Life On The Rock And Roll Road – Part 2

On another occasion, also on the Traffic tour, but down in the south of Italy we ran into another curious phenomena of those days for the first time, the Rioting Maoists of Italy

In general Italy is a country that I am rather fond of, but as place for us to work it was really scary at that time. The Mafia controlled all pop concerts in Italy back then – and perhaps still do for all I know, and there were a large number of young people, who described themselves as Maoists (Not sure why), who felt that all such concerts should be free.. Certain lack of understanding of economics there I felt, but that is what they felt strongly about.

Anyway, this manifested itself in a sort of pre-arranged and orchestrated riot at all pop concerts in Italy at that time. So we would turn up at the venue, and the Italian Riot Police would already be there with their riot gear, armoured cars, water cannon and so on, and would be busy setting up huge fences around the venue. In due time the “Maoists” would start to gather, with their face masks, helmets and banners….

Mostly the riots took place outside the venue, as the cops managed to keep the kids away more or less. But in Naples it really got out of hand, and as the concert was moving nicely along, suddenly tear gas grenades started bursting in the hall, and as one, the entire audience whipped out gas masks, put them on and sat back to enjoy the rest of the concert. We on the other hand were not so well prepared, and had to carry on with streaming eyes and noses as the place filled up with tear gas.

Not easy.

After a bit there were a couple of huge explosions outside, shortly followed by a number of rioters rushing onto the stage, closely followed by riot cops armed with short rifles, who proceeded to beat the hell out of the kids with their rifle butts, right beside poor Stevie Winwood who was attempting to sing….

The unconscious kids were dragged off by the cops and we simply carried on….. Had no choice really.

We later discovered that the explosions were two car bombs the rioters let off outside….

Life on the road for a roadie was never dull.

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One Of The Joys Of Being A Roadie – Machine Guns

In 1974 I worked on a European tour of the band Traffic during which we did a gig in Barcelona.  This was shortly after the death of Franco, and in many ways Spain was still trying to get over that long period of fascism, and one relic of those bad old days was still very much in evidence, and still very much feared by all and sundry – for good reason.  The good old Guardia Civil was still there in that curious uniform, wandering around the place with their rifles.

We arrived at the place for the concert (I have no memory of its name, but it was some sort of old theatre that I do remember), and set up in the normal way.  Which means a lot of very hairy and tired men carting vast quantities of huge road boxes out of the  trucks and up about three flights of stairs, along long twisty corridors and finally out onto the stage.

Pretty no?
Pretty no?

Having more or less filled the stage with all those boxes, we set about putting in place all the speakers, lights, cables, sound mixers, amplifiers, lighting controls, drum risers and all the other arcane junk needed for a Rock and Roll concert that these boxes had contained.

All this was completely normal and SOP for us… what was slightly less normal for us was that this entire operation – which takes hours to complete – was all carried out under the extremely cold and disapproving eyes of an entire platoon of those Guardia creatures, who stared at us like hungry wolves as we worked and swore our way to getting it all ready.

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