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RAP'S BLOG: BACKSTAGE ACCESS

Pink Floyd – Part I

CDJ's Paul Rappaport as guest guitar player, on stage with Pink Floyd, London Arena 1989. It was a Christmas present from the band to me for all the work I'd done for them. Thrill of a lifetime - Gilmour and I even traded licks! (PS. David has the biggest heart I've ever known in this business).

The week of September 26th is officially “Why Pink Floyd?” week. The pig will fly once again over the Battersea Power Station, Nick Mason and Roger Waters will guest with other cool musicians on the Jimmy Fallon show, radio stations all over the country will be doing huge Pink Floyd Promotions, Redbeard’s In The Studio with the guys discussing the making of The Dark Side Of The Moon will air, Nick Mason will do a PC Richard Theater appearance in NY for Q104, and the interview I did with David Gilmour will be all over radio station websites and probably make it’s way on to YouTube and other sites.

All fourteen studio albums remastered with state of the art sound by James Guthrie will be available, plus a box set including all fourteen albums with special booklet by Storm Thorgerson. A two disc CD set called the “Experience” version of Dark Side will be available containing the original album remastered plus an extraordinary live performance from the band during their 1974 British Dark Side Tour. Then, the piece de resistance, The “Immersion” box set will arrive with all the bells and whistles. Not only the live performance from 1974, but early video of the band, and the concert screen films used in 1974 and 1975! Available in DVD and Blu-ray formats and a host of other mixes, early demos and other goodies from the vaults. My favorite thing in the package? The Dark Side Of The Moon scarf!! I will totally wear it—it’s so cool.

Had a blast in England interviewing David. Of all the artists I know or have ever worked with he has the biggest heart. I have had the pleasure of knowing and working closely with him since the early 70’s when Pink Floyd came to Columbia Records. Having a discussion with him is quite easy for me and so I usually ask him questions from a fan’s point of view. He is always kind, and forthcoming with honest answers.

For those who haven’t perused the picture pages yet, I must tell you that my absolute favorite moment in the record biz was being invited (as a thank you for all the help I had given the band over the years) to play one song live with them at the London Arena in 1989.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to play live on stage with Pink Floyd here you go:

First, no matter how well you know the song you find yourself running to the bathroom every 3 minutes for fear you will absolutely pee in your pants as soon as you hit the stage!

That evening it was very hot and muggy and the band’s lighting director extraordinaire, Marc Brickman wouldn’t let famed promoter Harvey Goldsmith turn on the air conditioning system in the building until the first break for fear the moving air would blow away the smoke that showed off the band’s laser light show so well. Harvey was backstage all hot and sweaty (as was everyone was in the building) grumbling away—it was pretty funny. “Goddamn Brickman!! Won’t let me turn on the air!!!

Both David and Nick were very kind to me and told me not to worry, just go out and have a good time. Nick said, “We don’t know the song anyway, so if you mess up don’t worry.” Yeah right. He was trying to be nice and make me feel comfortable, but make no mistake, this is one of the greatest bands in the entire world and you do not want to screw up.

David said I could even play some lead parts as long as I sounded like Pink Floyd. I assured him that I had been working on the song “Run Like Hell” for 3 months and that if anything, I made sure I sounded like Pink Floyd!!!

I would plug into his rig (some computer thing that went from the stage floor very high over my head) and we would be twin lead Telecaster guitars out to the crowd. He even held the doors for a few minutes to give me a proper sound check, and asked if I wanted to play his Fender Telecaster (I told you he has a big heart).

I decided to use the one I had brought from the States because I was more used to the action on it. Then I went outside to try and chill for a bit. There was Marc Brickman smoking a cigarette trying to do the same. I had known Marc since the Springsteen days when he lit Bruce and the E Street band and was such a big part of Bruce’s early years. The Floyd tour was the Momentary Lapse Of Reason Tour and the production featured, amongst other things, big robots that came out of trap doors from under the stage as well as lighting pods that flew overhead on cherry picker cranes that looked like space ships or flying saucers—each had a man in it controlling very powerful spotlights.
So, here I am trying to gather myself together and Brickman says, “Hey Rap, during your lead part I’m going to have one of those pods swing low and try and knock you off the stand! Ha, ha,! He’s a great guy, but he’s also a tough guy from New York and so you never know. So, now I’ve even got more to worry about! Crap!

It was a very surreal evening. My wife Sharon had flown over with me and we watched the first part of the show from the audience. Then it was kind of weird because I was going to be on stage in the show during the second half.

The encore was the best place for me because all of the stage production would be on full tilt–the robots moving, visuals happening on the big round screen, laser lights, pyrotechnics—the whole shebang going off like the end of some great fireworks show. Not to mention “Run Like Hell” being a great closer.

I don’t know if this was an every night ritual, but right before the band went back on stage to do the encore, a guy showed up with a big silver tray holding a bottle and some glasses filled with Port Wine. It seems Port is good for soothing the throat and certain opera singers even gargle with it. I was asked if I’d like a glass, and in an instant I downed it like I was drinking water, secretly wondering if they would offer more because I figured if I had two or three of those maybe it would calm me down!

But, no chance. David walked up the stairs to the stage and began playing some riffs and cool guitar sounds with a lot of echo to wind up the crowd. I quickly followed and met David’s famous guitar tech Phil Taylor on stage right. I stood there as he draped my guitar around my neck and hooked me up. I felt like I was being Knighted. He was so friendly, “Hi Rap, would you like a cloth to wipe your hands? Some water? A pick?”
I remember thinking, God I could get used to this.

The stage was still dark except for the odd laser light or two shooting about the arena while David kept hammering out some very cool guitar sounds. The crowd was starting to roar now.

All of the sudden Phil put his hand on top of my head and physically pushed me down to my haunches yelling, “Duck!!!” Both of us where instantly crouched down and a huge, thick, hot, green laser light shot very close right over our heads!!

“Careful,” Phil said, “You could get killed up here!” He laughed.

Then he pointed to the riser where I would be standing on behind David for the song. “Go now,” he said, “because in a second a robot is going to come out of the stage right where you’re going to walk.”

I took my place behind David and both he and Tim Renwick, who was playing second guitar downstage to my right, looked back and smiled. They genuinely were happy for me because they knew what a thrill it was and how incredibly fun this was going to be for me.

I hit my strings muffled to echo what David was doing and to make sure I was on.

His guitar started a rhythmic pattern, the crowd started clapping in time, then the drums came in and the houselights went up! Here we go, HOLY SH*T!!!!!!!!!

Gotta go now, tune in next time for the rest.

The best to you all,

~Rap

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