Chris Caffery
Tour Diary

September-November 1998
  My Holiday Present to the Fans
1998 Tour Diary by Christopher Caffery

  As 1998 comes to a speedy closure I have decided to give you all one last tour diary. Actually it is more like the life and times of Chris Caffery, from September until the end of the Wake of Magellan Tour in November. The details will be sketchy since I am doing this at a spur of the moment. No notes, just tour itineraries and my memory. A truly scary thought.

September 4, 1998
  I figured I would start with this day since it will lead to the eventual re-coloring of my arm for the upcoming US Tour. For about three months I had been in Upstate New York hanging out and Songwriting with John West. We had just booked a tour of Europe in October that would be eventually named American Rock Live, for lack of a better last minute nomenclature. In the past few months I had done tons of fishing with John and his friend Dave Bishop. Dave is a Taxidermist/Bar Owner (Figures!) and John is very much an American Indian. Hunting was a daily conversation. With no time to spare I showed up last minute at a Hunter’s Safety course somewhere in the sticks of New York this Friday night. I needed this class to get my Hunting License. To my dismay I also needed to be back at 9am the next morning.

September 5, 1998
  I passed!!!!! Out of a possible 100 points, I got a 98 on my exam and received my safety certificate. The only question I got wrong asked what you would do first if you were lost in the woods. The choices were..Immediately eat your whole food supply, Follow the nearest stream---Fire Three Shots for help, Or Admit you are lost. I figured three out of four were so funny that it had to be fire shots for help. N O T!!! It was admit you are lost. Something you never really do anyway. I have been lost for years!!! I left immediately for Bob’s Gun Shop to get my Sportsman’s license. Later that night, after some solitary fishing I found a K-Mart that still had Goose Stamps and was ready to go back up towards John West’s the next day!

September 6, 1998
  Football!!!!!!!! I left to get Upstate around 10. Arriving at the local sports Bar of choice to meet Mr. West right after kick-off. To our dismay the Sunday Ticket was not renewed at this bar and we needed to search for another. We found one, watched my Jets lose in OT, my Giants win and his Rams lose. With some time before the 8 O'clock game we went to Wal-Mart to buy a gun. Yup, the Mossberg 835 Ulti-Mag 12 Gauge with the Real Tree Camo Finish. Kinda like the Red Rider of shotguns. Funny thing is Wal Mart would not sell me ammo, but they sold it to John. I had a store manager escort me to my car and he met up with me. Store policy. However, how tough is it for him to hand me the Ammo in the Parking Lot then storm back in to take over Wal Mart. Not something I would ever do, BUT I thought it was ironic.

September 7, 1998
  Dark!!!!! Hunting is way too early for me! I found myself in the middle of a cornfield at 6 AM awaiting the morning Geese. "I can’t Wait For My Morning Goose" There is a song in there somewhere!!!! A friend of John’s was with us, he had a crazy dog with him that made most of the geese too cautious to buy our decoys. One flock eventually came in. I locked onto a goose and fired! One shot, new gun, DEAD GOOSE! It was the only one killed that day and was eaten that night for dinner. Goose is actually very tasty. We were heading out the next day with Dave Bishop.

September 8, 1998
  OUCH!!!!!! Same bat time, same bat corn field. I took a shot at a goose from the ground giving my arm nowhere to go and really hurt myself. How bad. I would find that out in the next week. We did kill about 11 that day. I continued to shoot on my hurt arm. DUH!!!!! That night Jeff Plate met us out at the Third Rail, a local Cortland New York Bar that we were rehearsing in. How convenient! The next day was my birthday so we celebrated with the local friends. mostly our motorcycle buddies "The Psycho Cycle Chickens!" We played some new tunes and rehearsed some of John’s we were going to play on our tour. Around 2 we went to sleep, I had to drive 5 hours to the city the next morning.

September 9, 1998

My Birthday
  OUCH!!!! This arm really hurt. I drove in pain to my Mom’s house where I dropped off my new gun...@#@$#%# and waited for Jeff and Scotti. Scotti’s brother was driving us to the city. My arm was swollen and hurt but it looked kinda fat, that’s all. We arrived in the city, dropped off our stuff at SIR and went immediately to Hooters for lunch!!! Rehearsal was not for 4 hours. OH NO!!!!!!! After who knows how many pitchers of beer and a brief stop at Flash Dancers, a favorite Gentleman’s establishment of mine, I stumbled into what I think was rehearsal. Al bought me a bottle of Jaegermeister, I drank it on our way to get passport photos done for Brasil that month. We took them, got back to SIR and I lost mine on the way! I stumbled back to the place we got the photos done and you should have seen the look on the guys face when I told him I needed more!!! That is about all I remember...Rehearsal did not last that long!

