TUFF DIARIES by Stevie Rachelle — Our end of summer tour is coming and fast.
But before July is over one of the single biggest events in our band’s history will happen.
At this point in the music industry MTV was God.
And the channel was just a few days away from turning 10.
MTV first aired on August 1st 1981, and it changed a lot of our lives.
For our generation, MTV was part of our youth growing up, and was in a lot of ways our social media outlet that exposed us to music and celebrities.
I can vividly recall watching this channel after school and seeing Duran Duran, Prince, DEVO, U2, Flock Of Seaguls and Madonna all as new artists.
It’s now a decade later, and Tuff are also a new recording artist.
The weekly MTV add report was a huge deal for all record labels.
And even bigger for the bands.
Just like Billboard reporting the band’s chart positions, or Monday Morning Quarterback tracking radio play, the MTV weekly report was equally as important.
Every Friday MTV would release The Complete MTV Update.
This was a report compiled of what bands were being put into rotation on the channel, and in which category they would be added.
This was a pretty exclusive list, as every band, from every style of music was fighting to get onto the industries juggernaut music outlet.
In addition to the new adds (about 10 a week) were the artists who survived last week and will continue with their rotations.
It didn’t matter if you were Heavy Metal, Glam Rock, R&B or Hip-Hop… being on MTV was the make or break avenue for most.
Then it happened, our label got the call (and fax, pictured bottom right) and were informed that Tuff “I Hate Kissing You Goodbye” was being added into Active Rotation on MTV.
Not only were we being added, but our video was to be played for the first time ever in prime time.
Well, in truth, it could not have been a bigger audience.
On Monday July 29th, at approximately 3:06pm (EST), our video would begin to play on MTV.
What made it even crazier, was that the video playing right before us, was a World Premiere for one of the biggest bands on the planet.
Their new single would launch them into a stratosphere that few bands have experienced.
Metallica “Enter Sandman” was set to World Premiere at exactly 3:00pm (EST).
I recall hearing from one of our reps Elisa Casas telling me in a phone call; “Stevie, this is huge. Do you know how many bands are fighting for these positions?”
I mean, I knew, but in reality… we really didn’t know how big this truly was.
MTV like radio, is programmed.
There are a group of executives, who on a weekly basis would be sent hundreds of videos.
From all different labels pitching their artists, from around the world.
Bands with multi-million dollar record deals, Boy Bands, Latin flavored bands, Hard Rock, Pop and every other style, all hoping to get added to MTV.
Fact is, most bands from our walk of life, were usually given a starter spin on Headbanger’s Ball on Saturday night.
Which in reality, was more like 2:40AM on Sunday morning.
Headbanger’s Ball was awesome, and we would have loved to have been played on that program.
But truth is, we were never played once on that show.
However, Tuff started off in prime time.
We were told from day 1, when we would be on MTV to the precise minute.
Again, like radio, there was a pre-determined programming sheet, each week, that would note which videos were played at which times.
So in advance, we were sent a listing that noted all of our plays for the coming week.
And just like clockwork, we’d come home from rehearsal and set the alarm clock.
“Hey, its 4:30, we’re gonna be on in 6 minutes” one of us would shout with excitement.
Then we’d turn on MTV and see the end of Tom Petty “Learning To Fly” or Salt N’ Pepa “Do You Want Me” or maybe Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch “Good Vibrations”.
And then like magic… there it was, our video.
It felt odd, amazing and weird all at once.
Even fake, like it wasn’t really happening – at least not to us.
I mean, a week earlier we were signed, and sure our record was out, but now we’re on MTV.
And in the middle of the day, and every 8 or 10 hours, there it was again.
Some days the veejay would say something about us, as a little quick intro, and then it would start.
Also, the MTV weekly report noted a variation of levels on how you were added.
Heavy Rotation, was just what it sounds like.
Of course the new Metallica clip was in Heavy Rotation along with Young M.C. “That’s The Way Love Goes.”
Then there was Exclusive Rotation.
This included 16 different artists, like; Van Halen, Tom Petty, Bryan Adams, Boyz To Men, Alice Cooper, EMF and R.E.M. among others.
The next level was Stress Rotation.
That week, this list was 10 groups. Including: Alice N’ Chains, FireHouse, Lenny Kravitz, Poison, Bonnie Raitt and Slaughter.
Then the Active Rotation list, which we were part of.
This list that week had 19 bands on it. In addition to Tuff, there was Cher, LA Guns, Roxette, Crowded House, Ice T and The Escape Club.
As you can see MTV catered to all genres of music, all styles, and appealed to a wide range of age groups.
