“Well I’ve been kicked by the wind, robbed by the sleet, had my head stoved in, but I’m still on my feet and I’m still Willin” (Lowell George, 1971)

mash tour 1981
M*A*S*H tour itinerary cover 1981

starship 81
Starship 31st March 1981

The first leg of the Fool Circle tour had been titled the Flip ‘n’ Clop Tourin obvious reference to the album’s front cover artwork. Injuries and illness to band and crew, mainly due to the severe work schedule, had the second outing’s itinerary feature a heavily bandaged dolphin/horse and was called the American M*A*S*H Tour to someone’s amusement, but certainly not to ours. Still, we had a month or so to recover but, in my case, several issues required immediate attention.

1. I was now officially acknowledged as a member of Naz, meaning Fool Circle would be paying my wages from now on instead of Delta Records.

2. Plans were afoot to record the next leg of the tour for a live album and we’d been asked to provide a track for an upcoming movie soundtrack called Heavy Metal. This meant I’d need to be either given permission or released completely from my Delta Records contract. Battered and bruised from the tour, I faced these issues head-on by meeting with Delta’s Colin Robertson in his Glasgow office. It did not go well. Naz manager Jim White had already been in touch with my old boss Colin and it had also not gone well. His original jovial approach to me joining the band of, “We’ll sort something out if you wanna do it,” was replaced with, “You ungrateful little bastard! After all I’ve done for you, you ungrateful little bastard!” and most poignantly of all, “Battered and bruised are ye? Ah’ll break yer fuckin’ legs!” probably with, “You ungrateful little bastard!” tagged on as I ran from the meeting while I still could. Leave it with me,” advised Eddie Tobin. “I’ll talk to him. Maybe I can save one of your legs.” And he did.

delta release
Delta Records release 1981

By early April 1981, Colin had mellowed somewhat and once again invited me to his office for a chat and an official letter releasing me from Delta Records. I don’t know what Eddie did, he’s never told me, but, yet again, he’d played an important part in furthering my career.

Next was the Heavy Metal soundtrack song. Initially Dream On had been bandied about but was deemed potentially too valuable as a future single for the band, so Manny’s Crazy (A Suitable Case For Treatment) was selected. It was my first experience in a recording studio with Nazareth and was somewhat underwhelming from my point of view. For starters, Manny already had all the guitar parts on a home demo he’d made so I basically played what he could’ve played himself. I did, however, make my presence felt in the backing vocals department.

We recorded it at Castlesound Studios in Pencaitland, a tiny village outside Edinburgh run by engineer/producer Calum Malcolm who was, at this time, working on demos for the debut album by The Blue Nile. It must have been a culture shock to Calum cos The Blue Nile record took several years to complete, the single from it took a mere nine months to record and we were in and out in a night. The mastered recording was flown to the States the very next day and actually appeared during the movie for a few seconds, but only if you listen really hard. A few weeks later, we were back on a plane bound for America. It was part of Nazareth folklore that to get the band to leave Scotland and start a tour, they’d always be told it was to be somewhere exotic, like Hawaii or Monte Carlo, only to discover too late that it was actually Bumfuck, Wyoming. This time, however, we weren’t lied to.

Florida in May sure as hell beat Glasgow any time of the year.

hm cover
Heavy Metal album cover 1981
Castlesound
Castlesound Studios
‘Live and Dangerous was 75% recorded in the studio.’ (Thin Lizzy producer Tony Visconti, 2012)

We celebrated my 22nd birthday on the 2nd date of this, my 2nd tour in Lakeland, Florida and, in true Nazareth fashion, I don’t remember any of what they said they’d done to me. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a real donkey involved but, like I say…

American M*A*S*H Tour 4/5.81
American M*A*S*H tour April-May 1981

In addition to the recording of some dates by the Record Plant Mobile for a live album, we were also going to be filmed for a video to accompany it. The video was shot at the Sam Houston Coliseum on May 7th 1981, but the film crew were with us for 5 days from New Orleans on May 6th to Lubbock, Texas with footage featuring all aspects of Naz on the road. It was initially released on video as Nazareth Live then later on DVD as Live In Texas. Unlike the film crew, the Record Plant boys stayed with us for much of the tour. Many nights were spent on the tour bus analysing tapes of that evening’s performance which, to be honest, got very dull very quickly. The truth is, we were consistent on all the gigs. Sometimes one of us would fluff a note, or Dan would deviate from singing to berate an over-zealous member of security: “Hey Motherfucker! If you slap that kid down again, I’ll pish in your mouth!” but most of the time things sounded just dandy.

