Dust My Broom One Last Time
Dust My Broom One Last Time by Jo Waite
John's first band, Chalk Farm, with me playing guitar, didn't last very long. I was disillusioned with being a musician after two stints in London that had come to nothing and I had become cynical. John had all the enthusiasm that I had once had and I felt I was holding him back. I just couldn't see how it was possible to achieve fame and fortune as a musician and decided to leave, get married and be a builder just playing semi-pro around Lancaster. John wasn't best pleased when I told him of my decision. I owned all the equipment apart from his bass so I gave him my 100 watt Marshall amp and 4 x 12 cabinet and he was able to go on and play with a couple of other local bands before eventually leaving Lancaster to seek his fortune in London.
Shortly after leaving, one Saturday night, I was standing in with a country & western duo at a local pub and John and his girl friend Lynn, who only lived down the street, turned up to see me play. They arrived first thing as I was setting up and sat at the table right in front of me. I had never played before with this duo of a singing semi-acoustic guitar player and a drummer called Carl - who had an artificial leg - but I'd been offered, (and accepted), a tenner to fill in on lead guitar for the evening to make them sound good. The room started to fill up and after about half an hour of Johnny Cash and assorted cowboy songs, (including one called 'Big Iron On His Hip', which the singer dedicated to the drummer), they ran out of numbers. The singer asked the audience for requests, and John shouted 'Apache!', a Shadows Instrumental I had learned when I was about 14 and never played since. The singer looked hopefully at me but I shook my head. I hadn't played it in ten years although then I had been able to play it as good as the record. The evening progressed with a mixture of repeats and more cowboy songs until again, the singer asked the audience for requests. Again John called out loudly for Apache, and again, I refused. The duo continued with repeats, and drinks were drunk. We had a break and the room filled to capacity. We went back on and again the singer asked for requests. This time John's wasn't the only voice demanding Apache, but again I refused. John didn't mean it maliciously, it was just a continuation of the mutual sense of humour we had always shared - and I could see the funny side of it although I was in an increasingly desperate situation.
After that, every time the singer asked for requests, an increasing number of voices (including John's), loudly demanded Apache. A lot of drinks had been drunk by this time and the last time the singer asked the audience for requests EVERYONE in the room wanted bloody Apache! What could I do? To the audience, it must have appeared that playing Apache was beyond me....
So, closing my eyes and trusting to the gods , I cleared my mind of everything and let my fingers play Apache. And apart from a couple of minor fluffs - it came off almost perfectly after a ten year break!
The room burst into tumultuous applause,(they'd thought I couldn't play it) and still in a state of shock, I opened my eyes to see John stood on the table in front of me clapping loudly and shouting, 'That's my brother!!! '
Some time after that John went to London and then to America constantly touring with The Babys. They released their first album, but he was still relatively unknown in the UK and especially in Lancaster.
I was in a semi pro three piece rock band called Nitro and playing weekends at the Park Hotel in Morecambe when John came back from America on holiday. He and his girlfriend Lynn came with me to watch one Saturday night, John enjoying the anonymity that being famous ONLY in the USA gave him. Now touring huge stadiums in America, he was still almost totally unheard of in this country.
They sat next to the low stage on my bass player’s side, and during our second break before the final spot, I decided to get even with John for Apache. I arranged with Terry Bainbridge, the bass player in our trio, for him to help me carry it out.
The evening went as normal, in the breaks, I sat and chatted with John and Lynn. And with about three quarters of an hour to go till last orders, we went back on for the last spot – the pub was absolutely packed out. Usually this was Rock and Roll Time! The drummer usually sang most of our numbers, but before we started, I made an announcement.
"Tonight, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have decided to give a young lad in the audience the chance to sing and play a few numbers. He’s very keen and has never played in public before.”
The room was really full. John didn’t notice Terry moving behind him and un-looping the strap of his Epiphone bass, he was too busy half standing up from his seat and craning his head for a better view, eagerly trying to see who was about to get a baptism by fire.
"I 'm sure you'll all want to give a big hand for...........”
Terry dropped the loop of the bass strap over John’s head as I grabbed him by his right hand and pulled him up onto the low stage.
"........John Waite!” I announced.
" Dust My Broom. A.” I shouted to him laughing at his astounded expression.
"You Bastard!” He shouted back, surprise turning to a laugh, the bass hanging round his neck and Terry’s mike in front of him.
" ..1.... 2 .... 3 .... 4!” I counted us in.
I played the opening triplet chords and John was right there with me – full tilt. He sang and played once more the first song we had ever played in public and together. It went down great to much applause. Then we carried on and played out that last spot with John singing and playing Chalk Farm's numbers. That would be the last time John appeared on stage in the Lancaster area until his recent appearance at The Grand Theatre, over 30 years later.