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Interview with George Kerwinski
 
Part 2
 

George, since most of your life you've spent in the music business, then my next questions will be related with music in one way or another.

Can you play any instrument? Or at least did you try to learn?

— Yes, I did. I donít play any instrument but I tried to learn. When I was 40 years old my wife bought me a guitar. Because I always fancied, if I could have had an instrument, it would have been a guitar. So for a 40th birthday my wife bought me an acoustic guitar plus a course where I could go to learn it. So I went twice a week to a class where I had to learn to read notes and played German folk songs on two strings. It was so boring, I just wanted to strum a bit and get the basic idea. So I gave it up again... And since then this guitar is standing in my attic. And every time Chris comes to me in Munich he says, do you still have your guitar? I say yeah, get it down and he tunes it. And then I take it up again. Itís never been played... (laughs)

Yeah, really funny... Was it some expensive guitar?

— No, no. I donít know. My wife wouldnít know and I wouldnít know it better either... But Chris said it was ok, because he tuned it. For guitar players know better when they touch a guitar – is it good or not. So he said it was ok for learner. Once Chris told me that when he taught his son Michael to play the guitar, he showed him a very very simple riff to start playing, and thatís the intro to “Wild Thing” (sings). And then he actually promised me: “Iím gonna show you, itís very easy, Iím gonna show you”... This is about 16 years ago now, and he still hasnít showed me :). And sometimes I still ask him. And then, last week, I said it to Geoff. I said: “Geoff , why donít you show me how the riff is?” And then at soundcheck Iíd put a guitar and Iíd play it to Chris!.. (laughs) We havenít done it yet. We only spoke about it last week, so we might do it eventually.

Yeah, itís funny, you have such a teacher beside you who could have taught you properly but itís still all in vain... :)))

And what about any participation in recordings? You told me before, you were with Smokie while they recorded the “Solid Ground” album?

— This was before I went to live in England, in í79. Smokie went to live in Ireland for tax reasons, to save money. And I was still in contact with Chris Norman, loose contact, we were writing to each other postcards or something like that. And then, when I started to have these troubles in í79 with “Mama Concerts” about money and all that, Chris knew about it. And then he called me and said, why donít you come and stay with us for a while in Dublin? He literally invited me and paid for my stay and paid the flight. And I went to Dublin, and I shared the flat he was living in. All the other band members had also their flats in Dublin. Chris was on his own, and so I moved into his house for 3 or 4 weeks. I was in the studio with him every day while they recorded “Solid Ground” album. And when they came to recording “Jet Lagged”...

... you got involved into the recording. But how did you managed to do it? :)))

— Well, I donít know :). Anyway, in the middle of this song was this break – where somebody counts “two, three, four”. And they did it in the room, in the recording studio and it sounded shit, something was wrong. They went out to try in the corridor and I was around, and we were stoned, we were smoking a joint. And then Chris said, let George do the “two, three, four”. And thatís how it happened. I was out in the corridor with a mike tube and I did (identically reproducing the record sound): “two, three, four”. And thatís what ended up on the record.

So it was recorded in a corridor? :)

— Yeah, just for the sound. We had smoked before and we were already stoned. And then Chris had this idea, it was him trying it. Everybody that was available was trying to do the counting, not a band member. And then just because we were stoned they picked me... And thatís what you find on the record, itís a funny coincidence really... :).

photos © George Kerwinski

What about “Melody Goes On”? :)

— While we were in the studio, you know, I was not involved in anything really, I was just witnessing. And then on that song, “Melody Goes On”, thereís this line: “Iíve met lyrical liars all over the land”. When I heard this song a long time after it was recorded, I told Chris that I really liked it and his response was that when he wrote it he had somehow partly me on his mind, without interpreting how he meant it. But he was not quite sure if I would like it – to call me a liar, a lyrical liar. Because Iím a good storyteller, and sometimes I do tend to exaggerate a bit or whatever. For somebody who doesnít know me, they might think – oh, heís telling a lot of lies.

