In My Day We Didn’t Have Fancy iPhones, We Talked Through Two Rusty Soup Cans and a Piece of Twine… And That’s the Way It Was… And We Liked It
I often talk about how different my days as a tour manager for bands like Humble Pie would have been if I’d had access to the today’s technology. Although we were living the rock star lifestyle in a luxurious custom tour bus with front and rear AV systems, kitchen, central air and roomy bunks, the only outside communication involved the driver talking to truckers on his CB radio.
This was the early to mid-eighties before we had:
- Cell phones
- Fax machines
- Laptop computers (A few bands had Radio Shack TR-80’s)
- Voice Mail (If you think phone tag is bad now…)
Imagine trying to coordinate the band, road crew, agent, record label, merchandisers, publishers, promoters, venues, fan club, sound and lighting companies, publicists, media as well as wives, girlfriends, family and friends from a different city every day which usually included several hours isolated on the bus.
An iPhone would have completely changed my world.
By the time I managed Glenn Hughes in the mid-nineties, we had the technology but the cost was astronomical when dealing with contacts all over the world. My average monthly phone bill in 1995 was $2,000 (and once as high as $6,000). Not to mention when I paid several hundred dollars a month to CompuServe to get email and retrieve basic files before they started offering unlimited access plans.
But what are the drawbacks to all that technology?
Just recently, I considered something that hadn’t crossed my mind before. How would technology have changed my relationships with the other guys on tour?
On most tours, I traveled with four musicians and three to four roadies plus a driver. A sense of camaraderie develops that’s unlike most friendships I’ve had before or after. We watched Monty Python so often that most of us could recite entire films. We partied, came up with elaborate practical jokes, talked music, books and the news of the day. And what’s interesting to think about is how different things would have been if we’d had something like the iPhone or Blackberry then.
I can picture it now. Half the guys, including me, would probably be on the phone 24/7. Others would be texting, checking email, surfing the web, playing games or connecting with friends elsewhere on Facebook and Twitter. I wonder if those same bonds would have developed.
For better or worse, technology has changed the way we interact with people. Let me tell you a funny story…
Last week, I attended a Meetup on how to speed up your WordPress website at a local restaurant. After saying hello to a few friends, I grabbed a seat at a table for four. The guy across from me was Toff Ward, one of the presenters. The guy to my right was playing with his iPad and never even looked up the whole time Toff and I were talking, even when his food was delivered.
Once the presentation started, the guy put his iPad away although he’d pull it out from time to time during the presentation. I did the same with my iPhone as I tweeted a few things I was picking up from the presentation. At one point, while the presenter was taking questions from the audience, I peeked at my email and saw that an email had come in from someone named Alex that belonged to this group. I assumed Alex was someone that was unable to attend and hoped someone would see the message and ask his question for him.
So I raised my hand and asked the question. After a burst of laughter from behind me, I heard Steve Kuntz, the group’s organizer, say, “Bill that’s from Alex Sian, the guy sitting right next to you.” Yep, Mr. iPad (aka Alex Sian) had asked his question via the Meetup group website. Without us having spoken a word or even made eye contact to that point, Alex asks a question that traveled from his iPad to Meetup.com to my iPhone which I end up asking on his behalf. How often does that happen?
Technology is a wonderful thing and I think things like smart phones can actually add to some social and business get-togethers. However, I think there are also times when the people we’re meeting with in person deserve our undivided attention. What do you think?
How do you feel technology has affected your life? Please share your comments or stories below.
About the Photo
The photo above was taken on tour with Humble Pie circa 1984. I forget why everyone was making goofy faces but it’s possible alcohol was involved. We were in the stateroom of the bus which we’d leased from Marianne Gordon-Rogers, then Kenny Rogers wife. Marianne was a star on Hee-Haw and her bus had cowboy hat and boot images everywhere, which was pretty amusing for a band touring with bands like Dio and Quiet Riot. 🙂 From L-R: Bassist Keith Christopher, the late Steve Marriott, myself and sound engineer David “Turtle” Tykson.
Bob Callahan says
I read the “Drawbacks to Technology” and remembered who might be to blame for all this. Some think this just happened, but read this and clearly you will know who to blame.
TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED THE
1930s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s!!
First, we survived being born to mothers who may have smoked and/or
drank while they were pregnant.
They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and
didn’t get tested for diabetes.
Then, after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets, and, when we rode our bikes, we had baseball caps, not helmets, on our heads.
As infants and children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, no
booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no
Riding in the back of a pick- up truck on a warm day was always a
We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and no one
actually died from this.
We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter, and bacon. We drank Kool-Aid
made with real white sugar. And we weren’t overweight.
Because we were always outside playing….that’s why!
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were
back when the streetlights came on.
No one was able to reach us all day.
–And, we were OKAY..
We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride them down the hill,
only to find out we forgot the brakes.. After running into the bushes a
few times, we learned to solve the problem.
We did not have Play Stations, Nintendos and X-boxes. There were no video games, no 150 channels on cable,no video movies or DVDs, no surround-sound or CDs,no cell phones,no personal computers,no Internet and no chat rooms.
WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!
We fell out of trees, got cut,broke bones and teeth,and there were no lawsuits from those accidents.
We would get spankings with wooden spoons, switches, ping-pong paddles,
or just a bare hand, and no one would call child services to report
We ate worms, and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks
and tennis balls, and -although we were told it would happen- we did not put out very many
We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or
rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them.
Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team.
Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment.
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard
of. They actually sided with the law!
These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers,problem solvers, and inventors ever.
The past 50 to 85 years have seen an explosion of innovation and new
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how
to deal with it all.
If YOU are one of those born between 1925-1970, CONGRATULATIONS!
You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow
up as kids before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our
lives for our own good.
While you are at it, forward it to your kids, so they will know how
brave and lucky their parents were.
Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn’t
The quote of the month by
“With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding,
severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and
with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, are we sure this is a
good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?”
Bill Hibbler says
Gee, Bob, you wrote your own blog post. 🙂 I do remember those days well. There are many aspects of those days I would never want to return to but many I miss. And I bet my sister, who commented below, cracked up when she read your line about scissors. She tried to get me in trouble once by calling our Mom at the office and telling her I was chasing her around the house with a butcher knife.
Misty Khan says
Bill, totally had not thought about that. The interesting thing is that we do still have some groups that we bond with and they usually have some sort of rule about turning off electronics during a meeting. But those groups are formal and I wonder about the informal bonds like the ones you have with your old touring buddies. Kind of makes me wonder what opportunities some of us are missing out on.
Bob, you make many good points and I’m always all about critizing the government for over regulating our lives. I fall into your age range, BTW. But as a Mom, I still can’t help but get a little nervous at the thought of my sons running through the house with a pair of scissors. ;-D
Bill Hibbler says
But Misty didn’t you report your brother once for running around the house with a sharp object?
We wonder why we have issues with ADHD but our TV programming is produced to have a cut every 3-4 seconds (lest we get bored and change the channel) while text messages, ringing phones, chat windows, Twitter and Facebook streams and real live humans compete for our attention.
I love and use the technology but when it comes to talking and truly listening, it frequently gets in the way.