'Hair Today, Gone Later Today - A Rather Bizarre Night Off' by Danny Bowes Print E-mail

WARNING – THE FOLLOWING TEXT MAY SHATTER SOME PEOPLE'S ILLUSIONS, AND REVEAL ME TO BE THE CRUEL AND HEARTLESS SADIST THAT I AM… YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED…

In April 1993, Thunder were on tour in Europe. I know it was April as this story took place on the night before my birthday, and I’m fairly sure it was 1993. Sorry to sound a trifle vague, but there have been many tours, and many “interesting events” have taken place over the years. What follows is one of the crueller incidents:-

We were in a hotel in the south of Germany, about 4 weeks into an 8 week tour, so we were all very much in the swing of touring. It was a day off, and the band and crew had made various plans. Some did their washing (the glamour), some played golf, some did physical exercise, and some (mentioning no names) did some very professional lying around. We’d agreed that most of us would meet up for dinner in the hotel restaurant, before meeting everyone else in the bar much later on.

As I mentioned before, it was the night before my birthday, and we were all set to welcome it in style. The restaurant was pleasant enough, and the food tasty, but a bit on the “designer” side (i.e small portions). When the meals came up to the table, we spent most of our time trying to decide between eating them, or framing them and hanging them on the wall. Mark Lathan (our guitar tech and a bodybuilder, let’s say a man in need of a healthy plate) was most put out at the size of the portions, and gave the waitress the benefit of his infinite Geordie wisdom on the subject, much to the amusement of the rest of us. The beer and wine flowed copiously, in preparation for the moment the clock struck midnight, and so, having eaten but still feeling hungry, we adjourned to the extremely busy bar.

As there were loads of us, we split up into various factions, so whilst some sat at tables, Harry, Ben, Mikki, Ross (Tour Manager) and I sat at stools up at the bar. There is no delicate way to say this, so I won’t try, we were really quite paralytic, but we were amiable enough with it…

In the champagne induced haze, someone commented on the barman’s hair, or rather the thing on his head masquerading as his hair. I shall say no more. The area behind the bar was lower than the area in front of it, so the barman’s “hair” and its obvious features were clearly visible from pretty much all angles. The drunken talk up there on the stools was of nothing but the “hair”. It was such a dodgy one, we just couldn’t take our eyes off it. The barman carried on his business, blissfully unaware of the misery that was soon to come his way….

Now I must point out at this time that I am not proud of what happened next, and I have no intention of making you laugh when you read it. Indeed, in the interests of good taste I think it best if you do not even titter when you read the rest of this sordid tale, in case someone reads it over your shoulder and the game will be up. Anyway, back to the “hair”…

Ross and I decided in our alcohol induced wisdom that someone should relieve the poor barman of his dodgy “hair” as soon as possible, to help make him realise once and for all that baldness is something to be proud of, not something to cover up, and especially not with something so awful. The demon alcohol plays a huge part in such decisions as we all know, and so to make it extra worthwhile, a bet was agreed, whereby Ross was to remove the said “hair”, and exit the bar “mucho rapido”. If he did this and was out of the bar before my good self, I was to pay him £50. I know, it’s incredibly horrible, but I did warn you, and I have grovelled mightily to my maker since that night…

There followed several “trial runs” where Ross stood up on his seat, leaned across and almost took it whilst the barman cut up lemons in front of us. I had my heart in my mouth, my bottom half on and half off of my stool, almost on the starting blocks every time, not knowing if this time was going to be the one. The tension for us both was immense, unlike the barman, who was quite literally none the wiser, and nice and warm under his “hair”.

When it finally happened, it was like the whole world suddenly went into slow motion:- The hand across the bar, the excruciating ripping sound of the wig (oops) pulling way from the criss-crossed double sided tape on the barman's head, our cries of “ooohhh shiiiiit” as we left our seats and flew out of the bar, just like a slow motion scene from a Sam Peckinpah western movie… Suddenly it all came back into real time as I entered the lobby, with first the little black wig, and then Ross, following me out of the bar.

It turns out he’d caught his shoulder on a pillar as he ran, jolting his arm and causing the wig to fly out of his hand and land right at my feet. I shrieked with laughter, and said something about not having to pay him… We both ran as fast as we could to my room, giggling like the idiotic kids we were, leaving the whole bar speechless, and the wig behind on the floor of the lobby, where it lay warm and still until it was picked up by one of our crew, who’d just returned from doing his washing…

“What’s this?” he said, looking at the desk clerk. “It iz ze barman’s hair” said the clerk (with a very understandable German accent) “can you take it back to him please?”……

There is of course a lot more to this story, but I’ll spare you the gory details (and hopefully preserve what’s left of my reputation), and give you the highlights only:-

Immediately after it happened, the barman asked Harry if he could help him get his hair back. Harry rubbed his shaved head and said “sorry mate, I’m the last person that could help you”. Ben retrieved it in the end (nice guy), and having handed it over, the wig was apparently back on top and perfectly in place again in a thrice, and normal “hair” order restored…

Sides aching, I eventually went back to the bar to see what had happened, my curiosity having gotten the better of my fear. The barman was naturally very upset and lectured me endlessly about how it was cruel, and how this was his business etc. I listened and made soothing noises, bought him several drinks etc. Then Ross came back too, and the barman tried to knife him………………….

Moral of the story: If you do something bad, don’t go back to admire your work…

As I mentioned, I’m not overly proud of that incident, and I’ve never been involved in anything like it since (honest), but it was very funny (for me), and I know I’ll go to hell for it, but I can safely say it will go down in my memory bank as one of the most bizarre nights off I've ever had.

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