ONCE THE "COLONEL", ALWAYS THE "COLONEL"

By Ron "Colonel" Kane


I remember the Dread Zeppelin UK Tour of 1990 very fondly. I was living in England (a ratbag tax exile) and my informants made me aware of a forthcoming Dread Zeppelin tour. It was summer (white?), 1990.

Now that the legal proceedings are over (thank you, Morty), I can reveal that The "Colonel" was living in Bath (near Bristol). The gutter press had fully informed me of the impending DZ visit; a "meeting" was scheduled (I remember Jah Paul Jo phoning me at my "office" from London). The deal was cut! Birmingham!

Now, being stuck in a podunk no-place like Bath meant that The "Colonel" wasn't exactly surrounded with, shall we say, 'enlightened' individuals. Eventually, I got the dummy with the nicest car (a black BMW, as I recall) to drive The "Colonel" (and entourage!) to the lovely town of Birmingham.

Poet & lyricist Pete Brown ("White Room", anyone?) told me that Birmingham was strange: "The people are mutants. They've been experimented upon!", he told me. The "Colonel" always takes sage advice under consideration.

But, hey! Birmingham was nice (compared to Bath, anyway). At least the folks in secondhand record stores were nice (Goddamn it, I should've paid the 25 pounds they were asking for that John Leyton LP!) The goofball who drove me to Birmingham acted confused -- couldn't find a parking place! (I later realized that there weren't any parking places).

'Colonel' Kane Introduces Dread In BirminghamWhen Dread Zeppelin tooled up to the club, I think I spotted Carl Jah first. Having not seen my charges in 6 months -- I didn't know what to expect. "Nice shoes!" was what he said to me (yes, it's true, the purple suede square-toed low-heel boots are amazing!) Everybody else turned up; I think a meal was consumed. There seemed to be fans everywhere.

Was there an opening act? Probably... (The "Colonel" doesn't remember an opening act -- The "Colonel" does remember some nice women, however!) Oh, and the food was probably terrible...unless somebody else paid for it. (Wait, we're talking about England -- the food was terrible, no matter who paid for it!)

Packed house. Many, many fans. The boys were 'tighter' than they had been when The "Colonel" was forced to leave Los Angeles (March, 1990). They had been listening to a lot of N.W.A. ("Straight Outta Compton", notably) on the tour bus...some paparazzi took a photo of one of The "Colonel's" famous introductions! Never before can The "Colonel" recall such a wave of energy/emotion/excitement (wow, 3 'E' words) -- this was nothing like a Saturday night crowd at The Palomino! These Birmingham folks went nuts!

DZ came out, played harder than hell...did favorites, had surprises (does The "Colonel" remember an N.W.A.-style "rap" song in the set? Some say yes...) At some point, The "Colonel" went backstage to talk to Alan, their British 'tour' manager. Alan did his job, but was rather unnecessarily "weenie-like" (as The "Colonel" recalls). This man had a problem: He was from someplace very stupid, even in British terms...whenever he would say where he was from, people would laugh and I suppose folks from wherever he was from had no sense of humor. Anyway, despite the small bad vibes from Alan, we BS'd about British transport, Steam locomotives vs. Electric Rail, etc. Christ, what are those boys doing out there? They're makin' a hell of a racket! Those fans are screaming (Jeez, hope it's 'good' screaming and not 'put-everything-in-the van-quickly' screaming)! Fortunately, it was 'good' screaming -- encores, encores...Jah Paul Jo, were the waitresses at that club as cute as I remember?

The room was HOT. They had 'stirred it up' real good. Folks was nuts. Oh, Lord, we're all gonna make a LOT OF MONEY at this...uh...one of these days...certainly not tonight...uh...what?

A ton of kids came backstage, carrying oddball Dread Zeppelin items, hoping for autographs. Someone had a Brazilian LP, a kid wearing a then-unknown Ned's Atomic Dustbin T-Shirt had a ton of crap to get signed...The "Colonel" doesn't remember any fistfights. I think all concerned got what they wanted!

Can The "Colonel" share another personal DZ memory?

Amsterdam, winter 1991: This time, the exile wasn't tax-related. The "Colonel" was managing The Quentin Hotel, while it was closed for the winter (the owners, Frank & Philipp went on a killer vacation and figured it was better for someone to be staying in their hotel, feeding the cat, turning on lights, bringing in the mail -- when the hotel had been left unoccupied the previous year, junkies had broken in and messed everything up)...ANYWAY, DZ came to town (and what a fine town Amsterdam is!). A dream come true: Dread Zeppelin at The Paradiso (on the Weteringschans). This time, surrogate-manager C.P. was with them. I remember the band coming to 'my' hotel before the show. Nobody in the band could figure out how The "Colonel" had managed to pull-off a free hotel (amazing what a few personal truths regarding The Rolling Stones can do!).

The Paradiso, to those who don't already know, is the foremost club in Amsterdam, if not all of Europe. A big room, great vibes, receptive audience. Nice, big backstage area, for The "Colonel" and his cohorts. Another "classic" intro (by yours truly) , another great DZ show. I remember Dutch journalists being confused by The "Colonel" (why was this man speaking simple Dutch. Who is this guy? Did you say something about Golden Earring"). A few short days earlier, this venue had been figuratively demolished by Nirvana, at the beginning of their ill-fated attempt at world domination. Now the structure was being reclaimed by Dread Zeppelin.

One of the odd habits of the Dutch people is that the folks in nightclubs seem bent on feeding everybody. This meant that there was a ton of uneaten food after the show (the band had been fed well at some poncy restaurant beforehand). I don't remember how many people helped The "Colonel" carry the food back to the closed hotel, but I don't remember havingto buy any more food that winter...

A very favorite memory of that evening was getting shit-drunk in a bar on the Leidsestraat (or near it) ("The Zoo"?). There was a 'happening' jukebox, everybody was in a good mood from a good show...(there must've been cute girls there...or something). At the Febo (fast food stand) on the Leidsestraat afterwards, I remember locals hearing us speak English and making fun of us. Fortunately, The "Colonel" knows a bit of rude Dutch, so a pointed "Luldebehanger!" was lobbed back at them. Hey, get Jah Paul Jo to tell you about "Les Nuls" (in France).

Thanks for supporting my boys, all you fans out there. There's no memory like a good memory...and my memory is full of Dread Zeppelin.

Love + Peace,

Ron "Colonel" Kane

e-mail: ronkane@earthlink.net


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