And if you add all those up, there were only like 50-60 bands on MTV.
We were definitely in some very exclusive company being on this list.
I guess I need to explain that for anyone under 40 years of age, as MTV over the last 20 years is nothing like it was in the 80s and 90’s.
By our 2nd week on MTV our fan club was all over it and calling the 1-800-Dial-Mtv number to request Tuff “I Hate Kissing You Goodbye”.
We would promote calling the 1-800 Number on our band hotline, and were also mailing post-cards to our fan club list – which was more than 10,000 members.
To the younger readers, a hotline, was, kind of like a website. Lol.
And your fan club mailing list, this was the equivalent of “likes” on social media.
Only instead of everyone seeing it on the website, or social media platform, we would mail newsletters, or leave voice messages on the hotline.
Then fans could call in and listen to us rambling on about news, updates, etc…
The story goes that after our first week, MTV started getting flooded with calls.
So many calls that MTV called Atlantic Records and said; “Knock it off. Your band is getting so many calls, they’d be #1 this week, and it’s not possible they impacted this much!”
In a nutshell, the MTV phone lines were getting bombarded by our fans, and it pissed them off.
I don’t know what was said but after the first week they eased up and agreed to let us in on the countdown.
However, they said having us go straight to #1 would have had a lot of other labels pissed so they couldn’t do that.
Instead they let us creep in.
The first week we were #9.
And then over the next few days it creeped up to #7, #6, and eventually got to #3.
The day it was #3, Guns N’ Roses and Metallica were #1 and #2.
Not bad company to be in, especially considering they were about to do a stadium tour.
But as bright as a highlight those couple of weeks were, it was soon to end.
Cue that punk sounding twangy guitar chord and subsequent drum fill.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” hit MTV in August and within a few weeks, just like Tuff, they entered the DIAL MTV countdown as well.
I vividly recall them being below us on the countdown.
I also recall liking this band, a lot.
They reminded me of my early teens as a skateboarder.
Their sound was like something I would hear at various half-pipe skate ramp jams in the early 80’s, all well before I learned about Motley Crue, Ratt or Dokken.
Little did I know, that this sound, this video, that voice, those mumbled lyrics and those 3 misfit ragamuffin looking guys would change my life in a big way.
And not really a good way either.
No ill will or hard feelings, but it’s true.
It wasn’t Kurt, Dave or Krist who set out to destroy us.
But they unknowingly did just that, along with everything their band didn’t stand for.
Meaning… Motley Crue, Poison, Skid Row, LA Guns, Faster Pussycat and the rest.
All of these bands suffered a huge backlash, for not being… what was now considered cool.
Sure people like to say our own genre killed ourselves off.
But I don’t entirely agree with that.
However, at some point it was becoming a bit copy-cat esque, and sure there were to many Bang Tango’s, Danger Danger’s, Dangerous Toys and BulletBoys.
The industry helped pigeonhole us as well.
They’re like Van Halen (said many of BulletBoys), or they’re like Guns N’ Roses (said some of Dangerous Toys) and they’re like Poison (said even more about Tuff).
Fact is, that Seattle sound, the look, the beards, the soon to be cool dreadlocks, shaved heads and the general dirty disheveled ‘roadie’ look took over.
Grunge in general somehow affected everyone, and not just the fans.
The entire industry… producers, magazines, radio stations and even the clubs.
I say this because I felt it.
I recall reaching out to the Troubadour to book a Tuff show.
Gina B. was no longer there, and the new guy Lance was booking.
He was 100% skeptical, and we had a few conversations that were an uphill battle to say the least.
Push came to shove, and he eventually booked us, and we did well. But that didn’t matter.
Tuff on the marquee, in the advertisements, or on the stages, wasn’t cool.
I recall there was a huge shift, and even roadies, local magazine editors, guys who worked at Guitar Center, and low-end club promoters, all of them, without a doubt no longer wanted us around.
I said it then, and I will say it again.
Being the blond haired lead singer of an 80’s glam band once Grunge hit, was like having AIDS.
People turned their nose up at me, made weird faces, or ignored you altogether.
Sure I was bothered to some degree, but while it was happening I don’t think any of us, really knew to what extent, the 90’s Grunge scene would have on our bands from the 80’s.
I will talk about this much more in future Tuff Diaries as the 90’s progress.
In the meantime, we’re still in 1991, so let’s enjoy what’s left of the ride.
And Justice For Tuff.
We had finally got our deal and one of the band’s oldest friends seemed genuinely happy for us.
That friend, was Jason Newsted of Metallica.
I had made a few comments in earlier Tuff Diaries and to refresh Jason was originally from Michigan but ended up living in Phoenix in the early 80’s after a failed attempt to get to California.
