“So You Want To Be A Rock nRoll Star then listen now to what I say.” (The Byrds, 1967)

Here’s a question for you all. If you had the wherewithal financially and musically to make your very own solo album, what would it be like? Seriously, step back and think about this for a minute. What would it be like? Now I’m going to stick my neck out here and guess that most of you would go for something akin to what you actually love and listen to, yes?

Me too.

If Pete Agnew were ever to make a solo album, I’m sure it would be full of his main influences, from Lowell George to The Band and almost certainly featuring musicians who played on every Stax and Motown record. I’d quite like to sing and play on it if he ever gets round to it. Dan and Manny have both made solo albums, and in Dan’s case, he chose, for the most part, to cover some of his favourite songs backed by Zal, Ted & Hugh from SAHB along with Deep Purple’s Roger Glover on bass. Manny has wandered many a path solo-wise and it’s usually suited his musical taste of the time. Oh, and it’s never featured as good a singer as Dan. Just sayin’. Darrell’s imaginary solo album might’ve been a bit of a MOR/Country release and would’ve had Crystal Gayle as lead singer right up until he met the lady herself when we all got free tickets to her cabaret show on a night off in Texas. Pete and Dan left for the bar after her first number, but Manny & I reluctantly stayed for the duration cos Big D had backstage passes and wanted to introduce himself in person. “Hi, I’m Darrell Sweet from Nazareth.”

“Who? From Where?”

Me and Manny swore not to tell anyone but, by next day, our treachery became apparent when a roadie yelled from the lighting rig, “Hey Darrell. I thought you were from Burntisland!” Due to this faux pas, Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue was never again played on the tour bus, but I digress. Just for the record, my ideal solo album would’ve incorporated Montrose, TYA, Be Bop Deluxe, Little Feat, Taj Mahal, Frankie Miller, Ted Nugent, 10cc, Free and, of course, Cheap Trick.

Jordan Harris
Jordan Harris

When a solo deal for me was first discussed with A&M Records in 1982, my bandmates were fully supportive, none more than Uncle Pete himself who exclaimed, and I’m paraphrasing here, “That’s Fuckin’ Awesome. Your songs are Awesome! Your guitar playin’ is Awesome! Your voice is Awesome! This album will be… etc.” Pete’s praise was no doubt based on the mutual admiration we had, probably still have, for each other’s musical abilities and, perhaps even more so, on our musical tastes. A&M Records and, in particular, their US-based A&R guy Jordan Harris, had other ideas and the solo deal on offer depended on me getting on board, as they’d say. His vision/ultimatum went something like this:

No personal influences including (but not limited to) all the artists mentioned in the last paragraph and no use of musicians I respect or I’ve played with (or just want to play with cos it would look good in the credits). It was not to be a Nazareth album with me singing (Oh Puleez!) nor was it to be in any way a Heavy Metal Fest. Just a Pop/Rock Top 40 Billboard Hit Album thanks.

Jordan never actually said any of that to me, but he had a very persuasive way about him which left me in no doubt he believed I could deliver, and in turn, gave me the belief I could deliver this Top 40 Hit Album. A&M’s intention he said was in making me a successful solo artist based on the fact that I could write, play, sing and look good enough for MTV. I obviously concurred. Well, why the Fuck wouldn’t I? “Trust us, Bill. You’re gonna be the next Rick Springfield!”

“Who?” From Where?

“See that? That’s shit. See that? That’s Shinola.” (Father: The Jerk, 1979)

When it came to writing and demoing the songs for GrowinUp Too Fast, the formula was simple. That was it. I listened to all the guitar-driven pop being churned out in the US charts and then my earlier training with April Music for writing to order kicked in. Pat Benatar, that bloke Rick from Springfield and others helped get me in the zone. Interestingly, I related to The Steve Miller Band’s back catalogue for inspiration cos he seemed to do Pop with his integrity intact. Sometimes it would come from a riff as in Baby’s Got A Gun or Call Me Automatic though Webmaster Barry has pointed out the latter’s verse bears a striking similarity to Wig Wam Bam by The Sweet. Subconscious Plagiarism anyone? A true test was to play the home demos to my Nazareth bandmates and, if they didn’t like them, I knew I was on the right track. This was usually done up the back of the tour bus when everyone was drunk and therefore incapable of fleeing the scene. “Sounds like Donny Fuckin Osmond,” was a common one or, “Jeez Bill! That’s Crystal Gayle on helium!”  “Utter Bitch!” would be heard from what had been a quiet corner up til then.

