“But there is a clear leader in all bands, right?”
These immortal, stupidly stated words were probably proclaimed by one of the few people at the party that wasn’t actually in a band. I mean, why else would they have opened such a can of worms unless they had no real idea of what they were doing? But they should’ve, whoever it was, since every person at the party was a musician, a big musician. In a band or not, these guys had egos big enough to fill a palace each, yet they were all crammed in some house, bleeding out into the sweltering summer garden since it was far too hot to sit around and smoke inside. Well, that and too many guys crammed together between four walls was bound to provoke the ramming of horns.
At least it was a statement that everyone technically agreed on. If they had not started up a conversation about who in each group was the leader, they would not have had such a trouble.
“Oh yeah, course.” John Lennon agreed. After all, he was the one who started the biggest band of the decade. He lay half on a wooden patio jutting out of the house’s back door and half on the green grass which was still damp after a bout of English summer rain that the sun had yet to dry. The garden itself was a simple square with a stone path running through it. Tall wooden fences separated it from the neighbour’s places. No doubt these neighbours on either side had no idea who they were sharing their street with at that moment. If the live jamming session was not loud enough to bring people over asking them to keep the noise down, nor the thick smell of whatever off-brand stuff they were smoking alerting them to something going down, it was unlikely anything would, and they’d miss out on perhaps the strangest, biggest, hippy, celebrity party ever spontaneously held in some residential street.
“There’s always gonna be one front man.” Graham Nash chimed in as though agreeing, but subtly hinting that he was the front man, he had been the leader. That got a dirty look from his friend sitting on a bunch of coats in the shade. Allan Clarke had a few things to say about Nash’s statement.
“Oh sure.” He muttered.
“What was that?”
“Just that you weren’t exactly the ‘front man,’ were you?”
“Ok,” Nash conceded, “Perhaps I wasn’t, but…”
“And you’re not the leader.” Allan snapped. He was sick of his old friend’s sudden inflated ego. Just because he’d started hanging out in America with these new guys - two of which sat behind him, chuckling lightly- didn’t make him any better than them.
“Well,” Nash laughed, backed up his new band mates- David Crosby and Stephan Stills, “Not anymore, no. But you’re not missing me too much, are you? Struggling to keep them under control, are we?”
Allan did not look best impressed. His brown eyes narrowed, brow knotted, almost in disbelief. Since Nash had pissed off with his American lot, who he’d fallen starry eyed for, The Hollies had been doing great. Two hits in the last year and a couple of good albums. What had Crosby Stills and Nash done but get high in the studio?
“I can deal with it, thank you.”
Nash turned back to his band and laughed, not loud enough so the Hollies could hear- which at the present time only consisted of three band members, as the other two couldn’t make it- as he didn’t need to irritate them to be satisfied.
However, that smile was wiped off his face when his lovingly nicknamed Croz opened his smug mouth. He was lying on the patio, propped up on his elbows, looking as cool, casual and… well high, as he always did. He basked in the sunlight, shirt open to mid chest, a single chain around his neck glinting bright. But he looked up at Nash, who he felt was punching far above his weight, pretending to be superior to his old friends. One thing Croz didn’t like was authority; he certainly didn’t like people exercising power they didn’t actually have.
“You realise you’re not the leader of this group, right?” He said.
Taken aback, Nash stammered. His mind faltered. This fact, he knew, somewhere within him. He was that weird English kid hoping to hang with the cool Americans. He’d always got that sense, but he had been under the impression that there was no group leader of Crosby Stills and Nash. They were just a trio of pretty cool musicians that got together to make some proper music. There wasn’t a clear dynamic. If there was, Nash had seen himself as the glue that stuck the two other huge egos in the group together. Did that not make him the leader?
“Well, sure, I mean…”
He was cut off by Stills, who hunched over his guitar, arms hanging loosely over the top of its body. “Oh but you think you are?”
“What would the band be without me?” Croz laughed. Nash felt the eyes of everyone else in the garden on him, especially that of the Hollies. Despite being faced away from them, their voices were now loud enough to be heard by his ex-band members. He’d not only been chastised by his so-called friend, but now he and Stills were arguing about who was the leader out of them two.
“Not half of how shit it would be without me. You wanna play guitar instead?” Stills chuckled in challenge.
“Can we all just agree that you two have got Graham wrapped around your little finger?” A voice piped up from behind Nash. He turned to see Allan once again grinning at him. As he turned away, he heard Croz burst out in a short laugh. A low chuckle came from Lennon and Harrison over to his right. Boy did he feel pretty hurt.
“Well, look at you and…” Nash pointed at the kid by Allan’s side, his pale skin blushing and mess of a black moptop covering much of his face, “… sorry, what’s your name?”
The young Liverpudlian boy lifted his head.