And also, after “I've met lyrical liars all over the land” it continues with “living a life which was ever so grand”. I also can take it personally because I was lucky to be where I was at that time in my life, I felt myself that it was “ever so grand”. So that line was actually about me :). And itís a very very folksy kind of song, isnít it? Itís not a rock song, itís not a ballad, itís other... Anyway, itís about me, that line, yeah, which is great.

Yeah, thatís really great! :) But, apart from that case, have you been recorded on any other Chris or Smokie songs?

— Not on Smokieís, I was on another record, singing on the Uriah Heep record :).

Oh, really?!

— Yeah, that was on the album called “High And Mighty”. I have it at home. It was one of their last albums in that original formation with Ken Hensley. Thereís the song on there called “Canít Stop Singing”.

I was friendly with Ken Hensley. Every time I was in England, if I was working or living, or just visiting, I always found time to meet some of these people that Iíd toured with before. Like one of these people, I was for 2 weeks in the studio with Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, when they recorded one of their biggest albums “The Boys Are Back In Town”. Just because I was friendly with him, they liked to have me around, I liked to hang out with them, and I went there. And the same with Ken Hensley, I went to the Roundhouse, so was called this studios. This is also where their management had their office. And again, somebody had some African grass, and they had this song without lyrics. And we were all stoned :), we were giggling, everybody was laughing in the studio. And somebody started saying and we caught it up: “Lots of laughs in Africa, ah-ha-ha-ha!”, because we were so stoned :). And that became a line, where Iíd sing in the quire. We were all in the studio together singing “Lots of laughs in Africa!”. And then they made a song out of it and put some lyrics to it. This line is on the intro to the song.

But these are the only 2 recordings where I was actually in the song... (laughs)

What music you are a fan of? What are your musical likings?

— Actually all kinds of music. I would say, itís easier to say what I donít like. Opera. I do like classical music but not opera music. I mean, my favourite music is rock-n-roll, guitar music, guitar based, rhythm and blues. But I do like good pop songs like ABBA or any of those, any good tune. I can like anything. For long time I hated salsa music, the South American, because it all sounded the same to me. All a jazz, I was always dubious about jazz. Free jazz, thatís the worst, I still donít like that. But thereís some jazz that I can like, you know. Thatís quite pleasant to my ears too. But generally itís just really rock-n-roll, rock music.

You said, you started from listening to music from the radio. Did it form your musical tastes?

— After the war Germany was divided into French section, British and American. And Munich was in the American section, so we had American radio AFN, American Forces Network. They played all the American hits every day. And another thing is that I got into early liking country music which a lot of people didnít. In those days no German radio station played that. Every day at 5 oíclock they would have a program called “Country Jamboree” where they played all the country hits. So I learned that early. And then at home I was not allowed to listen to this, my mother was very conservative. They would only listen to German middle of the road stuff, you know, commonly like folk songs. It was transistor radio time, I had to listen to American music in bed under cover, at night. The “Top 40” started at 11 pm and I never made it to the end because always fell asleep halfway through... (laughs)

What about your music collection? Itís probably rather big?

— Yeah. Well, I started really from the 60s and even in late 50s. Dean Martin, Wanda Jackson... I just found Wanda Jackson album a couple of weeks ago, this name is familiar. Itís like a rockabilly star of those days. She did songs by Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, she was singing rock-n-roll songs. So I still have most of the records that I started collecting in the 60s. And Iíve dragged them whenever I moved from Munich away, Iíve been to England a few times, came back again. I always shifted my records and still there are singles and albums in boxes, everything I still collected.

Do you have enough space for all that in your home?

— Iíve got lots of it upstairs because thereís no enough room in the attic anymore. And now lately I start getting old vinyl albums out to listen to them again.

And what do you think about nowadays music? Do you listen to modern young bands?

— I do, but I donít really go looking for it anymore. I mean, if you look at the music scene today, the most popular performing artists are artists out of my time. Look at the Rolling Stones. Everybody thatís going around, itís old established acts that are selling out the stadiums. And todayís music and musicians is very short-lived. They donít exist for long time. That is to do with all the casting shows and that I donít really like. It changed for the better again a bit now because the charts are bit more varied than they were in the 80s. I hated 80s music, this disco and house music and all that, I canít stand it. And sometimes it got so bad, sometimes if we would go out, when I would be touring with some rock act or whatever, and after a show we would go to a club, if the music was only this beat music or house music, it would actually cause me a fierce pain, I couldnít stay, I had to leave again.