Promo shot early 83
Promo shot early 1983

One exception was Burning Down. Even Manny liked that one mainly due, I think, to him having introduced me to the music of Peter Gabriel whose song Biko hit me like a sledgehammer (no pun intended.) On one front, it dealt with the injustice and tragic outcome in South Africa, which Peter captured perfectly. On another, it only used two chords. The power of the song was purely dynamic. I wrote Burning Down with two chords and changed Gabriel’s injustice and tragic outcome in SA to reflect a Scottish Highlander’s plight against the English during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. (Side note: If only Meat Loaf had realised this when he covered the song in 1986 he might not have made such an Arse of it.)

Every song I came up with got demoed at home using the trusty TEAC 4-track recorder and cheap drum machine I’d been using since 1981. The quality was good enough for A&M but not for other purposes such as stirring up interest with potential producers. After a few weeks back and forth (cos this was in the era before emails) Jordan Harris and I selected four tracks to be recorded properly at good old Ca-Va Studios in Glasgow with engineer and owner Brian Young at the controls.

The final songwriting method I used was by going to the smallest room in the house and locking the door. For starters, the acoustics were excellent in our old Victorian house. I remember coming up with I Wanna Be Alone Tonight, Rip It Up and Baby Come Back while sitting on the throne. Occasionally, I was interrupted by our 3-year-old toddler with, “Daddy. You doing a poo?”  “Yeah Wee Man. Be out in a minute.” Half an hour later, Mary would knock heavily on the door and say something like, “C’mon, Bill. It doesn’t take that long! Get out of there.”

I hadn’t spent that much time in the lavvy since I discovered my ‘Special Purpose’ as a teenager.

“That’s it, Baby, when you’ve got it Flaunt It! Flaunt It!” (Zero Mostel as Max Bialystock: The Producers, 1967)
Colin & Mr Rankin
Colin & ‘Mr Rankin’

Way back in 1979, my boss, and head of Delta Records, Colin Robertson, visited my dad in Kirkintilloch while I was in London. From Colin’s perspective, it was an attempt to have him inspire his son to come up with some hits. My mum was listening from the kitchen and told me what occurred:

“Mr Rankin, your son has amazing talents. He can sing, play guitar and write songs like a good-un. In fact, one of them is currently being held by Barry Manilow from Arista Records.” I’d love to think my dad’s response was: “Who? From Where?” but according to mum, it was: “Yes Colin, he’s a good-un right enough. I drove him and his band Phase to your nightclub Shuffles every Sunday. Always a busy night, I recall.”
“We’ve got Eddie Tobin to thank for that Sir, and for bringing Billy to my attention when I started Delta Records. The thing is, err Hugh. Is it alright if I call you Hugh?”
“The thing is, Mr Rankin, Billy’s writing some great songs but, between you and me, he’s a bit lazy. He’s only coming up with 2 or 3 a week and only 1 or 2 of them are any good according to our publishers.”
“And you want me to get him to write more?”
“Err, yes, Mr Rankin. I pay him, after all.”
“Tell me, Colin Robertson” (yes, my mum swears that’s how dad addressed him) “Can you write songs?”
“Unfortunately not. I wouldn’t know where to begin.”
“And yet you think my son is lazy cos he can?”

“Thank you for your time, Mr Rankin. I’ll show myself out.” 

In the court of King Billy, LA 1983
In the court of King Billy, LA 1983

I took this lesson with me when the whole process of making a solo album became a reality. A&M’s premise of a Pop/Rock Top 40 Hit Album was also my intention, but I had to do it despite other folks opinions and criticism. First up, I was asked to make a shortlist of producers I’d like to work with, send them the Ca-Va demos then I’d hold court in LA informally interrogating them. Oh, and A&M would also put forward their own potential shortlisters. My list was quickly reduced to zero. Tony Visconti (Bowie, T.Rex, Thin Lizzy) was flattered but too busy. Ken Scott (again Bowie but also Supertramp, Pink Floyd and The Beatles) was charming, but alas working on other projects at the time we’d scheduled for recording. He’d reappear later in this story, but we never got together. My favourite contender from all I met in LA was Reinhold Mack (otherwise known simply as Mack) whose track record shouldn’t need listing, but it’s fun to make lists so here we go. Rolling Stones: Numerous, including It’s Only Rock N Roll and Black & Blue; ELO: Numerous, including A New World Record and Out Of The Blue; Deep Purple: Stormbringer and Come Taste The Band; T.Rex: Zinc Alloy album (with Tony Visconti); Rainbow: Rainbow Rising; Rory Gallagher: Calling Card; Queen: The Game, Hot Space, The Works, A Kind Of Magic, Flash Gordon; Extreme: Extreme. Add to this, David Coverdale’s Whitesnake, Meat Loaf, Sparks, Black Sabbath, Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor, Brian May, Scorpions and Billy Squier. Who wouldn’t want this guy? Well, first up, A&M’s guiding lights told me he was a Total Cokehead. So? “Pot, Kettle, Black,” I countered, cos who wasn’t? We met and got on swimmingly right up til the point when I asked his opinion on the demos he’d been supplied with. “I love them, Maaan! I just hear some more keyboards.”  “Get the Fuck out of here!” I remember advising Herr Mack and, to his credit, he did. 

