Photo by Raymond Goodman
Gilmore, far left, with Patty Hurst Shifter and McLagan, center.
In 2003, my band, Patty Hurst Shifter
, was in Austin for SXSW. After a boozy afternoon of playing day parties, and with no shows to play that night, we piled into a friend’s car and headed away from the 6th Street madness, down South Lamar Boulevard to catch Ian McLagan’s set at the Saxon Pub. Eight of us crammed into a Camry. Marc Smith, our guitar player, rode in the trunk.
It was worth it: One of Mac’s old bands, Faces
, was a PHS favorite. Their music was never far from the stereo in our bubble-topped Econoline. The records were a regular soundtrack to our late-night drives and a reference for us as a band, too.
We pulled into the parking lot of the club, and then things get a little hazy. Remember, it was SXSW. But we ran into Mac outside the club, all of us a little starstruck. He couldn’t have been sweeter and more welcoming to our drunken fawning. We went into a not-so-crowded Saxon and watched Mac and his band run through old Faces numbers and his newer songs, all held together by his Hammond B3 organ. I was standing just to the side of Mac when they started "Cindy Incidentally," Mac seeming to forget the opening lines. I yelled out "Oh Cindy, ain't ya noticed?" He was off. After the song, he thanked me from the stage, calling me Ratchet, a nickname that stuck around for the rest of the tour.
When PHS was recording what would be our last record, we contacted Mac and he agreed to play B3 on one of the tracks, "The Sadder Side."
Our bass player, Johny Williams, had left the band before we recorded the album but came in and played some percussion on the track so he could say he was on a record with Mac. None of us could really believe that we were working with the same guy that played on "Some Girls."
A year or so later, Mac came through town with his Bump Band to play a show at the Pour House. Afterwards we took him down to Lizzie's on Martin Street (now Neptune's). We drank pints of Guinness until way after closing, listening to his jokes and stories about his friend and former bandmate, the late Ronnie Lane.
I’ve met my share of famous musicians. Some were pricks, and others were polite, if relatively uninterested in small talk backstage. Some were even perfectly friendly. None were as welcoming and down-to-earth as Mac. Everybody was his equal. Everybody was his friend. He wanted to laugh with all of us.
Mac was in town again recently for a show at Kings. I didn’t go. Who knows the excuse—too late, too tired, too whatever? I know if I had gone, he would’ve remembered me and would’ve never called me by my real name, but instead Ratchet, Spindle or whatever else popped into his white-haired head.
Cheers, Mac: As Rod sang in "Cindy Incidentally," “This dream can pass just as fast as lightning.”