Arlen Roth’s Life on the Road
The years that I toured on buses with various acts and bands were really quite amazing. It can be a ton of fun, since it really becomes your home on wheels for a long time. But, after all, you are on a moving vehicle going through all the different seasons, including wintry snow and ice, and it can be quite hazardous at times.
All the various buses of all the tours had decidedly different personalities, especially due to the people on the bus, and the overall vibe. And needless to say, that can sometimes be as incredibly UN-comfortable as it can be fun! We had all kinds of adventures, such as the John Prine bus being stolen in Austin and the Phoebe Snow bus having a free-fall sliding on the thick ice of an exit ramp in Ames, Iowa. Then we were going crazy with an April Fool’s prank that continued from the dressing rooms of the gig to the bus also on the Phoebe tour, which finally ended up actually in the hotel itself, complete with hoses being emptied into her room, leaving over two inches of standing water!
The best experiences by far on the buses are really enjoying the travel, the scenery, the crazy stops you must make, and most of all, when all the fellow bandmates and other folks really get along! And this certainly isn’t always the case. I can remember when we were in the middle of a desolate area of Idaho, the John Prine band suddenly turning on me and telling me that I had to be kicked out of the band, because all they could say was that I wasn’t one of “them!” Well, thank god I wasn’t, because they were pretty much a bunch of jerks and losers, and pretty poor musicians as well. Turned out that they were jealous of the fact that I had so much other stuff going on for such a young, 22-year-old musician. I was writing a book on the bus, writing articles and columns for various guitar and music mags, and just generally doing a lot of extra work that they wished they could’ve also had a hand in within their own aimless careers! That was certainly one bus experience that I didn’t enjoy, and never quite understood where it all came from!
Some of these stories have already been shared with you in past blog posts, but the wildest was certainly having the John Prine bus stolen “back” by the folks who leased the bus to us, only to see it passing us in the night four months later in the middle of the country, just like “Phantom 409”! To this day, all the others who were sleeping that night still don’t believe I really saw the stolen bus pass our Winnebago in the middle of nowhere!!! So anyway, I hope you have many great bus stories in the future, and most of all that they are happy ones! More to follow, for sure!
Gibson.com’s Arlen Roth, affectionately known The King of All Guitar Teachers, is music lesson pioneer and the quintessential guitarist. An accomplished and brilliant musician – and one of the very few who can honestly say he’s done it all – Roth has, over the course of his celebrated 35-year career, played on the world’s grandest stages, accompanied many of the greatest figures in modern music and revolutionized the concept of teaching guitar.