Eric Johnson fan encounter, 2/12/01
I often send customers and friends to deal directly with famous clients and other friends to make it easier for them and to avoid being middleman if not needed. Here is a happy story about a very young customer who had the night of his life with Eric Johnson.
Eric had previously asked me to find him some pedals and I was able to send him a nice Chandler tube driver and my Clone Chorus pedal. he really liked them and called me up to thank me. I told him I knew someone with a nice all original '69 fuzzface which he was also interested in, and Eric said he would like to meet him at his show in Kansas City. So I hooked up Kyle Elliot with his management company and they were set to meet before the show. Here is Kyle's report:
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SETTING THAT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had the GREATEST time!!!! I got there just as Eric got there, and he got out of the car and came up to me and said "You must be Kyle". He looked at the fuzz face, asked if it was all origional. Then he asked if my girlfriend and I were all taken care of, and he said that he wanted to make sure that we had tickets, backstage passes, etc. Then said let's go try it out. So we went inside and he was talking to his road manager about what was going on. Then he told me and my girlfriend to make ourselves at home, and he was going to set up his stuff. He went over and started to play, and mess with his tone when he discovered a BAD airborn buzzing through his amps. They tried EVERYTHING to fix it, turning off all the lights, different outlets, but to no avail. The house sound tech said that was a common problem during the sound check, but goes away for the show.
So he called me over, and hooked up the FF. He was REALLY nice!! I sat there in front of his pedalboard with him and talked about his gear while he was changing the battery and looking at the inside of the pedal. I asked him about the pedals he got from you, and he said that he really like the Chandler alot, it was a bit mid-rangey, but he liked it. He also said that he loved the CLONE chorus, and he has it on a different rig that he uses to mess around with. He asked if I had one of your CLONEs, and said that I should really pick one up (which I am planning on doing once I get a better job with more hours!).
Then he played it for a few minutes, and said that he really liked it and it sounded really good, but it got just a little too muddy on his low E string. He said that I would have no problem selling it, because it sounded really good. I told him that I wasn't trying to sell it, and the ONLY person that I would sell it to was him. He got a big smile on his face and said "really?" I said "yeah, it was off my pedalboard, and it nails the Hendrix sounds that I have been looking for. But I would sell it to you because YOU ARE Eric Johnson, and you having MY pedal would be the greatest thing!" He smiled and said "thanks, I appreciate that" I continued to talk to him about his gear while he was putting my FF back together.
Then he asked if I was all taken care of, or if I needed anything. I told him I was great, getting to stand there with him on stage was the best thing that has ever happened to me!! He said that he wanted to make sure that I got backstage passes, so I could talk to him after the show, in whatever backstage there was "in this funky place". Then he said "better yet, wait by the bus after the show, and you can come on and hang out, since there isn't much of a backstage here." I said that would be great!! He smiled and said "great, you can hang out in here, watch the sound check if you want. Do you want anything to drink?" I told him I was fine, and I would just be at the side of the stage watching. He asked if I needed tickets or anything, and he wanted to make sure that I was completely taken care of. I told him that I should be ok as long as they don't kick me out. He said if I have any problem to get him.
Then I changed from Kyle the salesman to Kyle the HUGE Eric Johnson fan and I said I was a huge fan of his, and he was a big influence on me and my guitar playing. He asked if I had a band or played any shows around. I told him that no one wanted someone my age to play the blues. He asked how old I was, and was impressed when I told him that I was just 17. He said when I turn 18 and graduate high school, things should pick up for me. I said thanks, and it looks like they are ready for the sound check, so I should let him get back to work.
I went back over to the side of the stage with my girlfriend and told her what all he said, then I asked how many pictures she got of me onstage with him. She said that she didn't take any!!!! I was mad at her!!! I was on stage with Eric Johnson, and she didn't take any pictures!!!!!! I couldn't stay mad for long, however, because I was living the greatest moment of my life! I sat there and watched the sound check. People were giving me free sodas, talking to me, joking around with me, etc. Eric is really funny, too! He stared playing Gypsy Eyes by Hendrix, only he was playing a honkey tonk version! Everyone in the whole place was laughing!! After the sound check he came up to me and said that he was going to leave for a while until the show started, and said if I need anything or if I had any problems to have his road manager call him. Then Derek Trucks' drummer came up to me and started to talk to me about music, guitar playing, Jimi Hendrix, etc. We talked for about 45 minutes! He also said that he was putting us on his guest list, because we were really cool and he liked talking to us. Then he yelled at his manager to make sure that we were OK, and didn't get kicked out or anything because we were with him!!
