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15. Question: How did you come to tour with Badfinger?

 

Answer: The guys from Badfinger were in Milwaukee at the time. I got 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 it all came together.

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16. Question: Were you around when Tom Evans committed suicide?

Answer: Yes, I was. I got 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. Business-wise, 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 can’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.

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17. Question: Did the Destinations played for a former presidents’ daughter’s engagement party?

Answer: Due to the Destinations soaring popularity, we received a call inquiring whether we would be interested in performing a show at the Milwaukee Athletic Club for the engagement party of Linda Baines Johnson, who was engaged to Charles Robb, a Milwaukee native. We agreed. Of course, all of this was contingent upon conducting a Secret Service investigation on each member of the band. As things turned out, we all passed the security check and enjoyed a wonderful evening. I picked out a song, the Beatles’ “And I love her” to be specifically dedicated to Linda and Charles. Linda was so impressed with my Beatle performance that she asked to meet with me upon the evening’s completion. We met, and that marked the end to a glorious evening. 

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18. Question: What was your most embarrassing moment on stage?

Answer: Something happened twice during Badfinger performances. I used to wear skin-tight satin slacks. I couldn’t even wear underwear for fear of showing lines. On one occasion, I was running up the stage ramp for an encore. I tripped at the top step and split my pants from front to back. At that point, they were held together only by the waist band. That pair of pants now hangs on the wall of a club somewhere in the Midwest.
The second incident was worse. I had another pair of the same-style, tight-fitting slacks. At the time, we were performing the second song of a show. Standing next to me on stage was Donnie Dacus. We were feeling quite exuberant. I did a karate-like kick with my right leg. Wouldn’t you know it, once again my pants split from stem to stern. I turned my back to look at Donnie. He cracked up so loudly, I could hear him over the music. I proceeded to play an hour-and-a-half show with a very low-hung guitar. I didn’t dare turn my back to the audience.

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19. Question: What was the dumbest question you were ever asked?

Answer: A woman once asked me, “Didn’t you used to be Reed Kailing?” My reply, “Yes, and I still am.”

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20. Question: Did you have a close encounter with Jim Croce just before he died tragically?

Answer: It was a very hot day. The Grass Roots and crew had just flown into a small airport somewhere in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Another plane also arrived; traveling on that flight were Jim Croce and his party. Both Jim and the Grass Roots recorded on the ABC Dunhill label. Croce had just finished a concert at Northwestern State University's Prather Coliseum in Natchitoches. Jim was loved by us and by millions of loyal fans.
There seemed to have been some confusion, and I was not paying 100 percent attention at the moment. As things turned out, at the airport, there was only one aircraft available for hire and one station wagon for rent. We were exhausted from the rigors of touring. The same was true for the folks traveling with Jim. We wanted the plane to travel about 80 miles north. Croce’s people were headed south.
Joking back and forth, Rob Grill told Jim something like, “I think we should get the plane because we have more hits than you; ha, ha, ha.” Jim replied in typical Croce fashion, “Yea, but I’ve got the bigger record out right now.” Our road managers attended to working out the details.
There were two agents aboard the flights, both out of the Variety Theater located in Minneapolis. The gentleman who was traveling with Jim happened to be our agent; and the guy traveling with us was the agent for Croce. Croce’s agent, I believe, was once part of the local Chicago group known as the Mauds. In any case, while at the airport, the agents decided to switch and travel with their own parties. My recollection of everything else seemed to melt away in the heat of the day.
I still have the touring jacket that I wore that day. There was some change in one pocket. Things came down to flipping a coin over the plane ride. I recall reaching into my pocket and tossing a quarter to our road manager, Richard Grodee. The next thing I knew, we had lost the flip and had hit the road in our rental car.
The very next day, September 20, 1973—the same day that Croce's single "I Got a Name" was released—Jim Croce, Maury Muehleisen, and four others were killed in a plane crash in Natchitoches, Louisiana. They were then taking that chartered Beechcraft E18S flight to Sherman, Texas in order to play a concert at Austin College. Upon takeoff, the plane did not gain enough altitude and crashed into a pecan tree at the end of the runway. According to the official report, the 57-year-old charter pilot had suffered a heart attack. Later that day, we heard the horrific news of the plane crash that claimed the life of Jim and his party. Croce is buried at Haym Salomon Cemetery in Malvern, Pennsylvania. Muehleisen is buried at Saint Mary's Cemetery in Trenton, New Jersey. Their memory and music live on in the hearts of their fans.

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21. Question: Were you friends with the late Bob Collins and Spike O’Dell?

Answer: I first came to know Bob Collins back in the1960s, when he was a deejay at WOKY radio in Milwaukee. Bob was one of the most talented deejay-comedians and entertainers I’ve ever met. He was pure genius. Back then, he also hosted a local music show, on Sunday nights I believe. The day of his tragic demise was indeed a sad day for radio. His place in radio’s Hall of Fame is well deserved.
I came to know Spike O’Dell through Bob. At the time, Spike had the late afternoon slot at WGN; Bob had the early morning slot. After years of listening to Bob regularly but not seeing him, I took a trip to Chicago, calling Bob ahead of time about meeting with him. Bob graciously replied, “Absolutely.” That same day, he introduced me to Spike O’Dell.

On a couple occasions, I was interviewed on the air by Spike O’Dell.

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22. Question: Were the Destinations and the Robbs the same group?

Answer: No, the Destinations and the Robbs were two separate bands. The original Destinations was a five-man band, consisting of Bruce Robertson on bass, Sid Rice on keyboards, Fred Hadler on drums, Rick Wolfe as lead singer, and myself on lead guitar and singing background vocals. There were some personnel changes and substitutions over time. The final four-man group consisted of Bill Wilson on bass, Rick Sorgel on keyboards, Fred Hadler on drums, and myself as lead singer and lead guitarist. The Robbs consisted of three brothers--Dee Robb on vocals and guitar, Bruce Robb on keyboards, and Joe Robb on guitar, as well as their cousin Craig Robb on drums. Dee Donaldson of the Robbs, a band that was also managed by Con Merton, came on board as producer when the Destinations recorded “Hello Girl” at Chess Studios on South Michigan Avenue in Chicago for the Destination label.

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23. Got any photos of the Milwaukee Historical Society's "Reed Kailing" exhibit?

Answer: Of course. It was a very successful exhibition during the Winter and Spring of 2018. It included memorabilia from "The Shrine." The photo gallery below contains several photos from the exhibit.

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24. Do you have any photos from the rehearsal sessions at SIR, circa 1977-78?

Sure. Here's what I have. These are from a rehearsal at Studio Instrument Rentals (SIR), with Kevin Russell on lead guitar and members of his band, 707. The songs were recorded at the now-defunct Record Plant in LA.