we decided to sort of split the show into two parts – the first part was more Irish influenced and the second part more blues & rock. Slidin’ joined me for two songs in the acoustic break (Alberta and Talk To Your Daughter). We did one song with the whole band after that and then it was time to announce Mick. I didn’t want to announce him until I was sure everything was alright and that he could actually make it to the stage. I got the thumbs up so I announced the living legend Mick Taylor but it still took him ages to get the very short distance from the dressing room entrance to the stage. The poor guy was sweating already and he hadn’t even played a note.
We started with “In The Dead Of Night” and it fell right into place. Funny that someone had said earlier when they first heard “Beyond The Tears” that “In The Dead Of Night” sounded like the kind of songs they Stones weren’t writing anymore and here I was playing it with a former Stone!! Doesn’t get much better than that, does it? I should probably back up a bit here and say we’d agreed during rehearsals that if Mick felt like it he’d just keep on playing the solos until he felt like he’d said all he needed to say. This left the way clear for him to really get into the songs and he dug deep and came up with some brilliant stuff – hot stuff!!
We ran right into the next song “It Takes Time” – an old Otis Rush tune and as Mick has never really stopped playing blues this was a piece of cake for him. Mick took over for the next song “You Shook Me” and he sang it too. Played some lovely slide guitar on it and I had time to catch my breath and actually watch him a little.
We then did “You Don’t Love Me”, which Mick had picked up on on my site. He liked the version and wanted to have a go at it. Next up was “Long Grey Mare” – a song I heard Peter Green doing and I’ve always enjoyed playing it.
We then had to slow it down again as Mick wanted to play on “Lonely Road”. He just loves the song so who was I to say ‘no’, right. I thought we did a good version of it. It was time to wind things up at this stage and I knew there would probably be a few people in the audience who were hoping for a Stones song from Mick. I thought long and hard about what song to finish off with. It had to be a good song. It had to be a fast song. It had to be something Mick hadn’t played lately. It had to have some Stones connection. Finally I came up with the idea of finishing off with Chuck Berry’s “Bye Bye Johnny”. As soon as we hit that opening riff I knew I’d made the right decision and the added bonus was watching Mick play it. He just took off and started playing some of the best rock ‘n’ roll guitar riffs I’ve heard in a long time. It was amazing stuff to watch.
It was time for us to say bye bye – to Johnny and everyone else but of course there was no way we were going to get away that easy. Towards the end of rehearsals I’d talked to Mick about him doing an ‘actual’ Stones song. I could well imagine that he didn’t feel like having to revisit his past all the time but there were versions of Stones songs online that he’d either recorded or played so I knew he wasn’t TOTALLY against the idea. We agreed that one would be alright, decided upon which one and worked out a pretty decent version of it.
OK, back to the gig. We took the stage and Mick announced that basically he’d been gently nudged in the direction of doing the following and we tore into Jumpin’ Jack Flash! My, my my, the place exploded. I think we made a lot of people’s dreams come true and there was just no way you could go higher than that. Mission accomplished I think you could say!
I have to say it was a real pleasure working with him. He could not have been nicer or more accommodating, both him and his management. They were easy to work with and we had no problems whatsoever working things out and coming to the various agreements. I was thrilled that Mick practically insisted on having some rehearsal time as it proved to me that he was taking this as seriously as I was. We had a great time in rehearsals. It was a very enjoyable, laidback affair and he said afterwards that he really enjoyed it too. We ran through some other stuff and just had a good time jamming and talking.
He mentioned that he remembered the first time he saw Rory Gallagher play. That was when Rory supported John Mayall in Belfast in 1965. He was impressed with Rory’s playing and attitude even then.
He mentioned the name Paul Brady, which threw me a little as I never expected him to know about Paul. Not only did he know him he’s actually recorded with him. I suppose the nicest story of all was to hear that he thought highly of the songs on “Beyond The Tears”. Now THAT made me feel good.