Then a Beaumont Club worker came up to us and carded us, then said if we weren't there with a legal guardian we had to leave. So he was trying to kick us out, when I told him that I was there with Eric and Derek Trucks' drummer. He said he had to go check on it. He came back a few minutes later and apologized to us and said he didn't realize that we were there with Eric. We were in the front row when the show started, and stayed there all night.
When Eric hit the stage, the buzzing was still there, and he had to use his Gibson SG for the entire show. I wasn't too disappointed, because I got to see his 54 strat when he was trying out my FF. I was 2 inches away from it! He came onstage and said hi to me and then started the show. He kept looking at me and smiling while on stage. He came out for 3 encores!!! Then as he was leaving the stage, he signaled me to go to the bus. So we went out there, and he came out and signed autographs for everyone, then let us on his bus!!! We went in there and sat with him and talked for almost an hour!!!! He asked me and Candice(my girlfriend) more questions than I asked him!!! He was asking us how long we have been together, where we go to school, are we going to college, etc. I gave him my demo, and we talked about it for a while. I told him that it didn't capture the energy and emotion that I wanted, because I was pressed for time, and had to cut the solo in 30 minutes, so it wasn't a very good solo. I told him that the main thing that I look for in a musician is emotion, feeling and energy. You can feel if the artist has feeling in their music just by closing your eyes and listening. But my demo failed to capture that because I was so pressed for time, only having 6 hours to complete it, and that was with me playing drums and I have no idea how to play drums. I was too worried about getting it done to just play from the heart. He was really impressed that I feel that way about playing from the heart. He said it was great to see that a 17 year old was like that, because most people coming up these days aren't like that, and really don't care about the music or anything and just want to be rich and famous!
He signed an autograph for me which read To Kyle, best to you with your music, Eric Johnson. I also got a picture with him on the bus. I told him how amazing it was to be on his tour bus, and how I have always wanted to see the inside of a bus. He told me that it wasn't his bus, he just rented it. He also told me how expensive they are to rent- $500 a day with a driver!!!! Then I told him that I had better take off, because Candice had to go to school in the morning, but I was going to play hookie. He asked how long of a drive I had, I told him it was an hour and a half. He offered to make me some coffee so I would stay awake. I told him that he didn't have to do that, I would just stop and get a Capuccino. He said at least take a couple Cokes with you.
Needless to say, I kept the Coke cans!!! Right before I left, I asked him about his AB boxes and splitter boxes, if they were active or passive. He said DEFINATELY passive, no electronics what so ever, because they mess with your tone. He said that it was nice to have a light on you AB box, but they mess with your sound. He asked if I knew anything about electronics, I said yeah, and he proceeded to describe the best way to hook them up. Which is with a Carling DPDT switch, because they are absolutly the best. And you have to wire it so that when you click to from A to B, it has to cancel out A. And if you are looking at the switch, the wires are actually crossing on the switch, making and X. He also said the same thing you did about grounding, them. The best way to do it is without any ground wires, but make sure that the jacks are grounded VERY well to the box itself, maybe even using a bus wire. I told him that was what you had said, and he said "Mike is a really great guy, and he really knows what he is talking about. I would definately take his advice and listen to him!" I told him that I alway do take your advice, and how I email you every other day with millions of questions!! He said that is what I have to do, ask questions and get a good knowlege of all my equipment. I told him that I was looking forward to him coming back to Kansas City, and that I would definately be there for the show. He said "great, I will be looking for you, and we can hang out again and talk. Hopefully by then you will have a good band together, and have things really going for you." I said that hopefully someday I can play on stage with him, and he said "yeah, I hope so, that would great! I will be looking forward to it!!"
I told him how much I enjoyed the show, and that I really appriciated all that he had done for me. He said that he would listen to the demo, and get in touch with me about it and tell me what he thought. I said that would be great, because I always love helpful advice. And coming from a guitar legend, it would be the best thing in the world!! He kinda blushed and said thanks. Then we said bye and headed home. I didn't make it home until 3 in the morning!
Sorry for the novel that I wrote, I am just REALLY excited about last night, and thought that you would like to know what all happened! Once again, Thank you so very much for setting this up, as it was THE greatest day of my life!!! I honestly feel like I made a friend, and he wasn't just being nice. There was just something about talking to him that felt like we were actually becoming friends, and it wasn't just a star talking to one of his fans. He was so nice, and offered me anything that I could have wanted. Through all the commotion that was going on around us, he just sat there and talked to me with a big smile on his face the whole time!! I will send you a copy of the picture of Candice and I with him, once I get them developed. I will also send you a few pictures of my gear, if you would like(I am wasting the rest of the roll of film so I can get them developed!!)
Once again, thank you so much for setting up the greatest day fo my life!!!
Kyle David Elliott
Wouldn't it be great if all guitar players were like Eric???
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