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.