NEW CASTLE —
As many of you may know, years ago I created and ran a nationally distributed magazine called Empire Extreme. We covered all types of crazy and heavy music from all over the country. The more extreme, the better, was our unspoken motto. Empire Extreme was loved by music fans, loved by record labels, and loved by the musicians themselves because we catered to a huge niche market that was immensely overlooked by the mainstream publications.
As you can imagine, I met, interviewed, and photographed every rock star imaginable. I also have many wild stories I could share and many secrets I could reveal. And that is just what I'm going to do: break the code and let you behind the scenes — go back stage, if you will.
It was a very hot summer day and I was at Star Lake in Burgettstown (later to be named Post-Gazette Pavilion and First Niagara Pavilion). Whomever originally named this venue did so appropriately, because behind the stage and past all the tour buses and equipment sits a small lake nestled in grove of trees. Amongst all the hustle, energy, and consumerism is a tranquil oasis for the musicians to escape the raging schedule or a grueling tour.
The date in question featured a show with the infamous Kid Rock, gritty country legend David Allen Coe, and the hard-driving band Dope.
While nearly 17,000 fans were contained on the hillside and the pavilion, my friend, Paul, and I were hanging near the edge of the lake. The venue had a small driving range set up where you could drive balls into the lake. They even had a small, man-made island in the center with a hole and golf flag. It would have been quite a feat to actually hit the hole, so most everyone was content to chuck balls into the water.
As we stood there chatting with David, Tripp from Dope returned from the office with a bucket of golf balls and a golf club. Tripp hit a few balls into the trees and the water, and then offered me the club. I hit my first ball. Although I was aiming for the island, I missed terribly and it plopped into the water with a thunk and a splash.
David interjected, “I bet you couldn't hit that guy fishing over there.” As we looked way down the right edge of the lake's edge, there was a man fishing. He was nestled in the bushes and barely noticeable with his straw cowboy hat. As he cast his line into the lake, Tripp grabbed the club from me and lined up a series of balls. Bam, bam, bam ... he hit each ball. Thunk, splash, thunk, splash, thunk, splash, not even close.
I took the club from him and fired my first shot at the fisherman. The ball floated through the air and we all watched it with eager anticipation. Plop! Right next to the bobber he had connected to his placid line. We all laughed as I fired another shot that landed in the brush just behind the now-disgruntled fisherman.
Tripp took the club back and fired two more shots that landed in the water just in front of our innocent victim. With that, the fisherman took his hat off and waved it at us, shouting some obscenities as we laughed at our exploits. He began to wind in his line and pack up his tackle and pole and started walking toward us.
Tripp must have known what was going to happen next because he quickly grabbed the rest of the balls and the club and ran toward the safety of his tour bus. All the while, David is bellowing out a big belly laugh.
The fisherman finally made it all the way back to where we were standing and made his way up the steep embankment. As he got about halfway up, he lifted his hat, let his long hair fall from out of the hat, and I caught a glimpse of his face. It was Kid Rock!
I quickly had a stark realization that we had just been trying to pelt a multi-platinum recording artist with golf balls. I stood in disbelief as David continued to laugh and Kid Rock launched into a series of expletive-laced sentences and barked, “Where did that sissy Tripp run and hide?”
Needless to say, he was upset that we ruined his fishing, but he quickly forgave our hijinks. All in all it was a good day and after Kid Rock’s anger subsided we were able to talk about the previous times we met in Pittsburgh and Cleveland while he was working his way up through the club circuit. He even let us get a few candid photos of him with a couple of beautiful girls that suddenly appeared, along with a few shots of his red, white, and blue painted Harley.