John Ryan with Greg Allman 81
John Ryan with Greg Allman 1981

One guy suggested by the record company had a small but impressive track record. The Doobie Brothers, Carlos Santana and The Allman Brothers Band were his main claims to fame, but he was refreshingly humble and honest when we met that day. His name was, and still is, John Ryan. When asked the same question posed to Queen’s producer, John replied: “I’d just record your demos better.”

Dad would’ve liked John Ryan.

“We’re putting the band back together.” (Elwood: The Blues Brothers, 1980)

Recording what was to become Growin’ Up Too Fast had to be scheduled not to interfere with my day job. I was, after all, still a full-time member of Nazareth and we had commitments already covered in the previous Sound Elixir section of the site. August/September 1983 was deemed appropriate so, with John Ryan on board as producer, only the studio and musicians had to be arranged. My original proposal of using Ca-Va Studios in Glasgow was kicked in the balls by the bigwigs at A&M. Although agreeing that my demos recorded there were great, they said nothing released by a major label had yet to come out of Brian Young’s state of the art 24 track facility. My argument that this could be the first fell on deaf ears. My persistence would eventually win through, but more on that later.

Jacob’s Studios

Billy Jr with 335 at Jacob's Studios 83
Billy Jr with 335 at Jacob’s Studios 1983

Jacob’s Studios in Farnham was suggested by A&M’s UK boss and fellow Scot Alan McGee who pointed out it was already an established major-label studio, it had live-in accommodation and I quote: “Who’d want to record in fuckin’ Glasgow?” Reluctantly I agreed but, in hindsight, never trust a Scot living in London. Jacob’s Studios for all its advantages such as being set in rural Surrey in an old farmhouse within easy reach of a traditional pub serving ploughman’s lunch was no better equipped for making music than Ca-Va. The in-house accommodation meant Mary and Billy Jr joined me for the duration, as did John’s American wife, Diana. Interesting fact, Diana is the daughter of science fiction author and founder of Scientology, L Ron Hubbard, making her the only woman I’ve ever met who’d commanded her own navy.

Now on to the musicians, and my choice was simple. I wanted SAHB.

Ted McKenna
Ted McKenna

Zal, Chris and Ted specifically. I would’ve picked Hugh too, but for my previous prevention of a Return of the Mack when the ‘more keyboards’ comment had been the end of a brief friendship. Plus, Hugh was currently under house arrest for escaping his carers and attempting to rob a confectioner by producing a pointed finger under his bathrobe and demanding, “Give me all your sweeties!” Chris was also unavailable as he and Ted were currently working with MSG, but Ted found space in his schedule after I explained his requirements. Let me elucidate. When John Ryan got the producers job by saying he’d just record my demos better, I didn’t realise he meant reproducing the drum machine too. “It’s a major component of your material. It’s what drives the songs along, blah, blah, blah,” he seemed to say. The phone call to Ted was awkward. Not only was I talking to a mate, but also to the finest drummer ever to have come out of Coatbridge, even perhaps The World:
“So,” I began. “Thing is, we’ve laid down most of the drums already using a Linn drum machine.”
“Aye but hear me out, Ted. I want you to play over them and add the fills.”
“Is this a joke, Bill?”
“Naw. Your cousin robbing a sweet shop is funny, but I’m deadly serious. We’ll pay ye.”

