Working with Aerosmith on New Years Eve. WANT CELEBRITY GOSSIP? I got it! True stories by Charles Locke, Copyright 2008 www.CharlesLocke.com
Who would you like to meet, a movie star, a rock star, a porn star, a TV celebrity or maybe just an honest car mechanic? Ok, I can help you out, well, except for the mechanic that is. I can get you backstage to a Maria Carey concert faster than you can change a flat tire. Sure, I'll have to break a few rules, but don't tell anybody, ok? "Hey Charles," A good friend pleaded with me. "Can you get me into the Aerosmith concert tonight?" "I don't know Jimmie." I replied. "It's a rough situation down here." "You always say that Charles," Jimmie snickered. "And I'd love to bring Peter and Jill; you remember Peter the sound engineer from the studio. I'm sure he'll hook you up with some free studio time… and my girlfriend will love you!" "Jimmie… your girlfriend already loves me!" I laughed into my cell phone. "And dude… 4 people… are you crazy?" "Of course I'm crazy you moron… come on Charles… hook us up!" "Yea, I'll hook you up alright… from a meat hook you meat head… it's New Year's Eve… it's the biggest concert of the year… it was sold out before the tickets even went on sale… there havin' a huge backstage party… every celebrity on the east coast is gonna be here… there's 30 thousand people tryin' to get into a 20 thousand seat house… they doubled the security at every entrance… and I'd be better off tryin' to sneak you into the oval office on election night... does that sound promising?" "Sooooooooo…" Jimmie whimpered. "Does that mean yes?" "Yea Jimmie… listen… my chances of getting you in are about 99 percent, and it's important that you dress like rock stars, ok? There's no guarantees and I might not know anything until the last minute, but the best time to walk you in is gonna be right after the music starts at 9 o'clock so be ready!"
It was 7 PM when I hung up my cell phone and drove my van through thousands of bustling fans. I inched down the driveway alongside the Fleet Center and parked directly outside the security office which is also the employee entrance. I opened the side doors of my 17 passenger van and carried in14 bags and 2 boxes. "Woe Steve… it's a mad house out there," I spoke to the building's head of security. "I'll move my van as soon as I get all this stuff upstairs." "Don't you ever get a break Charlie?" Steve smiled at me. "Sure Steve… I got 10 minutes for lunch… but it's a short day… only 19 hours!" Everybody likes me; I do a great job and I make people laugh. I've been working these concerts for so long that my face is my ID. I only hang my working pass around my neck when it's appropriate. I've been offered hundreds of dollars for my backstage passes, but I'll never sell one, and sometimes when I'm in a crowd people will grab at it. Steve buzzed me in through a metal gate and I went into the food storage area to borrow a flatbed hand truck. I rolled it out back to the entry and piled everything on top carefully. Then I went back through the gate, down the stark cement hallway and took the elevator to the 3rd floor. I always feel victorious when I enter this highly restricted area. I'm a Samurai shopper. I'm a guy that will stop at nothing to make sure that everybody gets what they need. I maneuvered the 4 wheeled cart past a huge 52 foot truck, and it was just one of 6 that were parked inside the building. Then I advanced toward the narrow backstage hallway where 2 security guards were checking everyone's passes. After I entered I saw Stephen Tyler walking toward me so I stopped short for safety reasons. I will never forget the look in Stephen Tyler's eyes. He knew why I stopped and he smiled at me as if to say thank you. His face was weather beaten, humble, undeviating, wise, intelligent, inspiring and all engrossing to look at. He was the perfect embodiment of what a rock 'n roll singer should look like.
