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DENNY JONES

I began my rock n' roll support career as a history major at Cal State Northridge, where my fraternity brothers were guys like Richard Marin ("Cheech," of Cheech and Chong), and Jim Pons, bass player for the Turtles, and later for Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention. Our fraternity advisor was Dick Enberg.

Man, I was lucky in that the fraternity was a great training ground for the music business. Everyone knew everyone else and all the bands were playing gigs at the same clubs.

I started out as a raw boned know-nothing and picked it up as I went along and I was learning from the best. I can still see Bill Graham there, showing us how to park. He was a hands on guy, dealt with ticketing, catering, security, parking - he was involved in every facet.

One of the first things I learned was how to back up a U-Haul truck. In those days, there was just one or two crew and you had to set up and get from city to city, there were no tour buses then. I worked with this friend of mine, Carlos, a really flamboyant guy they used to call "The Florescent Leech," and they called me "Eddie" because of my flat top hair cut, and so when the Turtles broke up and Howard Kaeman and Mark Voolman and Howard Pons started a new band, they called it 'Flo & Eddie.' I was the original Eddie! How about that!

I was tour manager for Poco and I remember driving with Souther and Furay in a cab when they were talking about how they would break it (the news that they were letting him go) to Timothy Schmidt (now an Eagle.) I remember Rusty Young (of Poco) taking the pedal steel out of country music and made it rock n' roll like Paul Barrere did with the slide guitar with Little Feat. I can remember when Lowell was still alive, doing several shows with Poco and Little Feat. Little Feat was the only band those guys were intimidated by.

I can still hear Tim Schmidt talking with Rusty about how they would put the set together, because they knew Little Feat would be watching and they wanted them to like it.

I’ve worked with the Turtles, many years with Poco, the Tubes, Lionel Richie, Richard Marx, the Pointer Sisters, CSN, Steven Stills, Kenny Loggins for nine years, and now, Little Feat.

My job description is simple, I’m the point guy. I deal with all the hotel bookings, bus schedules, venue setups, luggage, just a ton of little things. The big things generally take care of themselves, but you've gotta be ready for anything, anticipate, keep everyone informed. Everybody must always be in the loop.

The moment you leave one person out of the loop, then the shit hits the fan. With a bus tour, by 11 a.m. I've got notes under every band person's door. I may work 20 to 22 hours a day. There's truth to that, and we do four, five, sometimes six shows a week.

We've got seven people in the band, five in the crew. One truck, one bus. You do the same things that you do on a huge tour.

Working with Little Feat is such a pleasure. This band is so professional and they have a rich and diverse history. One of the biggest kicks I get out on the road is having the opportunity to work the merchandising booth. It's fun because you get to mingle with the folks at point blank range, and there are die hard Feat fans in every city of the country, and Canada.

That really blew me away at first, and I enjoy talking with them. They've formed an online fan club on the Internet (www.littlefeat.com and www.featfans.net) It's a grassroots kind of thing that's been primarily Bill's (keyboardist Bill Payne's) baby, but Fred and Paul are involved with it too. It’s taken on a life of it’s own.

Thanks to the Internet and the Grassroots Movement, now when we’re out on the road we come into towns and it’s like having family there waiting for you. You can’t believe the extent that these fans help us.

What I like is that Feat have been around as basically the same configuration for so long, and you've gotta respect that. There's rarely a mistake onstage, they're adept at what they do. They like things to run smoothly, and they usually do. They're punctual, very good with the fans. It's been a lot of fun. They're great people, a great band, great musicians.

You get to the point where you have to be pretty familiar with the personalities and idiosyncrasies of the band members. The off the wall guys are Richie and Kenny (the rhythm section.) This isn't a bad thing, but they are their own people and I have to keep an eye on them or they'll run off and play.

We call Sam Clayton 'the swag-meister' because he's always looking for a free t-shirt, coffee mug, you name it. The sanest are probably Fred Tackett and Paul Barerre. Paul had his wild years, but he never lost his sense of humor. Shaun (Murphy, singer and percussionist) is the nicest one of the bunch. I rarely see her ill-tempered. The others, you'll see with bad food, bad seat assignments, bad day, they might go off. But they're all nice, and all accessible.