Speaking about the old acts from 70s, do you like when they try to do modern sound and use modern ideas?

— I must say I was a bit old-fashioned with that taste. Because once synthesizers came in I was very dubious. All the acts that I really listened a lot were the West Coast music – Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, all these American acts because it was American radio in Munich. And plus the British, as in early 60s I started to get in Beatles and all that. I think handmade music stopped when computer came in to play. I mean nowadays Iím lost with that technical side of it, with Pro Tools and all that. But actually I still prefer handmade music with people playing their instruments on a record. And in the 80s it was all computer music really, I didnít like the sound of that. I hate drum machines and stuff like that.

Donít you think, some of the new records from the old bands seem to sound too much modern?

— Well, they do sound a bit more modern. But at the end itís still the original sound because itís still played by instruments, you know. Even if they do sound more actual and modern because of the technology, thatís fine. But as long as itís instruments playing and not computerized...

The funny thing that just last week there was a new Black Sabbath album (“13”) release. It was produced by Rick Rubin who did all the Johnny Cash stuff. I mean he did the whole variation of music. He started actually with hip-hop in New York. I just read a big interview about this Black Sabbath album. When he went into the studio he told the band to forget everything, all their life experience as musician or recording over the years that been in the business and go back to the basics. He said them, try to play how you played on your second album. Because the first album was like the first try and then from there they invented their own Black Sabbath sound. And itís supposed to be the best album after the over. And they sound like that... I mean those bands, they wouldnít mess with their music. Their signature is still their sound. And you still hear that.

Through all these years youíve worked with a great number of artists... Can you name the most known ones?

— Ohh... I started out in the 70s with bands that are still going round now. In the 70s already one of my favourite artists that Iíve ever worked with is Frank Sinatra. Nothing to do with rock music. I met Sinatra first in í74. I was new in the business then, I didnít even get meet this level of stars. And then, in between, we kept doing tours with Sinatra and I went quite close to him because he took a shine to me, he liked my stories. He called me “the kid”: “Come here, kid, sit down, tell me now the story”. And the last time I toured with him was just a few years before he died, in í93. And even then, I mean, he was just so unique, because he was the first in what he did in his early days. So Sinatra was like one of the first megastars that I worked with. And I was lucky to meet him again over the years. I was out of the business for a bit in the late 70s. And then when I came back to it in í86 I started touring with Tina Turner and then it was a whole run of one act after the other. Tina Turner, AC/DC, Whitney Houston, Bruce Springsteen... And from then it was just a roll, I mean I canít even think of all the big names now.

What qualities of character during a tour you value in artists as a manager and what of them not?

— Well, actually, when I leave the business out of it, the best thing that I rate about artist is if they are really into music. I mean, with all the big acts and big names I toured with, when people ask me: “Do you have a favourite band?” – to this day I still say: Smokie. Because it was always about music. And not only on stage or during soundcheck, but talk about music in the day, getting a guitar, it all was about musicianship. And thereís not too many of todayís people in the studio stuff and productions who have it. Even the people involved in the business, they donít know about the music they are selling. They could be working for insurance company because they are just doing a marketing, strategy, job... But thatís what I appreciate most in artist.

And also my experience was that the bigger an artist gets for a certain time in his career, they stop listening to other music. Thatís another thing I rate, if somebodyís interested in other peopleís music. Most people, when they get successful, they only listen to their own stuff, they are so involved in their own stuff that they lose the sight also of whatís going on out there. Thatís why they sometimes get stuck in their time.

And what I rate about musicians is just reliability. Thereís a lot of artists, and Chris Norman is one of them. Iíve never seen him cancel the show if he had a throat problem or he was not well on the day, where somebody else would have cancelled the next 3 shows to get better, he still goes. This one thing – to be there for the audience, to do it if you can and not let them down. Thatís what I appreciate about musicians.

