by Captain Maniac

Randy Hansen’s Tribute to Jimi Hendrix, PNE Gardens Vancouver, BC. January 12, 1979. Opening act on this show was Sparkling Apple. Photo by Chris Hartridge.

Sparkling Apple live onstage at the PNE Gardens Vancouver, BC. January 12, 1979. Photo by Barry Heibein.

The show as seen from the stands.  Photo by Leslie Norrish.

Buzz just can’t look! Photo by Chris Hartridge.

Buzz & Captain Maniac onstage. Photo by Chris Hartridge.

Buzz Constantly. Photo by Gerry Murakami.

Buzz Constantly. Photo by Dee Lippingwell.

Ding at Soundcheck. Photo by Colin Hartridge.

Buzz Constantly double exposure. Photo by Gerry Murakami.

Art the Fart double exposure. Photo by Gerry Murakami.

Art and Buzz double exposure. Photo by Gerry Murakami.

“You get a show – all I get are memories!”

Photo by Stolie Sylte.

Buzz bass solo. Photo by Gerry Murakami.

Buzz does a “seagull” (feedback). Photo by Gerry Murakami.

Art rocks out. Photo by Barry Heibein.

Buzz Constantly. Photo by Gerry Murakami.

Art the Fart the Heavy Metal Kid. Photo by Dee Lippingwell.

Captain Maniac. Photo by Dee Lippingwell.

Dig these trousers!

Photo by Gerry Murakami.

Promoter Ron Abel from Portland, OR. Photo by Colin Hartridge.

But how were Sparkling Apple, rowdy roadhouse perennials specializing in “drunk rock”, chosen for the opening slot? In late 1978, our manager, Bob Burrows, introduced us to a pair of adrenalized promoters from Portland, Oregon (Cascade Concerts), who desperately wanted to break in to the burgeoning Vancouver music scene. I remember one African-American gentleman was named Ron Abel, with his business partner Rick (can’t remember Rick’s last name). They both were eager to handle us and give us the rock star treatment, and met us at one of our fabled gigs at the Scottsdale Hotel in Delta, where they had arranged for limousines to transport us to the show!

Big plans were in the works for Hendrix imitator & West Coast Seattle boy Randy Hansen to play Canadian dates, with a major concert in Vancouver. As Sparkling Apple was in the midst of creating a loyal local fan base at the time, we were therefore approached by Cascades to be the opening act at the planned show — and after quaffing some Chivas Regal in our Scottsdale dressing room, planned a gala concert at the  PNE Gardens in January of the new year ( 1979). When asked if we desired limos to take us to the Gardens show, our reply was that we wished to be picked up in a Smithrite truck and dumped by the loading door!

The show was indeed booked. When we asked what time we could load in our gear, we were told 11AM on the day of the show. As we were relatively new to the concert scene, we indeed woke up early and made it down to Exhibition Park by 11 sharp — only to find out that this was the time the sound company would load in their PA gear & lights, and we would not be required until soundcheck at 5pm! A long day lay ahead of us!

Arriving early turned out to be a wise decision after all, as Ding was required to run the lighting cues, in addition to operating a soundboard which looked like it belonged in the flight deck of a 747! As seen in the

photo below, he would be wired up with a headset, and would have to communicate with the offstage lighting crew what colour of lights or spotlights to use! “Magenta on stage left, “Cyan on stage right,” etc.

At the time, were were our own roadies, so we diligently loaded in our stage gear, set up in front of Randy’s Marshall stacks. Soon it was soundcheck time, and after we’d done a few tunes to get the levels where they were rumoured to be later on, Randy (in plain clothes, not in costume) came on with his band, Machine Gun, to put the PA through its paces. I remember him jamming an absolutely SMOKIN’ version of Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love!

It was soon showtime, so we prepared ourselves as per usual with a couple boxes of brewskis. I remember that each of us wore some sort of rock n roll clothing for this momentous occasion: Buzz was nattily attired in a white tux (probably from the Goodwill Store), and Captain Maniac wore tight purple cords of a colour not found in nature, with a “Leo Sauer Funeral Home” bowling shirt. Art chose to wear the gaudiest tartan golf trousers he could find, complete with red suspenders and a blue Adidas t-shirt. Years later, people would most likely remark, “What were they thinking?” My parents were backstage with us, and when Art broke the buckle on his suspenders, my dad came to the rescue and repaired it!

To open our set, we chose to play a Captain Maniac original tune, “Get Off the Stove, You’re Too Old To Ride The Range,” which was sung by Captain Maniac himself. Unbeknownst to me, the lighting crew wanted to make sure their powerful Super Trouper spotlights would be operating efficiently when Randy played later, and used our first song to try out the lights. After Ron Abel introduced the band, I did a “1-2-3-4” count-in, and BOOM! was immediately blinded by a trio of Super Troupers! I could not see for the duration of the first song, the lights were so intense!

Now if you were to ask me what songs we played, I would draw a blank after 32 years — “how the hell should I know?”, as John Entwistle replied when asked what kind of bass guitar he used in “My Generation”! Consulting 1979-era setlists, however, would lead me to deduce that our home-made original rockers were the order of the day.

I do remember our dear old friend Lita from Scottsdale was along for the ride, and as she was a huge fan of “I Gotcha Where I Wantcha”, we most likely played that one because of her presence. I would imagine that once we’d broken the ice and the first couple of songs were out of the way, we proceeded to give the crowd their money’s worth. Having seen all manner of classic bands perform at the Gardens over the years (Ten Years After, Wishbone Ash, Rory Gallagher, Status Quo, John Mayall, the Police, Alice Cooper & others), we became immersed in the concert experience and imagined ourselves to be the Real Headliners. So much so, that an hour set seemed like 15 minutes! We didn’t want to go home NOW! At one point, I got out from behind the drums and stood centre stage with my Instamatic camera. I aimed it at the crowd, and after I took a picture, I observed, “You get a show — all I have are memories.”

However, we completed our final tune and returned to the dressing room for the obligitory beer consumption.

It was Randy Hansen’s turn to make music, and he certainly did not disappoint. As noted, he skillfully performed a la Jimi Hendrix, and played what are now considered Classic Rock staples. We watched the show from backstage (see photo at the top of this page), and a roadie quipped, “This show’s going to cost Randy about seven hundred bucks,” alluding to his intake of Peruvian Marching Powder!

After Randy’s stunning show, we were invited to join him & his band at his after party, which would be at his hotel digs at the Blue Horizon Hotel on Robson Street. A true Led Zeppelin party occurred, although mud sharks did not seem to be in evidence. Somehow we managed to get home and lived to tell the tale.

In the days following the concert, Cascade Concerts wanted us for more promotional gigs, and plans were actually formulated for us to perform a set on the runway at Portland International Airport! Common sense prevailed, and that performance never materialized beyond the talking stage, but we did do several tours to the Portland area. One gig in 1980 was at a nightclub/dancehall known far & wide The Wreck of the Hesperus, where our opening act (Crown) supplied us with a gargantuan PA system! A few weeks after we played there, an up-and-coming Irish band was booked in the same bar, namely U2!

Art encounters Super Troupers. Photo by Gerry Murakami.