Band? What Band?
If you’ve got a few minutes, I think my friends “of a certain age” will get a kick out of this memory: I was a sophomore at UConn. One of my professors heard me perform at the Student Union Ballroom coffeehouse and was so impressed, that he arranged for me to meet his “friend” Walter, Bob Dylan’s business manager.
I met the professor at a race track in Lime Rock, Connecticut where he introduced me to Walter. We watched guys racing their suped up cars for awhile. There was buzz about a young guy named Todd Rundgren driving a Mustang; the only American car racing.
When the races were done, I thanked and said goodbye to the professor then followed the caravan of race cars to Bearsville/Woodstock, New York where Walter invited me to stay at Bob Dylan’s home for a few days. (Big kudos to my parents for allowing me to borrow the old light tan ‘65 Chevy Bel Air for my big adventure.)
Dylan’s home had 21 bedrooms. He and wife Sarah were not staying there at the time. Their childrens’ toys were scattered about. I picked out a bedroom for myself upstairs. The home was huge and it was da
rk inside. My favorite room in the house was the gigantic pool room with a large window and stunning view of a mountain, a giant pool table, a grand piano and a drum kit.
I felt isolated. Not much interaction with Walter. One day a strange, sk
anky, yet oddly handsome fellow with thick blondish hair and an accent (I was told from Amsterdam?) named Lazlo visited. We sat at the piano. I didn’t understand why he was there. We made conversation. He left.
Later that night I went upstairs to bed. Walter woke me up around midnight. “Come downstairs. We have a guest.” I got dressed, went down and was introduced to a guy sporting a thick head of disheveled black hair and lots of facial fur. Walter left the two of us alone.
“Hi! I’m Richie.”
“Hi! I’m Jayne”.
I asked if he was a musician. He said “yes. I’m in The Band.”
I responded “oh! Cool! What band?”
He said; “The Band.”
“Right!” I said. “But, what band?”
He mentioned some song titles.
“Nope! Never heard of them. So, what’s the name of your band?”
After a few more minutes of this Abbott and Costello “who’s on first” routine; Richie was satisfied that I had no frikkin clue who he was and he settled in to hang out with me til 4 a.m.
We had a blast! We spent the whole time in the giant pool room talking, snacking on those little Snyder pillow pretzels while we sat together on the piano bench. Then, we jammed. He played the drums while I played the grand piano and we both sang songs like “Youngblood” and many others. I obviously was not acquainted with The Band’s repertoire at this point. lol!
Before Richie left, we hugged.
Then Walter appeared beaming!
“Well! I’ll bet you’re proud of yourself!”
“Richie is crazy about you!” He then explained who The Band was which still didn’t register at that time!
“Oh, ok! Cool!”
Richie Manuel was one of the sweetest souls I’ve ever met. A broken Angel. What a privilege to spend such a special time with him.
Here's Richie singing one of my fave's "King Harvest":