I donít like artists that are too full of themselves and arrogant or ignorant. I mean, there are artists that before you tour with them the management lets you know already that – and Iíve had this – you donít look at the artist, you donít look them in the eye. If you are driving with them, donít look in the mirror when they are sitting in the back. I had that with Barry Manilow, even with Sinatra. This is more an American thing – you shouldnít approach the artist. I like an artist that is still like a normal person and can talk to you like he can talk to people on his own level.

Whom were you happy to work with? Whom you even donít want to remember?

— I was happy to work with Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Deep Purple, acts like that. And thereís a few that I wasnít. But then again itís often not to do with the artist themselves but the people that are surrounding them. Some artists get so cut off the real side of life when the people around them begin to take care of everyday subjects, like booking travels for them, going shopping for them etc, that they canít cope by themselves. I witnessed it plenty of times. As my example of that, Iíd mention the artist, who at the time was in Bremen and needed a taxi, was calling his management in another country to call him a cab...

Also the artists that talk down to you, they never ask you politely if they want anything, itís like an order. I donít like that being bossed around. I mean I have to live with it and I shut up. But I donít like that side on anybody really, not only musicians.

As for the artists whom I wasnít too happy to work with, I canít really think of any. Because the funny thing was that I seem to have the talent to mix with all kinds of music. Like Roger Whittaker, Bay City Rollers, Pink Floyd and Tina Turner. They have got nothing in common. And they are artists that are more difficult than others, the way you know before. This is not going to be an easy tour. And whenever the more difficult an artist was supposed to be the sooner I was sent to work with them. Because I could get on with all of them really, if I liked it or not. But most unpleasant memories is that Whitney Houston tour. And besides that I couldnít say any other artist that I really couldnít stand, I couldnít say that.

photos © George Kerwinski

And whom you would dream to work with?

— The Rolling Stones. The agency I was working for tried for many years to get the Rolling Stones for touring. But they were always busy with other promoters, our agency never got them. Then my boss Marsel Avram from “Mama Concerts” made a fusion with Fritz Rau who is a godfather of German promoters. And he always had the Rolling Stones. So once theyíve melded together and they were one company, thatís when we did the Rolling Stones one time. But at the same time as the Rolling Stones were on tour, I was on tour with Tina Turner. If I wouldnít have been on the Tina Turner tour, I might have been working with the Stones. So thatís about the only act that I really wished I had worked with, that are still going and I didnít work with. And that I never really met either.

Is there any concert you remember most of all?

— Well, first that would be one of those concerts that Bruce Springsteen played 4 months before the Wall came down in Berlin.

Do you mean this “Chimes of freedom” story which I found in the web, about the show on 19 July 1988?

— Yes, it is the 25th anniversary of the concert this year. Thereís a documentary out in German television next month where I also took part. They invited me to Berlin. They even got the car that I was chauffeuring Bruce Springsteen in East Berlin.

I know the video from the German TV telling about this concert and you are in it.

— No, thatís not what I did last year. This is already been a few years ago. Because itís like every 10 years, 15, 20, 25 years when they have sort of a reason to call it like the 20th anniversary, 25th anniversary. They interviewed me in a car. They took some TV station. I was flying to Russia to work really. They picked me up at home and just asked me on the way to the airport about some stories of that Springsteen show. But itís nothing to do with that thing thatís coming up now. The film production company said me thereís a 90 minutes documentary. Itís not only about Springsteen. Itís called “My summer of í88”.

The thing was that... The show starts, the band is already on stage. Five minutes before the actual concert starts one of Springsteenís people comes to ask me to come to see Springsteen in his dressing room. Which was the army tent in backstage, it was open air and it was very improvised. It was not like in the West, you know, no proper dressing rooms and all that. So they take me to his dressing room and it was just him sitting there and me. And he said to me, he wants to talk to the people because... On the tickets that they sold for that show it was said “Concert for Nicaragua”, they gave it a political motive. Which Springsteenís management didnít agree with at all, they didnít even want to do the show when they saw that. And then Springsteen decided, now we are here, we are staying and doing it. But he wanted to talk to the people in German and I wrote it down for him phonetically. He wanted to tell them: Iím here without any political motives, playing honest rock-n-roll for you, hoping that one day all walls will come down. Being in East Germany you could not – we knew that before – you shouldnít use the word “wall” (die Mauer). Because, first of all, we were not far from it. And in East they should may have pretended this wall didnít really exist. So the word was taboo. So after I wrote the words, he read it out to me and I confirmed him, they will understand what youíre saying in German. And then he went on stage.

