7 – Blog 30 – London Burning 2

Queen takes  the stage, playing ‘Another One Bites the Dust.’

“Filling in for Brian is the Knobs’ singer and guitarist, Billy Beat,” Freddie announces, pointing to Billy and giving him a new last name.

Freddie explains that Brian May is still adjusting to the change of musical style to a more bass heavy, disco beat oriented sound.

Billy gets little positive response from the crowd who may agree with Brian on the new direction. But they paid for tickets and are lifelong Queen fans. Their tepid response sets Freddie off,

“It’s not that we don’t like the songs we have been doing for ten years. Gimme a break. If we don’t listen to our fans and grow, we are dinosaurs of Sixties rock. Get out there people and find out where the sun rises today. Here’s our newest song. I wrote it when Brian wanted to break up the band,” ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’

‘Tonight I’m gonna have myself a real good time
I feel alive
And the world I’ll turn it inside out, yeah
I’m floating around in ecstasy
So, (don’t stop me now)
(Don’t stop me)
‘Cause I’m having a good time, having a good time…

Don’t stop me

Don’t stop me

Don’t stop me’

Produced By Roy Thomas Baker & Queen

Written By Brian May & Freddie Mercury

Suddenly Brian May comes running down the aisle and up onto the stage.

Freddie does stop, throwing his arms around Brian.

“Don’t stop,” Brian tells Freddie. Billy hands over the guitar, bows to the audience and leaves the stage. Only a few people cheer.

Freddie finishes the song,

‘Yes, I’m havin’ a good time
I don’t want to stop at all’

Brian sings the coda,

‘La-da-da-da-dah
Da-da-da-ha
Ha-da-da, ha-ha-ha
Ha-da-da, ha-da-da-ah’

The other band members are slapping Brian around and the fans cheer the return of Brian May.

Brian rips the opening to ‘Keep Yourself Alive,’ Queen’s first hit

Freddie sings the song to Brian

’ I was told a million times
Of all the troubles in my way
Mind you grow a little wiser
Little better every day…

Be a super star
But I tell you just be satisfied
Stay right where you are

Keep yourself alive, yeah
Keep yourself alive
Ooh, it’ll take you all your time and money
Honey you’ll survive’

Produced By John Anthony (British producer), Roy Thomas Baker & Queen

Written By Brian May

The audience is eating up the spontaneity of the Queen set after the highly choreographed set by Bowie. The cheers never end, so Roger Taylor thumps the thunderous rolls and bass drum to ‘Rock You’

The audience is on its feet, cheering and dancing (sorta) in place.

Brian takes the mic and mumbles and meanders about it being a new (sorta) song, ‘Love of My Heart’ in which Freddie begs Brian to come back

‘Love of my life, you’ve hurt me
You’ve broken my heart
And now you leave me

Love of my life, can’t you see?
Bring it back, bring it back
Don’t take it away from me
Because you don’t know
What it means to me

Love of my life, don’t leave me
You’ve taken my love
(All my love)
You now desert me

Love of my life, can’t you see?
(Please bring it back)
Bring it back, bring it back
Don’t take it away from me
Because you don’t know
What it means to me

You will remember
When this is blown over
And everything’s all by the way
When I grow older
I will be there at your side
To remind you how I still love you
I still love you’

Writer(s): Freddie Mercury, Eldad Shrem

They embrace at the end. Freddie goes to the piano and celebrates Brian’s return with ‘Champions’

I’ve taken my bows
And my curtain calls
You brought me fame and fortune
And everything that goes with it
I thank you all
But it’s been no bed of roses
No pleasure cruise
I consider it a challenge before
The human race
And I ain’t gonna lose

And we mean to go on and on and on and on’

Brian joins Freddie at the mic

‘We are the champions, my friend
And we’ll keep on fighting till the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions of the World’

Writer(s): Freddie Mercury

Next Freddie sits at the piano, points to Roger and starts singing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

‘Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landside,
No escape from reality
Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies and see,
I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy,
Because I’m easy come, easy go,
Little high, little low,
Any way the wind blows doesn’t really matter to
Me, to me’