Any way that you look at it, I have the best job in the world…

Bill Payne writes:

Denny Jones is a bandit. He has a rabbit for a pet, and misses it while on the road. I know he sleeps, but he doesn't keep regular hours. Same thing with his eating habits.

He is an anomaly. Denny is bright but unorthodox. He has amazing people skills. He has the wisdom to state things over and over and over again until it finally sinks in what he's talking about.

He doesn't veer off message, or rarely does, anyway. He backs up the repetition with it being written on paper. Sometimes the message still doesn't get through. His patience is not unending but runs at a deeper depth than most.

He is on a first name basis with all of his demons and angels that reside in his nature. He is a den mother, a sergeant, a prankster, a wearer of hats, a sports encyclopedia, a negotiator, a collaborator, a motivator and cheerleader, a caring person.

He is the best of the best.

He steals hearts, paints rainbows, converses with small animals and children of all ages, builds bridges and alliances. He is the first into the fray, and the last one ever to give up. He didn't fall off the wagon yesterday; he in fact is one of those that helped build the original thoroughfare the wagon travels on.

Denny Jones is a bandit. He is my friend. Carry on, kind sir.

Shaun Murphy writes:

What can I say about our Denny...First and foremost, he's such a valued member of our 'little' family.

He works harder than three people to insure that everything runs smoothly, what would we do without our daily 'Denny' sheet, I even wish I had it at home...

You're always buzzing around, whipping everybody into shape, forever with a smile and a kind word for all.

Frankly, I don't know how you keep it together, my friend, you are one amazing fellow, I hope you always consider us part of your extended family too. I don't know how we ever made it without you!

Love ya,
Shaun

Richie Hayward writes: He's the guy that makes it all work. He calms the mighty seas ... greases the wheels of progress ... and makes crooked things straight ... He's the best that I've ever seen ... I'm glad that he's my friend ...

Fred Tackett penned:

I first met Denny Jones when we performed with Steven Stills somewhere in Arizona. After dinner and a short time before we were to go on this guy comes up and asks if I have a steamer for Steven Stills shirt.

He had heard that I had one and he looked like he really needed to borrow one soon. So, I loaned it to him and that was the beginning of a long and wonderful relationship.

When Denny started working for us I was worried at first because I thought this guy must be on some real bad drugs to accomplish all the amazing feats that he was accomplishing. But it has been a long, long time and the guy is still performing miracles on a daily basis so I know that the secret to his amazing physical and mental stamina is love.

I have never seen anyone go to the airport three times in one morning to make sure that everything was cool. Denny does not bat an eye at the prospect. If you are worried that a guest might be confused about how to navigate the backstage will call scene, Denny has been known to greet them by name as they get out of their car.

He is family and a genuine friend who makes you believe that he would do anything for you so you have to watch what you ask for cause he will make it happen.

We could not do without him as we found out in the recent past. I pray that we always appreciate his love and never make him mad. Thank God for Denny Jones.

Howard Burke sent in:

Well well...Denny Jones....you know his name is really Charles don't you?

Yes indeed, Denny Jones, a one-of-a-kind gin-u-whine road dog of the first order. We have been friends for 32 years and the amazing thing is Denny can remember almost every bit of what has happened during that time.

He is a walkin', talkin' encyclopedia of the world of Rock and Roll and if you don’t think so....ask him who David Blue was and then sit back, put your feet up and be prepared to be amazed.

He is a gentleman, a scholar and a school bus and I wouldn't have him any other way. God bless the King, God bless Denny Jones.

Nick Ohl wrote:

Simply put Denny is superman. He always gets everything taken care of, never sleeps and is always in a good mood. He is the best tour manager I have ever met and am glad to have done so. Viva Toro Grande

Sam Clayton sent in:

Denny is a miracle worker. He reminds me of an old saying, "the difficult he does immediately and the impossible takes a little longer".

He is the heartbeat and driving force of this organization and runs this ship with a passion and dedication that I have never seen before.

Thanks Denny, love and appreciation, always your friend…

Sam Clayton

P.S. Do you remember the "surf and sand" ??
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