Tuff was originally from Phoenix as well, and Jorge at some point jammed with Jason in an early version of some garage jam project pre-Flotsam And Jetsam called Metal Beast.
Michael was also friends with Jason and Flotsam’s drummer Kelly David-Smith.
Jason would come to various Tuff shows over the years, especially when we played the Bay Area, like “The Stone” in San Francisco or “The Omni” in Oakland.
He would also reach out whenever in Los Angeles recording or on tour.
Newkid as he was nicknamed by Metallica, was always very cool to us.
Including giving us tickets and passes to Metallica shows at The Great Western Forum or events like a secret show at Troubadour.
One day Jason invited Jorge and I down to the One-On-One Studios in North Hollywood where they recorded their “Black” album.
That day Jason let us hear some random mixes and then we played pool and darts.
They had a dart board with pictures of Nelson and Winger on it as seen in the “Nothing Else Matters” video.
Jason joked: “Stevie, maybe you’ll make the dart board someday” as he threw a dart.
I recall one night Jason came over to our North Hollywood apartment, the Tuff Muff Mansion as we called it.
He was in a rental car, and we drove around the neighborhood knocking over garbage cans, and driving over people’s front terrace (lawn).
Kind of like something you’d see on MTV’s Jackass.
I remember someone asking him: “What about your car?”
Jason laughed out loud: “It’s a rental” as he plowed over more garbage cans.
Some of this footage is actually in the early Tuff Home Videos Part 1 & 2.
Of course, this is pretty immature for any of us to do, but we were all in our 20’s and just being kids.
In looking back, it’s interesting knowing that a member of Metallica was hanging around us at the height of their success and in reality, Jason was just 1 of the guys.
Another reality was, he was soon to be a multi-millionaire.
Sure he was rich, and famous in the Heavy Metal world, but nothing compared to what was about to happen for Metallica.
The very week Tuff was on Dial MTV, their “Enter Sandman” video would debut, and that “Black” release would go on to sell more than 30 million copies world-wide.
This really shows that even though he was in this huge band, and a thrash band at that, Jason never did lose touch with his glam rock buddies from Phoenix.
I recall having pit passes at The Great Western Forum when Metallica played their 5 nights.
Jason looked down at me between songs and blew his nose into a towel.
He then gestured to give me that towel but I declined with a middle finger as he smiled.
Kudos to Newsted for being real to us all those years regardless of his status.
House of freaks.
Over the years the band started to move out.
In other words, we came to realize that all living together, being in a band together and on occasion working at odd jobs (phone sales) together was not healthy.
Michael was first to bail as he had a girlfriend and a child with her,
Jorge started staying with a girlfriend too but it wasn’t full-time.
Chase did the same.
So by this point, when we were getting signed I was living in an apartment in North Hollywood with a few roommates.
First off there was Todd Wiltse, pka Toy Staci who would later join The Zeroes replacing Danny Dangerous.
Then there was Fred “Freddie B” Beraud, who was from England and I had first met him through Kelv Hellrazer at The Rainbow Bar & Grill.
Dennis ‘Rat’ Dudek who was Michael Lean’s drum tech from Phoenix, he to was also in and out, over the years.
Then it was a mish mosh of random rockers who would come and go every few months.
One such person was a guy named Todd Talady, he was from the Midwest and started out as a fan.
At some point Talady came to Hollywood, like so many others do, to follow their dreams.
We had met him at our first show back in Wisconsin in the spring of 1988.
He was staying with us, and like anyone new – he got a hazing much like a freshman does in a college sorority.
Fred nicknamed him Tragedy based off of his last name Talady.
Fred wasn’t really a bully, but rather just giving the guy, the business.
One day Talady was getting harassed by Fred and Dennis, so he went into the hallway bathroom to ignore them.
Fred and Dennis continued to harass him yelling his nickname and pounding on the locked bathroom door.
Talady felt like he was winning the battle by ignoring their taunts and decided to take a shower to waste some time.
The guys decided they’d teach him a lesson and nailed the door shut from the outside.
He spent several hours in the bathroom, with the door nailed shut, and at some point yelled out: “Wait til Stevie gets home.”
“He won’t be home for 7 more hours” the guys replied laughing out loud.
We were doing Jackass style stunts in the 80’s, and even filming it. But we never submitted it to MTV, maybe we should have.
All of us pulled pranks like this on each other all the time, it was like Animal House with instruments.
The level of nonsense at the Tuff Muff Mansion was more than crazy.
Having sex in a closet with a random girl during an after-party, or painting someone’s face after they fell asleep drunk was typical.
