Over the years I've threatened to tell the story of meeting Keith Emerson in his living room in Nassau, Bahamas, way back in the '70s when I was a vacationing Rock and Roll journalist from Toronto. Now seems as good a time as any.
My friend Larry Ellenson, owner of Toronto's Round Records, had a rental property on Nassau Island in the Bahamas that he wasn't using. I agreed to rent it from him for 3 weeks one winter when I really needed to get away from the cold. The price was reasonable, far less expensive than a hotel would cost. And, because it was a house with a functioning kitchen, I could have most meals on the cheap from groceries picked up fresh at the outdoor markets. Hanging out in a private home is far more relaxed than being a tourist in a resort, hanging out with people just like myself. My neighbours were all Bahamians, or transplanted people now calling Nassau their home.
|That's who she worked for.|
At first, she had been really leery about the fact that I was a Rock and Roll journalist on vacation. However, she eventually found out I was truly just there for a vacation (and to meet Third World at Compass Point Studios) she relaxed somewhat. However, it's obvious she didn't trust me completely because she never told me who she worked for.
So, it was her day off and the family she worked for was elsewhere. She invited me across the street to hang out. We were on our 2nd or 3rd beer when suddenly a man came rushing into the house yelling something like, "Don't mind me. I just need to pick up something."
As he walked into the room, I recognized him immediately. Keith Fucking Emerson!!! His nanny introduced us. "Keith? This is Headly. Headly, Keith."
Check out this supergroup playing in Japan in 1990: Keith Emerson - Keyboards,
Jeff "Skunk" Baxter - Guitar, Joe Walsh - Guitar, John Entwistle - Bass Guitar, Simon Phillips - Drums
I was sprawled back in his beanbag chair with his nanny and a beer in my left hand. As I awkwardly tried to get onto my feet, Keith politely reached out his hand to shake mine. I took it and he pulled me to my feet as we continued to shake hands. Then he grabbed whatever he came home for and, in less than 2 minutes, Keith Emerson was gone and I never saw him again. Not even in concert.
When I acted like a total Rock and Roll fan boy -- and not a journalist -- the nanny relaxed completely. She told me how difficult it could be, at times, to protect the family's privacy. I assured her I wasn't there to infiltrate the family and write about Keith Emerson and promised her I wouldn't. I kept that promise until now. I think the statute of limitations is up.
EPILOGUE: A few minutes later we walked to the kitchen fridge to get another beer. I had seen the fridge on a previous walk to the kitchen, without really looking at it. However, this time I did. There's a snapshot of Keith Emerson with Peter Frampton. There's a snap of Keith and a Rolling Stone on the beach. There are snaps Keith and all kinds of Rock and Rollers on the fridge, posing on boats and the beach, with wives, children, and pets, just like the snapshots on everyone's refrigerator everywhere.