Welcome to Rock of Agers

Welcome to Rock of Agers

Friday, June 3, 2016

OJ's Run Leads to a Night of No Rock Play and No Play

The most infamous car chase in American history
Like millions of other Americans, my wife and I recently watched the 10th and final episode of the TV mini-series The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. 

The series let us relive that historical event and consider how it brought so many concerns to the forefront of American life - racial divides, the question of justice for Black Americans, police misconduct, reality TV, celebrity life, and even the Kardashians.

But for me, O.J. always brings up a unique musical memory. And no, it's not the time that he sat in with the band, although that happened with a few celebrities over the years such as boxing legend Joe Frazier, whom I actually backed on two separate occasions.

In June of 1994, I was playing keyboard in a band called Double Shot. On the night of June 17, we were performing at a bar in Smithville, a small community near the South Jersey shore. Toward the end of the first of our five sets, we noticed that absolutely no one was paying any attention to us. Instead, everyone was scattered around the club, intently focusing on the large TV screens hanging there.

Now I knew we weren't the greatest band in the world, or even the best band I had ever been in, but we certainly weren't bad enough to ignore completely.

At our first break, the bar owner approached us to explain what was happening.

It seems that TV cameras had caught one Orenthal James Simpson being driven by his friend Al Cowlings around the freeways of Los Angeles. The white Ford Bronco was  being followed by dozens of police cars.  And, in some cases, bystanders were crowding the cleared highways and bypasses to see history in the making. No one obviously knew the outcome of this breaking news event, but few thought it would end well since Simpson had been implicated in two murders, including that of his former wife, Nicole.

"Guys, listen" the owner said. "I don't think there's any reason for you to play until this thing is over".

Of course, as soon as he finished that remark, I was ready to ask the question - but what about our money?  Before I could speak, however, the owner continued. "Don't worry, you'll still get paid".

So for the rest of the night, until closing, we sat at the bar, watching the drama unfold. We never did play another note that night.

Today, with the passing of so many years, we now know most all there is to know about the sordid O.J. tale, except the answer to the biggest  question of all - did Simpson actually brutally murder his ex-wife and Ron Goldman and get away with it?

For example, we know:
  1. The Bronco chase began what is considered to be the "3rd most impactful TV event of the last 50 years".
  2. Beginning with the chase, the OJ case dominated all media for months
  3. Domino's Pizza reported record sales on the night of the chase as people didn't want to miss a minute of the unfolding real-life drama.
  4. O. J. Simpson was declared not guilty even though when the chase finally ended, Cowlings had $9,000 in cash in his pocket and, inside the Bronco, police found a just-purchased fake goatee and mustache, a bottle of makeup adhesive, O.J.'s passport, and a gun. Oh yes, and blood from the victims.
But as they say in the news business, no matter how much you think you know, there's always more to the story. And to demonstrate the truth of that contention, I'm willing to bet a thousand dollars more than was found in Cowlings' pockets after the infamous White Bronco that until I wrote this post, fewer than 20 people in all the world knew that the night of the O.J. Simpson Bronco chase was also the only time in my life 5 decades of rock performing that I got fully paid for not playing a full night of music.

Although I also believe that as loud and as badly as many of my bands were, there are a bunch of club owners now wish they had thought of that pay-for-no-play tactic.

--- by Dave Price

No comments:

Post a Comment