Or like I wrote about in Tuff Diaries #14 when a drunken Steevi Jaimz (TigerTailz) pulled a steak-knife on our roadie KenDog.
In looking back I can’t believe we weren’t arrested, jailed or worse.
It was not uncommon for me to wake up and walk into the living room with anywhere from 2-6 people I had never seen before sleeping on the couch and floor.
One morning I walked in to make breakfast and there were 3 blond girls all asleep.
At first I thought, “This must be some Candid Camera shit?”
For those under 40, you might have to google Candid Camera.
Over the next hour or so, 1 by 1 they all woke up.
I am now talking to 3 girls from Sweden.
“How did you end up here?” I ask.
One of them replies: “The guy in the purple hair needed a ride home.”
She is referring to Toy Staci, who was likely at The Rainbow, annihilated drunk and all of his friends abandoned him.
So he then found 3 girls from Sweden with a rental car and promised they could stay (live) at our apartment for the remainder of their trip if they brought him home.
They did… and I am still friends with Lena and Ava 30 years later.
All this, and our 1st ever world-tour hasn’t even started yet.
Its now early August 1991 and I walk in the door and check my answering machine.
“Hi, this message is for Stevie Rachelle. My name is Matt Nelson, I sing for the band Nelson. Please call me, I would like to talk to you.”
Hmmm, this is interesting.
I return the call and before you know it I am chumming it up with Matthew Nelson.
He informs me that he has seen my video on MTV, and wanted to speak to me about Tuff possibly being added to their run of tour dates.
If memory is correct, they were on tour with Enuff Z’nuff and Tyketto as openers.
Matt and I talk on the phone a few times over the next few days and he invites me down to their show at Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.
Day of show, he instructs me to come early to the backstage area for sound-check.
I arrive and am greeted by a roadie who then summons Matthew that I had arrived.
Waiting on the loading dock, and soon he walks up with a gorgeous girl.
At this point, I had never met either of the Nelson twins.
“Hey Stevie, I am Matt. Nice to meet you” as he shakes my hand.
I return the greeting as he adds: “This is my girlfriend Erin.”
She then says: “You are bigger than I remember. Kind of buff.”
Going back to Tuff Diaries #7, I talked about Erin Everly.
She had went to the same Tanning Salon as I did on Ventura Blvd., and the girl who worked there told me Erin liked me.
Crazy stuff, and now its 3-4 years later…small world.
Matt doesn’t seem thrilled that his girlfriend just grabbed my bicep.
We small talk for a few minutes and he gives me some wrist band passes.
That night myself and the whole band and some of the guys from WildSide arrive at the venue in the crowd as Enuff Z’Nuff are finishing their set.
Between bands a few fans notice us, then a few more, and suddenly we are being mobbed by teen girls.
I am not exaggerating when I say, it started getting a little crazy.
Pretty quickly security is there and tell us we can’t be in the crowd any longer and they escort us backstage.
Over the next week or so Matt and I became buddy-buddy on the phone and he invites me over to his house in Sherman Oaks.
I felt a bit dumb when I explained I didn’t have a car, but he offered to come get me.
Not being a car guy, I can’t recall what it was, but he had a nice older red sports car.
Maybe a Camaro or something, like a late 60’s or 70’s classic.
We’re hanging out (I think we played pool) and at some point Gunnar calls out.
We walk into his room and Matt introduces me, “This is Stevie Rachelle from Tuff.”
Gunnar was playing an acoustic in his underwear, and didn’t seem too impressed.
In short, he came off a bit arrogant.
Oh well, I didn’t care much and knew next to nothing about these guys other than their video on MTV.
Our manager was communicating with theirs (Larry Mazer), along with agents but we never did get on any of the tour dates with Nelson.
I was just doing my thing, and Matt was very cool to me for sure.
Tuff Muff Mania Running Wild
It’s now official, our first full U.S. Tour is happening.
We’re in a tour bus and on our way across the United States of America.
It’s late August and this is really nothing totally new to us as we’ve toured through the Midwest, Texas and the West Coast several times.
Also, it wasn’t our first tour in a bus either.
But the big difference now was, we were signed to Atlantic Records and on MTV.
Pulling into Kansas City, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Chicago, this was all a “been there, done that” for Tuff.
However, about 3 weeks into the tour we started hitting places we had not previously played, like; Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Baltimore and dozens of other East Coast cities.
The feeling was awesome and having fans know us, know our songs, want our autograph and a picture, well… it was all beyond amazing.
Again, we had done all this, many times before, but going into cities you had never been to was a totally different vibe.
