Well … not exactly
By Peter Lindblad
|Player: Peter Beckett and Ronn Moss 2013|
Others might have been intimidated by the prospect of opening up for guitar god Eric Clapton, but not Player.
After all, they had a No. 1 song to their credit in the blue-eyed soul ditty “Baby Come Back” – released in late 1977 – and in the grand tradition of giving audiences what they want to hear, Player decided to muscle up sonically for their 1978 album Danger Zone.
“We had to, because we were plucked from Boz Scaggs’s ‘Silk Degrees’ tour,” says Peter Beckett, one of the founding member of Player. “And we were still a young band. And they stuck us on Eric Clapton’s ‘Slowhand’ tour supporting Clapton for a month to [play to] like a 30,000 mainly male audience, so we couldn’t go on and be a little pop band. That’s when we started injecting more hard rock [into our sound], and it’s been that way ever since.”
In February, Player will release Too Many Reasons, its first album in 20 years. Around 35 years ago, Player was riding high, having been chosen as the support act for Clapton’s 1978 North American tour. Mixing tracks from Danger Zone into an eclectic set list that ran the gamut from pretty soft-rock ballads to melodic hard rock, Player did more than just win over Clapton’s audiences.
How were they received on that tour?
“Excellent … in fact, a little too good,” says Beckett, the lead guitarist and singer for Player.
While Beckett was being coy about what happened, Player bassist Ronn Moss – better known worldwide as the actor who’s played Ridge Forrester for 25 years on the massively successful soap opera “The Bold and The Beautiful” – expanded on Beckett’s statement.
“We had a wonderful little thing happen to us at the Aladdin Theatre in Las Vegas,” relates Moss. “Player had a No. 1 record, and in the middle of ‘Baby Come Back,’ there’s a silence before the last chorus starts. Well, right at that downbeat to that chorus, after the silence, we all came in … and, no power. The power had gone out. There was nothing but drums.”
The possibility of a citywide blackout was immediately dismissed, since the lights didn’t go out … “just the power to our amplifiers,” says Moss. “So we all looked around, and they finally got it up and rolling, running …”
Adds Beckett, “… but, we’d finished (laughs)."
So, what happened exactly? As Moss recalls, the guilty party, or parties, didn’t step forward right away.
“It took several days for somebody backstage to finally fess up,” says Moss. “And it turned out to be Eric Clapton’s crew who fessed up and said, ‘Yeah, we pulled the plug on you guys.’ We were going down too well, and initially, we were really pissed. [I said] ‘Why would you do that?’ and the guy said, ‘It’s because you were going over a little too well.’”
Beckett cautions, “The truth of it was, Eric Clapton knew nothing about it. It was just an uppity roadie. You know how those roadies are (laughs).”
They can joke about it now, but at the time, they were apoplectic.
“We were just pissed about it, and then I thought, ‘Wait a minute. Eric Clapton pulled the plug on us?’” says Moss. “They fessed up. They fessed up. And [Clapton] came in the dressing room a couple of weeks later with a bottle of Jack Daniels, and he never really admitted anything, but he said, ‘Are you guys okay?’”
Clapton wasn’t the only massive ‘70s rock act that took Player out on the road. There was Heart, who was promoting 1978’s Dog and the Butterfly LP. And, of course, there was Boz Scaggs.
“Well, you know, the Boz Scaggs tour wasn’t chopped liver, either,” says Beckett. “So we’d already done about two months of 30,000-seat arenas, and then we went back and did the Danger Zone album. We knew we were going on the ‘Slowhand’ tour, so we made the Danger Zone album harder edged so that we were able to go out and support Eric Clapton and have the right kind of music under our belts. So, it all turned out great.”
Too Many Reasons is due out Feb. 26 on Frontiers Records, and it was written and produced by Beckett. Look for a more expanded interview with Beckett and Moss in this blog in the coming weeks. In the meantime, visit www.player-theband.com and www.ronnmoss.com for more information and check out the track listing for Too Many Reasons:
* Photo by Devin DeVasquez-Moss
Too Many Reason track listing:
1. Man on Fire
3. I Will
4. Tell Me
5. The Sins of Yesterday
6. My Addiction
7. Too Many Reasons
8. To the Extreme
9. The Words You Say
10. Life in Color
11. A Part of Me
12. Nothin’ Like You
13. Baby Come Back