This piece, adapted from an earlier longer work, is a response to the prompt ‘Connection’ in the Six Sentence challenge.
By the time I met the Australian rock legend Johnny O’Keefe in 1977, I was working as a roadie for a middle-of-the-road pub band and the band’s career highlight came when they were booked to back the legendary but fast-fading Johnny O’Keefe at the Marysville pub.
The place was packed, including a large contingent of men with slicked-down ducktail haircuts and women with wide skirts supported by half a dozen starched white petticoats and as our lead guitarist intoned ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the king of Australian rock and roll, Mr. Johnny O’Keefe’, the crowd rose as one as he launched into a strangely stiff and unwild version of The Wild One.
As he progressed through all the old hits like She’s My Baby, I’m Counting on You, Move Baby Move and She Wears My Ring, I could sense an uneasiness in the crowd, as if they were thinking ‘well, he’s here but he isn’t’ but they were tempering their disappointment out of respect for The King and what the tickets had cost them.
His big finale was always ‘Shout’ and he was half-way through the famous opening sustained holler of ‘We-e-e-e-e-e-e-ll’ when his microphone died, spelling disaster for me and for Johnny.
Now scarlet from head to toe, I ran to the stage, and as his vacant eyes looked at the new mike, I said lamely ‘sorry, Johnny’ and he mumbled ‘that’s alright, mate’.
After the obligatory standing ovation and the refusal of more encores, Johnny’s manager bundled him into a car and they sped off into the night, seemingly oblivious to the fact that no-one was chasing Johnny any more.