We knew we had fans in California, Arizona, Utah and Texas but going somewhere totally new, and having a surge of NEW fans, NEW friends and NEW pussy… you get the idea – it was incredible.
On a daily basis you pull into town, in a tour bus no less, and when you exit that bus door – it’s almost a guarantee there are fans waiting for you.
Whether it’s at a motel, the club, the radio station or the local record store.
And for a band like Tuff, at this point… the number of young girls that were being thrown at you was indescribable.
It’s going to sound really cliché’ and cheesy, but simply put…you’re famous.
Our pictures are in the rock magazines, our CD is in the record store and our song is on the radio.
And, we had also hit the jackpot, as our video was on MTV.
MTV = Instant Credibility.
MTV is like the magazines, the music stores and radio stations all rolled into one.
But multiplied by 100.
All fans… both girls and guys are waiting for that magical day.
The concert date, be it at a local club, a theatre, the arena or other.
The bigger the band, the bigger the fan base.
Even at the club level, for an 80’s hairband like Tuff… with pictures in most rock magazines, our song on the radio and the video on MTV… it was like a license to kill.
I can recall lines of young fans outside the venues as we did sound-check.
We would always go talk to fans, hang out, and more.
I can vividly recall talking to many girls, “Hey, wanna come on the bus?”
“Sure” was the immediate answer 9 out of 10 times.
“Just you though, our road manager doesn’t want a bunch of…”
As she cuts me off: “I understand” awaiting me to take her hand.
We’re now walking to the bus, she’s beaming with pride and I am thinking about 1 thing and 1 thing only.
Not trying to be mean here, and sure my mind is in a different place as an adult.
But the truth is, all bands did this.
Okay, maybe not all, but let’s go with 95 out of 100 guys did this.
How many times did I do this with some girl I knew for 10 minutes?
Dozens and dozens, maybe even hundreds of times.
But crazy as that seems, or was… I am still friends with so many people I met like this.
The way young people think, in their 20’s or teens… well, we know how we thought.
Looking back I had some of the most amazing times and I wouldn’t change any of it.
Well, except for this part.
We’re about a month into our U.S. Tour, and our label informs us they are cutting our tour support.
What does this mean?
It means we have to give up the tour bus and now finish the tour in a van.
We were just #3 on MTV a few weeks ago, and now we’re losing our bus?
Yup… and the call came in one day, and a few days later it happened.
We were on the East Coast, and told by our tour manager: “Tomorrow the Bus ride is over, tonight after the show take ALL of your stuff out of your bunk and put it in your Motel room.”
The next morning I woke up and looked out the window as the white passenger van was parked next to our big amazing tour bus.
I watched as the road crew unloaded our equipment from the underside storage area of the bus, which they transferred into a Ryder truck.
So yea, from #3 on DIAL MTV in a tour bus, to a van and Ryder Truck in a few weeks’ time.
Beans On Toast & Fish N’ Chips!
Oh well, we have other good news, as we’re about to fly to London England to play our first ever International show.
Tuff will headline The American Dream Tour and play “The Astoria” theatre in London in October.
We finish the East Coast dates as they wind down into Florida.
Soon enough we’re on a flight to The U.K. and once again, it’s all new and amazing.
Our week in London was awesome.
Beans on toast for breakfast (daily) and we also had our fair share of fish n’ chips as well.
Photo shoots, interviews with Kerrang and other notable European rock magazines such as Metal Forces, RAW and we were also featured on England’s edition of MTV.
One night we head to a popular club which the name escapes my mind.
Either way, we are sitting in a VIP area, and it’s a weeknight, so nothing too crazy is going on.
At some point there is another American band in town who is also with their label reps and they are seated right next to us.
Small talk ensues and soon we’re chatting it up with Chris, Rich and The Black Crowes.
I recall a few of them were very cool but a few were total dicks as well.
It’s anyone’s guess who was a dick, but I’m guessing it was probably Chris.
The night goes on and the week like the rest of our current lives, well it all was a bit dreamlike at some points.
Again, not being too cheesy, but we’re signed to Atlantic Records, on tour around the world, in the press, on the radio, going to dinners, shopping, fancy hotels, and so on.
What’s to complain about?
Not too much.
I mean, we were at a fairly beginner level here, in the world of being a Recording Artist, but also, we’re not digging ditches in the morning.
We’re not punching a clock on an assembly line and we’re not in school taking tests either.
Nope, we’re in a rock band, living like kings with pure freedom to do almost whatever, drinking, drugs and pussy galore!
Not everyone did the drugs and not everyone fucked the pussy – at least not as much as I did, but you get the point.
