Pete's Blog

Roger McGuinn

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I just told this story to Bob Shannon at lunch today, and I think it should be here, too. I have a couple of stories about what a nice guy Roger McGuinn is, but this is my favorite. I was opening for Roger at Folk City in New York in 1982 or thereabouts. By this time he was not making a lot of noise with his new records but his back catalogue from the Byrds was so strong that he could do club dates solo and make a respectable living. The audiences, however, tended to be stoned-out nostalgia heads not really there for music. Naturally, I bombed. The audience wanted Roger or, at the very least, someone who looked and sounded just like Roger while they waited for Roger. They were rude and by the end of the set I was angry at them and angry at a music culture that validates them. I was even angry at Roger himself. I wondered how someone whose work had been such an inspiration to me could so cynically play oldies to jerks. The dressing rooms at Folk City were down a flight of stairs from the stage. The headliner's room was across a small foyer, with the opener's room down a hall in back. When I came downstairs Roger was standing in the doorway to his dressing room. I stopped on the bottom step and glared at him. All my frustrations with the career I had followed for years went into that stare. After all, he had been as responsible as anyone for the life choice I had made. He took it all in without saying a word, all my sadness, rage, self-doubt, resentment. We might have stood there looking at each other for as long as thirty seconds. It seemed like years. Then, without saying a word, he strode across the room and shook my hand.

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