Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Ronnie Spector's guitar player, Tor Newcomer, tells us how he wound up playing in her band and the famed 21 Club in New York City.
Tor Newcomer is a perfectly cool name for a musician. A cool dude for sure, an excellent musician.
You know how we all meet people by chance, well, that's how I met Ronnie Spector, by chance, and ended up in her band.
I often played at The Terrace Club, located in Stamford Ct, one of the hottest venues in the New York tri-state area. Chris Donahue, aka C.D., the owner of The Terrace Club, a friend of Ronnie's, mentioned that Ronnie was looking for a lead guitar player. It ended up being me. The rest is history, nine months of some of my most incredible memories.
We were giggin at the 21 Club on a special occasion for Helen Gurley Brown's birthday party.
As usual, Ronnie sang her heart out. Like all stars, she had "it."
Once the gig was over, I became overwhelmed with one thought while packing up our gear.
"We just played in one of the coolest venues of all time!"
(The speakeasy, The 21 Club, has a spectacular secret hidden wine cellar and, after prohibition, U.S. Presidents dined there.)
I loaded up my guitar and amp, packed it in the van, and went back to do the same for Beth Syles, our keyboard player.
The 21 Club had a row of beautifully painted cast iron lawn jockeys statues. Seemingly shoulder to shoulder, from the top front porch balcony rapping all the way down the curved stairway.
Now with Beth's keyboard in my arms, I held the door open with one foot, quickly twisted around, and at the precise moment, everything went into slow motion!
As I watched a painted cast iron jockey wobble, momentum building, more wobble, and more wobble, the sound of the wobbling scared the crap out of me.
Was my future with Ronnie over? My momentum carried that keyboard managed to bang right into jockey numero uno. A perfect blow, just at the ideal angle. If this lawn jockey toppled, the others would have too, going down like dominos. My brain remained in slow motion, my career flashed before me, and because of me, Ronnie's too.
The jockey remarkably settled back into its original spot. I could feel a smile come upon the jockey's face as it was breaking my chops. I exhaled with relief. I took a pause, looked around, finally back in real-time. Gingerly down those famous steps, free at last.
There would be no photos, no New York headlines of the 21 Club jockey disaster. Because there was none!
Instead, only the photo-ops of Ronnie singing her heart out. As it should be.
Ronnie was always wonderful to me. I cherish that memory of that night. I had a blast playing with Ronnie, a genuine thrill, and a story to tell.
Ronnie will be missed. Ronnie inspired so many, including Bruce Springsteen and Brian Wilson.
Ronnie's vision and talent changed Rock'N'Roll forever.
Bless you, Ronnie Spector. Rest In Peace.
Be my baby
You can find Tor Newcomer links to Facebook https://www.facebook.com/tornewstore/
some more links
www.21club.com/history with Ronnie Spector www.ronniespector.com
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