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  LOOPY'S WORLD: PART SIXTEEN B - THE PRODIGAL SON RETURNS

Steve 'Loopy' Newhouse

steve newhouse



loopyworld

So, moving forward five months, but also going back to the last chapter, I got that call from Keith Wilfort.

It was mid October 1983 when Keith rang to say that I would be getting a call from Tony Wiggens. And, sure enough, Tony rang the following day asking if I was available for the next couple of months as Warren Poppe needed an assistant to help on the forthcoming European tour.

I have no idea what my reply was, due to over excitement or something, but I must have said "yes" in there somewhere, as a few days later with my bags packed, I met up with the rest of the crew at the Gore Hotel in Kensington.

Being early, I went to a nearby pub with Doug Hall, Michael Kenny and a few others to kill some time. Doug and I were playing some kind of Star Wars game in the pub.

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I wandered back to the hotel and came across Colin Claydon, my Maiden replacement. He never said much apart from some little dig about me being back in the fold.

I didn't have time to think of anything to say and Warren just told him to fuck off, and mentioned the words "has been".

With my bags packed on the tour bus, our next stop was going to be Hannover, Germany.

The journey from Kensington to Dover was over in a flash as I sat talking to some of the old crew and mingled with some of the new.

The sound crew had changed quite a bit. The band had their own system by now called Turbo Sound and I learned a lot from these guys, which helped me while working for Stage Miracles in the years to come.

Simple is brilliant, so I will explain that as I understand it.

Each sound cabinet was marked green or red, the same as starboard or port on a ship. One means left, the other right. The way to tell the difference is simple.

Green is right, because it has the same amount of letters, so its starboard.

Red is left, because left has the same amount of letters as port.

Education time over, but I hope you have all learned something.

So, when it came to loading the band's PA system into a venue, the sound crew and local crew knew where every piece of equipment was meant to go. Red left, green right.

It didn't always go brilliantly, but I would say nine times out of ten it was spot on. Sometimes it just depended on where you were. But yet again I digress.

As European tours go, this was the biggest I'd been involved in. We did a lot of shows in Germany but we also ventured into (for my first time) Spain. Maiden had obviously grown so much bigger than the last time I had toured with them and there was so much more going on.

They had connections; and big connections too. How often do you get to tour the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, home of Real Madrid? I had been a fan of Real Madrid for years and to get to tour the club was just far more than I expected. The stadium is huge and, from ground level, the stands rise up higher than any ground I'd been to in the UK.

And trust me, I'd seen a few.

The only section we weren't allowed in was the home dressing room. I don't know why but rules are rules, as they say.

The following two days we played our shows in the indoor training facility at Real Madrid with an extra band called Baron Rojo, (Red Baron, for those unfamiliar with the lingo) who sounded a bit like Scorpions crossed with, well everybody if I'm honest. But they seemed to be popular with the local crowd, so let's call the whole show a success.

Next stop was Barcelona but, unfortunately, we were playing at a venue on the outskirts of the city so sightseeing was virtually impossible.

The tour buses had to be parked quite a distance from the venue to stop the local kids from stealing. That also meant we had to walk quite a distance if we needed anything off the bus.

And I needed something off the bus.

It might have been something trivial, like a lighter, but I had to make the journey to the bus to get it. We all had a key to access the bus from the back door to stop people waking the driver.

Some drivers get lucky and operate a follow spot on tour. Others just get drunk and sleep it off. But, when it's time to move everyone is ready to go when the time is right.

So, I found my bus, unlocked the door and got in to find what I needed then left as quietly as I could, only to tread on a rubbish bag that someone had conveniently planted outside on the hidden kerb. I went over on my ankle and sprained it. The noise I made woke the driver who came out to investigate.

He found me in absolute agony and managed to hail a couple of local lads in a van who took me back to the venue to get my ankle treated. The paramedics on site were really good. I had an x-ray which showed nothing broken and after an hour or so I was able to walk on it again.

Typical Rod Smallwood though. When he found out, I actually heard him say: "What's that idiot done now?"