And as I left his dressing room with him, he goes to the stage, his manager and my boss come to me panicking: “What did you talk to Springsteen about?!..” And I told them that I translated him that he wants to play honest rock-n-roll music and without political motives etc. And then, when I recalled, I realized what I just said – that I used the word “wall”... And that we have to change it. But it was very difficult because the show was going. So they moved me under the stage, in front of the drum riser. There was a little hole in the stage with a couple of steps down where Springsteen would now and again disappear down to. There was a big bowl of iced water where he would be refreshing himself, so occasionally he went down there. They placed me under that drum riser waiting until Springsteen came down to change the word “walls” into “barriers” on his piece of paper. And while the band was playing on top of it, it was so loud that Springsteen and I are clinging to each other, arm in arm, and Iím yelling into his ear: “YOU DONíT SAY WALLS, YOU SAY BARRIERS!!!...” And this is how that came about, instead of walls, yeah :).
(this story final told by its participants can be watched in the film, timing 01:08-01:16)

Was that concert filmed completely?

— It was broadcasted in East Germany, only there, you couldnít receive it anywhere else. But when Springsteen started to do this speech, nobody expected that and that he will speak German. I only learned that afterwards from people that lived in East Germany, that the broadcast was interrupted due to technical fault. There was no sound and picture. But only for the duration while he did this German speech. They cut it out of the televisions for nobody could hear it. And I personally havenít heard it either. I mean, I think 14 years after that I finally got a DVD with that East German concert. But the way they cut and broadcasted it... The East German television version had very poor sound quality and they only had like 2 cameras, and a long distant camera. Bruce Springsteen had his own film and TV team with him filming it just for his own sake. And they could use some of the filming of the Springsteen side. I even spotted myself, I was standing on the monitor mixer desk on the stage during the show, before they took me under the stage to wait for him to change the word there.

Bruce Springsteenís concert was an outstanding concert. First of all, in those days I was in the business already for 25 years. And the more in the business you are, the more spoiled you really are. But I was such an ardent Springsteen fan that I was really... I hardly get nervous when I meet new artist but with Springsteen it was so special. To have this special concert in East Berlin, and then afterwards all this communist system broke down, and the Wall came down. And he did this speech that I had translated to him. It became a political format or touched to it. Looking back now, it became such an event, because it was a statement. Springsteen playing in East Berlin in 1988 helped to take the Wall down. Because the people were already rioting in the streets and wanted to get rid of that system. And he became one of the Godfathers of that.

And there were some other remarkable shows. I mean, Iíve been to shows that I wasnít working on. I think the first time I travelled to see a show, I went from Munich to Frankfurt to see Frank Zappa play. That was in mid 70s. And usually at concerts, I mean if you work at concerts, I was constantly moving around. Anyway I canít sit down and watch a whole show sitting. But this was the first concert, I was so fascinated that I sat 2,5 hours in my seat watching at Frank Zappa perform, it was so outrageous, you know. It was a bit different music, I didnít like everything he did.

And then the Eagles, when I first saw them, because they were one of my favourite bands in the 70s. Actually, at that time I did a Smokie tour. Smokie were playing about a 2 hour drive from Hamburg on the day the Eagles played in Hamburg. Me and a colleague of mine, we were both tour managers of Smokie. We were such a big Eagles fans that we wanted to go... We actually talked the band into letting us go, they had a concert. So we left the band without telling their management or our promoters that we wouldnít be there. We went to Hamburg to see the Eagles. And when we got back the next day they were all eager to hear from us how it was, because they wished they could have gone. That was special.

George, tell us something about Russian tours. Has organization level improved since your first tour here?

— Absolutely. I was really worried to come and work in Russia the first time. When we did a short Russian tour with Chrisís English band still, the first concert we did in Surgut, in Siberia. We arrived there at 3 oíclock in the morning. It was still winter there and it was Siberia. Everybody in Germany thinks that Siberia is always, all year round full of snow and it is -30 degrees there. But itís not really. And what I was also told is that Surgut, where they produce gas there at the “Gazprom”, this city didnít exist 20 years before. They put it there where the gas was. And thatís why there was no cultural or historical sights to see, nothing. That was my first experience.