September 10, 1998
  Blue...My arm is turning Blue!!!!! My head hurt, my arm was turning blue and the US Tour was underway. Mama Kin’s was about the worst run club I have ever played in my life!!!! I did have my new Black Jackson Rhoad’s to try out. Arriving on my birthday, thank you Jackson!!!! This was my first time back in Boston with Savatage since 1990. Great crowd, weird club. After some late night pizza and a few after Birthday shots I took my blue arm to sleep!

September 11, 1998
  I can’t remember the name of the town or the Theatre we played right now, but it was a fun day. Al and I decided to raid the local kitchen of the promoter and cook Pasta for everyone. My arm was almost Purple by now and really hurt. You could see it spreading down my arm like little streams. I was definitely bleeding. So was the opening band. Some dude spit blood and came out of a casket. I never knew Satan lived in Conneticuit? After the show I remember a very HAPPY Jon Oliva entertaining a crowd of about 50 fans in the grass by our bus. It was like a degenerate Scouts Meeting!!!

September 12, 1998
The Birch Hill--Again!!!!
  Really Blue!!!!!! That is the only way to describe it now. I was in so much pain by then I couldn’t believe it. Another great show, Jon was a know! I was not, however some of my friends on the internet posted that they thought I was also....Look at the arm stupid, figure out why I was looking rough!!!!!!!!!!! I actually got shit from Management for being trashed that night and I was the furthest thing from. Just in a lot of pain. Some bartender from the club got into an argument with Johnny on the bus and I remember her friends showing up to start trouble late that night. We sent Gary after them!!!

September 13, 1998
  Football!!!!!!!! We found the Champions Sports Bar near the Venue and watched football up to sound-check. I noticed that there was one in Frankfurt Germany, something that would actually come to play in less than a month! After sound-check, The Blue Meanie, a wrestler friend of mine now in the WWF, showed up. We went to the bar for some Birthday shots, my birthday lasts about 3 weeks by the way, and I went back onstage at the Trocadero for the first time since the Gutter tour. A show that I have on Video, and I believe so do many of you! I had some Chinese food with Meanie in China Town and went to sleep. My arm was getting worse!

September 14, 1998
  OK, Enough is Enough!!!! Johnny sent me to the doctor. I went with Brad Smith a friend from my childhood in New Jersey that mover to Columbus to work with his Dad. It was kinda funny when the people at the Emergency Clinic gasped when they saw my wound. You figured they would be used to it! Diagnosis. Ruptured artery in my right arm. It would take about 6 weeks to heal. I was relieved. I later left with Brad to go see his new son and older son for that matter. It was funny seeing one of the most fucked-up kids from my childhood as a Husband, father and Homeowner. Sometimes I envy that!

September 15, 1998

Show Day Columbus
  The Al Rosa Villa. I played here with Heaven in 1988. WOW, I am getting OLD!!!!! I went to the local radio station to pump the show. It was funny ‘cuz the owner put me on the air and asked me to announce the show and all that I could think of to say was..."Hey, It’s All About Beaver!!!" A phrase that has become very popular around here! The gig was great, The Rossman Family showed up, so did Brad and his Wife. I think I wanted to kill our bus driver that night, he was starting to psycho out!!!

September 16, 1998
  $$!@#$@! This was the day I heard about the posts from Birch Hill. Luckily, Get Animal was opening this show and Dennis from our Office was in the band. He saw my arm and immediately called Paul and David Krebs in my defense! Peabody’s...Yup that silly pole again!!! No Ripper this time, He was on tour. I did have a very special Birthday surprise that day, so it made up for my painful arm and headache of the misled posts. Use your imagination!!! Sorry...

September 17, 1998
  I remember this place!! We played here on the Gutter Tour, some girl got crushed in front of the stage. Someone from the Budda Electronic Corp. showed up to let me try a new Wah Wah Pedal, which I fell in love with! Jill from the Old HammerJacks was the Bartender here... WOW did she kill many of my Braincells in the past. So did the dude there who invented the infamous Hammerjacks "Bucket". It was like 17 different kinds of liquor that you drank as fast as possible with your friends and straws. Kinda calm night this time.

