Today is a day I've been dreading for a long time. Sitting here watching the Cincinnati Bengals and the Houston Oilers playoff game out of the corner of my eye, I realize that I cannot procrastinate the starting of this book any longer. My goal has been to write this book for at least the last fifteen years, but I wanted someone else to do the dirty work. That is just not going to happen. I'm stuck with this mess and it's up to me and me alone. I lived in the rock-and-roll world for more than twenty years as the drummer for some of the most famous people in the business. I've also had the pleasure of sitting in, backing up, and knowing some of the all-time greats. However, I've seen these people from a little different angle than anyone else ... from center stage, looking at you, the audience. I used to joke and say, "I've seen the back of some of the most famous heads in the world." That's a fact. My musical career started as the drummer with a young singer from Dallas, Texas by the name of Trini Lopez. We were together for almost eight years. That collaboration took me to Los Angeles, California. My recordings with Trini include eight albums, starting with Trini Lopez "LIVE" at PJ'S. It was in L.A. that I hooked up with an Italian kid from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His name was John Ramistella, better known as Johnny Rivers. During my time with Johnny, I had the incredible opportunity of spending time in Viet Nam in 1966 with Ann-Margret. We are still friends today. Eat your heart out After the stint with Johnny came perhaps the ultimate musical challenge. I became the drummer with the legendary kid from Hibbing, Minnesota, the spokesman for the world of folk music, Bob Dylan and the group that started out as The Hawks and later became known as The Band. At a recent speaking engagement for a Bob Dylan convention in Manchester, England, I was introduced as the drummer on the greatest rock-and-roll tour in history. In 1966, after Bob suffered a broken neck in a motorcycle accident, change was in the air. I had always dreamed of being an actor, so I went for it. Naturally, I entered the motion picture industry at the lowest rung on the ladder, an extra. As I was settling into my new career, it happened. Ken Fritz and Ken Kragen, the Smothers Brothers' managers, called. To quote Michael Corleone, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." They wanted me to play drums for a new group they had just signed to a management deal, called The First Edition. This was the beginning of a ten-year relationship with Kenny Rogers. It took me until age thirty-five to realize that in the world of show business, there are two words and two worlds. There is the "show" and there is the "business." I was so enamored with wanting to do the "show," I had no concept, knowledge, or interest in the "business." The truth be known, I did not want to know anything about the business. "Don't tell me about accounting, just send me my share." That cost me a lot of money over the years. That fact really sank in when, at the breakup of The First Edition, I walked away with nothing ... not even the drums that were given to me by the Rogers Drum Company. By the way, that problem has been remedied. I now have a music publishing company, and "business" comes first. Looking back over these years, there is no question-I would not change a thing. I've been around the world. My family has never been across the ocean. I've met presidents, movie stars, and all the great rockers from Hendrix to the Beatles, and dined with royalty. Oh, by the way, Princess Grace was beautiful I used to spend between 250 and 300 days a year on an airplane. Today, as an actor, the only time I get on an airplane is to go to a location for a film, a personal appearance, or to go to one of the many celebrity golf tournaments for charity that I participate in each year.
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