And that started when we went to soundcheck. They didnít have proper instruments. There were suppliers with the backline and kind of a drum kit. And the bass drum had a hole in it, you couldnít really play. And they said thereís no music shop in town. But they tried to find another drum kit. I mean, we told them, we canít really play the concert with that. In the meantime they covered the hole on the bass drum with gaffer tape to make it as tight as possible. It was a terrible sound but Russians still promised us, we are trying to get a new drum kit. So after the soundcheck we went back to the hotel. As usual, we arrive at the show an hour before, and there was still no sight. The same old drum kit which was such an old wooden thing!.. I mean, Iíve never seen things like that. I felt so sorry for the drummer because it looked so poor... And then suddenly, 15 minutes before the show starts, they are wheeling in on a riser this brand new, shiny with metal effect drum kit thatís never been used by anybody... :))) I donít know where they found it, there must have been a showcase in a museum or in a stock!.. :))) So they took bits of that, they only changed the bass drum really. They took the old bass drum out and put in the one from the new kit. And thatís how we played the first show. That was in 2002. In most big cities like Yekaterinburg or Moscow even then it was already like Western standards at the concert business with technical side along, that was fine. But in some small and faraway places... I remember, in Saratov they were supposed also to provide us with a keyboard. And when we arrived at the soundcheck there was a childrenís keyboard, it was not a professional one, there was a kiddy keyboard that had keys missing!.. :) And our English keyboarder at that time, he knew his business very well, he could use it in the end. :))) It was really not to be used but we still used it. And this kind of shit happened.

And also, what I noticed in the beginning and thatís completely gone now, at all the shows we did there was always militia, security in front of stage. And they looked quite scaring because they were carrying submachine guns and stuff. The worst thing the audience could do is enjoy the show. As soon as they stood up and clapped, they sat them down again. And that quieted down. It took a few years but itís much better than it used to be. And then now really itís more or less like we used to it in the West.

Once, I remember, that was also on that first tour, we arrive somewhere at the venue for soundcheck and... the stage is empty. Thereís no equipment on the stage. And then we see the whole PAís sitting outside the venue, all the loudspeakers, everything. The stagehands didnít put them on the stage because they were still owed money by the local promoter from the last concert. So we had to wait until that was sorted out. In the meantime, because of this delay, the audience already got uneasy. There was a heavy tension and there was about 4 thousand people in the venue, which was an old crummy ice hockey sports hall or something. We did the concert but it was like 3 hours later because of that.

Another funny thing had happened on that tour in Saratov, I think. We arrive in that city and we get out of the plane. All of us, the whole entourage was 16 people, all together with the crew and Russian promoter. And a lot of equipment, all the guitars and stuff that we were carrying, personal luggage. And thereís 2 cars coming to the plane to pick us up. It was like 2 ordinary passenger cars, like, you know, with 4 seats in each car. And no room for all the equipment and no van, no bus, nothing!.. Then they all started to discuss the situation... And we were already told before that the local promoter in Saratov was like an alcoholic, he drinks all day. So he was tipsy meeting us, when we got off the plane, smelling of vodka already. And he didnít really know what we meant, when we said, whereís bus or van or?... As if he hadnít done any concert before, I donít know.

While they were still discussing how we are going to get all the equipment from the airport to the hall and to the hotel, I walked into the terminal and looked if there was maybe a bus company or something, we had to take care of ourselves. And I went through the terminal, got out at the other side, and at the end there was an end bus stop or kind of a bus depot. There was loads of buses park there. So I ran over there and there was one bus driver, he must have had his launch bag or something. He was sitting in his bus having a coffee. And in those days it was very hard to find somebody that understood English. So what I did, I was waving at him with a 20 dollar note... :) And I asked him, I did make it clear to him that weíd just arrived with Chris Norman. Could he take us with his bus to the hotel? And he agreed! :) He took the 20 dollars. We drove into the airport, put all the stuff on it. It was the bus Ļ 19... :)) So the bus Ļ 19 took us to the hotel in Saratov :)). And when I got that bus, I gave the local promoter the idea – oh, thatís a good idea and cheap too :). So when they picked us up to take us to soundcheck, they send us a bus Ļ 14... :)) And we all got on the bus Ļ 14. But the route from the hotel to the venue was the same route as of the ordinary local Ļ 14 bus! And it was during a rush hour... And at every bus stop all these Russian people came to it and wanted and tried to get into the bus, and they were shaking it!.. The band inside was really scared because they didnít know what was happening out, we all didnít know until we realized that we are on the route of the regular Ļ 14 bus taking us to the venue... :))) And actually it was in that town where we had a kiddy keyboard on stage then.

