What was Roger like to look after, did he get in trouble and did he really have drumsticks with his name printed on them?
He was pretty easy to look after, he would have the odd tantrum, but don’t we all at sometime or another. We were very matey so we had a great rapport with each other, which meant that if something needed doing we just sat around and talked it over. Simple really. During the show we could almost lip read each other, and we had little hand and head signals which meant we could relay messages to each other very easy and quickly. So, for instance, if he wanted Brians guitar turned up in his monitors, a couple of quick coded nods and Hey Presto, job done and we’re all happy. He never got in any trouble, but the pair of us got up to a lot of mischief. Baring the Monaco incident we never had an encounter with the police and neither of us ever threw a punch at anyone else. Although during the recording of Fun In Space I’m sure he wanted to belt me when I blew him up with various exploding cigarettes, matches, lighters and pepper flavoured chewing gum. We just had a good time really. Ruth, you seemed surprised, but yes he did have his name on his sticks. Some guitarists have their names on their plectrums. He had his name on his sticks and his face on the bass drum, just in case he ever got amnesia he would know who he was
Roger would have some sticks in the dressing room and would bash chairs and tables, and sometimes my head, so his hands were flexible. When they were dressed and ready to go on, Roger and Freddie would screech. They didn’t have a song to loosen their vocal chords, they would just screech these high pitched noises. I can assure you it didn’t sound very musical to me. If a stick broke SatNavdebate.co.uk Roger would just change sticks, he had about a dozen hanging on his floor tom-tom. If the bass drum pedal broke I would grab a new one and dive on to the riser, lying face down between his stool and the floor toms. Most of the time he will have moved his foot as much as possible, but if he hadn’t I would tap his ankle so he knew I was there and he would move his foot so the offending pedal could be swapped.
While he was waiting for his luggage at L.A. airport, a guy came up to him and said “You’re him, I know who you are, can I get your autograph cause you’re famous, I know who you are, you’re him I know it.” Rog was giving him a polite smile and was just about to sign for him when he suddenly blurted out, “You are him, I know it, you’re Warren Zevon.” He left feeling a complete thingyhead. Still in the good old U.S.of A., Mr Taylor had a close encounter with Andy Williams. They said their Hi’s and Andy starts off, “Man, I love your album, it sounds great, I really love it.” Rog was thanking him for his praise when Andy chirps in again, ” Man, that Dark Side Of The Moon is brilliant.” Now lets be honest with each other, Warren Zevon maybe, but one of The Pink Floyd, I don’t think so.
After one of the Japanese tours Roger and myself went for a short break on the way home. We stopped off in Hong Kong and Bangkok. Whilst in Hong Kong, one late drunken evening we meet Andy Warhol and ended up chatting with him for a few hours. (Still to this day I have never understood what all the fuss about him was, but thats me.) After Warhol died his diaries were released in print. A few years later I was at a friends place and while she was getting ready I noticed she had the diaries. I flicked through the pages until I found the year, and I remembered Warhol saying he had just come from China and I wanted to see if he mentioned meeting Rog. I found the Hong Kong section and it read, “Met one of those English rock bands in the elevator, think it was The Clash.” Joe Strummer and Mick Jones maybe.
We decided one year to go to the Montreux Jazz Festival, so there we are, Roger, Dave Richards and me, just standing around, having a few drinks and minding our own business. If anyone knows Dave, he looks more like Warren Zevon than anyone.The three of us were chatting when out of the blue two kids, about 12 years old came over and said to ME, “Can we have your autograph please?” We all looked puzzled and I replied “Why do you want my autograph?” The little girl said “You are the drummer with Queen aren’t you?” I felt so sorry for her I just said she must have mistaken me for someone else, and they left.
Whilst in Montreux we would rent a huge house right on the lake, with the view on the MIH sleeve. The owner of the house had a thing about ducks cause they were everywhere, china, porcelain, wood, plastic, you name it and they were there, so needless to say the place was christened ‘Duckingham Palace.’ To get to DP from the road meant descending a very steep, winding staircase through a very well manicured jungle, not easy at the best of times in the middle of the night. Once inside DP there was a huge lounge to the left, and to the right up a couple of steps was a very long corridor where all the bedrooms were, RT’s was at the very end. Dominique happened to be visiting on this occasion, and the three of us and Dave Richards went to dinner, Swiss wine is excellent and we drank a couple of vineyards, each. After the meal Dom went back to the house and the Taylors had to continue on their mission to become the two stupidest people on the planet, which I can proudly say we succeeded in doing.
