Thursday, December 08, 2011

Doane Perry explains

Doane Perry
On November 1, 1997, brothers Eric, Calee, and I found ourselves at the Hult Center in Eugene, Oregon to see our favorite rock band, Jethro Tull.  I don't remember much about the show, itself, I'm afraid.  I've seen so many Jethro Tull shows (perhaps a dozen), that they all run together.

But the reason this show stands out in my memory is because, after the show, my brothers and I hung out at the stage door to see if we could snag an autograph or two.  (Eric and I got to meet Ian Anderson (himself!) in 1994 after a show in Portland.)

We waited for quite a while, along with probably two dozen other fans.  As the time stretched, the crowd dwindled.  Eventually, one of the security staff (and what an obnoxious lot they were) came out to announce that the band had all left by another exit. 
As we turned to leave, two Englishmen, obviously with the band, came out.  They saw us. "Sorry, fellows, everyone's gone," one of them said.  "Except for Doane."  He looked at his companion.  "Doane's still here, isn't he?"  The other man shrugged.

They'd hardly finished this exchange when Doane came out the door.  He wore his iconic red beret.  A gym bag was slung over his shoulder.  Doane Perry stands some 6 and a half feet tall.  His face is oval, with a high forehead and owlish eyes.  He joined Jethro Tull as the band's drummer in 1984. 

We were thrilled to meet him and he amiably agreed to sign our playbills.  I wanted to make the most of the opportunity, but I couldn't think of a good question.  It was Calee who finally came out with one.  "Will you help me settle a bet with my brother?  Who's a better guitarist?  Steve Howe? Or Ian Anderson?"

I've always remembered Doane's answer.  He smiled and shook his head.  "There's no 'better' in music.  There is 'faster' or 'more techincal.'  But there is no 'better.'"

It was so self-evident that I felt foolish not knowing what his answer was before he said it.  It is a lesson I've carried with me ever since.

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