We left Los Angeles almost 2 months ago and now we’re in London England.
The night we played “The Astoria” – it was our 36th show on the tour.
The 2,000 person capacity theatre was packed and I recall being in the backstage area when a local guy told me he had someone who wanted to meet me.
I then watched as 2 guys carried a girl’s wheelchair up the staircase to the dressing room.
A few minutes later, I am looking at this absolutely stunningly beautiful girl.
She’s talking a mile a minute, clearly she’s half drunk and telling me how much she loves me.
I am sitting on the backstage couch and she’s right in front of me.
At some point I ask her: “What happened, and why are you in this chair?”
She then tells me she and her friends were partying and had an auto accident.
It paralyzed her from the waist down, and she was only 20 years old.
I am just staring at her and thinking that her life is nothing but crazy challenges ahead and I am borderline getting emotional as I talk to her.
She then looks at me: “I want to kiss you” and grabs my arm.
Before I could answer she pulls me towards her and I am now making out with her.
This girl had the face, lips, eyes and hair of a super model but she was a paraplegic.
It really affetted me, to see this young vivacious girl, in the prime of her life, but she was also already dealt a raw deal.
In her English accent she tells me: “I love you Stevie Rachelle” clutching my hand tight.
We spent a few minutes together and soon life took over, and she was gone from the room and I was onto whatever happened next.
Thinking back, I don’t who she was, where she went but what I can say is, I will never forget meeting her.
I can only hope that she hasn’t forgotten me either.
Cheers England, my first visit was amazing.
Hello America, Hello Hell!
We return stateside and our road crew pics us up at the Orlando airport.
As we await the van on the curb it finally pulls up, but it looks a bit different.
Our drum tech Dennis has added a little flavor to our tour ride.
On the side it reads: Los Angeles Department of Sanitation in black lettering.
Just another fun prank and it made all of us laugh.
We’re back for a few days and tour ensues, as we drive North to play Georgia, The Carolina’s and into Tennessee.
We are all excited as we’re headed back to the West Coast.
Homeward bound but we have 7 more dates left on this run.
Once we do get home, we have a 2 week break and then starting November 1st, we’re going right back out on a 7 week run in support of Lita Ford.
We hit the ground running and its right back to the grind.
Savannah Georgia, Greenville South Carolina, Fayetteville North Carolina and Murfreesboro (Nashville) Tennessee.
These gigs push us over the 40 show mark but we are showing no sign of wear.
Sure we’re excited for a little break, but in our mid 20’s…we could do this for 100 shows.
We drive into Memphis Tennessee and we’re stoked, but not just for the show tonight, but more so for the tourist stop planned for tomorrow.
We’re all going to Graceland to visit Elvis’ pad.
It’s Sunday October 13th 1991 and Tuff is playing “Night Moves” in Memphis.
The show is just another, in a long list of dates that don’t really stand out.
Well, at least not yet.
It’s now 3:30AM and Michael and I are sleeping in our motel room.
There is a knock on the door, and it’s Kendog, Todd’s bass roadie.
“Did you guys move the truck?” Kendog asks.
“Huh? No! We’re sleeping.”
“Seriously, are you guys playing a joke on us? Because the truck is gone.”
Michael and I are now asking: “What are you talking about?”
Kendog: “We just got back from Denny’s. The truck was there 30 minutes ago, it’s gone.”
By this time Jorge, our tour manager Richie and the other crew guys are all outside our room.
We are now knocking on everyone’s door, Todd is asleep, Timmy another crew guy is also asleep and no one knows anything.
After about 10-15 minutes goes by, it’s clear that none of us moved or have the truck.
Everyone is accounted for, and it’s roughly 4:00AM in Memphis.
After a short while, Michael and Richie get on the phone to the local police department.
We make a report, that our Ryder Truck is missing, or stolen.
The police are less than friendly or helpful and take our information.
For the next 2-3 hours we’re all retracing who did what, when, where and why.
Then the phone call comes in: “We found your truck.”
Richie is talking to the police and asks: “Is it drivable?”
The police dispatcher tells him: “Your truck is definitely not drivable.”
We’re not sure what that meant, but it didn’t sound good.
Over the course of the morning many phone calls are made to our management, and with all of our friends and family about what has happened.
At some point we are given information for a local tow yard and are informed our truck will be there shortly.
We all pile into the tour van and drive to the tow yard.
As we sit and wait, we see the tow truck slowly enter the lot pulling our Ryder Truck.
At first glance from the front, it doesn’t look too bad, but soon that changes as the wrecker passes us.
The back end and side of the entire truck is burned out, melted away and the inside appears to be mostly empty.
