B.B., Bo, and George
Feel like a few musician stories? Well, I have a few from my years as a co-host on The Vancouver Show which was on the air from 1976 to 1986. Maybe some of you remember it on what was CKVU-TV, also known as CKVU-13 and VU-13.
The Vancouver Show was on the air, live, for 2 hours from 7-9 pm. It was the brainchild of Vancouver-born, motion picture and television director, Daryl Duke. Daryl was one of the owners of the station and the Vancouver Show was his baby. He wanted the show to reflect what was happening in the city, and provide a platform for the disenfranchised. The show’s guests would include authors, politicians, inventors, jugglers, and clowns.
And oh yes, musicians! The list of local musicians that appeared on the show would fill pages. International musical guests included stars like B.B. King, Bo Diddley, George Thorogood, Paul Schaffer of Late Night with David Letterman fame, and Sam and Dave to name just a few.
For the local musicians, it was great exposure for them, and an opportunity to advertise where they were playing in town. For the international players, their managers probably booked them hoping for some last-minute ticket sales and we were thrilled to have them on the show.
Bo Diddley played the show a number of times, but one visit was very memorable. Back in those days, television studio cameras were very big and very heavy. They were on wheels, and the cameraman was responsible for pointing those wheels in the right direction and getting the beast rolling. One night when Bo Diddley was on the show, he was right in the middle of a song when the director told one of the cameramen to move closer to the stage and hurry! He did as he was told, but didn’t notice a camera cable lying across the studio floor in front of him. As he pushed the big camera at full speed across the floor, the camera wheels hit the cable, and the camera toppled head first (or lens first) right at Diddley, and ended up smashing on the floor at the foot of the stage! Bo Diddley kept singing and playing, but he never forgot that night. A couple of years later he returned to the show, and it was all he could talk about. The time the studio camera did a header!
George Thorogood and the Destroyers, are a very high-energy boogie-blues band. We taped their performance in the afternoon as they would be preparing for their concert at the same time the Vancouver Show went to air. It was my job to do a quick interview with George between the 2 songs he was going to perform.
Following the first song, I jumped up on stage for the interview. As he answered each question, he called me “Dwayne.” Well Dwayne, yes Dwayne, we’d love to Dwayne, thanks Dwayne. I didn’t correct him and say that my name was actually, Wayne! He was the big star, I didn’t want to embarrass him, and besides, I didn’t care.
The interview was over, they played another song, packed up, and were gone. An hour later I was at my desk in the show office when the phone rang. It was George Thorogood’s manager. He apologized profusely that George got my name wrong. I told him not to worry, it wasn’t a big deal. He said “No, George feels awful because he did it on purpose, it was a prank to see if he could get you to correct him, but you didn’t, and now he feels horrible about it” Haha, I told him not to worry. (And if I might make a Thorogood hit song reference), It was just George proving once again he was “Bad, Bad to the Bone!”
B.B. King was a guest on the show, and he too taped his songs due to a scheduling conflict with his gig that night. This time it was co-host Pia Shandel’s job to do a quick interview. It went well, he didn’t try to prank her, but what he did surprised us all. After the interview, B.B. King said, “Would you mind if we played another song!” Would we mind? It’s B.B. King, and he’s offering to keep playing! Play on! He was amazing, and he and his guitar “Lucille” tore the roof off the place. Later, while the band was packing up and heading to their concert venue, a young production assistant was given the task to pay the band for their performance. She approached B.B. King and said, “Mr. King, we don’t have a very big budget on this show, and we’re sorry but we can only pay union scale.” B.B. King paused for a moment, and said, “Well, B.B. don’t play for scale, so why don’t you take my cheque and divide it up amongst the boys in the band.”
He could very well have made a scene and it could have been ugly, but it was all taken care of quietly. Besides, I’m sure the last thing B.B. King wanted was for anyone to know that he played for scale! Haha!
Till next week...
1// Bo Diddley 2// B.B. King 3// George Thorogood 4// Wayne on The Vancouver Show
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