Another story was when Chrisís band was the first time as it is now, the German band. It was their first tour in Russia and we played Moscow (in May 2006). And in the afternoon, like any other tourist, everybody wanted to go to see the Red Square. But for some reasons it was cut off, sealed off, we could not get on to the Red Square. So we play a show at the Kremlin Theatre. And before the show the word was going round, there was a rumor that Putin might come and visit the show and blah-blah-blah. And then, the closer it came to show time, we kept asking if heís coming or is he not coming. And then we heard – no, but the chief of the Kremlin security has got a present for Chris Norman in the name of Putin or whatever. And he would come backstage to say hello. So before the show he had a big book like a real antique as a present, only Cyrillic and Chris couldnít read it anyway. It was like the history of the Kremlin. So he gave that as a present. And then after the show he came backstage again to thank you. He didnít speak any English but he came to show his appreciation for the concert and everything. And then he went to the band's dressing room and started to drink the alcohol that was standing around there – the beers for the band, the vodka, the whisky, whatever :). He got drunk in the band's dressing room, that security guy.

And then eventually we told – we had interpreter telling him – that the band was really disappointed they couldnít see the Red Square in the afternoon. So he said: “Oh, no problem, I can show them now”. And then he took us on a guided tour. First, he told it was only for Chris. But Chris said: “Iím not going, if Iím going, I want everybody else to come too”. So he did us a private tour to the Kremlin. We are walking around and heís showing us – this is where Putinís offices, that is he lives over there, this is that... And through the whole walk all these guards that were all over the place, they all saluted him when he came. But he could hardly walk straight because he was so drunk by then :). And I was surprised he even didnít mind when we took pictures while we were walking through all this, where people usually canít even get to. Then he took us up on the tower with the clock (Spasskaya tower) and this was like... The band didnít see it on the same day but hours later, after the concert, they could, having looked on the Red Square from up there. It was still sealed off and cut off, but we took pictures and everything and it was great.

You told me, that story had a curious continuation :).

— Yes, a year or two years later I was in Moscow with a different artist, with Sandra. We were going with her to the same Kremlin Hall. And there was only one road going into the Kremlin which was under constructions, so we had to enter the Kremlin from the Red Square. The driver took us there. But the barriers were down and there were red lights on. We were sitting in the car and nothing happened. We could look through the big gate in there, where the promoter and the local people inside the Kremlin were waiting for us. But still nothing happened, the gates didnít open, we were sitting and we were getting uneasy in the car. And then I see this guy walking along the wall by the Mausoleum there. I thought, thatís him, thatís the security guy who gave us the guided tour! So I jumped out of the car and I ran towards him. And all the guards at the gates with their submachine guns were aiming at me. I ran up to him and I said: “Look, look, look at me!.. Do you remember?!.. Chris Norman!.. You, me, Chris Norman!!..” And I pointed at the tower there. And then he did recognize me: “Ooh, aah!..” And then he told his guys that everything is ok, then green lights went on and the barriers went up and we drove in. And when we went inside our promoter who saw the whole scene outside – that I was running and nearly in trouble – he said: “How did you do that?” And I said: “Well, itís not what you know, itís who you know” :)). The chance was one to a million that this security chief just walked along as we were waiting there really.

 
 
 
 Recorded and processed by Stranger (2013-2014).
 Many thanks to George Kerwinski for the pictures shared.
 Special thanks to Dmitriy Kraskovsky (Ukraine) for the help with questions.
 
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