Exclusive Extract From Brian Tatler’s Autobiography
Diamond Head guitarist Brian Tatler will have his autobiography published next month. Co-written with John Tucker, it’s called Am I Evil? and tells the inside story of one of the most iconic and influential of all New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands. Come inside for an exclusive extract.
Here, Brian recalls Diamond Head supporting AC/DC in early 1980, how drummer Duncan Scott had problems with his drum sound, how bassist Colin Kimberley nicked Bon Scott’s bottle of JD – and how ‘DC manager Peter Mensch nearly signed them…
We arrived at the venue for our soundcheck and began unloading our gear from various boxes and bread crates. AC/DC had 5K of monitors which seemed incredible to us at the time: I don’t think we had played with a 5K PA before! They didn’t show up for a soundcheck, their crew did it for them, so that left us plenty of time. Duncan started with his first tom – dum-dum-dum – and their sound engineer said: “It’s a bit out of tune.” So Dunc scrabbled around for a drum key, turned a few lugs: dum-dum-dum…
“That’s worse than it was the first time, mate!”
“Yeah, I know; it’s this drum key,” replied Duncan.
A bit more fiddling: dum-dum-dum…
“Hey, guy, why don’t you go and get a drink, we’ll get one of our guys to look at it for you.” So Phil Rudd’s drum tech did all the tuning, dampening and soundcheck for Dunc, which we thought was very cool.
When we hit the stage to 3,000 rock fans, who seemed to like us, we thought: “This is how it works. This is the real thing.” After that reaction we thought the world was our lobster. It was a glimpse of what could be. I saw Bon Scott watching us from the side of the stage. He even gave Duncan his bottle of Jack Daniel’s when we came off.
Afterwards we went out front and sat in the balcony to watch the main event. Their lighting crew had forgotten to bring the gels so all the 1,000 watt par cans were white and very hot; we thought it looked so good we considered doing it ourselves! Colin took Bon’s now near-empty bottle home, proudly stating it would be worth a fortune in years to come. He put it in the drinks cabinet, but some weeks later when he went to take it out to show it off he found his dad had drunk the remaining whiskey and slung the bottle out.
Backstage we had a chat with AC/DC’s manager Peter Mensch who at the time worked for top US management company Leber/Krebs. He seemed to know exactly how the business worked and it’s a shame he didn’t offer to take on the management of Diamond Head there and then as things would have been very different. Duncan heard that Peter Mensch was looking at both Diamond Head and Def Leppard at the same time. Maybe he reasoned that Leppard’s current managers would be easier to remove than ours? Whatever, it seemed odd that Peter Mensch came into our dressing room for a chat. Later, when we supported Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath; their managers were not as congenial.
I think Mensch wanted to figure us out, see if there was any potential. According to journalist Chris Collingwood: “I remember talking to Peter Mensch about Diamond Head. He told me he’d love to manage them but couldn’t get near the band. They were ‘off limits’ because they were managed by Sean’s mom, who was a very poor manager, and as far as he was concerned this showed that the band lacked the ambition he required – so no way was he going to pursue this. That is pretty much verbatim, and was said by Mensch in his barking monologue style.”
I can’t remember too much about Southampton, other than Robert Ellis was taking pictures of us. Duncan remembers: “As I got up behind my kit I accidentally kicked over a pint glass of Cola and it went straight into the stage box, and I was looking at it frothing away while I was playing thinking: ‘Oh my God, the PA’s gonna blow up!’”
Brain Tatler’s book can be pre-ordered now through the website www.diamond-head.net It costs £16.95 plus £3 p&p (if you are in the UK) or £5 p&p (if you live outside the UK)