PILGRIM 20. October 1998
Well, now I come to my special highlight. With this concert it began to become hard to get tickets because of the immense demand. A friend of mine, the restless Sylvia, as a matter of fact dug up two tickets... though for horrendous prices, but it's been worth it, as it turned out later on. The concert itself had been very impressive.... especially to realize, how the songs from PILGRIM have got an own live and became pretty powerful. Particularly TEARS IN HEAVEN, which I experienced for the first time live in a concert, touched me very much. For the second time a few tears flowed in an EC-concert.
BONNIE RAITT was allowed to be the Opening Act. But this didin't touch me that much.
Together with us two other friends, Michael "Chappi" and Markus, had been in Frankfurt and the two of them had tickets for the VIP-Lounge. The four of us made our way to this VIP-Lounge after the concert (with a little persuasion and coolness it worked out, because actually only two tickets were available).
Young Ladies walked around with tablets loaded with wine and snacks - all for free of course... So at first we helped our self on this. Even guitar-strings
one could get... how cool was that. Someone made us aware of the fact that further ahead in the room even guitars had been displayed, and now I became curious. So, now I left the others behind me and got on my way to look out for the guitars... I went through the room, didn't found any guitars, I had to struggle through a dense crowd of people, but still didn't see any guitars, so back again, again through the crowd and here we are... there they stood... a Fender Mexico-Strat finished in the VW-Soundfoundation-Colours and what else... of course a Fender EC-Signature Strat in black. Well, I walked straight to them and what could see my delighted eyes?... they even have been pluged in to some little Fender transistor-practicing amplifiers, with a headphone and switched on. So "ready to rock"... also a bar stool to sit on stood parat... and I will not pass up such an invitation. A young lady stood near by to watch the guitars. As a matter of form asked whether I could play a bit. She agreed, so I fingered a pick out of my pocket, put the bag with the merchandising stuff aside, headphones on, conquered the bar-stool and right away picked up the EC-Strat.
Even with headphones through
this transistor-bit… damn’, the Clapton-tone is in there. It is a great
guitar... the handling, the well-thought-out electronics, the sound and also
the look fits. So while I was playing my stuff that came to my mind that very
moment… a few EC-licks (what else) and soloed (no one heard it beside
myself)… this female guard touched me on my shoulder after approx. 5
minutes and asked me to take off the headphone… obedient as I am I do so and
thought, ooops all over now already? But she said to me: “Right now you are
playing under the eyes of Eric Clapton”… I thought… she’s going to wind
me up… and am about to put on the headphones again… so she repeated it more
articulated and louder: “Right now you are playing under the eyes of Eric
Clapton”… now, though being shure that I understood the words correctly, I can't
believe it and look for some small hidden cameras or something at first…. but
negative – nothing to see… still looking very unbelievingly, she pointed to
the right (from my view) and I still do not see a thing... only if I stretch and
bow myself a bit, I can see HIM… ERIC CLAPTON, also sitting on a bar-stool,
watching litt’l ol’ Pit Schmidt strumming and then smirking at me. Of course this surprised
me tremendously, but I managed to
keep the countenance so that I could send a friendly smile back to him and salute
with my hand. He must have given the young lady an appropriate sign… and now I
knew why there’s been this crowd of people which I crossed twice earlier ;-o)
yeep, I think I’ve been the only one who ran around dressed like this there. At first I felt myself pretty much displaced. Of course I was a “little” irritated, but have continued to play a bit more after our glances parted. Put back the guitar into it’s stand and made my way back to my people to tell them the news. We then decided that we all shall move once more relaxed into EC’s direction, because at least they wanted to have a glance on him. Sylvia hardly could contain herself and snatched an autograph on the especially for this case brought along A3-format-EC-calendar. She was absolutely convinced that we will get to see him. Sometimes I think she really has got some hyper-sensitive voodoo-antennas. Well she’s been proved right. I got up all my courage and walked on to him, having my tour-program and pen ready and was able to get through to him without being held back… in retrospective, I think this only has been possible, because he had given appropriate signs to his bodyguards… and before I even could say at least one word of my prepared sentence, he received me with the words: “How do you like the guitar?” Inwardly I was completely blown away, however I managed it to give a relaxed answer, that I enjoyed it and like it a lot, and that I’ve got the same pick-ups in my Fender American Standard, but without the mid-boost. *) He confirmed this with a friendly smile and I grabbed my tour-program and the pen out of my bag asking him for an autograph.
*) EDIT: today I do own two of his signature guitars... a 1989 BLACKIE and a 2004 Custom Shop BLACKIE. I wished I had them already at that time... *lol*
Willingly he gave it to me, but then he indicated to me that he wants to have his privacy again and I withdraw myself highly pleased. It took a long time until I could really believe that it indeed had happened. Later we talked to some guys from VW and they meant, we had been absolutely lucky guys… first up to this day he didn’t show up after a concert in the VIP-Lounge during this tour and second no one else at all had got an autograph this night, including themselves. Eric stayed approximately half an hour in the lounge before he toddled off again. Whilst all this, even the rest of the band showed up as well. This was a chance for me to get an autograph of the great STEVE GADD...
After all this excitements, the nice EC-Strat again had to be the one “to suffer” my treatment, because it still stood there ready to be played. Around half past three in the night we hit the road back home to Darmstadt… floating, dreaming, exhausted and slightly mellow due to the free red-wine.
All in all one can say, it has been one of the most pleasant moments in my live. This “How do you like the guitar”, not filtered through some electronic media or amplifiers, from human-being to human-being -unplugged- still rings in my ears. A dream of mine that came true. As the cream of the crop, I was able to snatch an original- guitar-pick from Lee Dickson after the concert.
© Mai 2018 Pit Schmidt