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Larry lounges on a private Boeing 730 ('77)Larry McNeny

Who, we hear you cry, is Larry McNeny? Well without chaps like Larry life on the road for rock'n' roll types like Eric Clapton, Ozzy Osbourne and The Bee Gees would have been a good deal less comfy. Howard Smith discovers that ensuring all of the above reached the stage in a state of relaxation - and believe us when you live out of a suitcase for months on end the average day to day niggles can take on Godzilla sized proportions - was pretty much Larry's reason to get out of bed each morning, and judging by how long he circled the globe doing just that he must have been pretty damn good at it.

Total Music: Tell us the events that led you from being a band member to becoming Tour Manager?

"A friend from Tulsa, Dick Sims, had just recorded with Eric Clapton on 461 Ocean Boulevard and being a fan from his Cream days, I though I should go to Tulsa and check it out. Eric’s manager Roger Forrester was looking for an all round bag boy, band rustler and advance person and Dick, Jamie (Oldaker) and Carl (Radle, part of Eric’s new band) put my name forward and Roger called me and asked if I would be able to go on the road and help out, so I was introduced to my new best friends, fifty five pieces of mismatched luggage."

Total Music: You’ve worked with some huge stars over the years, how were you generally treated by the ‘talent’?

"Of course there were periodic flare ups or ego problems but I was fortunate that the people I worked for were all pretty cool. In fact I cannot think of one who was not enjoyable to work with. Eric was always great to be around, always friendly. Ozzy, while a bit more spontaneous at times, was a great guy! Once when Sharon was not on the road with us, Ozzy got bored and put honey in the locks of my old leather briefcase. When I discovered the mess, I jokingly told him he’d ruined it, the next morning I got a knock at my door and he’d bought me a beautiful new briefcase. The Bee Gees were also a great group of people to be around, not only did they treat everyone well, they travelled with their families. Great atmosphere"

Total Music: You must have had your fair share of disasters on the road, are there any major ones that spring to mind?

Larry (far right) waits with Ozzy and Sharon for the bullet train in Japan ('82)"One of the worst experiences I had was with The Jack Bruce Band during my first tour in Europe and the UK. We were doing the final show in London and the band had given me their wallets and keys and Roger (Forrester) had given me £6000 as my briefcase locked and it seemed a safe place. Additionally Roger gave me Eric Clapton’s bands work permits as they were due to land at Heathrow the following morning to begin Slowhand, and a tour. I slid the case behind an old sofa in the dressing room. I took the band to the stage and I came back downstairs, it can’t have been more than five minutes, and noticed the security guard who was stationed outside our dressing room was not there and when I went in I noticed Harvey Goldsmiths briefcase open and then that things looked a bit askew everywhere. I dived behind the couch and my briefcase was gone. I went up by the stage hoping to spy someone or to find a policeman or security when this guy in a suit came up and said ‘are you in charge?’ To which I replied yes and he proceeded to tell me there had been a call saying there was a bomb in the building and they had to stop the show. We cleared the building but needless to say they did not find a bomb or my case. To make matters worse, I had to be at Heathrow early the following morning to try and to convince custom to let Eric’s band in the country and explain why they did not have work permits"

Total Music: What were the high points of touring?

"Touring, at least during the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s was like living on a parallel plane to the rest of the world. Some high points were the great music every night and friends you made on the road, travelling the world on a private Boeing 730 and travelling around Europe on a private train. I have been around the world many times, stayed in the best hotels, eaten at the best restaurants and been paid to do it.”

Total Music: What made you exchange your role from Tour Manager to Personal Manager to Andy Gibb?

"I worked for the Stigwood Organization who handled Clapton, the Bee Gees, Jack Bruce and Andy and it was after the Bee Gees huge Spirits Having Flown tour in 1979 and they needed someone to take over the day to day affairs with Andy. It was a good opportunity for me. Andy was a terrific talent and we had some great times, we did quite a bit of promotional work, TV shows, press in the US and Europe. Andy was a brilliant talent and died much too soon”

Total Music: So what does a Tour Manager do when he's had enough of living in hotel rooms and never seeing his family?

"I am working on a documentary entitled Road Cases the intention being to document the live event touring industry from the early 60’s to the modern day. How we went from travelling in station wagons to million dollar coaches, from singing through cheap house systems to million watt P.A.'s and all told through those who made it happen, the crews and staff who accompanied and supported the rock stars on the road. We want to capture the real stories, what life on the road was really like during those early years. It is coming together.”

Larry (5th from left), with Quireboys and crew ('92)

You can find more info on the Road Cases project at www.roadcases.org


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