Brushes with Greatness
(or Greatness with Brushes...)

As I've gained an appreciation for the hard work it takes to produce good music, I've come to want to meet these fine folks that have shared so much with others through their music. Once in a while I get pictures, but I try not to be a pest. Even rock stars are really just ordinary people with a talent and a desire to share it, and they deserve to be treated with the respect that any person deserves. It really sucks that some folks just don't understand that these people are real people with families and problems and hobbies and fame doesn't make you want to entertain hordes of complete strangers every time they go to dinner.

Then there's Fish. I saw him at the State Theater in St. Petersburg (Florida, not Russia) in January 2000 on the Riangods with Zippos tour. Now there's a guy that's interesting. It was a 3-hour drive from Melbourne to Tampa, not bad considering many folks came from New York, Canada, and at least one from France!

Mike and Fish in St. Pete 1/20/00
Here is myself with Fish doing the obligatory "to prove I was there" photo. A fascinating bloke to chat with... just a regular guy, save for writing some of the best music ever imagined!
Here I am with one of my favorite performers, Fish. (Not PHISH from Vermont, although I love their music as well. This is FISH, the Scot who was the original frontman for Marillion.) Marillion's Fish-era albums are true classics, in fact Misplaced Childhood is in my top-5 list of all time albums. Fish's solo works have proved him to be a true torch-bearer of the progressive-rock flame and the multi-part epic Plague Of Ghosts from his last album Raingods With Zippos is VERY close to getting my official blessing as perhaps the greatest rock song of the entire 1990s... I've listened to it an average of twice a day every day since I got the album! So, when I went over to St. Pete in January during a U.S. mini-tour, I was really excited. Fish was really here to be in his friend John Wesley's wedding, Wes opened for him and played guitar for the Fish show. I met Wes' wife-to-be, a truly beautiful lady... man, those rock stars get all the girls! <G> Little did I know that I would end up hanging out with Onkel Fishy Himself at a little bar before the theater. The only thing better than a great artist playing a small theater to fanatical fans is when the artist is just a regular guy that likes to hang out with his fans and have lots of fun. He invited us all to go down to Ybor and get really drunk with him and his party after the show, I don't drink personally but would have joined the fun anyway had I not suffered some strange car problems afterward. Anyway, the show was small but great, hearing Plague live was one of the more incredible experiences I've ever had, and as he rarely gets to this side of the pond, I feel doubly lucky that I got to see him fairly close to home... some of the fans there came in from other CONTINENTS!!
Fish in St. Pete 1/20/00
Fish (in the black hat) hands out a few door prizes, arranged by The Company North America (his stateside fan club.)
Fish in St. Pete 1/20/00
The grand entrance... meandering through the crowd, with a flashlight, inspecting the troops!!
Fish in St. Pete 1/20/00
Fish on stage.


When I saw Yes at the House of Blues in Orlando on October 22, 1999, I was lucky enough to not only see a great show and ritualistically commune with Yesfans from around the world as I am wont to do on occasion, but I got to meet several members of the band afterwards. It's hard to see, but my t-shirt was signed by Steve and Billy Sherwood on the last tour. I also talked to new keyboardist Igor Khoroshev, I think he's about as good as Wakeman (not the same, mind you, but about as talented!) Jon Anderson flew by with Jane and didn't want to stop, and talking to Chris and Igor made most of us completely miss Alan White sneaking out around the back. Billy escaped some other way completely. Pictures courtesy Steve Lilly.

Yes and I The first picture is me with Chris Squire, by far the finest bass player the world has ever known. He seemed pleasantly surprised that someone actually asked him to sign a copy of his album Fish Out Of Water!
Yes and I Here, guitar god Steve Howe is obviously enjoying meeting his fans... that was the first time that night he didn't look extremely serious and worried! (Hmm... I wonder why he was wearing a "Virgin" sign on his head though...) This is the third time I've met Steve, he's a nice guy. Steve signed my Fragile CD on his solo tour in November 1994, and at the time I asked him what the most unusual thing he ever signed was. H said that the guitar made out of matchsticks was "pretty awful". I got Steve's and Billy Sherwood's signature on a t-shirt in August 1998 when I saw Yes in Tampa and forgot to ask him that again to see if he'd say the same thing!

Also at the Tampa 1998 show I met Jon Anderson. He is a very warm guy... truly one who enjoys his gift and sharing it. Patrick Moraz also made a surprise appearance after the show, we were all quite shocked.

Other artists I've met (but don't have pictures of) are both Johns (Linnel and Flansburgh) of They Might Be Giants, as well as Brian Doherty of their backup band (sun song era.) I once talked with Pete Best (early Beatles Drummer) on a call-in radio show. I've received email from Gary Wright (of "Dreamweaver" fame.) My best friend in college talked to ELP on Rockline and I have on several occasions convinced people I was a member of Genesis, but I don't think those count. Artists I'd particularly love to meet someday include Kate Bush, Steve Hackett, Rick Wakeman, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Robert Fripp, Kate Bush, Adrian Belew, and maybe Kate Bush.

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