So we headed south towards Rome as fast as our truck would take us, and we really thought we would be OK. The time and road underneath our wheels were travelling at almost the same speed. I say almost, because I've never been one for maths, and to try and work it out, well...?
I can't tell you how long we sat in that truck heading toward Rome, but we could see it was getting darker by the minute. Then suddenly we crested a hill, and in the distance we could make out the bright lights of Roma, a huge sprawling place, that had its fingers in the tops and bottoms of the seven surrounding hills that made up this vast and beautiful city.
We knew that time was running out, so we did the most sensible thing and drove straight to the hotel. Having found a good parking spot, we went to the hotel reception and after chatting with the receptionist, we had been left a note, which simply said: "Come straight to the venue".
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So that's what we did. We got a cab and went straight to the venue.
There are misunderstandings, and then there are misunderstandings. We did what we were told. We went straight to the venue. I didn't see anything on the note about bringing the band's gear.
We, as in me, Pete and Michael thought we were too late, so quite innocently left the truck at the hotel. We also left the keys with the receptionist, just in case the truck had to be moved. Parking restrictions in the centre of Rome are really strict, so we played safe and left the keys.
When we got to the venue, we were met by a frantic Rod who said: "Where's the gear?", to which Michael responded: "What gear?"
"The bands gear..."
"Oh, It's safe. It's back at the hotel..."
Rod started to spit bullets, and with a blood red face, told Michael to go and get the truck and bring it back to the venue, which wasn't as easy as it sounds.
Michael got a cab back to the hotel and got the cab driver to wait. When he got to the reception desk he was confronted by a different receptionist who knew nothing about the keys.
After a frantic search and another ten minutes later the keys were finally found, and with Michael now pulling his hair out and Rod spitting four pound shells, Michael followed the cab driver back to the gig, where we managed to get the band's gear onstage, and being Italy, where everything is so laid back and chilled etc. etc. we actually went on stage on time. How does that work? I have no idea.
All the way through the first support slot of the Kiss tour, you didn't need to see Rod spitting bullets, but you could hear it.
As I said, a simple misunderstanding. If the message at the hotel had said "come straight to venue with gear", then everyone knows where they stand. It took a while to get things the way they should have been. Luckily the rest of the tour went much better.
There was one other thing I should mention. No, two!
We were in Genoa, and staying at a lovely hotel. Rod's room was next to mine, and he went to bed for an afternoon snooze. He left his door open, so a few of us found every pot plant we could and surrounded his bed. He woke up an hour later and said: "Urghhh Triffids!!"
The other thing I should mention is this. As I have already said, Rod's hotel door was always open, so one afternoon, when he wasn't around, I snuck into his room and rang home. It was only a few minutes, but at least my Mum and Dad knew I was safe. An hour later he found me and gave me a bollocking for using his phone. Fair play to the man, I was taking the piss a little, but he went for it. I got threatened with everything but the plague. The guy needed to lighten up, lol!!!
We only had three gigs in Italy, Rome, Milan and Genova then we were given a week off. The gig in Milan was probably where we all became good friends. Kiss and Maiden I mean.
Just after we had done our set, we got our gear off stage, and the stage was being set up for Kiss.
The access to the stage from the dressing room area was an underground passage, through a corridor about 50 feet long. At the dressing room end was the band's area where Kiss and Iron Maiden had their own rooms, catering etc.
For some reason, the fans got over excited and broke through the barrier and started to run down the corridor just as the members of Kiss were heading to the stage. Me and Pete just grabbed whatever we could and started to lay into these kids. I had a symbol stand and I don't know what Pete had, but we managed to push the kids back.
Meanwhile, a whole bunch of these idiots had got down the tunnel towards the dressing rooms. Big John Harte, the Kiss security guy, sorted them out very swiftly.
Kiss use some big cases for their makeup, so John squashed a couple of the idiots with the cases, and eventually Kiss got on stage unscathed.
Guess what? The next time I saw John Harte he was doing security for Maiden. Now there's a thing.
After the three Italian shows, Kiss had to go to the UK, but by this time, Maiden were too big to open for anyone in our homeland, so the management gave us a week off in Lido De Jesolo, on the Venetian Riviera, a few miles from Venice. I'd been here before with my Grandparents, and I loved it then.
We were checked into a hotel on the sea front at the quieter end of town, which didn't make any difference, because the one and only club we used closed at 2.00am, and then we would go and have something to eat in the grill next door, and carry on drinking till 4.00/5.00am.
Admittedly the club was always empty, nothing unusual there, but the grill next door was always packed. Odd!
I know there may be a story or two out there about Dave and Rod smashing up the hotel bar one night, trying to get an extra beer, which is true, but I wasn't there, and really don't know much about it. So it's best I don't comment.
There was the occasion when we were all drunk one afternoon on the beach, and we had a habit of drinking cheap wine. To keep the wine cool we would bury it in the sand. Makes sense.
One day Dougie Hall fell asleep, after having his fill. We were just messing around, like you do, when people walking past would snigger and laugh. We then realised that Doug had one of his testicles hanging out of his shorts.
We tried to wake him, but he was totally oblivious.
Even to this day I have no idea if he knew about it, but I'm sure he does now. Sorry mate.
But all in all we had a brilliant week off in Jesolo, living on beer, chips, beer, pizza, steak sandwiches, oh and did I mention beer?
Then it was back to the day job. We had to drive north to meet up with the Kiss roller coaster in Munich.