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Check 1-2-1-2-1-2: It’s The International Day Of The Roadie
December 12, 2012
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Ask any music star who's ever gone on tour, and they'll tell you, they owe a huge debt of gratitude to their roadies.

Roadies are the unsung heroes - the ones who deal with every instrument, every speaker, every microphone and piece of equipment on stage.

There's no spotlight, no standing ovation, no fame. Just the set up, the tear down, and an empty arena. Then, it's on to the next town to do it all over again.

Well, today is a day to honour anyone who's ever hauled an amp or laid cable on tour.

Today is the International Day Of The Roadie. And really, you couldn't pick a more appropriate day - December 12, 2012 (check: 1-2-1-2-1-2).

So, to pay homage to roadies around the world, we found a few songs and stories that pay tribute to their hard work.

Motorhead - (We Are) "The Road Crew" (lyrics)

Lemmy - the lead singer of Motorhead - actually started as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix.

Other rock stars who worked as roadies include Noel Gallagher of Oasis (roadie for Inspiral Carpets), Henry Rollins (roadie for the Teen Idles), Krist Novoselic of Nirvana (roadie for the Melvins), David Gilmour (roadie for Pink Floyd before joining the band) and Tupac Shakur (roadie for Digital Underground).

In the late 1970s, Jackson Browne wrote "The Load Out" to honour his road crew. Here he is performing it along with a cover of the Maurice Williams tune "Stay". (lyrics)

And there's this classic from Tenacious D called "Roadie", (lyrics) although a warning about the language.

Apparently, Ben Dorcy is the world's oldest roadie at 87. He's worked with a who's who of country music including Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Charley Pride and Waylon Jennings.

Here's a tribute Jennings wrote for him called "Ode To Ben Dorcy".

And here's a video from Brooks and Dunn that includes clips of Dorcy.

The Guardian has a piece about life as a roadie, with a 30 year veteran George Borowski. He says there are two tricks to the trade.

First, make everyone a cup of coffee or tea.

"You wouldn't believe how much easier it becomes after that. When you ask someone to do something, they actually run to help you. And all you've done is make them a cup of tea," he says.

Second, relax and stay humble.

"You've got to leave your ego at the side of the stage. And if things go wrong on stage, you don't showboat or act up, you fix it gracefully. Always keep things light and keep the artists relaxed."

Spin Magazine has a piece by roadie Rodger Cambria. He's worked with a number of artists including Celine Dion, who apparently has a love of frogs.

Cambria says people send her toy frogs from all over the world, and at one point, he found himself declaring 9,000 toy frogs at Canada Customs. Here's an excerpt.

"The frogs themselves could enter Canada, but the tiny T-shirts they were wearing could not--something about trade sanctions with the country that manufactured them. So there, at the Canadian border, in the middle of a blinding, testicle-retracting snowstorm, I carefully undressed 9,000 frogs.

Upon arriving at the arena in Calgary, one of Celine's assistants strode up to me with a deadly serious expression on her face. She was holding a small, shirtless frog.

"These frogs are naked!" she said tersely. "What happened to their shirts?" I told her about the customs incident.

She studied the toy for a moment, examining it from all angles, then looked me in the eye: "Maybe you can find them some tiny pants. Because we can't sell naked frogs. Celine won't have it."

Complex.com has a piece called 'Roadie Diaries' where several roadies who reveal their craziest stories from the road. Here are a few random quotes.

"When the hotel manager finally let the P.A. in the room, they were greeted by this scene: David Lee Roth and several women strewn around the room, some nude, some dressed in what appeared to be pieces of midshipmen's uniforms."

"I think the final straw was when he told a promoter in Michigan he'd be back in a minute; he just needed to grab his gun out of the van to 'set things right."

"I held the key that allowed groupies to hang with the band, and to the both of us, sex was a win-win situation... I made myself and my laminate noticeable to anything with a set of t*ts."

You can read the full story here.

And if you're looking for a film, there's the 2011 drama 'Roadie' about a guy who comes home after 20 years on the road with Blue Oyster Cult. Here's the trailer.

Or, if you can find it, the 1980 comedy 'Roadie' starring Meat Loaf with cameos by Alice Cooper, Roy Orbison, Blondie and Hank Williams Jr.

Related stories

Road Story: Jakob Dylan On The Tourbus Driver Who Treated The Wallflowers Like Cattle

Road Story: Jesse Cook On Living Through His Amp-Cooking, Smoke-Filled Nightmares On Stage

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