Thursday, March 20, 2008

How to live like a rock star... AND shed unwanted pounds!

I haven't written much about my days as a musician on the road. Mostly because this time was either too boring to write about, or it was too "not boring enough" for this blog.

One story I can write about involves a winter/spring we spent in Florida in 1985. We were booked throughout the entire state from the panhandle to Key West for 6 solid months, and life was one big happy party... that is until two nightclubs canceled our engagements back-to-back, leaving an unexpected two-week hole right smack in the middle of our tour.

Except for our lead singer (who had relatives in Florida), the band had nowhere to go. So our only option was to extend the reservations to our motel on Ft. Lauderdale Beach and try to tough it out.

I know... boo-hoo you say. Except that we're talking about musicians here - people who typically have their paychecks spent 5 days before they receive them. So when we were suddenly laid off for 2 weeks, things got pretty tight pretty quickly.

Our little "vacation" went something like this:

Day 1: Everyone heads down to the cabana on the pier for Cornonas and ribs. We gonna par-tay!

Day 3: Most band members down to their last 20 bucks. Need to conserve. Still have 11 days to go without pay. Head out to the bar and try to keep spending down to $10.

Day 5: Working down last loaf of bread and jar of peanut butter between 4 guys. Only 2 sandwiches per person available for entire day. Band decides to send out SOS pleas to friends and family for help. Unfortunately there was only enough loose change found for one pay-phone call. Band determines that the drummer's parents are most likely to feel sympathetic.

Day 6:
- 10:00 a.m: Drummer receives $100 from parents via Western Union. Immediately spends $20 on cigarettes. Passes out remaining 20s to other bandmates.
- 11:00 a.m:
Everyone heads down to the cabana on the pier for Cornonas and burgers. We gonna par-tay!
- 11:30 a.m: Everyone down to $5. Still have 8 days to go without pay.

Day 8: Band lives on Ramen noodles for last 2 days. Spend nearly entire time sleeping on the beach during the day and attempting to meet wealthy women during the night. Remarkably no one is successful.

Day 9 - withering away to nothing
(picture cropped at Speedo for your protection)

Day 10:
- Morning: Must. Have. Food. New plea goes out to family and friends, this time with no success. After our ribs start to look appetizing to each other, guitar player magically produces a $100 bill he scammed from a naive sympathetic woman the previous evening. Bandmates can't decide whether to kill him or hug him. Decision is to take his money first, then kill him.
- Evening:
Everyone heads down to the cabana on the pier for Cornonas and steaks. We gonna par-tay!... but not before enough macaroni & cheese to last for 4 more days are purchased first. Bandmates congratulate themselves for their ability to plan responsibly.

Day 11:
Everyone down to $5. No one is concerned this time because next gig is coming up in only 3 days. Bandmates high-five each other and shout out "WE DID IT!"

Day 14: Band drives to next gig and sets up equipment for the week-long engagement. Band leader attempts to secure an advance on the band's salary from the club owner. Club owner only coughs up $100.

Day 1: Band heads to grocery store to stock up on bread, peanut butter, macaroni & cheese and Ramen noodles. Only 6 more days to go...

get your fill of laughs at!


cathouse teri said...

Oh. My. God.

That was a funny story!

I must be a musician. I always live like that. My paycheck is spent EASILY five days before I receive it.

When I say I'm broke, I mean I'M BROKE!

April said...

Reminds me of the days when I was rehearsing in Miami and we got a $100 stipend per week. We lived off of Happy Hour at the bar - and peanut butter and crackers in the hotel room.

Ed said...

Jeff, that was a GREAT story. Very funny. Isn't it funny how you always look on stuff like that with novel fondness and say "that was living!" I just have one thing to say about that first pic though...

OMG, big hair day?

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

cathouse teri - All I can say about me is... thank God my wife manages our bank account now.

april - It's amazing how little a starving artist can live on, isn't it?

ve - More accurately, I was having a big hair decade. I fixed the picture so you can enlarge it.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know they had Kajagoogoo cover bands hehe.

Heather said...


Anonymous said...

omg. love the picture and the porsche carrera shades!! i had some of those.

thanks for sparing us a weenie bikini shot. bwahahaha!

Anonymous said...

I know how this went. You were looking through your old photos, and you came across the one of you and Phil, and you thought, "Damn! I look GOOD here! The world needs to see this!" Thanks for sharing.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

chris c - No way dude, Kajagoogoo used to cover OUR tunes!

heather - Totally.

leigh - It was the right thing to do.

rick - No, that wasn't my motive. I already covered that in this post.

Maureen said...

and then

"Everyone heads down to the cabana on the pier for Cornonas and steaks. We gonna par-tay!... "

Hah! LOVED this story!!!!

