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The end of the roadie: how the backstage boys grew up

The end of the roadie how the backstage boys grew up Music The Guardian


Some roadies became famous in their own right. Led Zeppelin's tour manager, for one: there's a Richard Cole Appreciation Society on Facebook, glorifying the man who was, according to the unofficial band biography Hammer of the Gods, "responsible for much of the mayhem" around the group. Then there was a metal roadie called Jef Hickey, who carved out such a reputation that half an episode of's 2011 documentary series, On the Road, is devoted to him. Rock musicians speak of him in awed tones: "One time we were on a plane, and he went up to this stewardess and asked her if she had any drugs," claimed former Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri – and that was onlythe most printable of Hickey's antics.

Roadie annals are full of such stories, many of them involving unpleasant treatment of female fans. But that era has long passed, and with it the idea of roadies as folk legends. They have since osmosed into "techs" – low-key professionals who often have degrees and treat the job as a job. "Bad behaviour isn't acceptable any more, to be drunk and carrying on," says Chris McDonnell, the Charlatans' sound engineer. "A lot more is expected of you. People think it's crazy backstage, and it's girls and drugs, but it's not. It's people working and having a cup of tea."

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A cup of tea?? Really???