Freddie jumps up on the riser where Roger is set up with his monster drum set as Roger’s high alto repeats,

‘Galileo, Galileo
Galileo, Galileo
Galileo, Figaro – magnificoo’

Grabbing the mic and mic stand, Freddie rushes to the edge of the stage, turning his back on the audience, he sings

‘So you think you can stop me and spit in my eye
So you think you can love me and leave me to die
Oh, baby, can’t do this to me, baby,
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here’

Freddie collapse to the stage, continuing to sing

‘Nothing really matters, Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters,
Nothing really matters to me
Any way the wind blows…’

Produced By Queen & Roy Thomas Baker

Written By Freddie Mercury

My turn:

I come from backstage, still in Ziggy Stardust drag, riding a bicycle. I hand it to Deacy who hands his bass to me. The band jumps into ‘Bicycles’ with me ripping the fast bass line

Always a sketchy bike rider in rehearsal, Deacy swerves around the stage, barely missing Freddie and Brian singing at the same mic. Suddenly he lurches right off the stage, doing a header except  the kids dancing there catch him and toss him back on stage. They keep the bike and start riding it around the mass of kids dancing. There are many mishaps. Everyone bounces back after being knocked over. The audience is mesmerized by the bicycle. The band stops before the song ends.

“Hey, What about my song, Freddie?” Roger Taylor demands equality.

“Go, if you dare but not that horrid Cars song.”

Taylor hits a beat to start the ‘Clapping Song’

The audience is singing along. Naturally, Roger has to sing his ‘I’m in Love with my Car’ song

His fans cheer but everyone else laughs at him. At the end he goes over and puts off one of the flash pots.

“Time for ‘God Save the Queen,’” yells Freddie. “We have to be rock legends.”

At the finish half the audience is standing and singing along.

Freddie stands with hands on his hips and moans, “Save Me.’ The band thinks he means the song

‘It started off so well
They said we made a perfect pair
I clothed myself in your glory and your love
How I loved you
How I cried
The years of care and loyalty
Were nothing but a sham it seems
The years belie we lived a lie
I love you till I die
Save me save me save me
I can’t face this life alone
Save me save me save me
I’m naked and I’m far from home….

Save me save me save me
I can’t face this life alone
Save me save me save me
Oh I’m naked and I’m far from home’

Writer(s): Freddie Mercury

Freddie continues to sing more to the band than to his audience. The kids in front are beginning to disdain the self-pity. Youth has no capacity for pity, especially for rock stars. I give Deacy back his bass while Brian mumbles an excuse about the next song, as if it is new or old, ‘Love of My Life,’

Freddie runs to the front of the stage and sings to a punk girl in the crowd. The kids like to be included.

‘Love of my life, don’t leave me
You’ve taken my love, and now desert me
Love of my life, can’t you see?
Bring it back, bring it back
Don’t take it away from me
Because you don’t know
What it means to me’

Writer(s): Freddie Mercury

The audience in the seats feel excluded. Some shout ‘Rock. Play Rock.’

Freddie runs to the front and sings ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ to the punk girl he has been flirting with,

‘Oh you gonna take me home tonight
Oh down beside that red fire light
Oh you gonna let it all hang out
Fat-bottomed girls you make the rocking world go round….

Ain’t no beauty queens in this locality
But I still get my pleasure
Still got my greatest treasure
Hey big woman you gonna make a big man out of me’

Writer(s): Freddie Mercury

The punk girl looks angry and her friends push her on stage to confront Freddie. He instantly starts singing a song no one knows, ‘Radio Gaga.’

I’d sit alone and watch your light
My only friend through teenage nights
And everything I had to know
I heard it on my radio…..
Radio, radio

All we hear is “Radio ga ga
Radio goo goo
Radio ga ga”
All we hear is “Radio ga ga
“Radio blah blah”
Radio, what’s new?
Radio, someone still loves you

Writer(s): Freddie Mercury

The audience is all clapping to the slow beat, while the band fills in with short riffs.

At the end, Freddie kisses the girl and lowers her back into the crowd. The whole building is mellow and calm after the tumult of Queen breaking up and reforming.

