The Olivia Newton-John “Physical Tour” in 1982 was a whole bunch of fun for me, mainly because everything in regards to touring was new. I was extremely lucky and fortunate in that I totally bypassed that whole “get in the van” grind of touring. My touring career started at a whole ‘nother level. I didn’t experience van touring until much later, and just enough to realize that it ain’t my bag.
Olivia herself was a sweetheart. Not that I spent a lot of time hanging out with her, but whenever I did come into contact with her, she was always sweet and nice. At the end of tour party, she even came up to each and every one in the crew and gave each of us a tour bonus check. I got $500. Back then that was a nice bonus for a summer tour. At least it was to me.
On this tour, I was responsible for 3 guys. Buzz Feiten, whose guitar rig I designed and built, legendary bassist Robert “Pops” Popwell (of The Crusaders, among many others)And a new guy I had met recently who was about to change my life in a very profound way, Michael Landau. I actually met Mike at a Tom Scott recording session for the record “Desire”.
This was a live to two track recording at Ocean Way Studios in Hollywood. Buzzy was on the date too, and that was when I found out Mike was to be on the Olivia tour as well.
I was there doing something for Buzzy (it seemed back then I was always doing something for Buzzy), and here was this guy with his Mesa Boogie amps along with a few gizmos, and we got to talking. The rest is history. Needless to say, we became fast friends, and got to know each other a little on Olivia’s tour that summer. As the band traveled separately from the crew, I would generally see him mainly on show days, and sometimes on days off. This is where we started planning a rig for him, which took on many permutations over years. I can say with confidence that many (or most) of the early major breakthroughs I had when it comes to guitar system design came about with Mike Landau as the catalyst.
Much much more on Mike later….
Buzzy had a crazy rig at the time, and it seemed we were always tweeking something, either effects, how they were in the signal path, or the guitars themselves. Buzzy was what I call a “seeker”…never quite satisfied, but appreciative of my efforts. After all, we were in uncharted territory and I was happy to have someone always open to my suggestions, as I was trying out new ideas all the time too. Check out photos elsewhere on the site to see what I mean.
Buzz played through Yamaha solid state 1-12 combo amps, and always had his sound no matter what he was playing through at the time. I had loved his playing long before I met him,and can pick him out anywhere. As you might imagine it got fairly loud at times. I’ll never forget the legendary Tom Scott, the musical director, looking over to his left and shouting …”guys…guys!!…your hurting me!!”
Now Pops Popwell was a piece of cake. A Fender Precision Bass and an Acoustic 360 Amp/Cabinet. Speaking of cake, Pops was on some kind of wacky diet. He would carry a bag around with him, and when he would sit down to eat, he would chew his food, then try to discreetly spit the chewed food into hs hand, and put it in the bag. I guess he just wanted the taste! No handshakes at catering!