Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Big Mistake

One of the stupidest things I ever did was leave the show early in the 1976 season. It was mid August, and my girlfriend back home was growing increasingly insistent that we get married right away. She was kind of frantic about it, and I thought I loved her so I told Jon I had to go. He was not happy.

A senior member of the band took me aside and told me that if I did this – if I left the gig to get married – I would never play professionally again. He was right, sort of… I didn’t play seriously again until I got rid of her.

I packed my stuff in a duffle bag and rode my thumb through Yellowstone back to Powell, Wyoming. By the time I hooked up with my girlfriend she had pretty much forgotten about marriage. I knew then I had made a horrible mistake.

A few months later in Phoenix she woke up on a Sunday morning and told me she had been unfaithful. I cried, and asked her only if the guy was still around and it was still going on. She said no. I didn’t want to know any of the details. It was the beginning of the end, and I dumped her not too long after.

Over time I convinced myself she had been screwing around while I was at Dirty Jack’s. Later reports from friends confirmed it. The whole “let’s get married” thing was some kind of sick mind-fuck. I was an idiot for falling for it.

When I left Dirty Jack’s that August, Jon Stainbrook owed me a week’s worth of pay, and he never sent it. I could not really blame him, since I was leaving the show abruptly and leaving for the worst of reasons. Being an old war-horse actor, he was probably doing me a favor by rubbing it in.

I’ve often wondered what might have happened if I had stayed to close the show. Maybe a couple members of the band and I would have struck out for LA or Austin or Nashville to try our luck. Who knows where it might have led. Now, all these years later, after all the twists my life has taken, I’m still paying the price for that mistake, and I’m still trying to undo it. I think that’s part of what this website is all about.