Later, the guys from Badfinger were temporarily living in Milwaukee. I received a phone call from a gentleman who was more or less managing the business affairs of Bob Jackson, Tom Evans, and Mike Gibbins. He mentioned that Tommy and the guys wanted to form a band to tour. He asked if I had any interest. Being a Badfinger fan, I said, “Absolutely.” Then things came to a screeching halt with the following question, “Do you play slide guitar?” I replied, “No, I just play lead; but I know a guy in California who plays incredible slide guitar.” The guys from Badfinger wanted to keep expenses down. I told them the guy I had in mind was Donnie Dacus, the lead guitar player for Chicago and other groups. The conversation then shifted to “Do you think you can get him?” I gave it my best shot, and everything came together.
I proceeded to send Donnie copies of the Badfinger repertoire that we would be performing, including tunes like Day After Day, which required slide guitar, and No Matter What. Donnie arrived a week and a half later and stayed with me in Wisconsin. After several get-togethers over a few drinks, actually many drinks in typical Badfinger style, we started rehearsals on the south side of Milwaukee. We rehearsed for approximately a week and a half, and then headed out for what became the beginning of an eight-week tour. We played Indiana, Bloomington IL, Minneapolis MN, and basically all over the Midwest. Musically, the tour was successful and we bonded well as a band. Tom Evans and I became good friends. We had a mutual admiration for each other's musical talents. I was fascinated by the many stories Tommy told me about one of my idols, Paul McCartney. Tommy had observed Paul working on Back in the USSR at Abbey Road Studio in London. “Paul,” Tommy commented, “was a total workaholic.”
Unfortunately, the tour was getting cumbersome due to poor routing and the many hours we spent traveling. We decided to take a break mid-tour in order to reschedule events and dates that would make more sense from a traveling perspective. During that time, Tommy and Bob stayed in what is now my guest house in Mequon. It was November. I remember my parents, who were living in the main house, invited both Tom and Bob to a Thanksgiving dinner. I still remember the grin on Tommy’s face when my mother served him his first-ever slice of pumpkin pie. He loved it and nearly ate the whole pie. He then proceeded back to the guest house and partied the rest of the night away.
The tour resumed with a change in personnel. We had a new road manager by the name of Ray Ranieri. Ray was truly a breath of fresh air. He had experience as a road manager for many years with performers like Judy Garland, and also knew McCartney quite well. The tour went exceedingly well. By the time we hit New York City to play at the Bitter End, we had sold out every show. Lines literally extended around the block, and not everybody could get in. I got an autograph from the legendary song writer Doc Pumus, who wrote hits for many important artists. Also attending the evening was the soprano-singing Lou Christi (who had recorded Rhapsody in the Rain) and many of New York’s musical elite.
We finished our last show about 3:30 in the morning. Being in New York, we didn’t want to sleep. We didn’t even use our room at the Taft on 7th, directly across the street from the Winter Garden Theatre, where I had performed Beatlemania in the late 1970s.
The tour had gone so well, we were already receiving calls at our home base to reschedule for future touring. Finally, the tour finished at a huge nightclub outside of Joliet, IL. The RV we used on the tour dropped off Tom, Bob, and Mike at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. For me, it was rather sad to see Tommy return to England, knowing that this whirlwind tour was not very satisfying for him from a financial standpoint. Tommy was owed a tremendous amount of back royalties from Apple Records. He was also having tax issues both back home in England and in the United States. I worried about Tommy every night of the tour. I used to stick pretty close to him because of his on-going excessive drinking and depression. Tommy really enjoyed the time we spent together. He said, “Reed, you always make me laugh,” and “You make me feel like things aren’t really as bad as they seem.” I was glad for that. The last thing I remember hearing him say is, “We’ll do this again real soon.” We hugged and parted ways.
I can’t really retrace precisely how long it was before I received an overseas phone call from Tom. He was quite exuberant and asked, “Would you like to go back on tour?” I replied, “That all depends. I basically broke even on the last tour, and I knew we did so well that we were worth at least twice as much as were getting.” Tom indicated, “I totally agree with you, mate; but we have a problem. Businesswise, someone behind the scenes screwed up things so royally that we would be digging ourselves out of a hole.” “Tommy,” I said, “I love you, and I’m sure I speak for Donnie Dacus as well, but it’s just not in the cards.”
I don’t recall how long it was thereafter, but I do remember where I was when I received the horrific phone call. A mutual friend of Tommy and myself found me at my guest home in Mequon. He said, “Reed you may want to sit down. I have some terrible news.” I inquired, “What’s the problem?” He said, “Tommy’s gone. He hung himself yesterday.” It took me a long time to shake that day off.
And fast-forwarding my life story up to the present time, my wife Penny and I are excited about the prospects of moving ahead with my most-recent ventures. I am still on the music scene and have resumed the tasks of writing new songs and recording some of my material in the studio. Some of my largely-unheard original material has already been made made available on my recent CD, entitled "Raw, Rare, Well-Done." I can only hope that you enjoy these tunes as much as I enjoy sharing them with you.