all. Poison, Kiss, Warrant, Black Crowes, Guns N’ Roses, The Alarm, The Smithereens — it was my regular hangout and I knew the entire staff, all the bartenders, roadies, techs.
Of course today, that sacred ground has merged into the fabric of the Baltimore sports scene. You can drink beer in the exact spot Kiss’ Paul Stanley called Maryland a “dairy state” when he saw two women at the club remove their shirts and bras while hanging over the balcony during a solo show there in 1989.
It’s the east side parking lot for M&T Bank Stadium today.
The music critic thing brought me an amazing array of cool experiences beyond neat pictures, free tickets and some autographs.
I had real “life” experiences with some of the people I met along the way.
I got to play tennis with Engelbert Humperdinck (My best pal Tom Kapp played doubles on my side and hit “Enge” in the nuts with a forehand volley! I can’t MAKE this stuff up!).
I hung out backstage and got a personal dressing room tour from Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. Billy Joel invited me to eat crabs one night, even though I couldn’t do it. The guys from ZZ Top were some of the nicest people I’d ever met. I did a sitdown with Robert Plant on the “Now and Zen” tour at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia and he bought my 5-year old son, Barry, some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream at the counter. David Bowie and I had dinner with his crew in Adams Morgan in D.C. one night after a show.
The rock and roll beat was nice, no doubt, but the coup de grace came in April 1986 when my boss, Jack Gibbons, issued me my first Orioles season credential.
At The News American I had covered a few Washington Caps games (I even drove my Pop to see the Calgary Flames one night right after I got my driver’s license, even though he really didn’t like hockey he thought it was cool that I had a press pass!) and was a devotee of the Baltimore Skipjacks all along.
But to have a press pass to see the BALTIMORE Orioles at Memorial Stadium for free all season? 1986 Orioles pass
NOW THAT WAS ABOUT THE COOLEST THING EVER!
Even better than drinking beer with Van Halen, I thought! (But not by much…)
And the real perks?
I could sit in the press box ANYTIME I wanted to, eat all of the free crab cakes, cheeseburgers, French fries and drink all of the free soda I wanted!
What more could a 17-year old from Dundalk ask for, right?