September 18, 1998
  I am very angry at these guys!!!!! Early this morning the bus was driving down the road and a car passes it throwing bags of money all over the road. They just robbed a bank and were trying to stop traffic to avoid the Police! The bus stops and mostly everyone gets out to grab cash. They never woke Zak and I up!!!!!! I will remember that. I think Igor got the most. We continued onto Jaxx------AGAIN!!!!! Great place, good food. I remembered to call my Brother, it was his Birthday. IT was another good show there, however I did not kill as many Brain Cells this time. We had an important gig the next day!

September 19, 1998
Village Pub
  OUCH!!!!! It really hurts to play acoustic. The guitar rests right on my hurt arm. It is improving, slowly!!!! This was our American Acoustic debut. We had some good Seafood for dinner and went out to our chairs for a nice calm night at the office! I think it was a great show. I still did not nail Silk and Steel...Give it time!!! I am looking at my schedule the next three weeks and I need a drink!!!!! I went home to My Mom’s with Scotti to get my gun and head North!!!!!!

September 20, 1998
  I actually took this day off to watch Football and relax. I needed to get to Jeff’s the next day to record drum tracks for a demo I was recording with John West. From what I can remember, my Mom was crying when she saw how bad my arm was!

September 21, 1998
  Great...I do not have enough time as it is and Jeff gets the flu!!!! I was going to do drums today and do guitars and vocals and mix Tuesday and Wednesday. Not so easy. I went and grabbed a DAT player to record the drums with and went home to rest some more.

September 22, 1998
  Busy...This is the way it will be for the next three weeks...Too Busy!!!! I got to Jeff’s around 1pm. We immediately got sounds and went to work. By six we had the three tracks of drums in the can. I then drove another hour to John West's, where we went to another studio to do bass. Jeff Howell from Foghat and the Outlaws was the guy we have been jamming with. Great bassist, great job!!! Bobby from John’s cover band played some keyboards. I got a guitar sound and did most of my rhythms by 4 am. YUK!!!

September 23, 1998
  5AM WAKE UP!!! WOW an Hour of sleep! John left the studio at about 9pm to go to dinner with his wife and I am sure he got sleep. He wakes me up at 5 to go hunting again. Yup again!!!!!! Three hours and 25 Geese later we returned to his house to clean our 10. That’s right, actually skinned my own. The cool thing was we gave the carcasses to a girl John knew that worked for the environmental protection agency. She needed them to feed the wounded Eagles and Owls. See folks, hunting is not that bad...I took a nap at around noon and went to the studio at 8pm. I had two hours to finish rhythms before John showed up to sing. He sang 'til about 1am. I played solos ‘til 4am. A very tired me went to sleep.

September 24, 1998
  WAKE UP!!!!!!!!! 8am I had to get up to drive to my Mom’s and drop off my gun. I arrived at around noon, repacked, and grabbed my guitars then waited for Jeff and Scotti. Jeff arrived at about 3PM. We loaded up and drove to JFK airport to leave for Brasil. Yup, I am tired! Al, Raymie, Ed, Scott, Jeff and I were leaving from New York. The others were stuck in Florida. Yup, STUCK!!! While I was at my Mom’s I found out that a hurricane was hitting Florida and the rest of the guys' flight from Miami to Sao Paulo was cancelled. They had to try and get to Orlando to catch a flight to New York and get on our flight...NOPE! We were on our way to Brasil without em!!! Scott and I quickly made friends with our flight crew and had a very festive flight to Sao Paulo.

September 25, 1998
  Good Morning Sao Paulo!!!!!! We arrived in Brazil about 10 AM. After trying to gather up my brain cells and carry-on luggage we de-planed. About 200 fans awaited in the customs area. WOW, Monsters of Rock is cool! We checked into our Hotel after fighting our way through the fans. They are very dedicated here. I love them. Zak was not here, so I had my own room!!!!!!! YEAH!!!!! I took a nap and went to the gym. I jogged for an hour with Gotz from Rock Hard Magazine who was in town to cover the show. Joey from Manowar came up to check the gym out and I met him for the first time. I met Scott at the bar for some Caipirhina’s...OF COURSE and we waited to go check out the stadium. I found out that the guys in Florida had to fly to New York and wait for a flight to Brazil later that night. Jon Misses Hi Night Off In Brazil!!!!!!!!!!!! I giggled!!!! This was a huge soccer stadium overlooking the cityscape of Sao Paulo. I just looked off the stage and smiled. Another childhood dream was unfolding. They were way behind schedule so we went back to the Hotel bar!!!!!!!! Andreas from Metal Hammer was there. Wolfgang from CMM was there. Geeze, was I in Germany? AHHH Caipirinha...NOPE!!!! I hung out with Eric from Manowar and Tom and Kerry of Slayer...We were all convinced that it was all about Beaver in Brazil!!!!! Bella Bunda’s Reigned in the Bar of the Mountain King!!!! I went to sleep with a big smile and awaited the arrival of a guaranteed grouchy Florida group!