Freddie steps to the mic and calls Bowie to came join him.

“That’s 15 songs. I hope you love them as much as we do playing them. But tonight is more than a concert. It is to support a cause that strikes me especially – tolerance for immigrants who leave their lives and families behind to seek a new and better life. I know. My family came to London from Zanzibar. David’s mum is from Ireland. Michael Jackson is American but because his ancestors were slaves; he will always be an outsider in racist America. Laz here,” he puts an arm around me, “is supposedly from Romania but now as Ziggy, he is a Spider from Mars. We all come from somewhere else, so please join our Tunisian Sufi dancers in celebrating David’s new song.”

The Turks are ready on their side of the stage. The Sufi with Amar, Emile, and Duncan create a circle where the Queen set-up was. Let the dervish whirling begin

Bowie takes the mic and gets Amar to sing the first word ‘Yassassin.’ The Turk band is ready.

Yassassin – I’m not a moody guy
Yassassin – I walk without a sound
Yassassin – just a working man, no judge of men
Yassassin – but such a life I’ve never known….

‘Look at this – no second glances
Look at this – no value of love
Look at this – just sun and steel
Look at this – then look at us

If there’s someone in charge
Then listen to me
Don’t say nothing’s wrong
‘Cause I’ve got a love
And she’s afeared

You want to fight
But I don’t want to leave
Or drift away’

Produced By David Bowie & Tony Visconti

Written By David Bowie

Bowie speaks to the crowd, “Thanks for making our cabaret a success. We’ll be here again tomorrow. To make sure you leave on a ‘high’ note, here’s a song from an old Beatle about immigrants, ‘Let ‘em In.’

Before we start singing, out rushes Paul McCartney as the  audience gasps then cheers, “Who says I’m old?” and hugs Freddie and David. We all have been let in.

‘Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Do me a favor
Open the door and let ’em in

Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Do me a favor
Open the door and let ’em in, yeah, let ’em in

Sister Suzie, brother John
Martin Luther, Phil and Don
Brother Michael, auntie Gin
Open the door and let ’em in, yeah

Sister Suzie, brother John
Martin Luther, Phil and Don
Uncle Ernie, auntie Gin
Open the door and let ’em in, yeah

Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Do me a favor
Open the door and let ’em in, ooh yeah, let ’em in

Sister Suzie, brother John
Martin Luther, Phil and Don
Uncle Ernie, uncle Lin
Open the door and let ’em in, yeah

Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Do me a favor
Open the door and let ’em in, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah’

Songwriters: Paul McCartney

Let ’em In lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

The crowd agrees and sings the ending over and over, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah’

Everyone is on-stage. We stand at the front, hold hands and bow to the audience. Did they get the message?

While everyone else retires to the Green Room to relax and have a beer or two, the Boss Band (Mike, Amar, Emile and me) runs out to sell our newly pressed single ‘You ain’t the Boss of Me.’ We carry the box of 500 singles. Maybe we’ll make a few dollars. George Martin, our producer, is there guarding the table with its makeshift posters with our band name scribbled across Bowie & Queen.

“Hi, George. What are you doing here?” assuming only kid bands sell outside their venues.

“Just watching how well my new single is selling,” he laughs.

We get down to business and are immediately surrounded by kids who want to get to know us. Emile is their age and has the cuteness factor going for him, especially with the teen girls. That he barely speaks English is a turn-on. Girls easily spot boys they can manipulate. The only drawback is few of the kids have the one pound asking price for our 45 rpm record. The kids confirm that Michael Jackson really is our drummer. He is besieged with other non-buying fans. He joins Amar and Duncan in putting on a moon-walk exhibition. That leaves me to drum up sales. Soon there is a long line of older fans who want a collector’s copy of our song’s original pressing. George keeps a close count. Once half the box is sold, he disappears for a few minutes.

“I ordered another pressing,” he tells me. “A thousand this time.”

My heart sings, ‘ka-ching.’

“You’ll need to be here before and after every show. And, sign the sleeves for collectors, making them pay double.”

