OK. I like movies, and I like rock ‘n’ roll, so how the fuck have I never seen Roadie — Meatloaf’s 1980 vehicle as a leading man on the silver screen?
Produced by none other than Zalmon King and directed by Altman protégé Alan Rudolph, it’s a film Rotten Tomatoes synopsizes as:
… A rip-roarin' ride for viewers with a fondness for late-1970s nostalgia. Rocker Meat Loaf stars as Travis W. Redfish, a farm boy with a genius for electric engineering that he eventually parlays into the title of World's Greatest Roadie. En route, he falls for groupie Lola Bouilliabase (Kaki Hunter) and helps pursue her dream of meeting rock idol Alice Cooper (playing himself). Their pursuit of Alice leads them on a wild chase across the country, replete with 1970s road movie staples such as barroom brawls, car chases, and burly truckers. Blondie, Roy Orbison, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, and Hank Williams Jr. all make appearances, and Art Carney has a nice bit as Travis's father.
Move over, Almost Famous. The fictitious Stillwater ain’t got nothin’ on the legit Blondie covering “Ring of Fire” while still in their prime. Snap!
Although I haven’t seen it yet, it looks and sounds to me like Roadie is the bat out of hell’s answer to The Rose. Speaking of The Rose, if you’ve ever seen the Bette Midler “classic,” and are a musician and even a remotely intuitive observer, you’d have undoubtedly noticed that the drum kit in the background of a performance scene or two has not one, but two kick drums set up on their sides, batter-head up and just completely fucking wrong. How the does that happen? Am I really to believe that, out of the hundreds of people on set day after day, not a single one had ever actually seen a real drum set before? I want answers. This single error has boggled my mind for years and will continue to do so until the day I die.
Anyway, I digress. I stumbled upon the trailer for Roadie when it caught my eye as a related video to the one I’m posting above, which features a heroically burned-out human specimen by the name of Freddy “Tito” Mendoza, who, now living in Central America, was purportedly a Led Zeppelin roadie during the band’s ’71-’74 heyday. The video comes off like an anti-drug PSA, as it features Mendoza’s candid — how should I say, boolean — musings on Led Zeppelin, rock ‘n’ roll, drugs and other nonsense. Marvel at the former road warrior’s plethora of anecdotal nonsensicality — which sounds like cutting room floor Chong dialogue from Up In Smoke:
On Robert Plant’s sexuality:
He’s the king of rock ‘n’ roll. He’s the lion. He had that long hair, man. He can fuck whoever he want.
On John Bonham:
He was good man. He could play with his fingers (pause) and nails. He also played with his (pause) toes. … He was a good bike-rider too. … He was into the born to be wild shit.
On his responsibilities on the road:
I was just smelling rush [?] and getting high, and just looking at ’em and appreciating their fucked up music.
On the chronic:
Did you ever smoke that shit that they used to send to ‘Nam, man? That shit like Panama red? They said it were like red buds. I’ve never seen a red bud, bro. I’ve seen ‘em yellow, like they used to call ‘em baby shit, but I never saw a red one, man. … I know about dry fucking leaves burning but never seen green shit burning. This is weird, man. This fucking technology, that’s why I don’t smoke that shit.
I had a friend that he swallowed a fucking Clorox and, man, I don’t get to see him anymore. He’s gone. So, Clorox is bad for you. We thought it was gonna clean him up but fuck, it wiped him up. He got wiped.
On Jon Bon Jovi:
That guy’s gay, man.
On Jimmy Page:
He smokes out of his fingers, man, when he touches a guitar. You can find that shit very seldom in life. So be careful. Don’t ever say shit about Jimmy, he’ll get mad.
On Jimi Hendrix:
Fuck Jimi Hendrix, man. … He was telling everyone that he could play the guitar with a fuckin’ broom. That’s bullshit, man. You can’t get no sound out’a broom. That’s bullshit, man.
What the press knows about music? They’re full of shit, man.
Between the revelation of Roadie’s existence and repeated viewings of Mendoza’s sage pearls, I got on a bit of YouTube kick, in search of entertaining roadie clips.
One fine gem I came across is the above clip featuring an archetypal roadie named Andy, who — after supposedly consuming “13 Guinness, four red wines and a downer” — tells tales of drinking marines under the table, drops some load-in science and the extols the virtues of honing one’s craft, which in his case is professional-level alcohol consumption. Key quotes:
You wanna fuckin’ drink hard, you gotta practice hard. … It builds up an information highway, folks. … If you drink hard in practice and don’t drink hard in the show, you’ve got no game. Likewise, if you choose not to drink hard in practice — which is where you really should, because that’s where you get your game — and then you try and drink hard during the show, you’ve got pros who’ll just eat’cha up and spit’cha out.
POW! Slurrrrrrrrrrrrrp!! GIVE ME MY MONEY, YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!!! So, yeah, Sundays was all about outdrinking younger marines.
It’s load-in. If it’s on the truck, it goes in the arena. If it’s in the arena, it goes in the truck. That’s pretty goddamn simple.
(Note: This statement has me wondering how many times he’s tried to figure out how to load an eight-sided NBA scoreboard into an 18-wheeler.)
Maybe we should be like kids in kindergarten. We hold hands. We walk through adversaries and we learn on our own rate — holding hands, walking through. I’ve done it with girls and uh …
In case drunk Andy has got you wondering how to forge a career as a roadie, take a look at the instructional video below.