September 26, 1998
Monsters Of Rock
  YUP!!!! Zak was in rare form!!!! Jon was pouting...Johnny was Johnny...Gary was as Gary as ever!!!! Taz was just glad to be here...we played early and he wasn’t sure how many lights we would get. We needed to get to the stadium early because we never checked gear last night. My Marshalls ruled as usual! Thanks Guys! I then made a huge mistake. The crowd had just started to arrive, so I figured I could go wander to the T-Shirt booth and see what we were selling. BAD IDEA!!!!! I got mobbed. I had to fight my way into the booth where I stood for an hour signing autographs for a very frantic crowd. I finally got enough room to escape and sat in the sun Backstage, awaiting show time. I had to catch a bit of Glenn Hughes’ set. He played before us. WOW, What a singer! He played Burn to end the set. WOW!!!! Glenn Hughes just opened for me, COOL!!!! Of course right before we go on Al’s amps go down and Raymie was scrambling to find replacements. Al was up and running and so was my pulse!!! The show went by so fast. I am not sure exactly how many were there, I heard 40,000. They were all bouncing to every song we played. It was intense. At the end of Mountain King I was fed up with this MTV camera that was following me all night. I threw my Jackson PC Guitar up at the boom. It landed on top!!!!! My guitar was heading for the audience. Luckily it fell right at the end of the stage on my monitor. It was relatively unharmed! My new friends in Manowar were very proud! The show was a success! Immediately following us was Saxon. An all time favorite of mine. I knew Biff and Paul. Too cool to open for them! Dream Theater was up next. Derek was too funny to watch. These guys are all good friends. The singer is nuts!!!!!! Manowar was next! I was amazed at how tuned in this crowd was to them. They kinda stole the show. I was jealous. 18 Marshall cabinets, all live, all cranking! Johnny thinks my 2 are too loud!!! I needed another pass to stay on stage for Megadeth so I went to find Dave Mustaine. Dave and Dave were very happy to see me. I told them I needed a pass to watch them from the stage and Mr. Mustaine immediately gave me his. He said, "You should be able to get on-stage at a Megadeth show with a Dave Mustaine pass!" Good thinking Dave!!! They were flawless! WOW! I love that band. I gave my pass back to Dave, watched a song or two of Slayer,and left once more for the Hotel Bar!!!!!!!! A few million Caipirhinas later I retired to my room. Another childhood dream came true!!! I am truly blessed.

September 27, 1998
  Rodesio!!!!!! Time to pig out!!!! We loaded up and went to eat. Stuffed and happy as usual, we returned to the hotel. Our luggage was at the hotel so we had to go fight our way once more through the crowd and load up for the airport. I had to take what I needed for the ARL Tour with me to New York. I managed to condense it to where I had two checked bags and two carry-ons. I was impressed! Well, the fun is just beginning. I have to fly to New York tonight, I get in tomorrow and fly to Holland tomorrow afternoon to start ARL rehearsal! Wish me luck!!!

September 28, 1998
  New York, New York, A Hell of a layover...I got in at 7am. Jeff and Scott dropped me off at Camp Savatage. I needed to be back at JFK at 3pm. I napped for an hour or so and called a car to the airport. I checked in for Europe and turned around to find Mr. John West in line behind me. He flew in from NY State to JFK. A new tour is born. We sat at the bar and discussed Monsters and he played me a mix of our demo...I was not thrilled, but I figured I was tired. I got on the plane and tried to sleep. I think I had a really grouchy flight crew.

