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- 16 October 2013, 07:10

This is from a mailing list I get [it is British]:

Hi Guys,

True story…

Once, back in the days when I was playing in bands,
we played an anti-drugs concert in the north of
England with several other bands

It was a joke in itself because I’ve never seen as
many strung out, doped up and generally f*cked
people as the line of musicians who posed for
the press photographer wearing:

‘Just Say No To drugs’ T- shirts

These were people who NEVER said no to drugs, in
fact if weed consumption had been an Olympic sport
they’d have brought home several golds and nicked
the torch for lighting up.

Anyway it wasn’t just the musicians who were

There was a Pyrotechnic engineer whose nickname was
‘1666’ because during his career he’d done more
damage than the great fire of London with his smoke
machines, fireworks, powder blasts and other
explosive effects.

So this particular gig was in an old, possibly
Victorian theatre with tiered seating, balconies –
the lot, and the promoters wanted to make it
special hence hiring this special effects dude

As the afternoon wore on we all set up our musical
gear and did sound checks.

‘1666’ was wiring up powder blasts everywhere.

They were set to go off just as the headline act
finished their last song

He’d put powderblasts (explosions with lots of
smoke) behind the drum kit and all along the five
monitors (that face the musicians so they can hear
themselves) at the front of the stage

But he’d been sampling ‘special cigarettes’ most of
the afternoon was a very floaty chappie…

…and he was getting carried away with it all.

Because, after being encouraged by us non-headline
bands he put FAR more explosive powder into all the
devices than he should have…

…he then put a bit more in for good measure, all
the while uttering his catch-phrase which was

‘I’ve got an explosives license you know’

The gig opened to a packed house and one by one we
all played until it was time for the final act.

Unfortunately as they were plugging in and tuning
up behind the lowered stage curtain, nobody noticed
that one of the band had left an empty black
plastic rubbish bag draped over one of the

They did a great set and all went well until the
final song ended and the explosions started

The drummer almost shat himself when the first
explosion went off behind him. I’d never seen
anyone try to leap over an entire drumkit before,
cymbals and everything

Much worse was to come though for the poor bloke…

Just a split second later the monitor flashes went
off at the front of the stage and because they were
loaded with so much powder (TOO much) they not only
blew up the monitors and engulfed the entire stage
in white smoke…

…but the plastic bag that had been left on the
end monitor shot, smouldering, across the stage and
wrapped itself around the drummers head

Now I know this sounds awful and it was, but you
have to realise how FUNNY it was too

The poor bloke had just heard a huge bang behind
him and was scrambling over his drumkit when a
flying half-molten bag appeared through the smoke
and wrapped itself (like that horrible thing in the
Alien film) around his face.

People were screaming in the audience, the drummer
was making muffled pleas for help and a dozen
stoned musicians were laughing so much one of them
was physically sick, which made it even funnier

It could have been really bad for the drummer
except that someone – one of the sound guys I think
– casually stepped forward from the side of the
stage and emptied his pint over the drummer’s head.

His head made a hissing noise, the bag shrivelled
up and made his eyes bulge and the stench of burnt
plastic filled the theatre

I heard later he was totally unharmed except for
having to have his head shaved (dried melted
plastic doesn’t comb out apparently) and being
slightly nervous whenever he was around fireworks

…but the Pyro dude continued to work with some
pretty well known bands

…and somewhere I still have the picture of the
‘Just Say No’ line-up.

Life seems a lot safer these days

Have a great Wednesday

Tony Shepherd


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