Ted came down, set up his kit, including his infamous Premier ‘Black Beauty’ snare drum, and nailed it. All of it in 2 days. We did play ‘live’ together on Baby’s Got A Gun and Never In A Million Years, but for the rest of the songs I’d cue him and he just riffed the shit out of the tracks. Ted McKenna really is that good. The bass player replacing my choice of Chris Glen was also impressive. Suggested again by Alan McGee for his sterling work with my A&M stablemate Joan Armatrading, Jeremy Meek was booked for 4 days, but only needed 2. Nice guy and efficient. In true ‘bastard’ style, manager Jim White tried to pay him 2 days wages for being too efficient, but John and I insisted he got the full 4 days payment.

Now, my final component. The uniquely talented Zal Cleminson.

Zal Growin
Zal pictured in 2019

Zal about to Rip It Up, Jacob’s Studios August 83
Zal about to Rip It Up, Jacob’s Studios August 1983

Initially, John Ryan couldn’t understand why Alistair was involved. We’d recorded pretty much everything using me and a drum machine. Ted and Jeremy had come in after all the vocals and guitars were done and, as John himself put it, “You’re the guitarist. Why do we need another guitarist?”  “Oh, wait and see,” I advised. Zal arrived for his one-day session, I played him Rip It Up minus the solo and told the engineer to press record. “Are you sure?” enquired my producer. “Quite sure,” I assured him. “Take one.” Zal, sitting on a barstool,  asked what key we were in. “C#,” I proudly informed him. (That’s a tricky key for guitarists.) At the point of the solo, I yelled, “Go!”  Without warning, Zal leapt from the stool and adopted the spread-legged stance, his whole body shook, face contorted, he yelled and growled, threw his guitar up and down. John Ryan bit his cigar in half and said, “Holy Shit.” Zal sat back down and scratched his nose. It had taken 30 seconds and Ryan’s face was shut. All in all, the choice of musicians, studio and producer worked out well, as did the finished product.

Cos that’s what it was. A product.

“Mibbes Aye, Mibbes Naw.” (Jonathan Watson as Kenny Dalglish: Only An Excuse, 1999)

John Kalodner was the A&R guy for Geffen Records and was so responsible for turning Aerosmith’s career around, he’s credited as “John Kalodner: John Kalodner” on all their major albums of the period. He even features in their videos of Dude Looks Like A Lady, Let The Music Do The Talking, Eat The Rich and Pink among others. Add to this, Foreigner, Santana, Cher, Chicago, Ted Nugent, Heart, Iron Maiden, Journey, Manowar, REO Speedwagon, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Sammy Hagar and even a cameo appearance in the Flaming Moe’s episode of The Simpsons makes him a force to be reckoned with.

I met him in early 1984 at a top London hotel to discuss an idea he wanted to run by me. By this time I had ‘temporarily’ left Nazareth, was trending in the States with a hit single and about to embark on a media tour of the US to promote my first solo album. A position of power you could say, but even more annoying was that when “John Kalodner: John Kalodner” finally met me in the bar, I had to say goodbye to my new best friend, Scottish footballing legend Kenny Dalglish. Kenny hadn’t heard of me, but neither had he heard of Mr Kalodner’s subject: David Coverdale.

Kenny Dalglish scores for Scotland 12.10.77
Kenny Dalglish scores for Scotland 12th October 1977

“Who He?” enquired King Kenny. “Well, Deep Purple’s In Rock, Fireball, Machine Head and Made In Japan were amongst my biggest influences growing up, but even though Burn had its moments, I lost interest after that, mainly due to them hiring David Coverdale as lead singer.”
Not only did I put Kenny right, I also expressed this in front of our newly arrived guest.
“Good luck wi’ the meeting,” was Kenny’s passing comment before making a hasty exit.
To his credit, John didn’t dwell on my criticism of his subject proving why he was so good at his job.
Instead, he gushed enthusiastically about my talents as a guitarist, songwriter and outstanding good looks to which I responded, “And Ah’m a better singer than David Coverversion too!”

Steven Tyler, John Kalodner & David Coverdale
Steven Tyler, John Kalodner & David Coverversion

Un-phased, he continued to outline his idea which was this:
“Geffen Records has convinced David to reinvent himself for the American market, fire his band, relocate to California and make Whitesnake a major force to be reckoned with, to use a previous analogy.”
“And what’s that to do with me?”
“I see you as his new partner. His Keith Richards, his Paul Simon, his Joe Perry, his Miss Fuckin’ Piggy, dammit!”
“Do I get to share lead vocals?”
“No, sorry. He learned that mistake with Glenn Hughes.”
“Then I’m out,” I replied.
John Sykes ultimately became David and John Kalodner’s Miss Fuckin’ Piggy.
We shook hands and history proves I was once again right.

If you ignore all the hits.