Last night this truck was carrying all of our gear.
Michael’s custom purple Sonor drum-kit, Jorge’s hot-rodded Marshall stacks and Todd’s Ampeg bass gear.
Add to that, a half-dozen ESP custom guitars and basses, a few acoustic guitars, road cases full of Paiste cymbals, DW Drum hardware and racks of effects.
Let’s not forget a wardrobe case full of stage clothes, wireless microphones and a lot of personal items too.
Boxes of Tuff merchandise, tour t-shirts, hoodies, hats, panties, vinyl and CDs.
The value of the contents of that truck?
Easily $50,000.00, maybe $60,000.00 or more.
One of our biggest mistakes we have ever made.
Did we have insurance?
Sure, we had it for years. Many years.
And at some point, earlier that year, our premium was due and I don’t recall why it happened, we opted to not pay it.
We had toured like this for years.
From California to the Midwest and back in 1989. To Texas and back in 1990.
We had been all over the West Coast from Salt Lake City to Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque and San Diego too, many times to each for roughly years.
We never even lost a drum stick.
But, our decision to not be fully insured, on this run…on the 2nd to last date of a 43 date tour cost us everything we owned in an instant.
Adding insult to injury, when you rent a Ryder truck, or any rental car…there is an option to pay that extra $ per day, or week, that if anything happens to that rental vehicle, it’s totally covered.
We didn’t check that or pay it.
So, Ryder truck also charged us $5,000.00 for the cost of their burned out truck, as we didn’t have the full coverage.
This incident cost Tuff upwards of $75,000.00.
It can happen to anyone. It can happen to you or your local band as well.
Be safe. Be insured. If you’re not, get Insurance and keep up with it.
We left Los Angeles on August 19th for our U.S. Tour in a tour bus.
We played 42 shows in 42 cities, traveling thousands of miles over 20 states and 2 countries.
During this time we experienced the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows.
On our journey we collected gifts, one-of-kind merchandise from stores and fans from all over the United States and England.
Clothes, CDs, jewelry, copies of our official release on Atlantic Records from Europe and much more.
Now it’s October 14th and we’re about to fly home to California.
With almost nothing.
Other than the suitcase of clothes we had in our motel room that night.
Everything we owned, that we took with us, or collected on tour is now gone.
And something else happened, that we don’t do… but had no choice
We had to cancel the rest of this tour… but, crazy to think, it was only 1 show.
We were scheduled to play October 15, 1991 at “The Backroom” in Houston Texas.
We had a 43 date tour booked, and made it to 42, but the 43rd, was not in the cards.
In my next Tuff Diaries, I will tell you all about our miraculous rebound.
Only the strong survive and the tough get tougher.
A weaker man or band, which is most, would have crumbled.
But not us…
It was 18 days later on November 1st 1991 and we began a 7 week tour with Lita Ford across the U.S., this was tour leg #2 for Tuff in 1991.
Thanks to our endorsements, Tuff had all new gear.
New guitars and basses, new drums and new merchandise too.
Tuff “What Comes Around Goes Around” Summer Tour 1991
August 20, 1991 “Rafters” Salt Lake City, UT
August 21, 1991 “Bangles” Denver, CO
August 23, 1991 “Metals Edge” St. Louis, MO.
August 24, 1991 “Xanadu”” New London, WI
August 25, 1991 “T.A. Vern’s”” Milwaukee, WI
August 26, 1991 “Chances R” Chicago, IL
August 28, 1991 “White House” Niles, MI
August 29, 1991 “Annie’s” Cincinnati, OH
August 30, 1991 “Newport Music Theater” Columbus, OH
August 31, 1991 “Akron Agoura” Akron, OH * With Saigon Kick & Saraya
September 1, 1991 “The Ritz” Detroit, MI
September 2, 1991 “Club East Brook” Grand Rapids, MI
September 4, 1991 “Axis” Boston, MA
September 5, 1991 “Decadance” Manchester, NH
September 6, 1991 “Escape Club” Salisbury, MA
September 7, 1991 “Derringers” Brockton, MA
September 8, 1991 “Katina’s” Hadley, MA
September 9, 1991 “Red Zone” Norwalk, CT
September 11, 1991 “Graffiti’s” Pittsburg, PA
September 12, 1991 “Hammer Jack’s” Baltimore, MD
September 13, 1991 “Zaxx” Springfield, VA
September 14, 1991 “Bonnie’s” Atco, NJ.
September 15, 1991 “Saratoga Winners” Cahoes, NY
September 17, 1991 “Lost Horizon” Syracuse, NY
September 18, 1991 “Cat Club” New York City, NY
September 19, 1991 “Sting” New Britain, CT
September 20, 1991 “Studio 1” Newark, NJ.