September 29, 1998
  Ah Europe...3 continents...24 hours...I am beat!!!!! We deplaned and looked for our ride. No one was there. Neither John nor I had any contact numbers for this tour. He left his home in his computer and Johnny had mine in ours!!! We waited around looking for "some tall, longhaired dude named Skid!!!" Comforting! Mike Terrana, the drummer of this tour, sent his tech Skid to get us. Mike played with Yngwie Malmsteen and Tony McAlpine. I saw him play with Gamma Ray at Wacken. He is an incredible drummer!!! For those of you who do not know John sang for Badlands, Lynch Mob, Cozy Powell and most recently a band called Artension. Their records and John’s solo records are available on Shrapnel records. Skid showed up about a half-hour later and we were off to Geleen, Holland to rehearse that night. HELP!!!!!!!! We arrive in Geleen around noon, check in and I demanded a nap! We set rehearsal for 8 PM. It was in the lobby that I met Barend Courbois. He was to play bass. Barend plays for the Dutch band Vengeance. Later after Vengeance opened for Savatage in November I wondered why!!! To be told later!!!! We stopped at McDonald’s and went to the rehearsal place. My dear friends at Marshall had brand new amps waiting for me at the rehearsal room!!!!! Thanks again!!!! We fired up and started to stumble through some tunes. Luckily I was somewhat prepared, no one else was!!!!!!! After about 4 hours we called it a night and went out for a beer before sleeping. Barends friend Ranier DeGrief was soon hired to help Skid on the tour. What a mistake!!!!! Nice guy at first, however frustrated musicians make terrible roadies. I went back to the hotel around 3 and passed out! HELP!!!!!!!

September 30, 1998
  American Restaurant!!! Wow, I have an Applebee’s across the street from my Hotel. We decided to do lunch in a familiar surrounding once more. Well, it looked like an Applebee’s. I have no idea why, but other than McDonald’s and Burger King American food does not taste American in Europe. Italy has Great Italian food, Germany has great German food, Hungary has great Hungarian food...none of them have good American food. You know.. Burgers, Ribs, Chicken Wings. There are great fries, but not great Chili. Oh well. I had Fettucini Alfredo that was not creamy. The portion was tiny. I had to get fries too! We finished after a very long wait and left for more re-torture... I mean rehearsal. J John went back to the hotel to work on lyrics...Thanks Pal!!!! I was stuck with Mike and good Ole Stumble Thumbs. This is what I called Barend, or Burbon as he quickly became known. First we tackled John’s solo stuff. We played "Permanent Mark", "Burning Times", "High Speed Life" and "Hands in the Fire" from his records. We also played "Smoke and Fire" from the first Artension record. The rest of the set was Three Savatage tunes, "BlackJack", "Dead Winter Dead" and my all time favorite "Mountain King". We played "Wicked Sensation" from Lynch Mob and "You Don’t Remember, I’ll never forget" From Yngwie. Surprisingly the two most fun songs to play were two new ones John and I wrote called "Infidel" and "Twisted Mind". They were two of the three we recorded. We ended every show with "Mistreated" from Deep Purple. By Midnight this night, with only a short McDonald’s break, we were able to play through mostly all of it without too many mistakes. Mike was a Monster, Barend was confused!!!! I was tired!!!

October 1, 1998
  Luckily the show originally booked for tonight never got confirmed. We needed this final rehearsal day. We got to the room to meet Daniel, our tour Manager. Very nice guy, with a very funny accent. He arrived with our Mini-bus which in his immortal words, "Is your home for the next two weeks, so clean up after yourselves!" OK there Danny Boy! By six O’clock we broke for McDonald’s again. As you can tell I had a very healthy diet of Mikki Dee’s this tour. I would find different ways to mix up the menu. One day it was chicken with fries. Next day Cheeseburger and a fish Sandwich. I have had too much time in McDonald’s!!!! We were now ready to run through the set. A bunch of Dutch Savatage fans showed up to get autograph’s and listen to a few tunes. This made me smile. By midnight we started to load the bus with the gear. Tomorrow morning we were off.

October 2, 1997

  Smaller...That was the theme of this tour. It had all of the same things as a Savatage tour, but smaller. Bus, Venues, Stages, Crowds, Smells!!!! We checked out of our Hotel and left for Germany. On this tour we took Hotel rooms every night instead of sleeping on the bus. The drives were shorter, so we could do this. I actually enjoyed the change. This venue was tiny, the perfect live rehearsal. The show was fun, there was a huge bar crawl in town that night so the crowd was limited...I enjoyed it however. This was the first time in a long time I was the only guitarist onstage. I did a couple charity Savatage shows a couple years ago, but I still had Jon to fill the sound in. This tour was very challenging. The most impressive thing about the set was Mike’s drum solo. It ranged from 10-15 minutes depending on the crowd and was absolutely amazing!!!! Stumble Thumbs had his fair share of mistakes. Funny thing was every night it was a different song he would screw up. I had no idea when to cue him! We took our beer to the Hotel and sat up laughing about our mistakes!