“I’m very sorry to hear about the death of your father.”
My father is still alive.”
Oh… How is he?”
(Alan Thicke interview with Keith Carradine live on US TV, 1984)

I appeared on the appropriately named ‘Thicke Of The Night’ talk show that same year. Alan was being hailed as the new Johnny Carson, but he clearly was not. During a brief interview after we mimed to Baby Come Back, Mr Thicke decided to have some fun at my expense about the lack of women in the song’s video:
“So how does it feel to be a Gay Icon , Bill?”

“Dunno, Alan. I’m married with 3 kids, but if you’re up for it, I’ll give it a go.”

About that video.

Baby Come Back promo postcard back 1984
Baby Come Back video still 1983
Baby Come Back video still 1983
Baby Come Back video still 1983
Anna Rankin photo shoot contact sheet 1983
Anna Rankin photo shoot contact sheet 1983
Anna Rankin photo shoot contact sheet 1983
Billy Rankin Jr photo shoot contact sheet 1983
Photo shoot 1984
Baby Come Back single front 1984
Baby Come Back single rear 1984
Baby Come Back single 1984
Baby Come Back B-Side 1984
Kerrang February 1984
Growin' Up Too Fast acetate label 1983
Baby Come Back promo postcard back 84

We filmed it at a disused Victorian lunatic asylum in London and Alan was correct in noticing it was bereft of female content. This was intentional as every MTV video of the time had lots of ‘nubile semi-clad babes’ cavorting with the artists, possibly their fathers and I, for one, didn’t have a daughter old enough to comply. (1-year-old Anna did make it onto promotional postcards for the song but that’s hardly the same thing.) 

Baby Come Back promo postcard 84
Baby Come Back promo postcard 1984

The premise was: A Rock Star on TV being viewed by a short-haired, poorly sighted, tank top clad Loser who would eventually be reduced to a quivering wreck during a mediocre slide guitar solo and get sucked into the TV unable to escape while the Rock Star got to sit on his bed and guzzle from the Loser’s bottle of Irn Bru (Scotland’s Other National Drink, Google it.) As the late Geoff Newsome (Sound Man for UFO, Ted Nugent, Naz and myself at the time) said after watching it, “Well, it’s nothin’ a good female wrestling tag team couldn’t have improved on.” He may have had a point but, in my defence, the planned video for the intended follow up, Rip It Up, was dripping with sweaty mud-covered maidens, but sadly never got further than the script. The whole idea behind making a video was, of course, to minimise me having to appear in person all over the US to promote the song and it did for the most part. Within a month Baby Come Back was put on heavy rotation by MTV which basically meant I was on your TV screen in the States every hour of every day.

This led to a moment I’ll never forget when, during a radio interview tour in New York, I asked the limo driver (Ooh, get me, huh?) to make a brief stop at Baskin Robbins for ice cream. We found ourselves surrounded by a hoard of young kids asking for my autograph. Thinking it was the limo’s presence influencing things, I was a tad dismissive. “But you don’t even know who I am,” I laughed. “Sure we do,” said one of the youths. “You’re Billy Rankin. We’ve seen you on MTV!”

Not only did I sign autographs, but I also bought every one of those kids ice cream, something that would get me arrested nowadays.

Bob Bonis
Bob Bonis with Mick Jagger

It would be appropriate at this point to mention Bob Bonis. Bob had been US tour manager for a couple of British artists during the ’60s. Namely The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. His job with me must’ve been slightly less challenging compared to his heady days with the Fab 4 and Mick & Keef cos his prime objective now was to make sure I got to interviews on time and to protect me from ice-cream-loving MTV fans. Uncle Bob did both with effortless aplomb. A prime example was when we were staying at the same hotel as Duran Duran in New York. Heading off to bed we found ourselves being chased along the corridor by numerous fans who’d mistakenly recognised me as bassist John Taylor. “You wear similar headbands Nephew Bill,” noted my minder. Bob made the instant decision of checking me out of the hotel and taking me back to the home in upstate NY he shared with his wife, Phillis, or Auntie Phillis as I knew her, a lovely woman. Bob and I shared a love of classical music so, when he realised my favourite piece was Dvorak’s cello concerto, he bought me the score and we sat in his living room listening to and reading it together. Augmented, of course, by the countless stories and photographs Bob shared of when Rock Stars didn’t wear headbands. It was after we’d spent a long day doing the rounds of New York radio stations Bob & I dropped into the English Pub for a well-deserved pint. I recognised someone propping up the bar I just had to annoy. “Excuse me, but I’m going to be a huge pain in your arse!” I warned him. “Uh, okay, but only if you’re gentle,” he came back with a wink.