I continued slowly down the crowded hallway passing the management office, the local production office, the press room, and the stage entrance until I finally reached the touring production office which is the room that I work out of. It's the busiest office in the building, and my boss Bill, the touring production manager, is the busiest man in the building. He rarely get's a free moment, and from 8 AM to 3 AM people will be breathing down his back. Even when he's eating dinner people will approach him at his table with questions. And the same goes for me. I am his assistant from the time he arrives to the time he leaves, and if there's anybody busier than my boss Bill, well then, that would be me, and here's why. If there are 100 people on the tour than 95 of them are asking "Where's the runner?" Not to mention the 50 or so local workers who also seek me out. And tomorrow I could be working with Rod Stewart at the Worcester Centrum, in which case I will have a different boss and a whole new set of touring personnel looking for me. I am accustomed to getting 3 or 4 hours of sleep in between shows and a typical work day is an 18 hour onslaught of get this, find that, pick up this person here and drive that person there. I have driven more superstars than a fleet of limousines. ---------------------------- And here is a personal note for all of you readers. Because this is the first time I have posted a blog about my celebrity stories, I am explaining what my job is and what it entails. Few people know what goes on behind the scenes at these huge concerts and how it all works, so if I enlighten you now then I can spend the following time focusing on the hilarious situations that I have been involved in, and less on logistics, after all, you don't want to read about me. You would rather hear about Britney Spears and what color underwear she wears, which, by the way, are pink and odorless. How do I know? I was holding them in my hand, and what is a young stud to do? I pressed them into my face and inhaled, ha-ha. Her bus driver asked me if I wanted her to autograph a picture for me personally, and I said, "absolutely," so he went onto her tour bus and brought back an 8 by 10. It's obvious that it was mass produced and all he did was write 'To Charles' on it. He didn't think I would notice the difference in the hand writing; what a fool. Oh well, I've got hundreds of real ones, like the one that Huey Lewis signed to me while I was in his dressing room. Ok… back to the story ... -------------------------------
"Right on time… Charlie… you're back!" Bill the production manager howled. "Pile all the laundry bags along that wall and set everything else on the table." "Alright," I hollered. "Who ordered the Vaseline, knee pads and surgical gloves?" "Say what?" The touring accountant turned around and gasped. "Who needs what?" "Ha-ha… just kidding man," I giggled. "But I can get you some if you want." "You never know Charlie… maybe we'll need some for the after show party tonight." "I'll bet you will, and I'll get you a case of condoms while I'm at it!" I snickered. I spread out my successful shopping spree on the long wooden table. Two 50 foot extension chords, a 12 foot tape measure, 3 rolls of black gaffer's tape, a toner cartridge for a Cannon PC710, 2 packs of Hammermill Ink Jet copy paper, a 12 pack of D'Addario extra light guitar strings, a small tub of epoxy cement, a bottle of Shout Stain Remover, a 24 pack of 9 volt Duracell batteries, 20 1 amp 250 volt slow blow fuses, a bag of sunflower seeds, 1 carton of Camel Lites, 2 cans of Scoal's Wintergreen Sniffing Tobacco, 5 bottles of sparkling cider, 2 cases of champagne, 3 bottles of Jack Daniel's, 2 bottles of Crown Royal, 300 plastic cups, 100 party hats, 100 whistle blowers, 10 helium balloons, and a partridge in a pear… ha-ha… just kidding… I didn't get one of those… but I would if they asked me to. ---------------------------------- I have hundreds of pictures of me and superstars, but most of the time when I'm working there are very strict rules: no pictures and no autographs. Yea sure, I've met Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, M.C.Hammer, Mary J Blige, Jay-Z, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, The Rock, Beyonce Knowles, David Bowie, Dave Matthews, Justin Timberlake, Gwen Stefani, Run-DMC, Faith Hill, John Mayer, Oasis, Elton John, Eddie Van Halen, Robert Plant, Christina Aguilera and thousands of others, but I was on the job and I had to maintain my professional behavior. However, I did keep an on going diary on tape so I wouldn't forget all the unusual stories and quirky activities of the celebrities, after all, I am a writer. I also kept as much memorabilia as possible, but the bottom line here folks is… I couldn't take pictures of Aerosmith on New Year's Eve or any other night, and I can't use someone else's because there are copyright laws. and if i could add pictures to this blog i would. Oh… and most of the time my title is a 'Runner' ha-ha… so let's run back to the story… yee haa!
---------------------------------- At 8:30 PM I took 20 thousand dollars worth of tickets down to the box office: they were for the press, photographers, family and friends. Paul, the box office manager, buzzed me into his inner sanctum and smiled at me knowingly. "Hello Charles… are they keeping you busy enough today?" He laughed. "I'm only going in twenty directions at once." I smirked as I handed him 90 envelopes. "And how about Busta Rhymes and Usher; did you ever find them some chairs?" "Imagine that Paul? I can locate almost anything for anybody but nobody could get me a single chair from the old Boston Garden, and they would have paid good money for it." "Yea," Paul grinned. "Everybody wants one… including me!" And everybody wants a backstage pass too, so I went back upstairs and into the production office where it appeared there was a pile of working passes just waiting for me. No one was looking so I slipped a few into my pocket and 15 minutes later I was escorting Jimmie and his friends into the building. Jimmie knows the rules and he informed his friends. They don't know me, they don't talk to me unless I talk to them, and they can go anywhere in the Fleet Center except for the dressing rooms. No sooner did we enter the backstage area when Joe Perry and Stephen Tyler came sauntering down the hallway and went into the catering. Jimmie and his friends had some chocolate cake and milk while sitting next too 2 of their favorite musicians. I went back to work and it was a little before midnight when we ended up standing beside the stage together. The capacity crowed was going wild as Stephen sang "Dude (looks like a lady) while wearing a pink wig, and the rest of the band wore white wigs. A huge beach ball was being bounced around in the audience; 25,000 pink balloons dropped from the ceiling; confetti cannons were exploding; their wives and children got on the stage; green and red laser beams made a spectacular light show and Jimmie jumped up on my back and said, "Happy New Year Charlie!" -------------------------------- Stay tuned ... in my next addition, Elvis Costello wants an inflatable sheep, haha ... ------------------------------- You can see pictures at www.CharlesLocke.com or right here on my myspace