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arthur stead
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Profile of arthur stead
The only thing I ever won was by calling a radio station in the mid-1970's, and getting tickets for an Al Jarreau concert. Other than that, I am not a lucky guy. Always had to work extra hard, persevere through hard times, and pay a lot of dues for everything I got.

But once in a while, Fortune smiles even on a luckless individual like me. This happened in 1983 after my job as musical director/pianist with the "new" Mamas and the Papas came to an end. After 2 years of touring, and no record companies taking a real interest in John Phillips' new songs, we were reduced to playing the casino circuit, performing only the hits. That gets pretty depressing after a while. ... especially when you're surrounded by folks who need a creative outlet. Eventually, the singers all started hating each other and the group disbanded around the fall of 1983.

This left me unemployed in NYC, so I started looking for studio work as a keyboardist, playing on record dates, music for commercials and film scores. Since I had been out of town for so long, this was easier said than done. It was very much a case of "out of sight, out of mind." So I had to start all over, trying to "break in" to a very closed circle of studio musicians. Another possibility was joining a local band, to generate at least some income until I could get another major tour, or get enough studio work to survive.

So I was at a rehearsal studio in Manhattan, auditioning with a newly formed band from New Jersey. The singer and main composer had some pretty good songs. He was writing partners with Dan Hartman, who wrote "Free Ride" when he played bass with The Edgar Winter Group. (Under his own name he also wrote and sang the hit song, "I Can Dream About You" ).

After my audition finished (by the way, I got the job) ... my roadie Bernie came running in and told me that Pil was next door in another rehearsal room, and they were looking for a keyboard player. I said, "Who's Pil?" Bernie, being British, was flabbergasted that I had never heard of them! Public Image Limited (PiL) was Johnny Rotten's band after the Sex Pistols. The reason I was clueless is because from 1974 -78 I was a student of jazz composition and film scoring at Berklee College of Music in Boston. So during that time I missed the whole KISS phenomenon, the beginnings of punk rock, and many other groups that were popular then.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I went next door, introduced myself, and was asked to jam with the band. (There were keyboards already set up on stage). As we played, I immediately felt they were great! This was not a punk band at all, but guys who could really play. Martin Atkins on drums, Louis Bernardi on bass, and Joe Guida on guitar. Next, they played me a tape of some of their music, which consisted of edgy rock/dance grooves, above which someone's out-of-tune voice sang and chanted provocative lyrics.

"Who's singing?" I asked, and the musicians pointed to a strange, red-headed figure in a trench coat who had been lying on a sofa throughout our jam session. This turned out to be John Lydon ... none other than Johnny Rotten himself! "I've go' a bloody toof-ache" was all he said.

Pil was preparing for a European tour. And since their single, "This Is Not A Love Song", was #3 single in Europe at the time, it didn't take long to convince me that a tour, with a steady paycheck, overruled what I thought about this somewhat avant-garde combination of music, attitude, and noise.

And so I joined up, and we toured all the major cities in Europe until the end of the year. Including dates shared with Tina Turner, and The Eurhythmics. And I might add, for the duration of our tour, Johnny and I constantly tried to "out-rotten" each other! The things we got up to were so unbelievable, it's probably better that they remain untold.

And that's my story ... It was pure luck that I had been in the right place, at the right time.
Arthur Stead
royalty-free music and interactive routines
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Profile of landmark
So nice to hear these stories again. Thanks arthur. Maybe you can clean up a couple of the stories you alluded to in your next to last paragraph?

Your story reminded me that I too am generally unlucky, and I don't think I've ever won a lottery. But you did remind me of one particularly memorable lottery so I'll tell you about that.

In February 1972 I was entered into a lottery that I was extremely happy that I lost! It was the military draft lottery that we had here in the US from 1969-1976!

Each of the 365 dates in a year were put in a barrel and then matched with numbers 1-365 randomly selected from another barrel. The number assigned to your birthday determined the order in which men would be drafted into the army. So if your birthday had been assigned to the number 1, then you would be in the first group of people called up. You didn't know what number they would call up to in a given year; it depended on how many recruits they needed in that year. In the years previous to 1972, however, they never actually inducted anyone with a number past 100. So if you were assigned a higher number, you breathed a sigh of relief. Because part of the system was that if you were not called in a given year, you went to the back of the line in terms of eligibility to be called in the following year.

And of course this was all no small matter because this was still the middle of the Vietnam War, and American boys were coming home in body bags everyday. There was a high probability that recruits would end up in Vietnam after basic training. So I and my classmates very anxiously awaited the news as they called out the birthdays and the associated eligibility numbers. We knew what the consequences could be just from the luck of the draw. In the months before we discussed feverishly with our friends, parents, and siblings what we would do if we were assigned a low number. Go in? Try to pull strings to get into the less dangerous National Guard? Flee to Canada? Declare Conscientious Objector status, which was very difficult to obtain and usually resulted in getting sent to the front right away? Go to prison? These were all very real decisions for us. I had made up my 18-year-old mind what I would do (prison), not telling my parents of my choice.

When I heard my number was 189, I was so grateful for my lack of luck! Within a few minutes of all the birthdates being assigned, phones were ringing all over the country. I learned quickly that somehow none of my friends had gotten a low number. We were all safe.

It turns out, however, when I researched this in later years, that even had I got assigned to number 1, I would not have been called. The draft lottery that took place in 1972 was to induct recruits into service in the following year, 1973. Nixon who had been voted into office in 1968, had campaigned on a promise to end the draft; but in 1971 when the then current draft law was set to expire, Nixon asked Congress to extend it. They extended it for two years, despite some biter opposition, but then it ended in June 1973. So anyone who was in the 1972 lottery pool like I was, was no longer eligible for the draft. But I wouldn't have known that for about a year, so by getting a high lottery number I was spared that year of anxiety.

The issues of whether a war is a Just War and whether the draft is the optimal way to garner the personnel for a country's military are interesting and contentious questions, and this thread is not necessarily the place to discuss that. I will say however, that I was never so lucky as when I was unlucky that day in 1972.
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This thread is such an enjoyable read. I really like hearing about everyone's experiences and thank you for sharing them with us.
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