By about 3am we decide it is impossible to drink Montreux completely dry, so we threw in the towel, but now I’ve got a huge problem, I would have trouble getting myself home but I had another idiot with me who was in a worst state than me. I managed to sober up briefly to get us back to the house but we’ve now got to negotiate the stairs. The pair of us are brainless with a major fit of the giggles, it’s pitch black and Rogers got his dark glasses on. We get about ten steps down and I hear an almighty thud and when I turn around Roger has hit the deck and I said “Are you OK.” He replies “Yeah, but the ground keeps coming up at me.” I go over to help him up, and as I’m pulling him, down I go. By this time we’re pissing ourselves laughing and rolling around the jungle. We finally get to our feet and continue onwards, with me leading and him leaning on me for support.
Phase one over and the door is insight, and we’re singing, dancing and swaying in every possible direction. Once at the door I can’t find the correct key let alone the lock, and while I’m groping away at the door Rog was propped up against the wall with his head down and his glasses fell off. Being fab I noticed this and picked them up, got the door open and in we went. Once inside he said he was going straight to bed and proceeded up the long corridor, bouncing off each of the walls like a ball in a pinball machine, needless to say I’m cracking up and when he got to the end I said “Rog, do you want your glasses?” He then turns around and does the same walk back again, when he reaches me I put out my hand which was holding his glasses and a big bunch of keys, and yeah you guessed it, he took the keys. Off he goes again playing pinball, but this time he’s trying to put a bunch of keys on his nose. When he was just outside his room I yelled, “Do you want these glasses or not?” He yells back “Yeah, thanks CT.” By this time I’m in dire need to find a toilet cause I thought it was so funny. He finally gets to me and puts his glasses on, has one more trip of pinball, flings open the bedroom door, turns on all the lights and bellows “Darling, I made it.” I will leave it to your own imagination as to what Dom said.
“Do you fancy going to the Monacco Grand Prix, all expenses paid?” That’s the first thing I heard when Rick Parfitt phoned me, but I needed to know more so Roger and I met at Ricks house later that day to get the whole story. Looking back at it now we should have been suspicious ’cause he started, “I met a man in a pub who’s a TV producer and he wanted to know if I would like to go to Monacco, and be filmed watching the Grand Prix. I said Yeah, but if my mate Rog comes along you’ll get Queen and Quo, and we have to take Crystal who looks after us both.” He then proceeded to tell us that we would have a Lear Jet, stocked with Champagne and Caviar, to fly us to Nice, a helicopter from Nice to Monacco then a limo to the hotel. So far so good. Once there
we would have the correct passes to go everywhere and the use of a huge boat, once again stocked with the works, and all meals, hotels, drinks etc.paid for. Sounds great. RT and RP are both fast car freaks, so they were in seventh heaven, me, I couldn’t give a toss, I just like going places and this had all the makings of a good time. How wrong can you be.
The big day arrives and the limo picks me up at home and I head off to get Rog, and then on to Ricks, then to Biggin Hill Airport. We’re sitting around at the private sector and I’m looking for a Lear Jet but can’t see one, so off I go to locate the pilot. “Where’s the jet mate?” I ask. The first shock of the day comes when he tells me we don’t have one, and points to some dodgy little plane with propellers. Oh well, “Is there any booze on it?” A big NO was his reply, so off I go on a mission to locate stacks of alcohol (We’re all nervous flyers) Somebody tightened the elastic band and this excuse for a Lear Jet finally got off the ground. We’re getting nicely tanked up as we wave goodbye to the White Cliffs of Dover, and greet Calais on our trip south, when the plane starts to descend. What now? We land in Dijon to get fuel and the airstrip won’t take the pilots card, so Rick uses his Amex and it seemed to take forever, but we finally get back in the air and continue to calm our nerves. It was a long flight, but a few jokes and a few too many slurps kept it all lighthearted until the pilot turned and said, “Do you guys wanna see Marseilles by night, it’s really pretty?” I replied with a stern no, but we still saw it. After a seven hour flight we finally land in Nice and we get to meet the man from the pub, who’s name I can’t remember, but he did have a incredibly defective haircut and instantly became known as the poodle.
