A Night I’ll Never Forget

Disclaimer: In the following post, I discuss my use of illegal drugs. Let me be clear, I no longer do illegal drugs or have plans to ever do them again, nor do I wish to condone or encourage their use by anyone. Illegal drugs were a part of my life in the past and I can’t change that.

Mushroom Night with Eric Burdon

Mushroom Night with Eric Burdon

In late 1989 I hooked up with Eric Burdon, the powerful vocalist of the Animals and their many hits. He was the infamous “long-haired leaping gnome”… in his own words, from War ‘s song “Spill the Wine.” He and guitarist Robbie Krieger from the Doors were going on tour (Robbie wrote their big hit “Light My Fire”)

Eric was known at the time of being a legendary party animal (sorry for the pun… LOL) and was remembered from hanging out with Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix on notorious romps from Hollywood to London.

I was told Eric was clean now and to not offer him any drugs or alcohol… OK…

For myself, I had come up with a brilliant idea on how to beat my own cocaine problem at the time – by taking “magic mushrooms” – Yeah I know… brilliant!

Somewhere along the way Eric found out and started secretly asking for a couple of mushrooms. So I gave him some… and we tripped up and down the coast.

We were on a tour of clubs from San Diego’s Belly Up Tavern to San Francisco. At one point we played a club in San Luis Obispo. A girlfriend of mine who happened to deal cocaine had gone on ahead and booked a room at a local hotel so I stopped for a visit before the show.  I had taken a hand full of very powerful mushrooms and she enticed me into a hot bath after doing a few lines of blow. One thing lead to another and after a few hours slipped by I realized I was late and it was just about show time.

I was driving a black 5.0 Mustang. A very fast and dangerous car for the likes of me.

How I ever survived that car I’ll never know. I paid a fortune in speeding tickets.

So I’m pulling up to the club tripping hard out of my mind on ‘shrooms and blow and there’s a line around the block to get in and NO PARKING anywhere… so what do I do? I screech right up in front, jump out with the keys in the car and motoring running, grab my horn and bolt inside the club… Just left my car in the middle of the street running with no idea what would happen to it… yeah, brilliant!!!!

The club is packed and rockin’!!! The band is just starting the first song and I make my way to the backstage area and no one is there. I’m trippin’ big time now, but my internal clock says “stay cool, you’re gonna make it on time”, as I didn’t play on the first couple of songs… so I wasn’t officially late  – yet. I’m getting my horn together when I hear the band kick into “Don’t Bring Me Down,” which I had a sax solo on and was my first song.

I’m just about to open the door to the stage that was up a couple steps when it flies open and there’s Eric staring me down with his hand out saying “You’re late!!!”

I had a feeling he would be wanting his fix of ‘shrooms so I was prepared with three massive mushrooms in my hand. I slammed them on to his open palm and he inhaled them and said, “Let’s go!!!” We arrive onstage and the place is pumpin’!!

I swear to God, I couldn’t make this up. As I arrive at my mic it’s just in time for my solo and I rip in to it. It feels like my horn is a blazing rocket and I’m just holding on for the ride. I blew my ass off on that solo and every other sax and harp solo that show. We had two shows that night.

Now we’re backstage on the intermission before the second show and bass player Dave Meros is commenting on my playing, basically saying “Wassup, man? You’re on fire!!” I own up to Dave and the boys in the band that I’m trippin’ hard on mushrooms and that they should try some for the next show. Funny enough, most of the guys had never tried them. Somehow I convinced everyone of those fucks to take them… hahaha… one for all, all for one type shit… EXCEPT Robbie Krieger – He was on Chemotherapy at the time and begged off.

The band fuckin’ rocked that second show. Seriously!!! At one point I remember watching Eric jumping all around the stage singing his ass off, and looking across stage to see the keyboard player so into the music looking down at the keys as he played like he was trying to melt into the piano, the bass player and drummer with eyes closed grooving hard…  drummer bangin’… and then Robbie and me locked eyes and he was shaking his head with the biggest shit eating grin on his face… He knew what I had done.

I just shrugged with my arms out and palms up, laughing with a look like

“Hey, what can I say…Ya got me!”

It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

(Read part 2 of this tale)

©2010, Zavala Songs, Inc.

1 comment

Right… You still don’t get high

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