Hilarious! said...

Far out man!

Elizabeth said...

My husband was walking through the room when the picture of you and your bandmate are shirtless with fluffy hair , he just glanced at it and said "Is that something about the Hardy Boys TV show?"
Hee hee, I thought you looked more like Knight Rider.

Ed said...

I have been trying to decide the "look" you are sporting. Marty Balin in the Starship days? Maybe it was Leo Sayer without the Fro? Then it came to me that is so very STYX. Man, I love the scarf.

Gen said...

LOL! You make being a rock star sound so, um, glamorous. The good news is I love macaroni and cheese and ramen, so I think I'd make a pretty good rock star.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

maureen - You got it!

mushy - Yes, far out of cash for sure.

elizabeth - Hardy Boys? No way, they were two goofy looking guys of questionable manhood with stupid hair ... wait a minute.

ed - Ok, I'll take the Styx reference. Actually, we were more influenced by Duran Duran's look than anybody at the time. Hmmm, don't know if that's good or bad.

groovy mom - That's all there is to it.

Anonymous said...

The perfect reminder that "starving musician" is more than just the logo to somebody's business.

I'm recommending you for honorary membership in The. Official. Marine Biology Graduate Students Involuntary Diet Club.


Kathy said...

Hilarious Jeff!! When I lived on my own at the age of 19, I ate almost nothing but chicken pot pies (3 for $1). I can't stand the thought of them now. On special occasions, I'd have a whole sandwich.

p.s. How much would it take to get you to post the uncropped Speedo picture? Between the rest of your journal material and these pics, you could make a fortune.

Dave2 said...

I'd kill for that scarf...

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

amoeba - I'm honored. I'd buy from that music store for sure!

kathy - Sorry, but it ain't gonna happen. I have no idea what possessed ANYONE to wear those things!

dave2 - If I ever find another one, it's yours.

yoo hoo said...

I may have missed it, but no where did you mention an allowance for pot...cuz that guy with you in the last pictured looks baked.

Karen MEG said...

Jeff, that was a hilarious post! Thanks for a glimpse of the glamorous rockstar life.

Very glamorous rock hair too... I bet you rocked a Speedo LOL!

Whit said...

I had a stretch like that, it was called college. You had better hair though.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

carla - Oh we're baked all right, but not from pot... from the sun. We actually didn't indulge if you can believe that.

karen - Rocked a Speedo... is that even possible?

whit - I got my education at the school of rock!

Karl said...

Kajagoogoo cover band...ha. That is SOME hair, dude. I'd show you some of my pics from that era, but it'd only serve to show you up. And this is YOUR blog, so y'know...

but Momma said...


Just one more reason to
love the 80's!

Windyridge said...

You guys were HOT! hehe

I am gonna have my kids read your story just in case their band become famous like yours some day.

Oh by the way, the gigs my kids are playing supply the mics, monitors and mixers, so we are all set until fame arrives! Thanks for your help on all that tech band stuff.

Anonymous said...

have mac-n-cheese and water, and you're good to go. rib stickers, indeed! you can make it - leave it out all day - your your par-tay on and snack on it afterwards.

so, do you still eat mac-n-cheese?

(bloghoppin' on a Friday night)

Ed (zoesdad) said...

I can't decide what made me laugh more--the story or the photos.

As your week progressed I was reminded of Into the Wild except you were on a beach with other people. And you have to applaud the priority decision of smokes first--everyting else second.

Ed (zoesdad) said...

OK. Now I'm really laughing because after reading this post I thought to myself, "hmm, what am I going to fix for dinner?" So I go the the fridge and I've got two puny porkchops and a chicken breast. And a can of collard greens.

For seven.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

karl - Hey, show me up - I dare you.

jd - I did love the 80s, and they loved me right back.

windyridge - Oh that's a good idea, use me as a role model. Just don't blame me if they fall for it! ;-)

dkaye - Actually I do like mac & cheese, but unfortunately for me we almost never buy it.

ed - I can name 3 things right now that you can make quick and cheap!

MYM said...

Kinda sounds like my life now, without the music gigs.

And, don't worry about the photo again, uncropped ;)

JD at I Do Things said...

LOVE the photos! You look like a band I probably would've seen. Did I see you? Did you ever tour the Midwest?


JD at

Unknown said...

That's an awesome story. Glad you made it through.

Anonymous said...

Awesome! I love mac-n-cheese and need to lose a few pounds. You did say I could have Corona too, right? :)

Great story!!

wayabetty said...

I'm sorry Jeff, I didn't read a single line b/c all I did was stare at the nest on your head!! YOU HAD HAIR! Sorry, couldn't resist!

G said...

Smoke em if you got em. Can't get enough of these band photos!

Too funny.