Like it was my fault? Around this time I started to hate Rod. I never really liked him anyway, but now it was hate.

As far as I was concerned I wasn't there for him or his entertainment. I was there for the band and that had never changed. They took me back on board for a reason, and I was still doing my job.

The final gig of the Spanish part of the tour was in San Sebastián and, not realising how close we were to the border with France, a few of us got a good deal on coke.

As the buses pulled out of San Sebastián and we hit the main road heading toward France and its border control, someone said we had five minutes to get rid of our stash. The frenzy caused by that statement was incredible.

I've never seen so much coke disappear in such a short time.

As it turned out, both the French and Spanish Border Control just waved us through, which was nice. But now we have 15 people off their tits on coke, driving through France.

I managed to get some sleep eventually, but was woken up by a discussion between the bus driver and Rangi, one of our merchandise guys. Next thing I know, Rangi is driving the bus.

We had to get from San Sebastián to Munich in 36 hours and we were way ahead of time.

So, we rolled into Munich for the final leg of the tour. For me it was nice to be back in Germany. I hadn't been here for at least a week.

Some things had changed, but the language was still German.

Having been here quite a few times, it didn't matter how much you tried, learning the lingo wasn't easy. You picked up words here and there but somebody like myself, who had been in and out of Germany more times than a Dambuster (purely for reference) you would have thought that I'd have learnt something.

A Big Mac in Germany is a Happy Mac but that was back in the 80s when we were touring and they were far better than Big Macs in the UK too. The sauce was superior and the cheese wasn't as plastic.

The one thing we did learn about touring Germany was to always take a bag of old shillings. They were the same weight and size as a Mark, so we used to clear out all their beer machines for a fifth of the price. Good days.

Another outstanding memory was whilst waiting outside a hotel. The crew were loading their cases on the buses when in the distance I could hear music, getting louder as it got closer. It was Marcus Cowe playing the Dambusters theme music on his ghetto blaster (boom box, whatever you want to call it) while marching through the hotel lobby with Dickie Bell and a few others marching in time behind him. One of the funniest things I've ever seen.

On another occasion, Warren wasn't well. Warren used to be the man in the Eddie suit that went out during the set closer, 'Iron Maiden', so Rod said "Tell Loopy to do it."

My problem with this was simple to me. I was born almost completely deaf and, although the trouble went away, I was still left with inner ear issues, meaning I had/have no sense of balance. To wear the suit wasn't the problem, but to stand on stilts to make me look ten feet tall wasn't going to happen.

Rod threatened me with everything he could think of, short of the plague, but luckily Harry got wind of what was going on and sent a message back to Rod saying "Don't use Loopy. He can't even ride a bike," which is true. Thankfully, one of the lighting crew did the Eddie thing that night and the show was saved. Funnily enough, that whole episode never got mentioned again.

After another two weeks of shows with nothing major going on, the whole tour rolled to a stop in Lausanne 11-12-1983.

All we had to do was a little TV show called Rock Pop, then we could go home.

We had four days off, in which time the band were doing interviews with the whole world. But we also had the small matter of a football match against Def Leppard.

The pitch was astro turf and covered with a thin layer of ice. None of us were properly equipped but, with Harry insisting, the game went ahead. I spent most of my time sliding from one side of the pitch to the other in uncontrollable spasms of laughter, and was amused by how little I could see happening at the other end of the field. The only time the ball came anywhere near me, I ended up flat on my arse and, on both occasions, Def Leppard scored.

Needless to say, we won the game 4-2 but I had to have hospital treatment (again) for taking the skin off my left leg and I needed penicillin injections in my frozen bum, to stave off infection.

Rock Pop was quite an amazing event when you look at the bands involved. We were staying in the same hotel as Ozzy, his band and crew, Def Leppard, Scorpions etc.

So imagine the scene.

