My Life as a Groupie (even if it was only for 4 days)
If you were to ask me who the one famous person I would want to most meet face to face is, my answer without hesitation would be Dave Davies from The Kinks. I just love him....his music, his story, his philosophy on life, but most of all the messages he conveys in his songs. They are so therapeutic for me and have helped me through some really hard times. He seems like he is a genuinely good person, a kind and sensitive soul, and I would love to just sit and have a conversation with him. At the least, I always wanted to thank you to him for everything he has given me, but never had the opportunity to do that. Until last Thursday, that is.
For the first time since 2007, Dave released a new album this month and to promote it he did a short tour of the US. Luckily for me, four of these shows were in California and I was able to go to three of them! Since chances like this don't come along very often, I wasn't going to blow my opportunity to say thank you. I wrote the very first fan letter I've ever written in my entire life, which said that I planned on giving it to him 3 times, one at each show, and hoped that he'd at least read it once. I know the poor guy is busy and had tons of fans trying to get a minute of his time, so I wasn't really sure if my plan was going to work. But I just knew I had to give it a try.
The letter basically just thanked him for everything he has done and how much his music has helped me. I also included copies of recent blog posts I wrote about how amazing he is, since they basically explained everything I wanted to say to him. Feel free to read them here and here. I printed them out, hand signed them, and put them in big envelopes with pictures that I had painted in my art journal influenced by his songs. I even made t-shirts for me and my friend Erika to wear at the shows. I was determined to somehow get his attention! Then the adventure began....
I Touched His G-String in Hermosa Beach
Get your mind out of the gutter. I meant the one on his guitar.
Erika and I arrived at the first show right in the nick of time. We left Fresno late and it took forever to get to LA, plus we still had to stop and change into our cool t-shirts. We walked into the club and I almost fell over when I saw that the stage had a spot just for me right in front of it and next to the stairs that Dave would be walking up to get to the stage. I couldn't believe it. Not only was I getting to see him play live, I was going to be RIGHT IN FRONT! If that was the best thing that happened on this trip I would have went home very content with my experience. But wait! There's more! Dave noticed our t-shirts right away and he said how much he liked them and wanted to know where we got them because wanted one. He spoke to me! Then, as the show progressed, he looked right into my eyes and sang lines like 'Everything I own I will share with you' from Strangers, and 'Darling you know that I love you true' from I'm Not Like Everybody Else. THEN he came up to the front of the stage, held out his guitar and let me strum it a couple of times. I was in shock and was having the time of my life. I couldn't believe this was all really happening.
When the encore was over, Dave walked off stage and I handed him my letter, which featured a painting I did in my art journal which was inspired by Death of a Clown. He took it! I didn't know if he would actually look at it or throw it out, but I was happy just knowing that it was in his hands, even if it ended up being for only a split second.
After the show, Erika and I waited by the door leading to where the band was hanging out. Dave never came out, probably because of the idiot that kept drunkenly screaming his name over and over again. I really can't blame him. His band members came out, though, and we quickly became friends with Teddy, the extremely friendly drummer. We found out that the band was called The Jigsaw Scene and they have been backing Dave up for the whole tour. Teddy signed my sketchbook and posed for pictures with Erika. It was all so surreal and the evening was quickly climbing to the top of my list of best experiences of my life.
Notice the hair sniffer in this one....
Jonathan Lea, the guitarist, also signed my sketchbook.
We went back to our hotel and figured that things couldn't get any better than that. But they do....
Dave Defends My Honor in San Juan Capistrano
When we got to the show the next night, I was initially disappointed by what I saw. We had heard that you needed dinner reservations to get good seats because in front of the state were a bunch of long tables, unlike the last show that was general admission. We called in the morning and got reservations, thinking this would get us right up front again, but they sat us off to the side of the stage and we were kind of far away. I did realize that I could walk up right to the side of the stage from where I was and wouldn't be in anyone's way, so that was my plan for when the show started.
Teddy the drummer saw us right away and came over to give us big hugs and to hang out for a little while before the show. I was busy getting my letter #2 ready, which had a picture on the envelope of an art journal page I made about the song Look Through Any Doorway.
