Giggin' in Da Zone
Oh yeah, life goes on...
It was a tough motherfukka leaving Ricky and Bone, but I hooked up wit
The Zone. Rehearsals started at Kenny Aronoff's house March of '82. The guys in the band: Mike 'Chief' Wanchic and Larry Crane and Kenny and me. 'American Fool' was out and 'Jack & Diane" and 'Hurts So Good' were kicking ass on the charts. So we rehearsed 'Hurts So Good' for about two weeks. Just us guys, no John yet.
So then Mike and Larry and Kenny are fillin' me up with horror stories
about John. Well, he was Johnnie Cougar. Meow. So my first gig wit dem is 'Saturday Night Live,' April 10, 1982. No pressure. Actually, I felt no pressure and smiled like an absolute goofball idiot through both songs. The segment is unwatchable today.
Our mighty rock band knew two songs. So we went back to Indiana to
Kenny's house to learn a few more tunes for the upcoming tour with Heart. The daily routine was practice at Kenny's from 11-5 and then go out to the bunker at John's for the nighttime torture session.
The bunker was a sweaty underground, stanky little concrete cubicle where John had a bed of nails and a couple of whips. Naw, jus kiddin', but
the rehearsals were brutal. Absolutely. On the Heart tour we had a 40-minute opening slot, so that's about five or six 5-minute songs. So for the next four months, we rehearsed six songs. These were: 'Hurts So Good,' 'Jack & Diane,' 'Thundering Hearts,' 'Hand to Hold Onto,' 'I Need a Lover,' and '30 Days in the Hole,' by Humble Pie.
After crawling on broken glass for four months, we finally got to leave Indiana to hook up with Heart and start the tour. I had to play a 35-minute set about three or four times a week. We were off stage
before it got dark. That's a lot of night to play with. John was huge, two singles in the Top 10, jets, limos, talk shows, TV stuff, videos, wildness.
So that Rolling Thunder went on to like Christmas and then we were done.
The next record was 'Uh-Huh.' John was by now talking to me, oh yeah, all through the Heart rehearsals he wouldn't talk to me, he'd go, 'Larry, tell Myers not to fuckin' do that,' standin' right next to
me. So he's finally talking to me but he won't let me play on the record. I made up the bass parts to all the tunes on 'Uh-Huh' in rehearsals, and then when the session started, Willie Weeks and
Brother Louis Johnson were the hired guns. I'd show them the part, and then the band would cut it.
Late in the session, Louis and Willie both couldn't make it and the 'Authority Song' was up that day. I played on that cut, I think it was
about two takes, and that was the last time an outsider played bass on a Mellencamp record until Michelle and Andy in 1994. What a great album done in 16 days. Let's go tour again.
Man the burners are turned up now. John bought a house down the road in Brown County, gutted it, turned it into a recording studio, Belmont Mall.
The first thing we arranged there was the song 'Scarecrow,' 15 minutes and we're done. That was a good omen 'cuz if we can jus keep hittin' these homers outta the park ... but that was a hard record to make. I remember being scared to go to Belmont to record. We all dug deep and made one of Mel's best Scarecrowwas a riot to make, 'Scarecrow.' That one kicked some major booty so John had a big ass stage made and we went out and headlined for 11 months. U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan. Killin. Arenas sold out. 'Oh what fun it is to ride, in a one motor little ol' plane.' Absolute lunacy 24-7. Summers off. Excellent.
Around this time, '85, John was hiring and firing at a pretty good
clip. One wardrobe guy lasted 30 minutes. I started making up a parody song out of 'The Battle of New Orleans,' by Johnnie Horton 'cuz there was a lot of hilarious stuff goin' on, John goin off on this and that, us guys with our excesses, circus like. Sound of cougar hissing....
The motto: no blood, no foul. At this point, we had 119 people in the band and a couple o' thousand in the crew, and an island in the Pacific called 'Melville.' Well, it seemed like that.
After the 'Scarecrow' tour ended we went right back to Belmont Mall 'cuz John had about 40 songs to record. The whole damn family was around to make that one, which a whole lot of critics and a whole lot
of people. Like best, 'Lonesome Jubilee' is Patty P and Crystal be hangin' wit
da boys and Lisa G be throwin' down along side of Johnnie C., Larry, Mike, Kenny, John and me. Outstanding. Another tour of Canada, Australia and the states. The fun meter was always pegged. We had an absolute smokin' football team. We called it the MFL, jerseys, refs, cheerleaders to chase, the whole deal. We'd play these other teams every Sunday starting around Thanksgiving. Teams from like Polygram, firemen, whatever. Teams would challenge us. We played Billy Joel and his band once and I had my brother Mark go over to their sidelines and kind of mingle in and see what they were saying and they were goin' , 'Fuck a bunch of Indiana, fuck dese guys.' We were beating them so bad we all laid down on a kickoff once and they still couldn't score. Hey, we didn't start the fire.
Farm Aid had started up the year before and it was at that gig that I crossed paths with the future co-host of my new talk show 'Hello there, ladies and gentlemen.' His name, Kevin Holman, known to those
in the biz as Rocky, Rock, the Rockman. Rocky's a piece of work unequaled, and we're working on a 15-minute show that's gonna kill. Cheap Trick's gonna be the house band. Maybe.
John was working on a movie script called 'Souvenirs,' that got made
about, I dunno, a little later on. The movie is called 'Falling from Grace.' John calls it 'Falling Asleep.' That always makes me laugh... He gave me a part in it and that week amongst the corn and the moon and the whole shebang, most excellent. The movie's on cable all the time; last week on Bravo. A little before the movie, 'Big Daddy' was recorded. Great songs. Kinda dark. Keep 'em comin'. What a bad ass band.
At this point Dieter says, 'Your story has become tiresome.' Liebe Mein Abst Minkey.
Most noteworthy in the '90s: 'Whenever We Wanted' David Grissom greatness. Check out David on 'Big Daddy' too. 'Human Wheels' really
strong old school Mellencamp. Kenny, Lisa, me and the Chief, Johnnie C, David.
And new crew Mellencamp, Moe Z MD, Andy, and Miriam on 1996's 'Mr. Happy Go Lucky.' Dig up Track #6 'Emotional Love.'
Thank you. Thank you very much.