Random Rock Encounters: The O’Jays & Me

For some reason I’ve had more than my share of random encounters with famous people over the years, both from the rock world and elsewhere. Hell, I was once standing at an airport urinal and looked over into the eyes (I swear it was only the eyes) of Soupy Sales. For you kids under 50 out there Mr. Sales was Peewee Herman before Peewee Herman was Peewee Herman. Sort of. Anyway, my friends seem to enjoy hearing about these random encounters of mine so I thought I share them on a recurring basis here at The Store.

My first was technically not a rock encounter, but an R & B/Pop encounter. My late best friend Jigger and I were heading to Vegas back in the early ’90s. You’ve got to remember that back in the day I went through quite the Motown/Philly Sound phase and was pretty knowledgeable about a lot of the groups of that genre. I’m still an unabashed fan. Anyway, Jiggs and I had a few Bloody Marys while waiting for our flight out of C-Bus (it was an early flight, so breakfast was in order – hey, I had a celery stick in there) and I was feeling quite chipper if you will. We’d been in the air for about half an hour when I thought I recognized a guy a couple of rows in front of me as one of the O’Jays. Eddie Levert, in fact. What the hell, I thought. I went up and sat by him (keep in mind there were only about 30-people on the plane). Sure enough, it was Levert and the rest of the group along with about eight roadies sitting here and there. Being a tad tipsy (and by tipsy I mean smashed) I started singing “Love Train” and begging the guys to join in. Long story short, in a few minutes all three O’Jays were singing backup to yours truly on lead vocal. One of the guys (Walter Williams possibly) actually got up in the aisle and was doing the dance moves as I stood and sang beside him. Surreal. About halfway through I forgot the words and Levert took over. I then attempted to join the guy dancing but failed miserably to the delight of the crowd. Anyway, I then took a theatrical bow with the O’Jays as the crowd went wild (at least in my mind it went wild, it could have been tepid applause for all I know). I believe I even followed up by trying to start a rousing rendition of “Backstabbers” but my moment had passed. The group got off at our stopover in Minneapolis, we shook hands all around, and they went on their way. To this day I can’t watch that Coors commercial and hear “Love Train” without getting a big grin on my face. If only camera phones were in existence back then. Damn.

By the way, my buddies The O’Jays were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. I wonder if they remember me . . .

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2 thoughts on “Random Rock Encounters: The O’Jays & Me”

  1. Dave Another great story. Sure things were exciting with Jigger around. Sure miss him ,one of the nicest men I ever was friends with.

    1. Ray, after over 15-years I still think of him every day. He was my best friend and an amazing influence on my life to this day. Thanks for the kind words. He was truly one of a kind.

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