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The Adventures of Zoë

Chapter 15 -

How the Georgia Satellites came to make life rather difficult for Robert Plant


Georgia Satellites c Rich Likong/Artist Publications

Georgia Satellites (l-r) Dan Baird, Rick Price, Mauro Magellan, Zoë, Rick Richards
Cal Expo, Sacramento, CA, 6/16/88

photo © Rich Likong/Artist Publications


"Sorry," the record company publicist is very apologetic, "but I still haven't been able to get through to the tour manager to let him know management has finally approved your passes." But it's time to leave... after all, it's a 5-hour trip to Sacramento from Zoë's office/home in the Santa Cruz Mountains, 75 miles south of San Francisco.

"Lord, this business is always difficult, but sometimes it's worse than others..." Zoë muses. "I just hope I don't get a flat tire or otherwise have to get out of the car in this get-up." Dressed in the white silk skirt with little garters meant to hold up the skirt to reveal lots of leg and a black "boob tube" Nordstrom's had given her free of charge the night before—in consolation for having misplaced her black leather dress, Zoë couldn't help feeling a little self-conscious. "And if the passes still aren't there when we arrive, I will look odd in a T-shirt-and-shorts crowd, throwing a hissy fit... this is suited only for backstage. Well, let's hope my luck changes soon."

At least it's a lovely drive for about an hour, from the mountains through the wooded hills—spoiled only occasionally by some rich person's estate—until close to SF itself and Zoë uses the time to set her mind to the ordeals ahead. Then, it's a nightmare of traffic and negotiating one-way streets until at last it's across the bridge and once again it's wide, free-flowing freeways. Past George Lucas' estate, and at last into the little town where Kirk Hammett's brother Rich (Likong) and family live. There's still no word when Zoë calls the record company publicist, but because time is short, she and Rich head off for Sacramento's Cal Expo, on a wing and prayer, so to speak.

Rick Rogers & Dan Baird c Mark Leialoha/Artist Publications

Rick Richards & Dan Baird
photo © Mark Leialoha/Artist Publications

Halfway there, Zoë stops at a public phone booth alongside a rural roadway, and "Hurrah!" The passes have come through, the record company has contacted the tour manager, and (supposedly) all it settled.

Except that when they get there and pick up the passes, the guard at the entrance refuses to believe the photo pass is real—he's been told there are none for this show, so what he sees with his eyes just couldn't be real, could it? "Yeah, right," Zoë sneers, "we just dashed into the bathrooms and printed this up right here on the spot! Give me a break!"

 

And just then the universe responded, because who should Zoë spot but her old friend Ray, regional radio rep for Elektra Records, here with the Georgia Satellites. A few words with the guard from Ray, and Zoë and Rich are finally inside—and backstage. And a Robert Plant "Working Personnel" pass is procured, much better than the regular backstage pass she'd originally picked up, 'cause with this pass, she can go anywhere.

"Well," Zoë thinks, "Time to check up on my friends," and she enters the Georgia Satellite's trailer to find it empty, though a few minutes later, they come in—and are totally surprised. Word never did get through to this band, it seems, that they were to do some publicity. "Oh, but I told management I didn't want any more photos," Mauro whines. "I'm not doing it!"

"Little shit-head," Zoë thinks, "I remember you in the early days, when you said: 'I'll never get a big head like some of these bands...'" And turning to the drummer, she snaps, "Oh, shut up and do what you're supposed to do!"

Startled into obedience, the boys troop out, line up against a wall and Rich snaps a few frames. "Hey, one with me, too," Zoë orders, and pops into the frame.

Robert Plant All-Access Pass, Sacramento 6/16/88

Then it's time for the Satellites to play. Though the band's been selling really well on the back of MTV's heavy rotation of "Keep Your Hands to Yourself," there are always some in the audience who don't want to see the opening act, no matter who they are. And today there's one particular jerk up front who keeps yelling insults at the band. Getting rattled, the front man, Dan Baird, signals to a roadie to do something with the abusive heckler. And the roadie gets just a tad carried away—decking the annoyance, knocking him out cold.

Oh, but then all hell breaks loose, as the mouthy one starts yelling that he's gonna sue! The tour manager rushes in and they hustle the kid backstage. "OK, OK, what do you want to not sue us?" they plead, desperately. "I want to meet Robert Plant, and nothing less!"

So, once off-stage, Dan, head hanging, has to approach the headliner and plead: "Robert, um, I'm sorry but, um... well, you see... could you...?" And Robert graciously smiles and says "Of course."

Disaster averted, Zoë and Dan catch up on gossip, play some table tennis, and when the Robert Plant Band goes on stage, they decide to go up on the scaffolding over the stage area. Tired of holding a plastic cup of Coke, Zoë puts it down on boards, and promptly forgets about it. And then, when she moves closer to the railing for a better look at the legend now singing his heart out, the tip of her pointed shoes clips the cup and....

"Oh, my God! There's Coke going everywhere, right at Robert!" And she quickly moves position and puts a totally wide-eyed, innocent look on her face as a guard rushes up the stairs, wanting to punish whoever was at fault. Fortunately, everyone there has the same innocent, wide-eyed, "I know nothing" look on their face, and the guard gives up in disgust and stomps back downstairs again.

The show ends soon after, and leaning over the railing on the other side of the ramp, Zoë looks right down into Robert Plant's face, as he looks up at her and smiles....

Interview with Robert Plant next

  

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