Head East’s Real-Life ‘Spinal Tap’ Murder Mystery
Like any rock veteran who’s been playing shows as long as he has, Roger Boyd of Head East has enough real-life ‘Spinal Tap’ stories to fill a book. Which as it turns out, he may indeed do someday — as you’ll read in a minute.
But first, to help us celebrate the 30th anniversary of ‘This is Spinal Tap,’ rock’s best mockumentary, Boyd told us a few of his favorite tales of onstage and backstage misfortune. We know you’re going to enjoy them as much as we did:
For me personally, the biggest was our first sellout in St. Louis [with] 10,500 people. We had already done a double sellout in the 3,000-seater, so we jumped to the big hall and it was our first big hall, so it was a big deal. A bunch of people from L.A. and New York flew in from the record company, so they’re in the front row. We get ready to go into ‘Never Been Any Reason’ and our one manager decides we have to have this neon Head East sign that goes up. So they raise it up there and it had black lights on it and the plug came out of the black lights. When they plugged it back in, the starters on the back lights threw my synthesizer into a freak-out. So here we are in front of 10,500 people [playing] our big song with all of the record company execs and my synthesizer just made noise. It’s amazing that I didn’t just pick it up and smash it. [Laughs] I’m sure that created problems for us down the road…
But wait, it’s must be Triple-Shot Thursday, because Boyd’s got two more stories for us — one about being forced to play an indoor concert with the lights on, and the short version of a murder mystery that he may turn into the nucleus of a book someday:
“That was another one of those Spinal Tap moments. You know, [it was] a brand new convention center in a big market for us, basically sold out and they can’t turn any of the house lights out — because the bathroom lights go out. But that happens — in fact, I’ve been trying to get a book together, I just haven’t had time with hustling this new record. It’s going to be titled ‘Band On The Run’ and rather than do a biography — you know, with sometimes band biographies, you go, ‘Oh yeah, okay, how many stories about groupies and this and that can you talk about?’
We were playing a big fair in Garden City, Kansas, and a couple of days later we were in Dallas and the FBI shows up. A girl was murdered — her head was chopped off and they found her the next morning in a cornfield. Obviously, the band being from out of town, we were right at the top of the suspect list. They cleared us pretty quick, but what I want to do is I want to turn it into kind of a historical fiction kind of thing and we have to help solve the crime, so that the FBI quits bothering us.
I’m going to talk about all of those great places that you were talking about like Barry Fey and the Rainbow and Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa and the Electric Ballroom in Atlanta — all those great places that we got to play in the ‘70s. The first Texxas Jam and stuff like that. We’ll keep running into the carnival — because eventually they found it was a guy from the hometown — he’d run away with the carnival. It took them 17 months though.
I can tell a bunch of those stories and the sequencing won’t be identical — like the time in New Orleans that one of the cops wanted one of the guys on our road crew. We put him in an organ case and wheeled him into the back of the semi and it was so hot that it was like being in a sweatbox. But you know, I’ll tell some of the stories and make it an interesting story and talk about some of the things that we went through over the span of our career, but make a good story out of it.”