Chapter 6 "Venetian Night Boat Parade"
My friend, Copper was one of WSDM’s daytime jazz dj’s. Chicago celebrates an annual August
lakefront festival called Venetian Nights with a parade of boats past Grant
Park. WSDM was hosted that year by Playboy Magazine and Patty asked me
if the 1010 would consider playing on the Playboy yacht sponsored by WSDM.
Hundreds of thousands of people attend the Venetian Night parade. We
eagerly accepted the invitation.
We were very excited about this gig but
there was one little glitch. For some unknown reason, Lee
returned to Texas without notice. We called him
desperately pleading for him to return to Chicago to play on the Playboy
yacht. My heart sank thinking that this could be a big break for us
and now we might be without a lead guitarist. We wired money for a
plane ticket to Lee but never heard from him. Time was running out.
Faced with losing out on this cool gig
we asked George if he would play guitar in Lee’s place and he eagerly
accepted the invitation.
Let me tell you about George and the
1010. George was an accomplished guitarist. He had played with
other local bands, ran the sound board for the 1010 on
several gigs, and was always there to help us load equipment and set up on
stage. He was our closest friend. We loved George.
At that time the 1010 was in a
spotlight with enormously talented guys. Though nobody deliberately
excluded George, the way things worked out, George was with us in spirit but
never before as a guitarist.
Each of us
had an individual friendship with George. He loved the 1010. It
was one of those tough situations where life deals the cards and the hand he
was dealt was not that of being a performing member of the 1010.
was differing musical styles or circumstances, for whatever reasons George
hadn’t been included as one of the 1010. None of us talked much about it but we
all felt that George felt slighted by not being asked to play with us.
We now needed a guitarist to replace
Lee and George was the obvious choice. He knew our material.
He was one of us in spirit, and eagerly rose to the occasion.
We hastily rushed through last minute
late night rehearsals with George determined to let nothing stop us from
playing for WSDM on the Playboy yacht.
It was a hot August afternoon
arrived at the Chicago Yacht Club to set up our equipment on board the 65’
Playboy yacht. All the WSDM girls were there. It was a party
atmosphere and nobody appeared to be in charge.
All I could think was that we needed to
figure out how to set up our equipment on a boat deck and we’d better figure
it out soon. We tied amps and speakers to the masts, plugged into the
onboard generator, and set up my drums on the now cramped deck.
Photo courtesy of John Wallerich
It was a wild experience to play on a
boat surrounded by Playboy bunnies and the girls of WSDM.
As the sun set, our boat took its place
among the many others. The floating parade began and we started playing and singing.
The sound system blared into the open air. We had no idea what it sounded
like but hoped the hundreds of thousands of onshore onlookers could
hear us. We played our hearts out.
This was the largest crowd we’d ever
performed before and we were made all the more proud to know that among the
dignitaries present on shore, Vice President Hubert Humphrey sat beside
Mayor Richard J. Dailey! Though I've not read it personally, John
Wallerich told me that Hunter S. Thompson wrote about hearing us play that
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