“High Notes” Reviewed in Valley Planet by Ricky Thomason

 

Many with music among their ambitions have longed for the stage, the limelight, and the perks that come with it. Few of us realize our dreams; some settle for being roadies, sound techs and anything else to be near the action. Loren and Abney show another side of the rock life – that of the agent / manager. “High Notes” is an obvious play on words, and an apt one. Some parts of being a booking agent for some of the biggest names in rock over the past four decades make you glad you missed it.

 

Apparently, Jim Morrison made getting the Doors from place to place on time – or nearly on time – a fulltime job like that of herding cats. Keeping Morrison sober enough to perform and out of Jail was a large part of it all. Morrison played the roll the Madman, crazy, genius so well because he wasn’t playing. When he sang, “This Is The End” you just had the feeling he knew the end was near.

 

The Grateful Dead were a bit easier to handle but presented plenty of problems within themselves. I’d think one of the worst parts about hearing the dead every night would be hearing them every night. It’s blasphemy, I know, but I never cared much for their music because they acknowledged they weren’t very good at playing. They were at the right place at the right time and had a following that guaranteed sold out audiences wherever they went.

 

One of the hardest aspects of managing a group is dealing with unscrupulous promoters who were always trying to short the band – or skip paying entirely. No wonder Led Zeppelin’s Peter Grant was the most feared manager in the business because he was definitely the muscle and the brains. While they had the reputation as psychedelic wild children, Jefferson Airplane were among the easiest and most appreciative groups of the era. Loren does not debunk the wild beyond wild parties nor the sex and drugs that came with rock and roll.

 

It was interesting to note that Liberace was one of the most well-mannered, fan friendly, easy to please acts of his day, a true professional. He did have his meal preferences but didn’t come with ridiculous contract riders like some – Van Halen was said to require M&Ms with all of the brown ones picked out.

 

“High Notes” is the ultimate inside look at what it is like to travel the world with the greatest acts of the day, a job that led him around the world doing everything from meeting heads of state to being a drug mule. Loren has a million stories about the life, some sweet, some wistful and others absolute horrors. Interesting and well written, “High Notes,” shows what we missed and makes us darned glad we missed some of it.