By Steve Newton
Wow. What a difference three decades makes.
Thirty years ago today–on March 21, 1984–I was taking advantage of what we used to call a “schmooze”, in the parlance of the times. Record albums were selling like hotcakes back then, and in its quest to move more mountains of vinyl the local branch of PolyGram Records hired a bus to take a bunch of Vancouver rock critics and media peeps to see the Scorpions at the Seattle Coliseum.
There was free beer and sweatshirts, a private reception area with more refreshments, and full backstage access.
Nowadays you have to pay mucho dollaros for that type of V.I.P. experience, sometimes in the thousands.
The show was great and the Seattle fans went nuts; that city was hard-rock crazy at the time. Of course, this was at the height of the Scorps’ popularity. As the followup to their choice 1982 Blackout album they’d just released Love at First Sting, which boasted the deathless metal anthem “Rock You Like a Hurricane”.
It pains me to say it, but they pretty much went downhill after that, music-wise.
The thing I remember most about that schmoozefest was partying backstage with the Scorps members–who were joyful dudes soaking up their moment in the sun–when a couple of big-haired guys in black leather went racing past. It was the rhythm section from Motley Crue, who were opening for Ozzy Osbourne at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum two days later.
They looked pretty well identical as they flashed by, so I hollered “Alright, Nikki!”, thinking I’d spotted the Crue bassist. A few moments later a 21-year-old Tommy Lee came stomping back to where I was standing and declared to whoever was listening: “I’m Tommy! I hate it when they call me Nikki!”
For some reason that just stuck with me ever since.