“Good old entrepreneurship,” I remark.

“Yeah. I get 50%.”

“Oh, profits just fell.”

“I’m kidding. Just keep what you don’t sell. I spoke with Claude. He barely knew about of Knobs Records.”

“He’s the Chairman,” I contend.

“Well, we’ll promote you once you have more than one song.”

I laugh.

Up comes that NME gossip reporter, Danny Baker, looking for a salacious scoop.

Shane McGowan is also watching us. I tell Baker to interview him.

“He’s nobody,” Baker claims. “He demands free liquor for an interview.”

“He sang with us in the first show.”

“Why?”

“Everyone was worked up about one of our songs. We needed another one less exciting. He did one of his Irish ditties about the Decrepit Isle.”

Baker scribbles in his notebook.

“Go talk with him, fool,” I order Baker to leave

Next to come up is an obviously American kid, dressed too nicely, compared to our Hundred Club ‘friends.’ He starts to shake. Something is up.

“What’s wrong with you?” I demand. Then he starts to cry.

“Tim?’ he mumbles timorously. “It really is you.”

Oh no, a voice from the past. Dr Jacques’ rule is to block old memories while I build new ones.

“I can’t talk now. I’m busy,” I show him the records we are selling.

He looks hurt but buys one, paying for an autograph. He is confused when I sign a simple ‘Laz.’

“You’re Laz now?”

“Just wait over there. We have a second show soon. You can come in with me,” I am being reckless but feel sorry for the boy who is about my age but way less confident.

No talk about the past, I tell myself.

The line of buyers thins out. The second show crowd starts going in, looking at us like beggars needing the one pound we sell the records for. I close down the booth and grab the half-empty box of 45s, stuffed with 1 pound notes.

We troop back toward the entrance. The American kid is frozen, unsure of what to do.

“Aren’t you coming,” I yell at him. “And, what’s your name?”

“Jack,” he mumbles back.

It doesn’t ring a bell. He runs to catch up. He may be feeble-minded.

Everybody, it seems, is chatting and arguing about how well the first show went. They look at me when we return from selling records. They need ‘The Boss’ to tell them what to do.

First, Freddie is jealous that Bowie’s set was better than Queen’s. He blames all the special effects we had, especially the flying above the stage.

“You want to fly?” I ask.

“No. I’m not Peter Pan,” he asserts. “I want more pyrotechnics. The only flash pot we got was when Roger was angry that no one likes his ‘Car’ song.”

“You let things get out of hand by doing that song. Nobody but Taylor likes it,” I contend.

Roger sputters, insisting everyone in Queen has their own songs, even Deacy.

“Except Michael Jackson wrote the Another One song,” Freddie reveals.

“That’s the problem. Everyone wants credit. It’s like a competition. Queen is great because it is more than a sum of its parts,” I hypothesize.

All the Queen members look confused, missing what I am saying.

“No song is the property of one individual. Mike gave you his song and you owned for Queen. It’s a hit. Stop worrying that one of you is more important than anyone else. It is not the Freddie Mercury Show, nor is it just the Brian May Experience. If what you want is more excitement for the crowd, go talk with Henri; he controls the flash pots.”

They run off looking for Henri.

Shane MacGowan is sitting and watching for his chance.

He jumps up, “I want to be in the Boss Band. I can do the ‘Old Main Drag’ as well as ‘Dirty Old Town.”

We do not want another act.

“You are on standby for when it gets either too rowdy or too boring. We’ll call you up from the floor where all the kids are.”

Bowie and I huddle to discuss needed changes. The high wire act is a work in progress.

“We both need to be playing guitar, singing, and flying around each other,” I suggest.

“How about if we alternate Ziggy Stardust and Hunky Dory songs, each of us flying down to the stage for our own songs, old for you and new for me,” David suggests changing our whole set.

“Let’s try one or two switches and see how it goes. Tomorrow’s shows can be when we debut the new set list.”

Finally, I sit with Mike and we talk about our one song.

“Do we want MacGowan to play his Irish ditties?” I ask.