When the show started, I ran up to my spot at the side of the stage. The band played a few songs and all of a sudden I saw a chewed up drumstick rolling towards me. Teddy had perfect aim....all I had to do is reach down and grab it! What an awesome souvenir! Needless to say I had a ginormous smile on my face, at least for a little while....
Eventually Dave looked over in the direction of where I was standing so I held up my letter/picture and waved it a little. He nodded in my direction as if he recognized me. A little while later he looked back over at me and blew me a kiss...then another one! At this point I started getting all emotional because I couldn't believe that my hero, Dave Davies, knew who I was and was blowing me kisses. It was overwhelming! Plus the song he was singing during the last blown kiss was Flowers in the Rain, and the combination caused tears to start streaming down my face. I was a complete and utter blubbering idiot. And I couldn't stop. Like, for the rest of the show. At one point, this nice lady came over to me and asked me if I was okay and told me she was there to offer support. By this time they were playing, 'I'm Not Like Anyone Else', which is definitely not a sad song, but I was still crying. She wanted to know what about that song made me so upset. My answer was 'nothing, I really don't know what is wrong with me'....Then she asked if Dave was my father which actually made me laugh. I said no, why? And she said 'because they seem to know who you are'. I really couldn't believe I was having this conversation...it was surreal.
When the set was over and before the encore, Dave walked over to the side of the stage where I was standing, bent down and said (with the most excellent British accent) 'I read it'....meaning he read the letter I gave him the day before! He went back to play some more and came back over to tell me again, and this time gave me a hug and a kiss. He let me kiss his beautiful face! I am tearing up just writing about it now, and it's over a week later. Never in a million years would I have guessed any of this would happen when I decided to buy tickets and embark on my road trip. I handed him my envelope anyway because even though he had already read the letter inside, it had a different picture on it that I wanted him to have. Since he had one more song to play, he laid the envelope on the keyboard which wasn't too far away from where I was standing until he was done.
Then, something that I consider completely mortifying happened. The drunken douchenozzle fan next to me just HAD to ruin the moment. You see, the envelope fell off the keyboard and onto the floor, and douchenozzle snatched it up. I asked him nicely if I could have it back, and he said NO. I said I gave it to him. He said NO. I was like whatever. So when Dave came back by on his way off stage, he looked at me as if to say 'where did it go?' I pointed to douchenozzle and said he took it. Dave proceeded to tell him to give it back to me but all DN could say was 'KINKS RUUUUUULE' at the top of his lungs right in Dave's face. Repeatedly. Eventually DN realized that he needed to give it back to me or Dave would have kicked his ass (not really, but I like to embellish sometimes). So I got my envelope, which is now all torn up and wrinkled, back. I really didn't want it...it was for Dave, so later I gave it to Teddy and asked him if he could give it to him, which he did. Why do people have to be idiots? One of the best things that has ever happened to me in my life was ruined by this guy. I can't believe that the one exchange that I will ever have in my life with Dave Davies had to end that way. It was embarrassing! I think I would strangle this guy if I were to ever run into him again. But what's done is done.
When the show was over, I went back to my table with my red, puffy tear stained face and Erika and Matt were wondering what the heck happened to me up there. Then Teddy came out and started making fun of me and proceeded to try and wipe the tears away from my eyes, which was pretty funny. I was laughing and crying at the same time. They thought DN made me cry, but that wasn't the case. I just had some kind of weird emotional breakdown that I really didn't understand at the time, and it wasn't until my friend Diana told me that I had a catharsis did I realize what had happened. I think she was right! For the next 2 days I couldn't listen to Dave's music or talk about that night's show without starting all over again. It was bizarre. I was getting nervous about going to the show the following night because I didn't think I had the mental capacity to handle it. Plus Erika took a train back to Fresno and Matt drove back to Phoenix, so I was on my own...
Full Fledged Groupie (or Stalker?) in Augora Hills
By today, living the rock and roll lifestyle was beginning to take a toll on me and I didn't wake up until almost noon! I had about an hour and a half drive to Augora Hills from San Juan Capistrano and I had to get on the road so I could make it there for sound check...
