Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Strange Stories Behind 'Strange Animal,' Gowan's 30-Year-Old Classic Album

I might be misinterpreting it a bit, but did "Strange Animal" get you fired from Ronnie Hawkins' band?

That's a better story than the real one, close though. Ronnie has always been an astute individual and still is... So on January 10, 1985 we played the Toronto Auto Show down at the Automotive Building at the C.N.E. I was his piano player and what would be my trademark mullet was well on my head at that point. And about a week later, on January 15, "A Criminal Mind" was released. Two days later, we're only at January 17, we were playing at the auto show in Montreal.

So we finished our first set and by the end of that set there was a gathering of people by stage right (in front of me), and I could hear them between songs saying things to each other in French. And I heard the words "le criminal," "le criminal guy, no?" And I thought, "Are they talking about 'Criminal Mind'?" So the set ends, and as we're stepping off the stage Ronnie's behind me, and a fan asks, "Are you that 'Criminal Mind' guy?"

I was stunned. And I went, "Yes!" And immediately all these hands went up with papers to sign. So in that moment it kinda blocked Ronnie a bit, and Ronnie's going around me — there were some people getting his autograph as well — and as Ronnie steps around me he says, [affects Hawkins' southern drawl] "It looks like you done played your last show with me, son."
So I won't take that as a firing, I'll take that as a bon voyage.

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