“Only if things get out of control,” Mike is not a McGowan fan. Bloody Irish Green is not his favorite color; he senses the Irish barely tolerate Blacks.

“We need a rhythm guitarist I can trust to keep the rhythm going when Emile gets lost,” Mike suggests.

I am not going to criticize Emile who has been playing bass for less than a week. We need him as our teen heartthrob. We are sitting wrapped around each other, as we are wont.

The rich American blushes as he watches us. “I can play guitar,” he speaks up. Maybe he is just shy, not entirely useless.

I pick up Billy’s ax (actually Freddie’s Gibson SG) and hand it to him. “We’ll play together,” as I pick up my Mustang.

“No,” he passes it back. “This is your guitar.”

“Don’t talk about Tim,” I snap at him, “Or, you’ll be back outside.”

He recoils, looking crushed.

I hand him the Mustang and grab the Gibson. I start the first line of ‘Boss of me,”

He repeats it note for note.

Okay. He can play. I do the ‘nah nana na nah’ chorus.

He picks it up quickly and switches it, so we complement instead of just copying each other.

“Not bad,” I admit. “Want to be on stage for the second show?”

He nods, looking very pleased with himself.

He starts to say something, But I give him a look that shuts him down.

“Who are you?” Mike asks.

“My name is Jack,” is all he says, looking anxiously at me to correct him.

“Why are you so nervous?” Mike asks. “I’m the one who wants a second guitartist.”

“Did I do okay?”

“Of course. You know you did,” Mike approves. “Stop being such a wimp.”

He slinks away.

“What’s the deal?” Mike asks.

“He knew me in my forgotten past. He promised not to talk about the old me.”

Mike hugs me. Jack looks stunned. Something is going on. Who cares? He is right about the Gibson; it feels so familiar. I get a great sound out of it. Johnny Thunders from the New York Dolls plays an SG. I wish the boy was less nervous but let us see how he handles performing to a full house of screaming fans.

Paul McCartney and George Martin are hanging out with Claude Knobs. George agrees to be a special guess with the Knobs. Instead of another tambourine, I suggest he play the kazoo. Jack pulls out an old harmonica. George is pleased to play a real instrument. The Knobs agree to play Dylan’s Watchtower song with George soloing on the harmonica. Paul kids him and is given the kazoo to join the other oldsters. It seems odd to call Paul old; he’s only 36.

The show goes really well. MacGowan gets a new crew of punk/youngsters down front. He leads them with cheers when he likes a song and jeers when he does not.

The Boss Band takes the time to teach the kids in front when to sing the chorus and to keep singing the ‘na na na na nah na’ ending over and over. Jack plays on as I disappear to become Ziggy Stardust. He gulps when he first sees me flying down to ‘Starman.’ Jack’s roller coaster of emotions spells danger. I’ll get rid of him as soon as the shows are done.

Flying with Bowie is better. We find ladders in the rafters to land on between songs. It helps to be stationary while singing and playing guitar. The confidence makes it possible to really crank it when flying about. We will rearrange the set so Bowie and I alternate songs, rather than him leaving while I run through all the Ziggy hits. I will not feel let down when I no longer am onstage at the end. The finale ‘Yassassin’ goes well. Duncan gets a bit spun out but all the Sufi Dervish keep him safe as he is tossed about, the seven-year-old trouper.

The Queen stadium show is much improved. They eliminate the Brian May drama. No need to reenact it again. Poor Billy is no longer in Queen – a Knob for life.

The climax is Paul McCartney’s one song. I guess the Beatles still rule. Actually, he is in Wings now where his new wife keeps tabs on him. Maybe that is the reason he hangs out with 52-year-old George Martin.

It all goes by quickly. David continues to call it cabaret, as there is no pause or intermission between bands. Three hours fly (literally) by.

Next, I find myself selling 45s out front and signing more autographs. Jack sits with me at the card table, keeping track of the money. He is a natural money man. Mike is off teaching the moonwalk. What is the deal. He told me he learned it from the mime, Marcel Marcel.

Shane MacGowan is miffed he didn’t get to sing his songs on stage.

