Keith Boyce interview (2008)

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Keith Boyce (John Baldry‘s former drummer) shares his memories with marysol-festival.com:

 


We were on tour in the States and had been there for a few months when we flew over to play the festival.

We arrived at the airport in Puerto Rico and it was chaos there! There was bags and band equipment everywhere. I’d taken over my new custom built Ludwig kit that I’d just picked up at the factory in Chicago and it was nowhere to be seen. I looked like it was lost and I remember us going outside and low and behold there was my whole kit sitting there on the sidewalk!I think some roadie must have mistaken it for theirs and then just left it there! Luckily for me no one had lifted it! So then off we went and checked into the hotel. The hotel was pretty upmarket from what I recall and close to the beach. I think we spent a day or 2 getting sunburnt, swimming and drinking but no question of going to the festival site to check it out as all the roads were blocked from what we were told.

That was a shame as I would have loved to have seen some of the bands.

We played on the last day and we took helicopters in as it was the only way to get there. It was already dark by he time we got there. I watched the Faces from the side of the stage and they were great as always and they went down very well. We’d already done a few gigs with them in the States as we had the same management and agent. I recall it was touch and go if we’d go on as everything was running very late and some of the bands were getting bumped. I think our manager Billy Gaff must have said if Baldry couldn’t play then the Faces wouldn’t or something as we went on directly after the Faces! Not an easy act to follow as you can imagine but at least we got on stage.

I went on to the stage first as I was about to use Kenney Jones drum kit and I was altering his set-up when I realised that our pianist Ian Armitt was no where to be seen. I then heard that he’d been found unconscious under a truck! Apparently he was handed what he thought was a joint and it turned out it was Angel Dust and it knocked him out cold! So we were about to start the set minus a pianist when Baldry came onstage with glazed eyes and a strange look on his face. It turned out he’d also been Dusted! I looked at Bob Weston (our guitar player) and saw he, like me, was ok. So at least I knew a few of us were still in the running. We launched into the set but we had to improvise some of it as we couldn’t do some of the songs we normally played as they were keyboard based.
Baldry, trooper that he was, soldiered on, but I could see he was pretty out of it and having some problems. Then after a few more songs Baldry asked Bob for a guitar to play. He strapped it on and plugged it in and started to play it and this horrendous noise came out. It seems that Bob had mistakenly given him a guitar he used for slide and it wasn’t in a regular tuning but Baldry hadn’t checked or even realised what was wrong and continued to play it as if it was normal! I glanced at Bob and he was sweating at this point. I then looked behind me and saw that 3 of my favourite drummers were leaning on the amps looking over my shoulders and they were not looking too impressed. There was Kenney from the Faces, Carmine Appice from Cactus and Billy Cobham from the Mahavishnu Orchestra. I was only a young guy of 17 and these guys were my idols so I started sweating then. Not least as I thought Kenney was a heavy hitter but I must have been hitting a lot harder than him and I had completely ruined the skins on his kit! I then saw Billy Gaff our manager tearing his hair out at the side of he stage as it was all going horribly wrong! At this point, I think maybe out of pity, Ian McLagan and Ronnie Lane from the Faces came bounding onstage to try and help us out. Ian played piano and Ronnie sang a bit and played tambourine. With their help we busked a few more songs and we somehow managed to salvage the set and went down ok in the end. (We even got a cut on the Mar Y Sol album so we couldn’t have been that bad.)
After the set as we came down the steps from the stage I saw some guys lifting up our piano player Ian from the ground and he was looking dazed and confused. Next thing I know we were back in a helicopter flying back to the hotel. Only this time I recall the pilot looking at the dials on his dash and he starting to tap them. He then announced that he thought we were running out of fuel and we may have to make an emergency landing! I looked down below us and all I could see was blackness as we must have been flying over a jungle! Anyway a few more bangs on the dash and it seemed the dials moved and we did have some fuel and we made it back.

The next day Baldry told me that he’d been so out of it the night before that he thought he was at sea and that the stage was the deck of a ship as it was moving back and forth! I could only ask if it was the Titanic he was on as I’d had that sinking feeling as well so I knew where he was coming from! Our pianist Ian on the other hand couldn’t remember a thing! I think it was the case for a lot of the people there.

All in all it was quite an experience that lives on with me to this day!

All the best,