Stevie Rachelle recalls how Tuff’s 1990 US east coast tour with Britny Fox ended after one show
Tuff singer and Metal Sludge principal Stevie Rachelle continues to share his story via a series of articles on Metal Sludge called the Tuff Diaries and is now on his 11th instalment where he recalls how Tuff‘s 1990 US east coast tour with Britny Fox ended after one show.
East Coast here we come.
Tuff has officially booked an East Coast tour with our friends Britny Fox.
Our management Power Star also reps Britny Fox and secured us these dates.
We’re flying into Philadelphia and the tour will start at “The Living Room” in Rhode Island on April 16th 1990.
Then we’re set to play Boston, Albany, Poughkeepsie and Massachusetts as well.
Our band has been rocking the West Coast for several years now and have also performed throughout the Mid-West, so now it’s time to take Tuff Muff Mania to the Atlantic side of the U.S..
The plan is we will rent a van and drive (follow) behind the Britny Fox tour bus.
We’ll then share general backline with their guitarist and bassist…..
It’s the first full day of the tour and we load up our rental van and head to a local rehearsal space.
The Britny Fox tour bus is there, roadies loading gear and the guys are all showing up.
Except “Dizzy” Dean Davidson.
If my memory is correct, he didn’t ride with the band and flew into Rhode Island instead.
Or maybe, he just was last to arrive, I forget.
Either way…Dean was very serious once he arrived and seemed to be all business.
The other guys, Michael Kelly-Smith (Guitars), Johnny Dee (Drums) and bassist Billy Childs were all very nice to us.
Not that Dean wasn’t, but he was fairly distant and didn’t interact much with any of us.
Michael Lean and Johnny Dee hit it off right away talking shop about drums.
Johnny was super helpful as was his tech, and those guys were like 2 peas in a pod pretty quick.
We were super excited to be on tour, especially in an area we’d never been to before. And making friends with guys in these Platinum selling MTV faves was necessary.
Michael Kelly-Smith was kind of quiet, but Billy like Johnny was very cool.
I recall Billy making all of us feel welcome and he was one of the guys for sure.
The tour is off and we start our 5 hour journey towards Rhode Island.
Upon arrival the tour bus pulls into the parking lot outside “The Living Room”.
I vividly remember fans already at the club.
I also recall that as Tuff got out of our Van, several of the kids (fans) seemed equally as interested in Tuff as the guys in Britny Fox.
Of course we were the hot up n’ coming band, voted the #1 unsigned band according to Rock Scene Magazine just a year earlier, so we seemed to fit right in.
Tuff was making a name for ourselves and we were elated to be meeting East Coast fans.
I recall the dressing room at “The Living Room” was covered in graffiti.
So, we added to it…writing TUFF in big letters on the walls, with the date, etc..
I remember seeing the same from other touring bands who had previously played there…one name that stood out, Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Note, this was before they became mega giants playing arenas.
So our first ever East Coast show was a hit.
The place was packed, and there were hundreds of fans going crazy as we played our guts out.
It’s April 1990, I just turned 24, Todd and Jorge are 23 and Michael is 22 years old.
We’re young, hungry and ready to take on the world.
I recall late that night at the hotel our manager told us we sold more merchandise than Britny Fox.
I also recall him having a concerned look in his eye. Not that he was mad, but I think he had foresight as to what might be to come.
That night we partied, hung with girls and lived life like rock stars on tour.
Because, we were just that – rocks stars (in the making) on tour. Lol.
Day #3 of the tour was a day off and we drove in the rain to Boston.
It was a short drive, about an hour.
After checking into the motel we loaded up our van and went to the local mall.
We were taking it all in and it felt awesome.
Sure, we had toured the West Coast for years now, played hundreds of shows throughout the Mid-West and Texas too.
But being East of the Mississippi felt different and we were ready for anything.
We returned from the Mall and it was the late afternoon.
As we settled into our rooms we heard some commotion in the hallway.
Loud voices, and some rumblings of sort.
I don’t know why, but my first thought was, “The Britny guys are horsing around, rough housing or playing a tour prank on us.”
So we jump up to see what all the excitement is about.
Upon exiting our hotel room I see Michael Kelly-Smith laying on the floor and everyone is shouting.
I also see “Dizzy” Dean Davidson fuming mad.
Everyone is trying to calm Dean down and essentially hold him back.
Michael is hurt, Johnny Dee and Billy Childs along with tour manager Richie Wuestenberg are all there and it’s a cluster of F-bombs, pushing and shoving.
At first glance, again I wasn’t sure if they were playing football in the halls or this was real.
Well, in short order a few of the guys were pushing Dean back as he spewed verbal attacks and insults at the other members of Britny Fox.