“You did such a good job controlling the kids in front we didn’t need you to rescue us,” I mollify his frustration. He likes being called a rescuer. I think he needs rescuing. Shane and Jack find out there is an extra bed in our room at the Dorchester. They both refuse to sleep with each other. Jack looks more relieved than Shane who willingly sleeps in Hyde Park or wherever.

Everyone goes to the Boltons again. We get a big cheer as we walk in, The Glam crowd has many gays, so naturally they hit the Boltons. They are so pleased that we did so as well, although not for the same reasons. Several of the Knobs head for the other end of the bar where there may be drugs or sex or both. When Mike gets distracted and wanders off, Jack is suddenly at my side. I figure he is jealous of Mike and our bromance. As Jack slides next to me, I put an arm around his shoulder. His reaction is instantly passionate. I now know what the problem is. I keep Mike attached to me for the rest of the night. We do chat with Jack. He arrived in London that afternoon with no plans except to come to our show. He had no ticket and missed the early show. It impresses me that he had not seen The Boss Band perform our one song. He had no problem picking up the rhythm tracks and was cool as a cucumber on stage. When it got a bit wild, he just stepped back and kept the rhythm going. Mike was impressed and Emile felt better knowing he had back up. When Emile smiles at him,

I think Jack will sink through the floor. He is too sensitive. I decide we should hit the Hundred Club. It will sober him up, except he has not been drinking. I get a bit sloppy after three pints of ’bitta’ at the Boltons. I have to stand up and sing ‘All the Young Dudes’ to the bar.

 It becomes a singalong. Jack is on one side and Mike is on the other. We sing it to Bowie, who wrote it. It seems like the right note for us to run off to Oxford Street. Local punks are totally unaware of the Earl’s Court shows. There are Bowie or Queen fans among the young Londoners. The Bromley Contingent seems content to put on their own fashion show. When Shane tries to sing one of his industrial ditties, he gets shouted down for being too Irish. His endorsement of our punk credentials means nothing because he is not ‘English’ enough. I yell ‘Yassassin,’ to no effect. It is fun to bop around with the bands who are on that night, as well as drink more ‘bitta.’ Nobody recognizes Michael Jackson who soon is caring for his sloppy drunk best friend, me. Closing time comes soon and Mike pushes me into a cab back to the Dorchester and drags me up to bed.

I wake up in the morning noticing Jack in the other bed. For Shane, you snooze, you lose. I forget where we lost him. Such a shame. For Jack, you cruise and snooze.

I order a big English breakfast with grilled tomatoes and bangers (whatever that is). The toast is not toasted, but I am hungry. The food aroma wakes up Mike who orders exactly what I have. I see Jack peeking at us from under the covers.

“Get up, Yank. Tell us how great we were last night.”

“You guys were great,” he mumbles.

“You, too. You saved Emile from ineptitude. He needs to look like he’s enjoying himself for the girls to swoon over him.”

“How long has he been playing?”

“Five days, since his dad kicked him out. He caught Mike and me singing and kissing at the Lakefront. We adopted him.”

“You guys are gay?” he trembles while asking.

“Calm down, Yank. Don’t get your hopes up. Everyone kisses in Europe. We’re best friends,” Mike explains. “It was after our show at the Montreux Casino.”

Jack relaxes and orders breakfast. He knows to tell room service to toast the toast. I figure this is not his first trip across the Atlantic.

After breakfast we join Bowie at the penthouse suite. He is meeting with business/lawyer types, so we hang out on the balcony overlooking Hyde Park.

“Look,” I tell everyone, “There’s MacGowan sleeping in the Park?” as I point out a homeless man stretched out under a tree.

Everyone laughs at my joke, but I wonder if I may be right. Mike and Jack seem equally entitled. I wonder what they really think of Shane. For a drunk, he is a good singer; I will give him that.

Morning in the park seems bucolic in late June if you ignore the homeless. Warm sun sweeps away winter chills.

We enjoy the penthouse balcony while Bowie deals with business matters. Freddie comes in and joins him, accompanied by more suits who must be lawyers. We go inside the suite and sit while the adults talk business.

