“Hi Billy, it’s Darrell. Listen, Manny’s oot. We’d like you back, mate.” (Phone call, May 1990)
After a brief call to Manny who confirmed he was indeed ‘oot’: “Aye, good luck Bill. You’ll fuckin’ need it!” it was negotiating time.
When I informed Big D of my monthly income, he was quite taken aback.
“Jeez! Ah didnae think playin‘ the pubs was That lucrative!”
I offered to show him my accounts
“Nah, I believe you. We’ll match it, so are you in?”
“Dunno Big D, I’m kinda set in my ways, and I’m playing in a band too. I’ll need to run it by them and my family.”
“I understand. We’ve got a major US tour booked with two other bands, big venues and all that.”
“Oh, Aye? Which bands?”
“Ten Years After and Blackfoot.”
“But what about your band and family?”
Truth be told, he couldn’t have named two better bands, the bastard! I’d get to play on the same bill as Alvin Lee and Rickey Medlocke? No brainier.
As for the reasons behind Manny’s ooting, a tit-for-tat mud-slinging exchange between Darrell (now Nazareth’s manager) and Manuel himself was covered extensively by The Press. When I say The Press, I mean the Dunfermline Press as presumably Rolling Stone magazine, if offered this story, would’ve likely responded with, “Who?” Whatever the reasons, I was announced as Nazareth’s new/old guitarist, returning to the fold after some much-needed rehearsals and even more (in my case much catching up) drinking bouts.
Text of the Dunfermline Press article:
In a shock move, Fife rockers Nazareth have sacked founder member Manny Charlton and installed a replacement – in the shape of guitarist Billy Rankin. Drummer Darrell Sweet said this week that, “musical and personal differences” had led to a new core line-up for the band after 22 years. While no-one was prepared to talk in detail about the split which occurred shortly after the charity fund-raising concert at East End Park last month. Manny said this week, “Basically, I was fired.” He went on, “I thought that we might have been able to resolve things, but obviously the rest of the guys reached an impasse.” The guitarist, who co-wrote much of the band’s material with singer Dan McCafferty, says that he plans to “put out feelers” in the business and send off demo tapes of songs he has written in the hope of finding a recording deal. Manny emphasised that there is no acrimony between him and his successor, who has worked with the band in the past, and he said, “I have a lot of respect for Billy. He is a talented guy.” Explaining that Nazareth regard the affair as an internal matter, Darrell said, “This is basically our business, albeit to a certain degree we are in the public domain.” He went on, “Nobody was happy about how things were going and as it happened the three of us decided to stick together and Manny was asked to leave.” Billy was part of the band when they were a six-piece from 1980-1983 when it also included keyboards player John Locke. “That was a phase in our career when we reckoned that we had done everything that we could with a four-piece band and then we reverted,” said Darrell. He added, “There was no question of going further afield. Billy is an excellent guitarist. We wanted a change with minimal disturbance and luckily we managed to do that.” Of the rift, Darrell commented, “Manny, being one of the main songwriters, had a lot to say about the songwriting. However, we haven’t had a hit record for six years.” Nazareth are currently rehearsing for tours in Scandinavia, Europe and America and Darrell summed up, “We are very happy about the way things are going.” Billy Rankin, who is originally from Kirkintilloch, began his career with The Sensational Alex Harvey Band in 1978. He said, “I’ve always got on with Manny Charlton and everybody else in the band, and it was actually a big surprise when they asked me to replace him.” During his eighties involvement with Nazareth, he contributed a number of songs, including Dream On, which was a number one hit all over Europe. Billy has enjoyed solo success in America.
So as not to appear the Bad Guy in all of this, I also reactivated my friendship with Manny, much to Dan, Pete & Darrell’s disapproval but fuck it. In my mind, they’d all been at least partly responsible for ripping me off last time so better to be safely connected to all of them this time around. Not that I was going to raise the “Where’s Ma Royalties Ya Bastards?” issue at this time but interestingly enough, they did. My 3 bandmates, while acknowledging I hadn’t had any, were quick to blame Jim White although they knew that I knew he’d only had a small stake in Fool Circle Music: Their company who’d collected everyone’s royalties and was meant to pay me mine. Manny, however, and perhaps with differing motives was up-front about it. “Aye, we got your royalties all right Bill, and we spent ‘em. In fact, I’m still earning a fair amount from your Dream On, we all are.”
Still, now was not the time for opening old wounds, but rest assured it would be firmly placed on my back burner for future reheating. On a positive note, I was about to become Billy Big-Time again with the downside being a customary drop in wages and the upside:
No more Pub Gigs… or so I thought.