332. It’s a Mistake

During the show, Chris broke a drum head. I didn’t often look back for long periods of time, but it took me a moment to figure out what was going on.

Louis adjusted the lights, I think, so that Trackie could work on replacing the broken head without Klieg flashes going off in his eyes. I wondered if that made it easier for the audience to see what was going on back there, too? Nope. Louis had a strategy for that. I glanced back and saw the Intellibeams intelligently pointing outward from the riser.

The song ended and I looked back again. Trackie was still up there. Chris gave the high sign though, so we went into the next song.

Another one went, though, in that song. I looked back again. Chris managed to shrug at me while playing and singing at the same time. I guess he was able to adjust onto the unbroken drums while poor Fred was up there replacing them on the fly.

All that distracted me a bit from the fact that Ziggy had gone to his knees at the front of the stage and hadn’t gotten up yet. He was still singing, and it wasn’t that unusual, but when I went into my solo he just hung his head and waited for it to be over, as if the moment the spotlight moved away from him he ran out of energy.

It was hard not to rush to the end of the solo. I forced myself to keep steady, and then I went over to him as it ended.

He got up, then, one hand on my leg to steady himself as he did. At the end of the song, he met Colin at the edge of the wings for a chug of Gatorade and a splash of water on the face. That perked him up a bit.

We’d planned to do two encores that night. We ended up doing only one. Because at the end of the first one, Ziggy went down again, and this time instead of getting up, he pitched headfirst into the crowd. This wasn’t anything like that time he dove in and attacked someone. This was more like a tree falling, slowly at first and then crash. They caught him, but he was limp, stretched out, all in white. I had a sudden flash of the people holding him up being his pallbearers, my blood went cold, and I tried to hand the guitar to Colin and go after him myself.

Colin was holding me back, though, while the security pros ran to the edge of the stage. They didn’t have to go in and bash heads, though. The crowd wasn’t full of stupid people. They eased his body back onto the stage, and Antonio heaved him over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry and tore off for backstage. I could hear Louis’s voice over the walkie talkie on the belt of one of the stagehands: “Everybody hold. Hold. Hold.”

I made it as far as the hallway. Ziggy was propped up against the wall with a paramedic already shining a flashlight in his eyes. She had short blond hair and that kind of brusque no-nonsense efficiency I was starting to associate with EMTs.

“I’m all right,” Ziggy was saying. “I’m all right.”

Barnaby said something into his radio.

Ziggy tried to get up, and Antonio and the paramedic held him down. “Come on, now,” Antonio said.

“Come on yourself, Tony,” Ziggy answered. “I just fainted, that’s all. Look, I have to at least go out and take a bow so everyone doesn’t think I keeled over and died.”

“He’s right,” Barnaby said.

“All right, motherfucker,” Antonio said affectionately, you know, tough-love style, “but I’m’a carry you.”

Barnaby radio’d to Louis. We went back to the stage. The lights came up just when they should.

So that’s how Ray got to see his big brother take a bow with the band, that night in Chicagoland.


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