I arrived to the venue around 3:30 or 4 and immediately recognized my new friends Johnny and Lee who were already waiting by the door. Dave and the band were already inside working on the songs they were going to play that night. We hung out and talked about Kinks shows that we had been to in the past and wondered if we would ever see each other again at another Dave or Kinks show in the future. It would be nice if we did! I also met another new friend Yoshi, who had come all the way from Australia just to see these shows. And I thought Fresno was far! I asked them if I was an official groupie now. They said yes and welcomed me to the group. Kinks fans are so nice! Dave's girlfriend Kate eventually came out and let us buy t-shirts out of the back of their van.
My original plan was to give Dave the third copy of my letter, but since I knew he already read it there was no need to. I still wanted to give him something to remember me by so I decided to paint another picture. I took out my sketchbook and started drawing until they finally let us inside. I had splurged on a 'Golden Circle' ticket to make sure I got a good seat, and when they brought me to my table guess who was already sitting there chatting with the guitarist (Jonathan Lea)'s wife? Teddy the drummer! What are the odds....? I got a big hug and a kiss, and then I had to explain to him why Erika wasn't with me that night. Boy, was he sad. We made a video to send her to show her what she was missing, and he told me that after the show we had to take pictures together so we could make her jealous.
The audience had to sit through 2 opening bands before Dave finally came on, and I took the opportunity to get out my watercolors and finish painting my gift. I finished just in time. Although my seat was supposed to be great since it was in the 'Golden Circle', it was really kind of far away, especially considering how close I was at the last two shows. I managed to sneak right up to the front, grab a chair and pretend I belonged there. Score! I also managed to hold myself together and not have another emotional breakdown which was also a relief. Although at some point during the show, Teddy looked at me from behind his drum set and put his finger under his eyes to pretend he was crying. So I flipped him off...and he cracked up. I flipped off Dave's drummer. That just sounds so crazy. But it's true!
I tried to take some decent pictures of Dave playing....
I didn't get any kisses blown to me tonight, but Dave let me strum his guitar 2 more times!
For a special treat, Los Angeles City Councilman and long time Kinks fan, Paul Koretz, came on stage to recognize Sunday June 9th to be Dave Davies Day and presented Dave with a certificate. He stuck around to sing 'Living On A Thin Line' with the band. It was an awesome tribute. Dave looked so cute and humbled by it all as the Councilman went on and on about what a great rock legend he is and proclaimed himself to be a huge fan.
When the show was over I was able to hand Dave my painting and once again he took it. I wonder if he kept it? I'd like to think he did.
The painting refered to several of my favorite Dave songs, including 'I Will Be Me', 'I'm Not Like Everybody Else', 'God in My Brain', and the song that pushed me over the edge a few nights before, 'Flowers in The Rain'.
After the show, Teddy and I posed for some pictures that we could send Erika. I'm sure she regretted ever going home early! At one point one guy asked me if I was 'with the drummer'. LOL. So weird.
This one is my absolute favorite.
The only thing left that I hadn't been able to get yet was my copy of 'Kink', Dave's autobiography, signed by him. I had patiently waited around until the last possible minute at the last two shows, hoping he might come out and sign it for me, but no luck. I can't really blame him though, there are some really crazy and annoying fans out there and if I were him I wouldn't want to go anywhere near them. Not like us groupies. We are cool.
I hated to do this, but I ended up asking Teddy if he might be able to get it signed for me, since he's in the band and all. I could tell he really didn't want to do it, and I felt bad imposing on him, but this was my last chance. And because he is amazing, he made it happen! And I know for sure that it's Dave's signature because it was authenticated by my new friend and superfan, Lee. Shortly after, Dave left the building and as he walked to the van we waved goodbye. My adventure was over and it was time to go home.
What an amazing experience. The whole thing cost me a fortune between taking time off of work, gas, lodging and food, and petsitting fees to make sure my fleabags were taken care of while I was gone, but it was totally worth it. It was better than I ever imagined it would be. If for some strange reason you ever read this, Dave, I hope you know that you are the only person in the world I would ever do this for. Not even for Adam Ant, the Pope, or your brother Ray. And if you come back, I'll get up go out do it again....in a heartbeat. xoxo