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August Issue

Magnificent Seven: The Sideman Roundtable, Part 1

Magnificent Seven: The Sideman Roundtable, Part 1

Brian Ray, Steve Stevens, and Eric Schermerhorn joke, share stories, and relax at Tone Merchants in L.A.

Any nightmare situations onstage?

Brian Ray: I had food poisoning once onstage and they weren’t going to pull the gig. I couldn’t even stand. This was with Nicolette Larson, back so long ago. I said, “Get me a bar stool on stage and I’ll almost stand up.” I did it.

Jon Button: I did that with Shakira. I got food poisoning and of course the show goes on. I threw up right before I went onstage, and of course I had the bucket next to me. There was one song where I had an upright bass that was on a stand. I remember playing, and you know when your vision starts to tunnel out and you get that ringing in your ears? I go, “Oh God, I’m passing out.” I’m holding on to that upright that’s on the stand. I’m hanging on to it going, “Just get to the end of the song before you pass out!”

[All laughing]

After that song I had a one song break where I didn’t have to play. My tech brought me a cold towel, I laid down on a road case, they woke me up, and I barely made it through the rest of the show.

Steve Stevens: I fractured my wrist half way through a tour.

All: Ohhhhhh!!!

Steve Stevens: I played that night and didn’t miss one show. I was in a cast.

Lyle Workman: I had a musical embarrassment on a gig. Not necessarily a nightmare but just something I wished wouldn’t have happened. There’s an extended jam in the middle of “Roxanne.” I don’t know why, but for some reason Sting decided to play a major instead of a minor thing, but my ear didn’t pick it up. We’re just playing improvisational stuff over this groove. So I’m playing all this major chord stuff over his minor riff or vice versa. I’m playing all this cool textural stuff and these cool chords, and I’m just into it, and I look and he’s looking at me like [Gives cockeyed look].

[All laughing]

And I’m like, [Giving the thumbs up] “You’re digging me!” Then I realize, “No, he’s not digging me.”

[All laughing]

Suddenly I heard the major third or minor third or whatever it was, and of course for the rest of the tour I had a nickname. They were calling me Mr. Minor or something like that. It’s moments like that where you say, “Oh my God!”

Brian Ray: Playing a bad note on bass on a ballad is something you can’t skate through. I have to play bass on half of Paul’s show. If you’re in the middle of “The Long and Winding Road” and hit a wrong and winding note, it just sits there.

[All laughing]

Did he give you that look?

Brian Ray: Paul is really nice. If you make a mistake he’ll act like he didn’t hear it for about two bars. Then he’ll look at you and wink.

[All laughing]

You think, “Oh, I got away with it,” but he hears everything.

Click here to read part 2 of our roundtable!

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