Once the bad flight was out of the way, it all went down hill. “Where’s the helicopter?” I ask. “We dont have one.””Where’s the limo then?” “We don’t have one.””Well how the f*** do we get to Monacco then”The poodle informs us that he has a car and he’s gonna drive. When we get to his car, it’s a Renault 5 and theres us three with luggage and the poodle. We cram in and set of, making a very long detour into the center of Nice to pick up Mrs Poodle, now were very uncomfortable and apart from not being used to driving on the right, he’s also a terrible driver. I had quite a few visions of joining Grace Kelly. When we finally get to the hotel I go into tour mode, approach the desk, “Hi, you have three rooms for us, Mr. R Parfitt, Mr. R Taylor and Mr. C Taylor.” Another slap in the face when he says, “No sir, we only have two, Mr. R Taylor and Mr C Taylor, and the hotel is full.” Nice one Rick, you organise the trip and you don’t have a room. I let RP have my room and the poodle and myself go off in search of another hotel. Check in, drop the bags and head straight to hotel 1 to get the other two and go to dinner, to a restaurant that Monsieur Poodle has booked. Of all the great eateries in France, he has to pick the worst, but it did have good wine, lots of good wine. Once dined he then lets me know he doesn’t have any Francs and could I lend him some? I don’t think so, so I pay for dinner. All expenses paid eh, It’s costing each of us a lot of money so far. Next we go to a club that is recommended by our canine host, we wait outside for 30 mins. while he arranges everything for us, and guess what, they don’t let us in, not wearing ties or something.
It’s been a long day so it’s time to knock it on the head, should of knocked the poodle on the head ’cause he knows another club around the corner. He did make it sound appealing with his description of female clientele. Once inside this huge complex we managed to loose poodle, and we’re wandering around corridors looking for the entrance and we walk round a corner, and lo and behold there’s blue flashing lights and about a dozen cops, all with their guns pointing straight at us. It’s amazing how your instincts tell you you’re well and truly in the shit. They frisk us and they must have known we were VIP’s cause we each had our own car to take us straight to jail, no passing go and no collecting £200. Even though they threw us in the same cell, for some strange reason they left the door open, which is now a good cue for the drummer to make stupid comments. ” C’mon CT, we’ve done nothing wrong, let’s go, let’s just walk out of here.” My reply to that was something on the lines of, I don’t think so. Then the two of them chirp up, “Tell them who we are.” Once again I replied, I don’t think so, you tell them who you are. We were free to walk at about 7am, and I must say that the cops were very nice to us. Bedtime at last. Day 2 and nothing else can go wrong, or can it?
We get the passes from the poodle, and needless to say we don’t have the right ones, but years of dealing with passes I know just about every trick under the sun, and we’re in the backstage area of the Grand Prix. We head to the boat which is laid on for us, but the motor racing people make us feel unwelcome, so we clear off. Roger is getting feed up with all this and kept saying we should go home. My theory was, we’re here, let’s make the most of it. While all this is going on we had a camera following us filming every little move, after all that’s what we came for. Later that day Jim Beech flew in, not to bale anyone, just to hang out. Evening arrives and I book a really good restaurant and refuse to tell the poodle where it is. We have an amazing meal, even better wine, and Rog is once again happy. We all decide to have an early night, RT and RP to hotel 1, CT to hotel 2, and JB to where ever he was staying.