Mick Ronson
Mick Ronson

I then spent the rest of the night and part of the next day as his guest in a recording studio with none other than my childhood hero and new bestest friend, Mick Ronson. He’d even seen me on MTV describing Baby Come Back as, and I quote, “Really catchy pop song,” before launching into the chorus in his thick Yorkshire accent. Mick and I kept in touch from then on, but only when he’d call me. There’s something about phoning your idols didn’t sit well with me, still doesn’t. Probably cos the urge to do so usually happens when one is pished. Case in point: Upon hearing of Be Bop Deluxe’s bass player’s death and, having enjoyed a few libations, I wholly regret the call I made to Mick’s fellow Yorkshireman Mr Nelson with, “Hey Bill! Charlie’s deid!”

Nope. Never a good idea.

I seem to have gone off track a little so to resume: As A&M UK and its counterpart in Germany had already deemed me too American-sounding for their market, things were mainly limited to radio interviews and phone-ins with a notable exception. I was booked to do a TV show in Bremen, Germany along with Slade, a trio called the Thompson Twins and Germany’s own Nena, with her 99 Red Balloons. Even though it was to be a mimed performance, I was required to have a backing band so bassist Bob Poole, drummer Drew Taylor and a guitarist neither Bob nor I can remember by name joined me for the 3-day filming. This is how Bob the bassist recalls the event:  “I remember long nights at clubs watching Noddy Holder staring comatose into a beer around 3 in the morning. Also, Don Powell, totally out of it before the shoot then hearing the make-up girls looking at him as he reclined in the chair stating, “mein Gott” (my god) when they saw what they had to work with. Jamming unplugged with electric instruments in the caravan. That was fun. Being very drunk a lot of the time trying to keep up with three Scotsmen. A happy time, that’s for sure.” I can testify to that and can add a few other memories such as witnessing the girl singer, Alannah, from the Thompson Twins getting undressed in the caravan next to ours and Noddy exclaiming, “Guys. We’ve just seen the Thompson Pair!” On the flight back home, the Slade boys and we could be found flicking peanuts into the freshly lacquered hair of Tom Bailey of the aforementioned trio of twins.

Stateside, the MTV effect started a whole new ball rolling culminating in a phone call I received from A&M’s US President, Gil Friesen, himself:

“You got a hit on your hands, young man. We need you over here now. See ya Tuesday.”
“Who was that?” asked my curious wife as I packed a case.
“Mary! That was the head of A&M. Baby Come Back’s gone into the charts with a bullet!”
“Who’s buying it?”
“What? It’s shifted 100,000 units. That’s 100,000 people, darling.”
“Wait. You wrote that in the bathroom, right?”
“Err, yeah. Why?”
“Get back in there and write another one, dammit!”

That conversation never actually took place, but I like to think it did.

Days later, I was in LA and lined up to do some major TV shows. The first was the aforementioned Thicke Of The Night, a mimed performance. The second was called Solid Gold, (a Top Of The Pops style show, also mimed.) Lastly, I had to do a 4-song gig live for some show I’ve forgotten the name of at the LA Palladium. This meant my backing band actually had to play. Step forward Gary Ferguson, perhaps the hardest hitter of drums in the World and his bass playing mate Max Noland who just looked hard.

A&M parking lot 1984
A&M parking lot 1984. Jim White’s Bentley in foreground

A second guitarist was also added and he was good too, we just can’t remember his name. The show went great and I especially loved playing the songs with a real live band. Afterwards, there was much enthusiasm from band, management and record company about taking things further, possibly a tour, but we were all very drunk at the time. Next day, as I packed for my flight home, I got a call from President Gil at A&M asking me to drop by his office on the way to LAX. On arrival at 1416 North La Brea Avenue (incidentally, once the location of Charlie Chaplin Studios) and parking next to a billboard of the Growin’ Up album cover, I was ushered into Gil’s presence.

“Great performance last night, Bill, you guys sounded great together.”
“Yes, Mr Friesen, we even joked about going out on the road.”
“Oh, that definitely will happen, son.”
“Wait. What? When?”


“Ah, okay. Cool. Look forward to that. Anyhoo, I should get goin’ Sir, flight leaves at 4.”
“There’s something else, kid.”
“Yes, Sir?”
“We want you to record a second album.”
“Wait. What? When?”