In a blink of an eye it was over.
And not just their fight.
The whole tour.
Over, done, do not pass go!
Correct…our East Coast tour was about to be over after only 1 show.
It’s now an hour or so later and we’re talking to our manager, the tour manager and trying to figure out WTF is going on.
At some point the Britny camp and management asked me to go try and talk to Dean.
You see I was the straight laced guy in Tuff.
In a nutshell, I didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, no drugs and didn’t even have a tattoo.
Dean himself was very straight edge and it seems part of the issue was he didn’t like the other guys in the band partying, womanizing, etc..
Before I knew it I was knocking on Dean’s motel room door and he let me in.
I sat and watched him fold clothes and pack his suitcase.
He then spent several minutes quoting Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of Kiss.
I say that loosely, but he did mention Kiss and their policies regarding their band.
And of course everyone knows the history that Ace and Peter were at some point left behind for similar (questionable lifestyle) choices.
Dean was very cool to me and even noted that he knew that I was a non-user and tried to give me his thoughts and reasons for what was about to happen.
I asked, “So, you are leaving the tour? You’re going home? Tonight?””
To which he replied, “Yes, yes and I will be headed to the train station shortly.”
I don’t remember all that was said, but I definitely tried my hardest to persuade him not to leave.
Something else I recall was that it all this seemed to be somewhat premeditated.
Meaning I recall Dean telling me about his next project, he had the players, the songs and a new record deal in place as well.
Side Note: Fast forward, all that came true and fairly quickly as Dean’s new band Blackeyed Susan released their debut on May 7th 1991.
More notes, the Britny Fox tour we were on (April 1990) was a leg for the “Boys In Heat” album which was released December 17th 1989.
The date of this Britny Fox argument, fight and ultimate break-up was April 17th 1990.
Exactly 4 months to the date from their second and final release with that line-up.
So after months of planning, thousands of dollars in flights, rental agreements, hotels booked and shows promoted .. it was over.
Within a few hours of the fight in the motel hall Dean was gone and the tour cancelled.
The next day we drove the 300+ mile trek from Boston back to Philadelphia.
All the while our manager was changing our flights and the very next day we stood at the Philly airport checking guitars, basses and luggage for our flight home.
Sure some of you will say or ask, “Why didn’t you go do the shows on your own?”
That was considered, but we were a package deal.
Tuff were also using the Britny Fox backlines, road crew, etc…
Also, the clubs themselves were selling tickets for a co-bill headlined by a Platinum selling MTV artist who had previously toured supporting Poison playing to sold out arenas.
Now Britny Fox was off the tour, and Tuff was an unsigned band from Hollywood with a buzz.
Welcome to the record industry.
We did nothing wrong.
No one got arrested, we didn’t start a bar-fight or fuck the other band’s girlfriends (yet).
Oh well, this is what it was like for Tuff as we tried to claw our way to the top.
I know my story has been experienced by other bands, both bigger than us and smaller the same.
But there are some things you cannot control and it’s all the reason more, as to why it really is no easy task to do what we (us) bands do.
No matter what you think of certain bands, or how lame their music is (to you) – this takes a lot of organization and dedication from all involved.
Many of you reading this right now can think back to a show, a tour or a band whose career took a turn for a multitude of reasons.
Was it a member who got injured, a player quit or worse yet – overdosed, or maybe even died.
In this case, Dean’s obsession with the band not following or adhering to his every wish caused a rift and dissention within the band.
There were band meetings, and that day in Boston was just that – a band meeting.
Words were exchanged, it got heated and all boiled over resulting in assault and injury.
From my recollection Michael’s arm was broke or severely injured to where he could not play.
I wasn’t privy to all of what happened throughout the Britny Fox career but there were things talked about, said and alleged that were a bit silly.
Something I heard more than once was that Dean wanted the band to rehearse on off-days or record in the bus.
Now I know a lot of bands who have recorded on the road during tours.
But at the same time, not everyone wants to do that.
Going on tour is a privilege not a right.
Since starting this music stuff I have been to 42 states and 29 countries on 4 continents.
Sure I have rehearsed to start a tour or get acquainted with players in other countries. But once the shows get underway, the live show is like a rehearsal on steroids.
It’s hard to gauge, but I feel it’s safe to say that the East Coast tour cost us thousands of dollars.
And in the end, we played 1 show.
“The Living Room” in Providence Rhode Island.
In a crazy way, it was pay-to-play only we chose a show that was 2,968 miles away from our home base.
It’s stuff like this that would drive anyone nuts.
Or to drink, or do drugs.
Looking back, now I understand why so many guys did such things.”