American M*A*S*H Tour 4/5.81
American M*A*S*H tour April-May 1981

Then someone from the record company pointed out that any live recordings made in the USA and subsequently released as a live album would be liable for some kind of governmental taxation. But not in Canada where this tour was to end. So, were the few days we spent at the Record Plant Studios in LA selecting the best versions of each track over the entire tour really recorded at the PNE Coliseum in Vancouver? I couldn’t possibly comment cos I credit you, dear reader, with the intelligence to ‘Go Figure’, but I can categorically assure you that there was no ‘fixing’ of any kind on what became the Snaz live album. On the Houston video gig, however, we did have to ‘fix’ Pete’s bass on a few tracks but only cos the ‘DI’ or ‘Direct Injection’ failed during recording on the night. What you heard is what you got. A Rock and Roll band, warts and all. We had many warts. Some would say it’s our best feature.

Just ask Lemmy.

American M*A*S*H Tour April-May 1981
American M*A*S*H tour band bus 1981
American M*A*S*H Tour itinerary extract April-May 1981
Lee County Arena, Ft. Myers, FL ticket 26th April 1981
Tampa Tribune 27th April 1981
American M*A*S*H Tour April-May 1981
American M*A*S*H Tour April-May 1981
Chattahoochee Magazine, Columbus, GA 30th April 1981
Atlanta Journal 1st May 1981
North Hall Auditorium, Memphis, TN ticket 3rd May 1981
Tour itinerary extract 7th May 1981
Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, TX ticket 7th May 1981
Sam Houston Coliseum
Convention Center Arena, San Antonio, TX ticket 8th May 1981
Stone City Attractions local crew shirt front May 1981
Stone City Attractions local crew shirt back May 1981
County Coliseum, El Paso, TX ticket 13th May 1981
Tucson Citizen 15th May 1981
Compton Terrace, Tempe, AZ ticket 15th May 1981
American M*A*S*H tour April-May 1981
Tour itinerary extract 23rd May 1981
PNE Coliseum, Vancouver
Vancouver Province 24th May 1981
PNE Coliseum, Vancouver live review 23rd May 1981
American M*A*S*H Tour April-May 1981
Pop Rocky magazine 8th July 1981
American M*A*S*H tour April-May 1981
A&M promo 1981
Air Studios, London live video bass 'fix' June 1981
Air Studios, London live video bass 'fix' June 1981
Live In Texas preview letter 10th July 1981
Trouser Press magazine July 1981
Nazareth Live Signed Betamax Video Cover 1981
Nazareth Live video still 1981
Nazareth Live video still 1981
Live In Texas DVD cover
American M*A*S*H Tour

Heart’s Grown Cold at Convention Center Arena, San Antonio, TX 8th May 1981

Big Boy at PNE Coliseum, Vancouver 23rd May 1981

“I drunk myself blind to the sound of old T.Rex. Oh, who’s next?” (The Who: You Better You Bet, 1981)

During our time at Air Studios, London, we became aware of the hordes of kids hanging around outside the building. Hordes of kids are hard to ignore so, after a few enquires, we were informed of an up-and-coming Superstar currently sharing the facility. His name was Adam Ant and we’d never heard of him. I met him in the games room and he was instantly recognisable. He had weird braids in his hair and was surrounded by a bevvy of corporate hangers-on. He instigated the conversation and yes, he’d heard of Nazareth. I challenged him to a game of pool which he declined then he asked to meet the rest of my bandmates. Obligingly, I ushered him into our studio with “Hey guys. This is Adam. He wants to say hello.”

For a bit of context here, Adam was 6 years older than me and considerably younger than our next youngest member Darrell. But, unlike us, he was No.1 in the charts with a song/video/phenomenon called Prince Charming.
“So, Adam,” Pete began. “Who’s your favourite artist?”
“Probably me,” he replied, and with that began a conversation which ultimately led to full disclosure on Adam’s part.
He knew his shelf life was limited. He wasn’t a David Bowie, more like a Marc Bolan, but he was confident his star would burn brighter than ours. For a brief moment, it did.

At the time of our meeting, it was impossible to ignore Adam’s popularity. With this in mind, tour manager Harry Williams nipped down to the local Oxford Street vendors and returned with numerous glossy posters which we asked “Prince Charming” himself to sign. He graciously did and, as a result, my firstborn was the proud owner of some bedroom art not shared by any other kid on the block. Although oblivious to who he was, my son went to bed gazing upon an image with the bold inscription:

“To Wee Billy. Lots of love. Uncle Adam. XXX.”

