The new album 'A Long Road Home' by Steve Somers
Patty and I had been booked to sing behind Ronnie Prophet the singing compere for all three days, as we had just done a TV series with him. We were also booked to sing behind Johnny Tilotson and a few others. We were really thrilled at being involved in such a massive Country Festival full of the biggest stars in the business. It was being held on an Airfield in Portsmouth with a stage and sound system the size of a block of flats.
We had taken the caravan down along with my wife Pat and our first born, Ben, who was about 4 years old as I recall. We were going to stay on site for all three days and mingle with the stars. We first smelt a rat when we arrived at the perimeter fence and saw, written in felt tip pen on the back of a old Kelloggs Cornflakes box, "Country Music Festival this weekend with Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell" That was the advertising ??? We are in trouble here. 50 odd people came...I don't mean the people were odd!! You know what I mean. The festival was set up for thousands.
Brilliantly, all the acts went on and played to the few that were stood about trying to make a festival vibe and Pat and Ben wandered about trying to understand what was going on. We were in the back stage area when Johnny Cash swept in in his Limo in full convict outfit. The look on his face went from..'Yes it's really ME !' to......'Where the F**?! is the crowd'. Hank Williams Drifting Cowboys played for Ben and Pat. Patty and I got up and sang behind Johnny Tilotson ( hit single Poetry in Motion), Ronnie Prophet and a couple of others who thought they might like a little extra support (as there was rapidly becoming more on stage than in the audience). I looked out at the sound engineers' tower that seemed miles away and as tall as Big Ben and thought how strange life can be sometimes. We had our own personal performance by the stars, some of whom we toured with later and recalled the Portsmouth festival.
By day two things were desperate and the big boss could not be found. 'The management had left the building.' There was a ticket office on site with a few poor lowly employees. They had taken the cash from the few that had turned up and it was these poor souls that faced a certain (crazy in the first place) very angry country music star (I'm not going to tell you his name but it's on the poster) when he pulled a gun and took all the cash they had collected as 'PART' payment for his contribution to this fiasco. Nobody else got paid and we went home with nothing but a story in our pockets.