Bill's Bargain - cont'd.

Next thing I knew I was being hoisted to the stage to bang out a piece on Emo's Steinway for this guy! I guess he wanted to see a little fat kid play piano or something. (Many years later I admitted to Keith that I had touched his piano.) So there I was going at it nervous as all can get, not 'cause I'm auditioning on the spot for this guy but being on the same stage the great ones were going to be on that night, plus the fact if Emerson walked in and saw me on his equipment I'd be tossed off stage just like a Hammond L-100. So here I was playing Concerto No.1 3rd movement - just learned it - and here comes the best part of the story for this group. Greg comes over and looks at me and says "Man, that was great!"

I just have to say I know and have met a lot of people in the business but Greg was (and hope still is) one of the kindest, most gracious people. When he spoke to me he had this tremendous energy emit from him. Some people may have called it a religious experience, and I took it like that; all I know was I wanted to make myself a better person and a better musician from that encounter. Yep, Greg influenced my life, no doubt, and I am really thankful for meeting him that first time.

That was the first time; the last time I was with my brother in-law (Greg's twin, I swear) - it was during the Black Moon tour. After the show we decided to get up on stage and see what the theater looked like from that perspective. After we were satisfied with that view, we decided to see what it looked like backstage. We were encountered by one of the crew; it couldn't have been the band's personal crew 'cause this next thing would never had happened. The guy handed my brother in-law Greg's acoustic all cozy in its case [thinking it was Greg himself] and said, "Do you want to take it with you on the bus?" He said, "Yeah, sure!" (My brother saw this as a great souvenir, plus I'm sure he was also entertaining the thought of boarding the bus and saying "Home, James" since he got away with that much.) After a few sharp blows to the head I pried the case out of his hands and set the guitar on one of the carts and went outside.

We hung around for a while with the other souls waiting to meet the great ones and, lo and behold, we got to talk to Greg. Jokingly I ratted out my brother for the imposter trick, to which Greg laughed in this deep chuckle and said, "You'd better not have!" I told him that I'd hold my brother down in the snow and he could frisk him just in case, and he laughed and said that wouldn't be necessary. I thanked him for enriching my life at 15 but he didn't remember the little fat kid playing the piano. So I dropped it along with the time I lent him a cigarette, the time at the hotel, and even the time we were getting our picture taken together and that woman flashed us.