Joe finally got him to commit by appealing to his grandiosity. "C'mon Fred! You don't want Wayne to get all the glory do you?" That was the deal-maker. True story. Joe had the gift of being able to talk anyone into doing almost anything...and make them feel good about doing it.
He set up the rehearsals at some studio in St. Clair Shores. Danny, Joey & I were all there when Fred came in 6 hours late, looking pretty rough. One of the musicians there (never one to mince words) said; "Damn Fred! You look like a zombie!" Fred smiled, looked me right in the eye and said; "Zombie". He always maintained a sardonic form of humor.
There's no intent at all to disparage the memory of Fred. We Hurley Brothers loved him. He's our all time favorite. Many loved him. He felt comfortable enough around HURLCO to be who he was. Given our collective track records...who the hell are we maniacs to judge anyone?
The four of them (Wayne Kramer, Dennis Thompson, Michael Davis & Fred Smith) finally had a rehearsal. They jammed for a tad, while reminding each other of the chords, changes and bridges. It was pretty awesome. We were to be seen and not heard. Joe was in complete control of (almost) everything. He kept "shushing Danny & I, shooting us The Look.
Throughout that long day & night, Joe was a veritable tsunami, paying attention to every little detail. The band asked Joe if HURLCO could-man up at the State Theater to serve as security in the dressing room and especially, stage left. How long do you think it took for us to think about that request? It was a lot of fun.
At his request, we draped an American Flag over Michael's amp. In preparation for this historical gig, Danny & I took a white Stratocaster, painted it like a flag and took it the the theater. We placed it like the magic guitar pic of Tenacious D in the "D"on a stand next to Wayne's Amp. Though he did not play it, Wayne was cool enough to ride with it.
The crowd went berserk when we set that symbol from a period of innocence up on that stage. Dennis came in locked, cocked and ready to rock dressed cool metro. The only real downer was Fred's poor health. A reporter from the Detroit News was there in the wings, waiting for them to take the stage and asked what the hold-up was. I said Fred needs to be in a hospital, not onstage..."But don't print that".
I'd love to get the video clip of that night. It's floating around out there somewhere & very historic. Once the band made it onstage, the sold-out crowd went ballistic.Wayne's sharing about reclaiming lost brothers was especially poignant. "Black To Comm" was a real unexpected treat. Musically, it was OK. Nothing bombastic.
But I don't really think anyone expected a Resurrection of the Grande'. Every old hippie and retired White Panther came out of retirement for this one last gig. On that level, it was a rousing success. On the level of blood brothers in a stormy night with a vow to defend, it was transcendental.
By November of 1994, Fred would pass and I'd be locked up on the north side of Jackson State Prison, for committing just seven measly robberies. Oakland County certainly has no sense of humor about such shenanigans. Brother Dan sent a letter informing me of Fred's demise. I recall reading it in One Block on the 3rd tier, just over the showers.
My eyes welled with tears. It's hard for most to understand, though I'm sure Big Rich gets it. The music of the MC5 & Sonic's Rendezvous Band provided the Hurley family with the bulk of our life soundtrack while growing up. No wonder we ended up...aw' just kidding. Funny how all these years later, the music that really keeps this lamp is acoustic gospel, though I've been listening to the SRB set from Lamphere High School in 1977 that Joe recorded without any authorization.
In particular, Joey can be heard screaming "Awlrite Sonic! Empty Heart! RocknRoll!" during the cut, "Succeed". Whenever Joe got behind something, he really got behind it. That Lamphere gig was another conception of his and everyone knew it. All these years later, it's great to hear my little brother in the absolute prime of his life, out-shouting everyone in the auditorium.
While incarcerated, Dan sent a picture from the Tyner Tribute of Wayne wailing onstage with while I crouched in the corner next to his amp. Wayne signed it; "They can't stop the clock!" Truer words were never spoken. For reasons unknown to me, cats like Fred, Joe & others never make it. Grace is a funny thing.
All I know is to be grateful for every day of freedom from the cold, hard, external metal bars of the Jackson Cage & any self-constructed internal bars of active addiction. God and others know that I pulled more shit than Joey ever dreamed of. Consequently, that's why I really don't subscribe to the notion of karma. On that scale, Joe should still be here...not moi'.
Many thanks to (survivor/friend/brother) Rich Dorris for initially recording and then sending this clip almost 20 years after-the-fact. You were good to Joey. He really liked you. That was the essence of his nature. If you were in...you were in. He protected his friendship with a pit bull tenacity.
For better or worse, Joey always had your back and was in the zone that cold February night at the State Theater. He was in rare form...his element. I love how he appears at the 1:34 mark of this clip in his beret to say; "Rich...Dan....stay alive with the MC5". He was the only one to not drop the "F" bomb.
The way he immediately ducks out of camera range is so Joey. He was on a mission from God & a very busy little beaver that night. What a handsome, lovable man. O' how I wish what he proclaimed to the camera to be true...that he was still with us. Moments like that with Joe were so special. Coming up on the 5th anniversary of death, my heart was to share one of those blazing moments of intensity with Joey.... when all was right in the universe. We will once again jam in our Father's house my brother.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
All my love, Joseph Patrick