Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Stage Fright

Rick Danko has always been my favorite member of the Band. Richard may have been a better singer. Robbie was a better songwriter. Garth was a better musician. But that heartbreaking crack in Danko's voice will get me every time.

These two videos are from March 1st, 1991, on CNBC's "Real Story". Watching Danko here, I feel a little sorry for him. He patiently answers lame questions from a hack TV host. He sings into a crappy microphone, trying to get a few people to sing along. He soldiers on.

I missed a chance to see Danko play live, shortly before he died in 1999. He was at a club on Clement Street in San Francisco. I couldn't believe he was playing such a tiny place. And I could have walked there but didn't make it for some reason.

In his book, This Wheel's On Fire, Levon Helm blames Robbie Robertson for Danko's death at age 56. Helm rails bitterly at Robertson throughout the book, claiming he and the other Band members were screwed out of songwriting royalties.

But the hell of it is, Rick still died with his money in their goddamned pockets. That's the hell of it. If Rick's money wasn't in their pockets, I don't think Rick would have died because Rick worked himself to death. Rick liked to live with his family the way they liked to live, and to live that way he had to work all the time.

I know he's in a better place and all that bullshit. My beef is that he didn't have to be there yet - not at fifty-six years old. Rick worked too hard. He wasn't that old and he wasn't that sick. He just worked himself to death. And the reason Rick had to work all the time was because he'd been fucked out of his money.

I hope that's not true. I hope at least part of the reason Danko was still out there touring and playing music was because he loved it.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Crazy Chester, Found your blog from Dylan's Community site. I also love Rick Danko. Can't say he's my favorite from the band because I really love Levon Helm. Saw The Band alot once they started playing again in the 80's and 90's. They always had great energy and an incredible repertoire. Someone I work with had a connection to them and invited me and a friend to a 4th of July party on Long Island(two years in a row in the early 90's) in a backyard that Danko and friends played at. It was amazing to see him in such an intimate setting. His friends were very social in between sets, but he stayed to himself in the basement of the house. Kinda strange, but seemed like a very sweet guy! I'll always cherish those times and feel very priveledged to have been there.