The Strand

Back in the early '90s Rory came to Redondo Beach, California, to play in a small, now-defunct club called the Strand.  My bass player had scored tickets for me and himself, and we were psyched!  The other guitar player in our band and his wife were to meet us there.
We got there early, and stood in the line, close to the front doors of the club.  Once those doors opened, we made a beeline for the long, rectangular  dinner tables which ran perpendicular to the stage.  We grabbed a table left-center to the stage, and the table end furthest from us touched the stage wall (You TRUE Rory fans already know the moral of this story!!)
The opening band sucked; a petulant lead singer fronted a quite unoriginal 'hair band' and we "Rory'ed!!!" 'em right off the stage!! The lead 'singer' cursed the audience as the band left the stage.  We drowned him out with even louder and maniacal "Rory's"!
Then...The G-Man.  He was blistering.  He was larger than life.  Mark and I were wasted.  We called out Rory tune after Rory tune, of which Rory played not a few.  I will never forget how quiet, almost solemn the club became while Rory sang the poignant and haunting "Out on the Western Plain".  I looked behind me at the unlucky folks stuck in the back of the club (I thought they were, but being ANYWHERE in a Rory gig is LUCKY!) as he sang.  They, and we, were transfixed.
"Moonchild" came blasting out of Rory's guitar like a missile.  I mean, he just slammed that opening Am chord with a passion and a no-holds-barred ferocity I will never forget.  Then, as the finales rolled on, we got "Bullfrog"
And Rory shredded that with a sonic frenzy.  And then he really blew us away.  We were the LOUDEST fans in the club that night, no questions asked.  Mark "Wally" Walraven and I made sure Rory knew we were in rock 'n roll heaven....Rory returned the favor by JUMPING onto our dinner table while soloing on "Bullfrog" and he walked to our end of the table, and leaned over as he blistered out rivulets of cascading notes, and let us touch, knob-twirl, hammer-on (!) the Strat WHILE HE STILL PLAYED!!!   I mean, this guy was having as much fun as we were while Karla, Mark, Rory and I all diddled the Strat.  Incredible!
We were completely gobsmacked when he jumped onto our table with a WHUMP!!!  But when he offered us The Strat to do with it what we willed??!!! Rory was amazing.  It was my first, and sadly, my last Rory show.  At the end, I was too hammered to remember to ask the man for an autograph.  But I did approach the stage, and offered up my hand.  Rory took my hand, shook it as he looked me directly in the eyes, and gave a wan little smile.  His eyes were kindly, though he obviously was tired, and maybe a little drunk (?).  All I said as I squeezed his hand was, "I love you, Rory".  Rory said nothing in return.  He just gave me a knowing look like, "We had a good time together, didn't we mate?"  And then he was gone....

Jon B. Wilder

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