One Phone Call Changes Everything



One morning, my wife Dee woke me up saying: 'Roy ... you'll never guess who's on the phone.' I never would have. It was Daryl Dragon, the Captain of The Captain & Tennille.

Daryl had gone to the show at the Roxy to see the headline act ... Etta James. He called her managers ... Kessler-Grass, also my managers ... and asked about Etta's keyboard player. They told him he wasn't available ... 'but what about the openning act's keyboardist?' ... me. They gave him my number ... I auditioned ... I got the gig!

I did the 'Dream 78' tour with Daryl and Toni ... through most of 1978 and into 1979. It was phenominal! They are truly wonderful people. They provided first class accomodations everywhere ... and treated us to all kinds of perks. Every minute of that tour was an absolute pleasure! Also in that band: Mike Mathis (drums), Dido Morris (percussion), Steve Nelson (bass) Lenard Allen, Karen Hale & Toni's sister Louisa Tennille (vocals), Toni on piano and, of course, Daryl on keys. Daryl impressed me with his incredible playing ... as did Toni.

My first concert with them was at the Circle Star near San Francisco ... a theatre-in-the-round. How odd to be playing such a major event (for me) and rotating! We played quite a few concerts that year ... up to about 35,000 people at one concert, I believe. We also headlined at the MGM Grand in Vegas (first time 16 days, second time 18 days, 2 shows per night) ... sold out every show and broke attendence records. It was here, at the MGM, that three cool things happened for me:

1) My parents and grandparents flew out to see us. We got them seats right up front. I looked down at them from the stage, and I could see they finally 'got it.' They understood why I left pre-med to be a musician. From then on, this was resloved!

2) There was a song, 'Back To The Island,' where Toni would go to the front of the stage with three stools and bring three people from the audience to sing with her. Daryl scooted me to Toni's beautiful, white grand piano ... across from him ... for this song. On one occasion at the MGM, Toni brought up Bruce Johnston (of Beach Boys fame ... Daryl & Toni toured in their band). He walked up on stage ... and came over to me at the piano. He whispered in my ear: 'It's about time they got a great keyboard player!' ... then went over to sing with Toni. What a rush!

3) One night I received a phone call in my MGM room. A friend, Jim Grady, had gotten a deal to record an album. I had played synthesizers on his demos ... along with Jim on piano, Bill Severance on drums, Kenny Lewis on bass and Barry 'Foz' Fasman producing (with Dave Miller). All these amazing musicians would later play on my recordings. Here's the cool part: Jim and Foz asked if could scoot back to L.A. from Vegas to repeat all my demo keyboard parts on the album. Telling only bassist Steve where I was going, I hopped a 7AM flight to Burbank, they picked me up and scooted me to Westworld to record until about 3PM ... then a quick flight back to Vegas for two evening shows with Daryl & Toni. I felt like Mr. Hot Stuff!! Until I ran into Toni in the elevator ... They had called a rare band meeting, and Steve had to spill the beans. They weren't very happy about it ... but I made it back in time!

OK ... here's a bonus story from those MGM gigs: The Doobie Brothers were in town, and came backstage to hang and meet everybody. On this night ... of all nights ... I had food poisoning! I hid a small trashcan behind my keyboards in case I had to barf during the show! I met the Doobies while hiding my greenish face ... then crawled into a corner somewhere. Ugh!

I loved every minute of that tour, and I will always be thankful for the amazing experience. As we did our second stretch at the MGM Grand, Daryl & Toni realized that playing in Vegas, Reno, Tahoe and later Atlantic City was much easier and far more profitable than touring doing concerts. After the Dream 78 tour, they decided to only do such shows, and only once in a while. I turned down the chance to play with them in the hopes of landing another full-time tour.

Well ... that didn't happen. So I turned to studio endeavors ...


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