This second “episode” (or part) of a series where I post scenes or sections of the original novels Battle of the Band, The Prophesied Band and The Prodigal Band that make up The Prodigal Band Trilogy deals with how the fictitious prodigal band Sound Unltd found their road crew, made up of members of a biker gang. For the most part, all of their roadies were members of biker gangs.
Why was this section deleted from the Lulu published trilogy? There are references to some of these biker roadies winding up in jail for disruptive behavior in night clubs and pubs, so the scenario was already present. Yet this episode shows the beginning of this type of scenario so I am posting it now…plus it’s interesting, in my opinion. The episode begins in a biker night club in south London, and the bikers within are already riled up to an extent that band singer Erik is experiencing ‘stage fright.’ And he and two others in the band, guitarist Jack and drummer Tom, had been in a street gang for years! The gig at this night club was part of a ‘national tour’ after winning a ‘Battle of the Bands’ in northeast England several months previously. A night club mentioned, the River Rat, was a club in the band’s fictitious home city of Walltown.
January 8, 1987, in a loud, raunchy south London biker’s night club
Barlowe’s, a converted metal warehouse, vibrated as a gigantic boom-box of cacophonous, metallic, screaming music assaulted the ears of a raucous crowd about a hundred over the club’s legal capacity. Soon, the main act of the night, Sound Unltd, would pound its savage, hard rocking rhythms. Alternative, yet decidedly punk with a stylistic throwback to the days before the Beatles went psychedelic. But road manager Billy Hallslip didn’t count on the sheer numbers of this rowdy audience giving his lead singer a bad case of pre-stage-fright.
Erik squatted on the floor in a corner of a rest room that also served as the dressing room. “I can’t go on.” Repeated over and over again.
Jack knelt down beside him. “Hey, man, the River Rat was always like this. Leeds was like this. Manchester was worse than this, and Liverpool was Manchester on steroids. You made it through Blackpool, eh? You can make it through this. We’ve played before bikers many times. Remember that Hell’s Angels club in Birmingham?”
The singer felt like a bullied child. “There’s this huge bloke out there. Chains all over ‘im. I just know he’s gonna foray my ass.”
Just then a crashing of wooden bar stool on the bar matched the crescendo of cheers from the drunken mass. “Hey, Steamroller!” someone shouted at a brutish-looking biker named Chet Lesley.
“Yeh, that bloke,” Erik sulked.
Jack looked up at Tom, who was cleaning his crooked teeth in the mirror. “Where’s Bry when you need him?”
“Last I heard,” the drummer faced Jack, “he was at the bar arm-wrestling some biker named Stu.”
“Right!” Jack waved his arms, frustrated. “I’ll bloody get ‘im.”
Less than a minute later, the hulking synth player helped Erik off the floor. “No way is that brawny mass gonna mess with you. I just beat his best friend Stu arm-wrestling. Wiped him out!” Loud laugh, then a belch of brew. “Are you okay, mate?”
The slender singer sneered. “Like how do you know that Steamroller won’t annihilate my face?” He faced red beard. “He’s got a reputation for clobbering puny little blokes like me. To him I’m a pretty boy, eh?”
“Speaking of pretty boys, man, he won’t hurt you ‘cos he just bought Mick a brew, eh, and our illustrious bass player is about as pretty as a boy can get, yeh?” Put his hands on Erik’s shoulder. “He’s just a ton o’ noise. Besides, if he does start anything, it’s just a test o’ your balls.”
“Right!” Erik backed off in a huff. “Like, if he wants t’ test me balls, then he can test me to see if I can break a bar stool over his head! I’ll show the bastard balls!”
The singer rustled passed Bry out to the stage and grabbed the microphone. “Hey, you little shits! Ready to get your ears blown out?”
The others and Mick, who was on his way to falling down drunk—he had a lower alcohol tolerance than the others—joined the rabble-rousing vocalist on stage, Tom nearly clubbing the eight-piece ensemble. Jack liked to fry his Marshall amp on the opening fiery chords in a song that he and Erik wrote the night before.
Don’t eat my heart out, don’t drink my blood
Just suck on my manhood, and I’ll be good
Oh I’m so good in bed, baby, I’m so good
So good for you, babe, ‘cos I’m so good.
Howls of delight followed, until a huge biker in leather and chains broke two whiskey bottles on the bar and his buddy yelled, “Get the rave up, Steamroller!”
Others copied him, and it began to get ugly.
Steamroller made a path to the stage by whipping bystanders with his chains. He winked at Bry and snarled at Erik as the others stopped playing. “Hey, you little shit, you think your so good, get your pretty ass off stage,” cussing every other word, “and show me how good you are, little prissy ass-wipe.”
The crowd goaded for a fight.
Erik hadn’t been in a foray for about two years and he was out of shape for it, but he couldn’t let Bry know that his threat to pummel the brute was just a threat. As soon as Steamroller was close enough to the stage, the singer lunged for him with abandon, still holding the mic stand, and swung the metal at the bruiser.
Chet backed away, then took a metal pipe from a denim-clad bearded bystander. He swung it at Erik, knocking the bent mic stand out of the singer’s hands. Chet dropped the pipe, then grabbed the singer and threw him against a bar stool.
Jack, Tom, Bry and Mick leaped off the stage and turned the one-on-one into a free-for-all which lasted five minutes. Then some cops showed up and arrested Steamroller.
Sound Unltd was banned from the club, one of several—they’d built up a reputation over events like that— and, after Bry paid Steamroller’s jail fine, the band hired the brute, Stu and two other Hell’s Angels to be their security-road crew.
The Prodigal Band Trilogy © 2019 by Deborah Lagarde, Battle of the Band © 1996 by Deborah Lagarde, The Prophesied Band © 1998 by Deborah Lagarde and The Prodigal Band © 2018 by Deborah Lagarde. Permission needed to copy any materials off this page.
Photo credit: photo of guitar signed by Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day, which hanged on a wall at Hard Rock Cafe in Washington, D.C. in October, 2009. Photo taken by Deborah Lagarde, photo © 2009 Deborah Lagarde.