My first celebrity interview was to be The Rovers. A Canadian music staple, they were going through a rebirth and thus were no longer Irish in name. It was an attempt to go mainstream country and leave their green-alligator-and-long-necked-geese persona of a novelty act behind them. I was very excited. Who hadn’t seen them on TV? They were real Canadian stars at that time.
They were staying at a hotel a mere 4 blocks from the radio station in Prince George, B.C., but when they didn’t show up at the scheduled time, group member Jimmy Ferguson informed me by phone that they would not be “walking the streets in this God damned frigid weather” and told me to send a cab. I couldn’t put my finger on his attitude at the time but now I realize it was a sense of entitlement. His days of limos were gone – if they had ever arrived – and he was bitter about his diminishing status in the entertainment community, at least on that day. I was flat broke, as usual, so I summoned my Program Director and asked if there were a few bucks in the kitty to hire a taxi for these famous musicians. No way, I was told. Go get them yourself. So I did. I played chauffeur and crammed 3 Rovers into my tiny Chevy Monza. Jimmy Ferguson, the large, round one, got in the front passenger seat of my little car. We took a very awkward ride to the radio station, my thoughts foremost on not getting into an accident which would hold me responsible to the rest of the country for killing these well known performers.
When we parked, Jimmy – for some reason – decided to let the two other group members out of the back seat before exiting my car himself. His attempts to move the seat forward failed, so there I was, leaning down beneath the belly and between the legs of the rotund singer, pulling a lever that allowed the seat to slide ahead. The two smaller men inched out of the car and I waited for Jimmy to do the same. “Uh”, he said. “Er, I’m stuck.” He was indeed. His large stomach was smushed against the dashboard and there was no way I … or anyone else… was going to be able to simply reach over and release him by moving the lever. I was going to have to go in for a close-up. Talk about your awkward moments!
I exited the driver’s door and rushed to the passenger side, throwing open his door and wedging myself down by his nether regions to release the handle. The seat thumped back with a gasp. Jimmy was free and with not so much as a thank you he lumbered out of my small car and followed me inside.
It was an awful interview. I was unprepared and they were uninteresting. It went on too long and Jimmy was haughty and rude. I was extremely grateful when the trio informed me they’d be finding their own way back to the hotel. After our earlier fiasco, I guess they decided it wasn’t too cold to walk after all.