“At the Olympic Games, I met a man carrying a long pointed stick. “Are you a Pole Vaulter?” I asked.
No,” he replied. “I’m German, but how did you know my name was Walter?” (Chic Murray, Scottish comedian, 1967)
gatefold sleeve
Snaz gatefold sleeve 1981

Once back in Scotland, we returned to Castlesound Studios to record a couple of bonus tracks for the upcoming live album. Manny had a song in his arsenal entitled Juicy Lucy and someone had the bright idea of doing a new version of Morning Dew, which had featured on the band’s debut album back in 1971. Enter the wonderfully flamboyant John Punter. John was an ‘in house’ producer at Air Studios under the guidance of Air’s owner George Martin and had contributed to countless classic recordings over the years. Google him. You’ll be impressed. My favourite memory of the session was Pete attempting to play the Jew’s Harp on Morning Dew through constantly cracking teeth and expletives. Painful for him but even more so for the rest of us. My ribs ache just remembering it. “Twang, Twang, Oh ya Bastard! Twang, Fuxake, Twang, Twang, Jeez-Oh, A’ve lost ma filling there! Twang, Twang!” etc.

Morgentau

punter
John Punter

John Punter was given the job of mixing the live album at Manor Studios Oxfordshire, where Mike Oldfield had recorded Tubular Bells a few years back and we treated it like a vacation. So much so that Pete, Dan, Darrell and yours truly challenged the studio staff to a game of 4-a-side soccer. Manny declined with the credible, “Are you Fuckin’ Mad?” His wisdom proved accurate and, while we spent the next few days unable to get out of bed, a Phonogram Germany rep suggested that, as the original Morning Dew had been a favourite amongst the Deutsch Dancehall crowd back in the day, we should do a version in their mother tongue. A translator arrived and she coached us through what became Morgentau. Being Scottish, the jump to singing in German wasn’t too far, but it came close to equalling the comical value of Pete’s earlier performance on his way to the dentist’s chair.

Snaz, along with bonus tracks, was released just in time for a short but sweet homecoming.

“Why has there never been a Scottish Lynyrd Skynyrd? Cos Sweet Home Aberfeldy would never catch on.” (Uncle Pete Agnew, 1981)
Sounds 2nd April 1981
Sounds 15th August 1981

But home sweet home we were, and not too far from Aberfeldy in the grand scheme of things. To promote the new live album, Snaz, a short UK tour was lined up and, I for one, couldn’t wait, for two main venues in particular. The first was London’s Hammersmith Odeon. So many notable gigs had taken place there. Hell, I’d even seen Nazareth with my predecessor Zal during the No Mean City tour in 1979, and it seemed at the time to be unattainable to yours truly ever playing there. It was HUGE! Except, due to my recent experiences in the US where I’d witnessed and performed to audiences of 15,000 and more, the 3,400 seater Hammy O felt like, to quote Billy Connolly, “Playing inside a birthday cake.” It mattered not a jot though cos, after the years of dreaming on my part, it was special. Even my mum was present to witness her wee boy’s coming of age. According to my somewhat embarrassed wife Mary sitting next to her, auld Jeannie Rankin prodded fellow audience members with her umbrella during the gig saying, “That’s ma Boy down there! If ye clap for him, I’ll give you a sweetie!” This was at the end of the tour, however, so let’s rewind a few days to the start. September 17th kicked things off at Hull City Hall then Newcastle, Edinburgh Odeon and on to the fourth date and what was to be my most memorable gig ever. Or not.

New Musical Express 7th April 1981
UK Tour itinerary cover September-October 1981
UK Tour itinerary extract September-October 1981
Glasgow Evening Times 11th September 1981
Kirkintilloch Herald September 1981
Hull City Hall
Newcastle City Hall
Edinburgh Odeon
New Musical Express 19th September 1981
Glasgow Apollo interior
Barry's actual ticket. Insult not included.
Nottingham Rock City advert 25th September 1981
Nottingham Rock City advert 25th September 1981
Record Mirror 10th October 1981
Hammersmith Odeon, London
Hammersmith Odeon, London with Mary 2nd October 1981
Hammersmith Odeon, London with Billy's Mum 2nd October 1981
Sounds 3rd October 1981
Sounds 1981
NME 7.4.81
Glasgow-Apollo
Glasgow Apollo

On 20th September 1981 Nazareth played the Glasgow Apollo, a venue so legendary to me I could hardly contain myself when I realised I’d be there, but as a player, not a punter. Unfortunately, I came down with an illness the night before in Edinburgh. We all thought it was Pleurisy; it might as well have been, cos my lungs were full of fluid and I couldn’t move. The doctor diagnosed it as 48-hour Virus which to me sounded like Pleurisy for Pooves. When I told him I was playing the Apollo this very night, he should’ve replied with, “Oh, is that where you saw T.Rex, Bowie, AC/DC, Ted Nugent, The Rolling Stones, Skynyrd, 10cc, Montrose, Mick Ronson, Status Quo and many, many more in your youth?” Instead, he said:
“You’re fucked, eh?”
Aye,” I croaked. “Doc, you’ve gotta help me. Kill Me Now!”
Nah William,” said he and injected my arse with God knows what. “You’ll be fine in a few minutes. You’ll still want to die and you’ll probably play like Roy Rodgers, but mind that high stage. It’s a Doozy!” Mary drove me in and helped carry me up to the dressing room. I’d missed the soundcheck and the famous boxes above the main audience stalls were full of my close relatives, but I just wanted to die, as the Doc had predicted. “Holy Shit!” my fellow bandmates exclaimed. Not only because of how I looked, but mainly that I point blank refused a beer on arrival. “I knew then he was fucked,” Pete later said in an interview. I don’t remember playing what should’ve been the highlight of my gigging career, but a surviving recording is proof that I did. Afterwards, I was immediately dragged down to the car via the backstage door and back to bed. At the backstage door that night, this site’s webmaster, Barry, and I met for the very first time. Barry remembers asking me for an autograph. I don’t remember this. He also remembers I told him to “Fuck Off!” This I will not accept, despite being unable to remember but, when he told me his side of events years later and just to be on the safe side, I erred on the cautionary.