September 21, 1991 “Sparks” Huntington, NY
September 22, 1991 “Fascination” Reading, PA
September 24, 1991 “Masquerade” Atlanta, GA
September 25, 1991 “”The Station” Fern Park, FL
September 26, 1991 “Shades” Orange Park, FL.
September 27, 1991 “”Summers” Ft. Lauderdale, FL
September 28, 1991 “”Power Station” Melbourne, FL
September 29, 1991 “”Rock It” Tampa, FL
October 4, 1991 “The Astoria Theatre” London, England
October 8, 1991 “Congress Street Station” Savannah, GA
October 9, 1991 “Characters” Greenville, SC
October 10, 1991 “Flaming Mug” Fayetteville, NC
October 11, 1991 “Cadillacs” Hickory, NC
October 12, 1991 “Main Street” Murfreesboro, TN
October 13, 1991 “Night Moves” Memphis, TN *Truck Stolen after show
October 15, 1991 “The Backroom” Houston, TX *Canceled
That’s all for Tuff Diaries #15…. stay tuned for Tuff Diaries # 16 where I will tell you all about our U.S. Tour with The Queen of Metal Lita Ford, who actually quit halfway through, but Tuff kept going.
You’ll also read about the big fight in the tour van, going down the freeway at 65 mph between Denver and Salt Lake City, which was over select member’s use of cocaine.
This incident caused Todd Chaisson to ultimately quit the band after the fall/winter 1991 tour.
Thank you for reading… Stevie Rachelle
Read my previous blogs linked below, numbered and dated.
Entry #1 How I Made My Way To California, 31 Years Ago Today (June 25th 2018)
Entry #2 My First Meeting With Tuff, “Is That All Your Real Hair?” (June 29th 2018)
Entry #3 Tuff audition, Jim Gillette screams, a near fist fight & our debut show (July 5th 2018)
Entry #4 The Metal Years, Famous People, Cocaine, Kiss & Sex with a Miss Gazzarri’s Dancer (July 14th 2018)
Entry #5 Guns N’ Roses, Del James, 1988, Sound City, Strippers, Crabs & You’re Fired! (July 30th 2018)
Entry #6 Summer on Sunset, Vinnie’s Invasion, Tracii’s Glue Gun, Vain & Sex by a Dumpster (August 11th 2018)
Entry #7 MTV’s NYE Big Bash, Riki & Taime’s Cathouse & My Girlfriend was a Poster at Spencer’s (August 20th 2018)
Entry #8 Jon Bon Jovi, Sebastian Bach, Rick Rubin, Howie Hubberman, BulletBoys & Gazzarri’s (Sept. 16th 2018)
Entry #9 Summer Tour ’89, Andy McCoy, Def Leftovers, Max the Model, Z-Rock, Tommi Gunn & Lit (Oct. 10th 2018)
Entry #10 Goodbye 1989, Jessica Hahn, Skid Row, Martha Quinn, Young Gunns, Flyer War & Cock-Rings (Nov. 9th 2018)
Entry #11 Hello 1990, Texas, Britny Fox Tour, Strippers, Hells Angels and Atlantic Records signs Tuff (March 24th 2019)
Entry #12 Ready to Record, Howard Benson, FM Station, Jani Lane, Court hearing & my 1st Playmate (June 2nd 2019)
Entry #13 Recording our Atlantic debut, Bret Michaels, Kane Roberts & Sex is fine, but no sleepovers (Aug. 27th 2019)
Entry #14 New York City, Mixing our Record, Publishing Deal, Video Shoot , Cherry St. & Tigertailz (March 25th 2020)
Entry #15 Hello MTV, The Nelsons, Jason Newsted, U.S. Summer Tour, London & our Stolen Ryder Truck (May 2020)
Entry #16 Lita Ford, Jason Flom, 75+ Shows, Cocaine, a Lawsuit, Sweet F.A. & the Freeway Fight (July 29th 2020)
Entry #17 Hello 1992, Gene Simmons, More Money, Mike Starr, a New Bassist & Jason Flom II (March 20th 2021)
Entry #18 WildSide, Dee Snider, Tour Drama, Baywatch, New Label Search and Living in Reseda (Aug. 21 2021)
Entry #19 Michael Resigns, River Phoenix, Thirsty Whale, He’s Got a Gun, Stolen Van & Danny Quits (Jan. 16th 2022)
Entry #20 1994, Northridge Earthquake, Kurt Cobain, RLS Records, releasing “Fist First” (May 2022)