It's the night before the show, and I am sitting next to Ozzy Osbourne on one side, Dave Murray the other, and around our table are members of Maiden, Scorpions, Quiet Riot, Def Leppard and a few others, plus a guy called Nick Beggs, the bass player from Kajagoogoo, who is teetotal.

Nick and his band had played at the show on the Friday and were due to fly home the following morning. We were all having a chat and a laugh but Nick was laughing louder than most. It turns out that every time Ozzy asked for a drink, someone was putting vodka in Nick's orange juice. The last time I saw Nick that night he had slid off his chair and was curled up on the floor next to our table. We left him there. Well, it seemed cruel to disturb him.

On the day of the show and with Iron Maiden headlining, I had enough time to limp from stage to stage and watch some of the finest Metal bands around. It's not every day you get to see Ozzy, Scorpions, Quiet Riot etc on the same bill, so I made the most of it.

Then it was our turn and Maiden didn't disappoint. During Iron Maiden they killed off Eddie, which had been decided during a conversation between Steve and Dave Lights. Once the principle had been agreed everyone else was told what was happening, and it was all done professionally and quickly.

Bill Barclay, Dave's guitar tech, was very quick to organise things once he knew what was wanted. It was his idea to cut the guitar neck in such a way that it left a sharp point when Dave smashed it. It was also his idea to don the white coats to carry Eddie off. I'm not sure whose idea it was to fill Eddie's head with offal, but it worked a treat.

Before, it had been a foam brain that Bruce would pull out, but for the TV show someone filled a pair of tights/pantyhose with liver, kidneys, intestine and pig's guts, and packed it into the little gap that used to have Eddie's brain. The stage was covered in pig innards and had to be cleared up before we could load our gear out.

Going back to Dave smashing his guitar, when he stuck the guitar neck in Eddie's chest, he actually missed Warren by inches. Warren was expecting an impact on the other side so moved his body over to accommodate the blow, only to see it coming from the wrong direction. He only just got out of the way, luckily for him, or it could have been a very different ending.

I'm sure most, if not all of you, have seen Eddie's demise on YouTube, but this is the true story of how close we actually came to death on the road.



We came back to Blighty but my job wasn't done.

Once Christmas was over with I had the task of taking all the souvenirs that the band had collected along the way, to their homes. Sounds simple enough doesn't it? That's what I thought.

Although I didn't find out for a long time after, what I delivered to the band members was not what we'd agreed on.

I had been given a list of what should have been sent (i.e. cuddly toys, fan photos and addresses and other items of that ilk) and what to get rid of (items of clothing, naked photos and the like).

I spent hours at the bands lock up going through it all and had the items packaged and sealed properly. All I had to do was get a cab the following day and go from house to house and deliver it.

As cab journeys go, it was a long and tedious day, but I finally got home at about 7.00pm and thought I'd done a great day's work.

What I found out afterwards, although no member of the band said anything to me about it, some of the stuff I'd delivered to their homes was not what was supposed to be delivered. Maybe that isn't very clear.

Imagine you have a box of porn dvd's and you don't want them at your house. No problem. I leave them at the lock up. So, you open your box of tour goodies and there is a box of porn dvd's.

This is basically what happened.

Now, I don't know whether someone from the band or within the band's party made it up to get me fired, or someone from the crew did it deliberately to get me fired, but apart from the general stink it kicked up, no action was taken.

Maybe over the years I've worried about this too much, but it's obviously in my head.

I can state right now that I would never have done anything to upset the band members, or their families. It's not something I would do, even for a joke. I think the band knew that too. I guess I will never know, but somebody out there was having a big laugh at my expense.

I have my suspicions, as there were a few people devious enough to attempt that kind of thing, but it's all water under the bridge now.

Not sure why I even brought this up as I didn't find out until about 20 years later whilst having a chat with some of the old crew. I guess things get in your head and you feel you have to justify yourself.

As I said, there were people working for the band at the time who were devious enough to pull a stunt like that, but it obviously didn't go the way they thought it might.

Or in hindsight, maybe it did.


Click here for the Loopyworld index, including Steve's tribute to Clive Burr...




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