My Jackson Browne Moment

It was a show I was looking forward to working all summer. Jackson Browne. I ‘d been a fan of his since I heard Doctor My Eyes as a kid back in the early 70’s. He cemented my fanship in 1977 with the Running of Empty album. A true WOW work of art. His music is high quality, his lyrics outstanding, can you blame me for being a fan?
But, on that summer night at Sandstone Amphitheatre, working my favorite front stage security duty, I found out something about the character of the man, Jackson Browne. There was a chance of a storm that night, but everything goes smooth as silk as the crowd arrives. Over the western ridge of the general admission seating hill, dark, black clouds begin to roll in, peppered with lightning. Then the show starts and it’s magic.
One of the best things about working front stage security is watching the faces of the crowd light up and sing along. The rain starts several songs into the set and rapidly turns into a deluge.  Sheets of water, wind, lightning, and claps of thunder pelt the crowd the stage and the band. The band is looking at Jackson Browne, waiting for him to call it and send them offstage. A  gust of wind shakes loose a huge speaker hung from the roof  and it crashes to the stage. The band stops playing and they meet for a brief meeting in front of the drum kit, where their fearless leader sends them offstage. Many in the crowd have already bailed, so the crowd of 10,000 is probably down to 10% of its original size.  The rain draining down the amphitheatre hill is pooling at the bottom of the hill. I am literally standing in thigh high water at the front of the stage. As long as there is one fan , we hold our post.
I have seen many shows in my life. and have worked many of these shows. I can honestly say 99% of the performers would have walked off that stage and given in to the elements. 99% of performers would have considered themselves going above and beyond the call of duty even attempting to play through the weather conditions thus far, but not Jackson Browne. He stands solo behind his electric piano and continues the show. It is so good, but after a couple more songs, a huge lightning bolt, with an almost immediate earth shaking clap of thunder, strikes. This not only sends most of the crowd in a forced retreat, but blows up Jackson’s electric keyboard with a flash of sparks and smoke. He jumps back and unplugs the keyboard, then apologizes to the crowd that he is giving up. Head down, he walks off the stage.
To me, I would have felt like the artist gave his all in this incident. No questions asked, the man could have been killed up there. But, a-holes being a-holes, about 30 people swarm the front of the stage and start screaming about getting ripped off. Are you kidding me, people? is the thought running through my head. These people are so pissed off at the “prima donna” star, they won’t quit. After about 15 minutes of this, and mind you, it is still storming, Jackson Browne comes back out to the front of the stage to personally apologize to this angry mob.
Unfortunately, this is not good enough for these idiots. One monster of a man just rips into Jackson Browne, cussing, name calling, the whole nine yard.  He keep going on and on about getting ripped off  the $40 he paid for his ticket. Jackson Browne, superstar, rock and roll hall of famer, and apparently an all around good guy, gives a response which will always be burned into my memory banks.
He pulls out a money clip from his pocket. “I’ll refund the ticket price for anyone who really wants it.”
Out of the crowd of 30 or so people, only about five (including Mr. A-hole, of course) people take the money. The others slide away, embarrassed to have complained. Brilliant. If that is what a spoiled, prima donna, rock and roll superstar is like, then count me in.

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