“Terry.” He replied. He felt hurt himself, if not just totally embarrassed. Nash had met him before, played with him before when he was in the Swinging Blue Jeans. He’d thought they were friends. And more than that, he’d not said anything to provoke the man he’d replaced. He wouldn’t dare. Nash had been, if not the leader, then surely a very key component in the Hollies. It had been his and Allan’s band. Terry had heard at least one of the guys call Graham their spokesperson. He understood he had large shoes to fill, and wasn’t keen on stealing them right off Nash’s feet.
“So what are you, Allan’s puppy?” Nash had based this off the way Terry, who was a shy man, stuck by Allan’s side for much of the party. If he had not been with him, he’d be with Tony Hicks, the other mild man in the Hollies. They’d got themselves a loyal puppy with a black, shiny coat of fur atop his head and could do all the tricks he used to.
“Come off it,” Ringo Starr sounded from the crowd. He was never one for fights, least of all amongst people he knew to be fiery by nature. He knew from his own band that arguments between musicians were sometimes the nastiest they could get- he got a distinct flashback to the Harrison/Lennon fight they’d desperately attempted to keep out of the media, half forgotten about by the band, but engrained in his mind as a low point of the Beatles. “I thought this was meant to be a party.”
“You’re just saying that because you’re in the same position, Mr Starr. Aren’t you the Beatles’ groupie?” Croz asked. He’d long given up his adoration of the sacred 60s band. He was sick of them having become the path that all music must follow. He was not going thank them, he was not going to be kind to them. They may be the biggest band pretty much ever, but they were just normal guys, ripping off and stealing other ideas as trend setters often do to make their own stuff.
“No,” Harrison stated, “Come on, that’s a dick thing to say.”
“But true, no?” Croz continued, “I mean, he is sitting with the single biggest joke of 60s music.”
Instantly, in one sentence, he’d insulted five men. He’d already taken a low blow at Ringo, but now he’d swung and hit Mike Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Davy Jones.
“They’re not a joke.” Ringo insisted. The four band members quietly looked away. They all had their egos, little Davy probably had the biggest, and was not a fiery little force to be reckoned with if you ask Peter Tork, who’d been at the tail end of the boy’s temper recently, but they felt just a bit too out of their league to answer back.
That was until Stills, who was really close to Peter, made an underhanded quip, “They’re even getting a Beatle to talk for them.”
“Fuck you!” Peter spat.
“We don’t need anyone to speak for us.” Mike interjected as he lay casually in the shade of the fence. He’d not looked up at anyone, hardly even raised his head, and when he had, no one could tell who he was talking to as he wore a pair of dark sunglasses over his eyes. He was angry, annoyed that people still weren’t taking him seriously, taking any of the Monkees seriously, but he didn’t sound it. One thing he did not want to do was aggravate any of these bands. He’d never admit it to their faces, nor would he talk much while intoxicated in case it slipped out, that perhaps these people were his greatest idols.
Davy, on the other hand, didn’t give a fuck. His foul mouth was ready to spill a whole paragraph of profanity headed straight for anyone who doubted him, when Micky Dolenz, the friend of them all, insisted, “This is stupid. We’re all fighting over nothing.”
A few people who’d stayed silent finally made their voices heard by agreeing. Bob Dylan, who with his songs often requested that people stop fighting like bloody idiots, quietly nodded his head. He knew his own power here. He knew that the Hollies practically worshiped him as a songwriter; why else would they dedicate a whole album to him? He knew that John Lennon was pretty smitten too. If not totally in love, everyone had to admit that he was not all that bad at writing and playing music, similar to how everyone had that automatic crush on the Beatles, since they were, undoubtedly, pretty fucking good themselves. And he even had them under his spell. He’d come here to chill out, not listen to people fight.
As had Eric Clapton. Sitting close to Harrison with a matching guitar to the Beatle, they had been trying to outdo each other’s playing, like a weird call and response thing. He had only stopped toying with the strings of his guitar when everyone had started hurling insults at one another, not out of interest or spectacle, but waiting until they were finished so he could carry on.
Paul McCartney also wished that everyone would just get on with what they had been doing. He’d disliked the conversation from the get go, since he and John had several bust-ups already in regard to John’s belief that Paul was attempting to take over the band, trying to act like Brian Epstein. It wasn’t true. He was just trying to give the band some direction, a direction that John apparently wasn’t a fan of. Otherwise, he’d never do anything to annoy John. He was too close to him to do that.
And he probably had enough power himself at the party to calm things down, as well as a loud enough voice to be heard.
“Let’s just shut up, yeah?” He suggested. Apparently, his power wasn’t quite enough to defuse the whole situation.
“And you’re only saying that because you’re John’s groupie.”
He could find no retort clever enough, or one strong enough to reply with. His mind went blank.
Luckily, or so he thought, John had something to say.
“I bet you wish you had a groupie as sexy as Paul.” He chuckled. It wasn’t exactly the comeback Paul was hoping for. Entirely confused and surely blushing, he shot a look over at the older Beatle, wondering what had got into him.
Well, a fair amount of drugs had. They’d got into everyone, making them as unpredictable as they could be. They already were without being completely off their heads. With drugs, you never knew what the hell they’d do next.
And this was the least predictable response anyone was expecting.