I told him to “Fuck Off!”

Beggars Day at Glasgow Apollo 20th September 1981

Hair Of The Dog at Glasgow Apollo 20th September 1981

“So Rick, what have you been doing since you left Aerosmith?”
Uh… Heroin?” (Rick Dufay, 1985)
Billy-n-Bobby-Blotzer
Hammersmith Odeon, London 2nd October 1981

Our last American tour of 81 was a blast. We retained our UK support act guitarist Vic Vergat (featuring future Ratt drummer and since then lifelong friend Bobby Blotzer) but also one of my all-time guitar heroes Joe Perry. The first few gigs I spent boring Mr Perry with teary-eyed tales of how my old band Phase used to open with Back In The Saddle to enthusiastic US Marines at Dunoon Naval Base and he was always polite in nodding his approval, or so I thought. Fact is, Joe, for the most part, didn’t understand my accent or, as I realised eventually, couldn’t give a fuck. Depending on the time of day, he was either capable of remembering my name (which always blew me away) or he was merely incapable of recalling how I’d bored him before. Don’t get me wrong, Joe Perry was, and no doubt still is, one of the sweetest guys on the planet, but sometimes he was on another planet from the rest of us. Every night of the tour, you’d find me beside the onstage monitor guy enjoying Joe’s unique guitar playing despite not being familiar with any of the Joe Perry Project’s material. He was cool. He looked cool. He played some Aerosmith too.

One night, during a rendition of Same Old Song And Dance, he leaned back into his Marshall stack for the solo and my monitor guy buddy sensed something was amiss. “Fuck, he’s lost it! Backup!” I joined four other stagehands to prop up Joe’s speakers from behind while a fifth roadie hauled him upright. Joe won’t remember this, but I do. In fact, his on/off best friend, Steven Tyler will have me to thank a year later during another episode, but won’t recall it either. That’s the thing about meeting your heroes.

They’ll never disappoint, so long as they don’t expect you to think they give a fuck.

Cashbox 15th August 1981
Billboard 19th September 1981
US tour itinerary cover October-November 1981
US tour itinerary extract October-November 1981
Snaz tour pass 1981
Wendler Arena, Saginaw, MI advert 16th October 1981
Dayton Journal Herald 17th October 1981
Sports Arena, Toledo, OH ticket stub 17th October 1981
Snaz tour after show patch 1981
County Fieldhouse, Erie, PA ticket 22nd October 1981
Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens ticket 23rd October 1981
Mid Hudson Civic Center, Poughkeepsie, NY advert 26th October 1981
Louisville Gardens poster 30th October 1981
Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI 31st October 1981 ticket
Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI advert 31st October 1981
Pop Rocky magazine competition October 1981
Stabler Arena, Bethlehem, PA 5th November 1981 ticket (1)
Stabler Arena, Bethlehem, PA 5th November 1981 ticket (2)
Rockford, IL 12th November 1981
Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL ticket 13th November 1981
Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL 13th November 1981
Snaz tour stage patch 1981
Met Center, Bloomington, MN ticket 15th November 1981
Civic Auditorium, Omaha, NE advert 18th November 1981
Omaha World-Herald 19th November 1981
Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, OK ticket 19th November 1981
Keil Opera House, St Louis, MO cutting re 21st November 1981
Keil Opera House, St Louis, MO cutting re 21st November 1981
St. Louis Post-Dispatch 23rd November 1981
Fair Park Coliseum, Beaumont, TX ticket 26th November 1981
Snaz tour backstage patch 1981
Creem magazine November/December 1981
Creem magazine November/December 1981
Creem magazine November/December 1981
Creem magazine November/December 1981
Snaz tour hotel room 1981
Hit Parader December 1981
Music UK magazine 1981
Selections From Snaz 12" A&M promo side 1 1981
Selections From Snaz 12" A&M promo side 2 1981
Cashbox 15.8.81
Joe Louis Arena 31.10.81
Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI 31st October 1981 flyer