When I go to reception and ask for my key, the little chap said, “Ah, Monsieur Tayleeeeer, you ‘ave shanged roams.” No I have not. “Oui Monsieur, we ‘ave taken your bags to you new roam.”. What the hell, I’m too tired to argue, if my luggage is there, no problem. When I open the door, no huge bed like my last room, two single beds, and some strange bloke in one of them. “Oi, who the f*** are you?” I bellowed. The poor bloke woke from a deep sleep and shat himself. It turned out he was an Italian journalist who the poodle had flown in to do interviews with Rog and Rick. I hurled abuse at this guy for a while and then realised that he’d done nothing wrong, it was all to do with the poodle. I phoned hotel 1 and told Rog what was going on, and finally had to agree with him and get the hell outta here. He phoned and woke the poodle and, as I wasn’t there, can only presume that he used some very colourful language. Day 3, and the first thing on the agenda is to get three 1st class airline tickets from Nice, and a helicopter from Monacco to Nice. Done. Race day, and I have to admit it was quite a buzz, ’cause by now I’ve wangled all sorts of passes and we’re down in the pits with all drivers, and these guys have some great looking girls hanging around. Giddy up. When you’re standing on the start line of a Grand Prix and all those cars rev up it is impossible to describe the noise and volume, it’s quite amazing. We caught about half hour of the race before we had to leave, and even though we had only been gone three days, it was great to get back to Blighty and go straight to the pub and have a good laugh about the whole weekend. The strange thing is, the poodle actually made a TV show out of it, and it was quite good.
During sound checks Roger would spend forever tuning his kit, and during the show, with the heat of the lights and his pounding, would continue tuning during the show. On one occasion, sound check over and kit perfect, we head off until showtime. During the first number of the set RT is looking a bit put out, and after the first song starts frantically re-tuning the drums. This continues for quite a few songs until he starts to look relaxed. After the show Shag is summoned to the dressing room, and RT said, “Er Shag, after the soundcheck did you re-tune my kit? And the reply was, “Oh no Rog, I wouldn’t do that, I just tightened up the loose ones.” Back in Berlin and it’s five minutes before show time, and Gerry comes up to me and says, “Look’s like you’ve got your old job back for tonight.” Why? I look round and Shag is being carted off on a stretcher, with an oxygen mask, drip and everything. What else can this clown get up to? For the last two million years Queen have finished the show with Rock You, then Champions, when the lights would come down, FM running around like a madman, RT standing up and hitting all his cymbals and playing just the bass drum with his right foot, BM playing the never ending power chord whilst keeping an eye on the drummer and JD wondering where we’re going clubbing. As the lighting rig came to a standstill, Rog would sit down, and cue the rest of the band for the finish with two smacks on the snare drum and then an almighty crash of the cymbals, and it’s over for another night. Play the tape. Shag had done this a couple of dozen times already, so you would think he knew. Wrong. On one night, Rogers doing his standing up bit and our beloved Shag thinks, “The stool is in the way.” so he removes the offending stool. When Roger goes to sit down, there’s nothing to sit on and he goes arse over tit off the back of the riser, and he’s lying there winded. I tell Shag Nasty to hide for a while and try and get the drummer to his feet, and needless to say he’s very pissed off. The lights have stopped and Brian has played the longest chord in the history of the universe. Roger finally gets back behind the kit, does the two hits and cymbal crash to finally finish the show, and then completely trashes his kit. I’m glad I didn’t have to rebuild it. Needless to say, Shag did not last to long. Until next time.
“Who wants to live forever” had RT so drunk it took forever for him to hit the cymbal in time with the track. “Rock you” was filmed in Rogers garden of his new country estate, and as the old owners were still living there we couldn’t use the house. It was snowing and freezing and pretty damn miserable, but when Freddie turned up he had drank most of a bottle of Brandy on the journey, so needless to say he could barely stand up straight in the snow and his hands were so cold he grabbed Ratty’s gloves that he used for loading trucks, and wore them for the filming. Watch and see.
Roger appeared in Freddies “Pretender” video. It was this point in time that I was getting a bit suss about the drummer, because he took to this dressing in womens clothes a bit to easy. When it was finished we all went back to Garden Lodge, and you had better sit down for this next bit, I was the only sober one. Roger and me were driving to Montreux the next day to start work on what was to end up as the first Cross album, “Shove it.” It was getting very late and we had to make an early start and I was trying to get a bit of sleep, but RT kept pestering by trying to get me to have a drink. I declined. He was shitfaced and by the time I got him home I only got three hours sleep before I had to pick him up again. We were going to share the drive in his Bentley but he was so hungover he slept all the way, and only woke to say things like “Turn the music down,” and because he had only just stopped smoking I kept getting, “Do you have to smoke.” (I’ve since stopped) After a while this began to get very boring and I said, “If I don’t smoke or have the music on I’ll fall asleep as well.” He got the message and left me alone. We were both so tired we ended up stopping somewhere in France, checking into a hotel, eating some good food, drinking some excellent wine, getting drunk and having to listen to him moaning again the next day while I did all the driving.
