Delayed in Sicilly!

I think it was about the mid Eighties when John did some reunion gigs with Danny Thompson at The Shaw Theatre in London. It was just John on a stool with his acoustic and echoplex, Danny Thompson slapping the Double B and Arran Ahmun giving some rhythmic accompaniment. This was such a rare occasion we went at least three times, each one different. John and Danny were obviously enjoying the gigs and had taken to telling jokes between songs. One night Danny Thompson started to ask a question “What do you call a scouser in a semi-detached?” This was such an old one and I could not resist ” A burglar” I shouted (from only the second row I hasten to add). “You bas***d!” shouted back Danny, and the audience and JM laughed in a mocking fashion.

My worst experience with JM (and I have had a few) was a most surreal affair at the Mean Fiddler in London. My girlfriend and I had persuaded some friends from work (to whom we had given JM tapes) to come to a concert. As with all JM club gigs, you had to wait some time in cramped overcrowded conditions for him to make his appearance. We had got there early and had been standing there waiting for a couple of hours and I am starting to get worried. Arran Ahmun, Alan Thompson etc had all been on to check instruments and an announcement came over the PA that John had been delayed on his flight from Sicily and the gig would be starting in about an hour. An hour passed and I am now convinced that JM is not gonna show. We start to playfully shout things like “Come on John, you are pissed again, get yer arse out here” etc. A couple of middle aged fans in front of us start to get irate with us insulting the great man. But I knew…

Eventually, about three hours late, John comes on to applause and picks up his guitar and starts growling and shouting at the sound guys to solve the bit of feedback, then moans at his guitar roadie for tuning his guitar wrong. Bad signs. the band then launches into “Mad Dog Days”. Then came the big guitar solo. John goes into it and then, amazingly begins to projectile vomit into a bucket that had been placed next to him on stage – all the while playing the fucking solo! He then collapsed in a heap and was dragged off by two roadies as he clutched his stomach. I was the first to the door and got my money back. I could not listen to another JM record for a whole year after that. I am back on track now but his gigs can be a bit hit and miss. A good pal of mine used to work very closely with John and he describes him as a “drunken, mad, Scottish, schizophrenic son of a bitch” which I think sums him up rather well.

Mike V