Music History

The End of the Old-School Roadie

Here’s a fun article from The Guardian that looks back on the days debauched days of the old-time rock’n’roll roadie.

Before the live-music industry became a billion-dollar behemoth, being on the road was, for many bands, a wild west of sex, drugs and even some rock’n’roll. Hedonism was rife, and it wasn’t just the musicians who pillaged. Their road crews were right there with them, benefiting from a macho atmosphere where the expectation was that after they had unloaded the gear they would match their employers in debauchery.Some roadies became famous in their own right. Led Zeppelin‘s tour manager, for one: there’s a Richard Cole Appreciation Society on Facebook, glorifying the man who was, according to the unofficial band biography Hammer of the Gods, “responsible for much of the mayhem” around the group. Then there was a metal roadie called Jef Hickey, who carved out such a reputation that half an episode of’s 2011 documentary series, On the Road, is devoted to him. Rock musicians speak of him in awed tones: “One time we were on a plane, and he went up to this stewardess and asked her if she had any drugs,” claimed former Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri – and that was onlythe most printable of Hickey’s antics.Roadie annals are full of such stories, many of them involving unpleasant treatment of female fans. But that era has long passed, and with it the idea of roadies as folk legends.

Keep reading.  And find more roadie t-shirts here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38550 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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