I think I’ve mentioned before that we drove the Bentley to Montreux, well this was the time. The plan was to spend three or four days in Montreux recording then go to Gstaad to write some more songs. That was the excuse because we had a huge chalet there and the idea was to do a lot of skiing and a bit of writing, which is exactly what we did. It was in Gstaad that Roger came up with the idea of forming a band, and after a hard day on the slopes we would sit around at night working out a plan on putting a band together.
On the subject of Bentleys and Gstaad I feel obliged to tell you just how much bad luck RT has with his cars. When he bought his first Range Rover he claimed “You can park them on a sixpence.” We had to tow him out of a ditch. His Ferrari burst into flames on his way to the south of France, and his Aston Martin also burst into flames. He hardly ever drove the Bentley, it was my baby and I loved it and never had any problems. Dominique decided she was going to join our little ski trip and was coming to Gstaad, now don’t get me wrong, I love Dom, a fine lady, still is, it’s just that I didn’t fancy the hour
drive down the mountain and then the hour along the motorway to the airport. On the day of her arrival RT surprised me by saying he was going to pick her up, that’ll do me, drop me off at the chair lift and have a nice drive. A very pleasant afternoon was spent on the piste so when I get back to the house I’m ready for some mindless computer games, and while in the middle Sat Nav Debate UK of shooting some aliens the phone rings and it’s Dominique asking where Roger was as he’s not at the airport to pick her up. The only thing I can say is for her to hang on because he left in plenty of time so he should be there, and I’m back to saving the world. Hours later the door flies open with Roger ranting and raving and saying something about F-in-cars. What’s his problem? I look out the window and in the driveway is a VW Golf, so the obvious question is, “Where’s the Bentley?” When his lordship finally calmed down he explained that when he got to the motorway there was a blizzard, so he had to have the windscreen wipers on full, but the one on the drivers side came off, so he stopped the car and was groping around in the snow looking for it, and he found it and put it back on. So far so good, except a couple of miles further on it came off again, and this time it was nowhere to be seen. Now try and picture the situation. Swiss motorway, lots of snow falling, very expensive black Bentley and a very famous pop star hanging out the window while driving so he can wipe the snow off the screen so he can see. Not a very good look at all. On arrival at Geneva he took the car to the Rolls Royce dealer to get fixed, and it wasn’t long after this that I said my final goodbye to a trusty friend. Roger on the other hand said Good F***ing Riddance. I have an equally pathetic driving story when we were in Rio, this time it was the two of us, a convertible and one hell of a lot of rain.
Over a very nice meal and a couple of little drinkettes we agree that it’s far to cold here and we’ll clear off the next day, so into the bar we go with our earlier mission of trying all the scotch’s. We were sitting at a table chatting away and cracking jokes with each other and end up talking to the couple on the next table, swapping skiing stories, needless to say mine were very short, and having a bit of a laugh, when the woman said, “What do you two do for a living?” God knows why, but I said; “We’re Hoover salesmen.” At first they didn’t believe us but we both started going on about the difference between domestic and industrial cleaners, uprights, backpack types, ones you pull along the floor. We went on about the different wattage, suction power, the amount of pressure on Axminsters and Wilton carpets, even a couple of car expressions like overhead this and thats. What the hell do we know about vacuum cleaners? But boy are we good at this. After about 30 mins of utter bullshit the subject finally changed and they wished us all the best with our door to door salesmanship and off they went to bed. We then had to reassure each other what we actually did for a living, had some more drinks and tried to work out how we knew so much about cleaners as both of us have spent most of our lives trying to stay well away from them. We spent the drive back to London having a good laugh about the one day we spent in a Scottish ski resort.