Scary gig stories anyone?


Silver Member
Spring of 69 or might have been 70. It was after all Telegraph Avenue Berkeley CA. A night of blues in the Pauley Ballroom at the UC Berkeley campus. Paul Butterfield Blues Band with Mike Bloomfield, Steve Miller Blues Band before his hit records aa just plain old Steve Miller, Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton, and my guys the Gilman Street Blues Band. We opened and were told that Willie Mae didn't bring her band and we'd be her backup. "What?" We played our set and then she was introduced. Said she liked our style and if we knew Hound Dog? Well that started her off. She ranted for 10 minutes how Elvis stole her thunder and how she recorded Hound Dog first but he got all the money and glory.
When she was done she turned to us and said "Hound Dog" in the key of "A" boys, then proceeded to scat the tempo and chord changes she wanted. Her version of Dog was growly, soulful and mean. AND she didn't use a mic, but damn she belted that song!!! When she finished she asked us if we ever stole any of her songs. No we said and she responded with a rant about people who were making money off her songs. She then said keep it in "A" boys and we'll do another one stole from me. But girl who took it did it good. So with her instruction we did Ball and Chain. Yeah the Janis Joplin remake of Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton's self penned tune about love gone bad. We finished and she just walked off stage not to return. Me and the guys will never forget that night with a 400 pound black woman who had obviously swallowed a lot of whiskey before hitting the stage. Not sure this is a scary story, but at the time, the Gilman Street Blues Band was shakin' in our Beatle boots. And thankful for the experience.