The Shaky tour of the
Eastern Bloc was very interesting, and cold!!!
We had to go to Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and
finish in East Berlin (before the Wall came down!).
We had been told that, on arrival in Warsaw, we would
have a one hour flight to Gdansk (north--even colder!).
However, in true rocknroll tradition, there was
no plane (thinking about it though, it didnt do
Buddy Holly much good did it?). So we were provided with
a crap old bus for the 5 hour drive to Gdansk, in
the dark, on treacherous roads! (aint it great
being a rocknroll star). There was ice, on
the inside of the bus, and we arrived frozen.
When we got there, Shaky (hed been in Germany doing
TV and had arrived earlier) or someone, had got the Hotel
to keep some food for us all, and the beer was flowing (purely
to warm us up of course). Shaky and I started to mess
about with a bit of a tune then I realised this could be
quite good and so I went up to my room and got my
Walkman and recorded what we were doing. I
eventually took the song home and worked on it, and it
eventually became If I Cant Have You Baby,
the b-side of the song that brought to an end Shakys
incredible run of hits Feel The Need In Me.
Freya Miller told me that it would be on the flip side of
What Do You Wanna Make Those Eyes At Me For
which had been the record before, and had been a big
hit. She decided to put something else on
that b-side, and the song Shaky and I had written, was
scheduled for the next single! Just my luck. I was
pleased though to have written one with Shaky and have it
recorded. Id never got that lucky with Cliff,
something always happened to prevent it!
One of the gigs in Poland took us to a few miles from the
Russian border. This was cold!!! En route to the gig at
Bialystok, we came across the equipment truck, frozen
solid in the middle of the night.The driver had lit a fire
under the truck to try to thaw out the diesel. It freezes
at temperatures more than 15 degrees below, I think it
was 25 below that night!
One of the gigs in East
Germany was in a converted gymnasium, and the crush of
people pushing the stage, made the stage begin to
collapse while we were standing in the wings waiting to
go on!! The show was delayed for quite a while, as the
crew tried to wedge the stage together. You dont
get this excitement working in a bank, do you? I
remember another of the gigs in an ice-rink
we all went on in our overcoats!! Now Im an
animal lover, but I even wore a fur hat in those
The tour eventually reached East Berlin, where we
recorded a 'live' TV show, WHICH I HAVENT GOT, BUT
WOULD LIKE A COPY OF! The next day we headed for
Checkpoint Charlie and back into the West. We
were so glad to get back to civilisation, the first stop
we made was McDonalds! What does that tell you?
Photographs © copyright Tony Rivers
Leaving Gdansk in our ‘Luxury Coach’
Note the 3 ‘Shakettes’ in the distance.
This is a colour picture!
The ‘Biyalistok Hillbillies’ relaxing
in catering before the show!
Brandenburg Gate,East Berlin.
Before the ‘Wall’ came down.
"Vegegurger to go, bitte!"