We took off from Narita Airport bound for Seattle and beyond.
There had been rumours at this time that my days were numbered, but I chose to ignore them. Until someone told me to my face, I wasn't going to rely on gossip.
After another long flight from Tokyo to Seattle we were given a choice. Either stay in Seattle, or journey on to Los Angeles. I decided to stay with the people I knew best, Murray, Dave Lights and a few others, including Clive even.
Our flight into Seattle was interesting too. The pilot showed us the devastation caused by Mount St Helen when it had erupted a few months before. It was still smoking as we did our pass.
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We got booked into the Edgewater Inn, famous for its Fish out of the Window thing we had heard about in the UK. Of course the first to try was Clive. After that we hardly saw him.
By now it was becoming more and more obvious that I was out of a job, but Murray wouldn't have any of it. If we went out for a meal he made sure I was there and wouldn't let me pay for a thing.
We'd been together for a long time and, I guess, in his own little way he was showing that after the music there was still a family.
One of the bars we went into on the sea front asked Dave for his ID as they didn't believe his age. All he had asked for was a coke. America, you have to love it.
Paul had flown ahead to LA with Harris and Rod so I had no backing from him at all.
After a couple of days of not fishing from my window, as my room over looked the street, it was time to get the flight to LA and face the music.
After a four hour flight and a two hour drive into downtown LA we finally arrived at the Sunset Marquee, just off Santa Monica Boulevard. This was to be mine and Steve Jones (the tour manager) last stay in the US. Well, this time round for me anyway. I did go back a few years later.
We made ourselves comfortable in the hotel and within hours I got called to the production manager's room.
I don't have to go into detail but, as I said before, I knew it was coming.
After being with them through thick and thin for the past few years I got dumped. And there was no ceremony or thanks I might add. It was simply a case of we have outgrown you, goodbye.
I rang home to say I was on my way back and I think my Mum was more upset than me.
I was more upset by Paul's reaction. I didn't even get a goodbye from him when it was time to leave.
Looking back on it now I think he envied me. He was heading into something a lot bigger than either of us ever imagined. I know he wasn't happy, even then.
But I had been sent home and he was stuck with it.
Iron Maiden had become a monster in such a short time and it had scared the life out of most of us.
But there were certain members of the band and crew that could deal with it and others that couldn't. I hadn't done anything wrong as far as I was concerned, it was just a case of me and Clive not getting on.
On departure day, Clive said he wanted to see me before I left, and having nothing to lose I went to his room, and he gave me a line of Peru's finest. I didn't think much more of it at the time.
I thanked him and said my goodbyes, and made my way to the airport with Steve Jones. We cleared passport control, showed our boarding cards and left the U.S. as we found it. Unscathed, at that point.
This was the band's first venture into the wide unknown, and without me. I was feeling low, but also looked forward to getting back to my family.
My parents were really great. They never stood in my way, and understood my need for space. This was the life I had chosen, and they were both very supportive. And let's face it, I'd been doing the job for long enough for them to realise that they weren't going to change me now.
So, with these thoughts going through my head, and while listening to Frank Zappa I managed to fall asleep during our 10 hour flight from LA to Amsterdam.
I woke up feeling like shit, and felt like my tongue had been stuck to my beard, but realised we only had an hour before we landed at Schilphol Airport in Amsterdam. Using the toilet on the aircraft is always an experience, but I had no problem getting myself cleaned up, after scraping away the excess drool from the side of my face.
We landed at Schilphol and made our way through the airport to meet our connecting flight to Gatwick with no trouble at all.
We, Steve Jones and I, got our connection to Gatwick with only an hour to wait, and everything was going great.
Gatwick, at last. Left the aircraft pretty much as I found it, and made my way to baggage claim. I got my bag and headed for nothing to declare like any normal person would.
"Can we check your bags sir?"
"Yes sir, you"
Now, I have no idea why they picked on me, but there could be several reasons. Did I still look like shit after a 14 hour journey from Los Angeles? Did I forget to wipe the excess powder from my nose? Was Frank Zappa annoying the flight crew? I have no idea.
Having all my belongings taken apart is not humiliating. Being led to a room behind the scenes is humiliating. I actually got strip searched, but they don't even tell you why.
Having a line of coke in a different Country is not a crime. But these guys took me apart, even to the point of unscrewing my cassettes to see if I had hidden anything inside.
And then, when they don't find anything, they say "gather up your stuff, you can go." What the fuck? And if anyone knows of a helpline for this, then now's the time.
An hour and a half later I emerged from Customs, and was surprised to see Steve Jones still waiting for me.
I explained to him what had just happened and he laughed, but not for very long. He could see I wasn't happy.
As it turned out, it was a good thing he hung around. During my time in customs, the only money I had amazingly disappeared. Steve was kind enough to give me the money I needed to get home.
Sorry to say, I never met him again. He was more of a theatre guy, but we must have given him one hell of a ride.
I eventually got home, and after a few days rest, I made a couple of phone calls and got myself a gig with More.
It was like going full circle.
I was back working with a band who appreciated a good crew.
THE END?........ For now...
A big thank you goes to you, the reader for simply being there. Your comments and feedback have been amazing.
A bigger thank you goes to Steve Goldby and his team at Metaltalk.net. Without the push 18 months ago, this might never have happened.
But my biggest thank you lies with Jules, my editor. She has been the brick behind the foundation of LoopyWorld, and without her, most of this would never have got as far as it did.
Thank you darling, IOU. XXX
Steve will be returning later in the year with 'The Return Of The Prodigal Son'...