When Freddie mentions Elton John, Jack speaks up, “I know Elton. We put on cabaret similar to last night in Hollywood together.”

This comment gets Bowie’s attention. He quickly looks at me, but I shrug and refuse to indulge any memories Jack brings up. Soon Jack will be talking about the old me. I ignore him. He looks distressed.

“Does he know you?” Bowie asks about Elton.

“I played with him every night for a week at the Troubadour. I was there to play guitar for Liza Minelli as she debuted her movie hit ‘New York, New York.’ Elton played piano. We hung with him; his boyfriend was our age.”

“His new boyfriend is a lawyer who as his manager rips him off,” Freddie reveals. “Elton got me to hire him. He has totally screwed us over. I fired him. Elton is mad at me.”

“Who is ‘we’ in the cabaret with you,” Bowie wants to know.

“I can’t talk about him,” Jack avoids looking at me.

“Elton said he knew you, Laz.” Freddie summarizes the Elton connections. “Can you two talk with him? His boyfriend, Reid, refuses to let us out of our contract with him. My lawyer is threatening to bring charges. I don’t want Elton to hate me.”

“You seem to be in everyone’s business, Laz,” Bowie laughs. “You are the boss.”

“I don’t wanna have anything to do with my past,” I complain. “Dr Jacques says I may relapse.”

“We don’t want that, Boss. We need you.” Freddie and Bowie look concerned.

I smile tentatively. I need to get rid of this Jack kid. I guess he was talking about the old me. What is wrong with him?

I suggest, “Take Jack and meet Elton. He’ll never fire his boyfriend, but he may let you fire him. Tell Elton you won’t press charges.”

“You’re not coming with us,” Freddie asks.

“I need fresh air. I think I saw MacGowan in the park. He doesn’t need lawyers to hangout.”

I get up to leave. Jack gives me a beseeching look. I ignore his needs. He promised not to talk about the past. Why was I friends with the entitled little bitch? I sneer at him and leave. Mike comes with me. Mission accomplished.

“That was Shane sleeping in the Park?” Mike asks.

“Not really. I just said that to get rid of that American bozo.”

“Jack? He’s not cool but he can play rhythm guitar.”

“So can Shane. Let’s go find him.”

First, we check the homeless guy sleeping in the park, just a bum. The Virgin Mega-store in Piccadilly is bustling on a Saturday morning. Londoners are all about buying the latest thing. Carnaby Street is dead, closed for the weekend – 60’s fashion is passé.

“I know where he’ll be,” Mike has a brain fart. We stroll back to the ‘dilly and over to Leicester Square. Sure enough, busking by a pub is our boy, toothless and wrapped in rags.

“Where did you go?” I ask him before he can ask me about our visit to the Hundred Club.

“Don’t ‘spect me ta remember after the fifth round. What day t’is it?” he mumbles.

“Sunday,” I lie, “and we’re gonna drag ya to Church,” I threaten.

“I ain’t gonna church,” he decides. Too drunk to complain, we drag him to St Martin in the Field, a few blocks away in Trafalgar Square.

I cain’t go in here. It ain’t Catholic.

We sit him on the steps.

“If ya sit here longs enuff, ever’one in the world will eventually pass ya here.”

“Shut up and play,” I demand.

“Whatcha know?”

“Danny Boy.” He has to know that one.

He starts playing. I start singing. Mike goes to the onlookers with his hat out for donations.

Ah Danny boy, the pipes,

The pipes are calling

From glen to glen,

And down the mountain side

The summer’s gone,

And all the flowers are falling

‘Tis you, ’tis you

Must go and I must bide

But come ye back

When summer’s in the meadow

Or when the valley’s hushed

And white with snow

And I’ll be here

In sunshine or in shadow

Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy,

I love you so

But if you come,

And all the flowers are falling

And I am dead,

As dead I may well be

You’ll come and find

The place where I am lying

And kneel and say

An “Ave” there for me

And I will hear,

Though soft your tread above me

And o’er my grave

Will warmer sweeter be

And you will bend

And tell me that you love me

And I will sleep

In peace until you come to me…’

traditional

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