October 3, 1998
  Smaller right!!!! Our Hotel rooms were tiny today. There was a convention in Hamburg and we had to settle for a really old Hotel. We left for the gig at around 3. This was to be a very busy night. Lars from Monster Productions was coming down to meet us. They promoted the tour and took great care of us. "The Headbanger’s Ballroom" was having an after show party for the band and I. I was headlining the party!!!!! This club was a lot more together than the last one. I walked in and was relieved to see really good catering. You know there are advance tickets sold when there is good catering!!! I had found out that the advertising for this tour did not really hit until the naturally the shows got better as it went on. I noticed a Stone Hedge Monument the exact size of the one in Spinal Tap hanging behind the back bar. I asked nicely and the club let me put it on my amps. We aimed special lights at it and in honor of this was lit the whole show! Since I knew these places were a bit smaller I stole a trick I learned from Pat Travers a long time ago. I aimed one amp cabinet at the wall. This way I could turn it up loud enough to feel it, without it being too loud in the house. This was my savior this tour. Ranier really started to be a problem. All of a sudden he did not want to work. Rock Star Roadie!!! He would not last much longer...This show was great. Great crowd, lots of fun for me. Barend only screwed up a little!!!! Afterwards we packed up and went to my party! Champagne, candles, food, shots...this was more like it!!! Savatage fans from all over Germany showed up to drink with me. Guess what? Tomorrow was my first day off in two weeks..I Drank!!!!!!!!! Jack Daniels, Champagne, wine, beer, shots, shots of Jack Daniels chased by Jack and Coke...OUCH!!!! We stayed ‘til 8am. Singing Savatage songs and just having a ball. Someone brought a ticket from 1990 when we toured with King Diamond to sign. It was my first European show ever! I gave him my address and he sent me a copy of the ticket! Thanks! The guys from Gamma Ray hung out all night, they are my new favorite band!!! I passed out at about 10 am.

October 4, 1998
Day Off
  OUCH!!!!!! Me and what was left of my brain cells checked out of this hotel to drive to another hotel for a night off in Frankfurt. Along the way I remembered that there was a Champions Sports Bar in Frankfurt and I was determined to find it. This was Sunday you know!! FOOTBALL!!! We slept ‘til about 6pm in the hotel and started to research the location of this bar. Well, we found Champions alright...The clothing store. Sobbing we turned around and started back to the hotel. In unison John and I shouted "Champions American Sports Bar!!!!!" It was in the Marriott Hotel. We were in Heaven! Nachos, WingsBeer and Football!

I got to watch my Giants get killed by Tampa, YUK---It was still fun. Daniel was there and so was Ranier, who just sat pouting all night. Guess what? I hate Pouters!!! We went back to the hotel full and happy. I listened to a tape of the Hamburg show, I was very proud of myself!!! It was great. A much needed day off.

Things seemed to be looking up...Or were they?

October 5, 1998
Offenbach AKA Hell
  The day started out OK. We dumped Ranier off at the train station, BYE POUTER!!!, went to McDonald’s, stopped at the local music store for supplies, checked into our Hotel, showered and left for the gig. I had played this place on DWD. I remember the PA blew up in the first song. Catering was great, the stage was very loud and awkward. Soundcheck was kinda weird. Well...The crowd was, SMALLER, the sound was MUSHIER, the mistakes were LARGER!!!!! I just wanted to get out unharmed. We finished the show and I signed some autographs. I was waiting to leave when...I saw the gear being loaded out of the Bus. "Lose something?" I asked Skid. "Yes!" He answered. "The Keys!" Yup, the fucking keys to the bus. For two fucking hours we looked with no luck. Eventually, the band left for the Hotel. Skid slept in the cold bus waiting for daylight. We just drank and sang silly songs about this situation all night long! Spinal Tap all the way! I had never had this happen before, ever! What next?!?

October 6, 1998
Vervier...If We Make It!!!
  NO KEYS!! That is what I first heard upon awakening. Skid and Daniel had to take a cab to the rental office, get a new bus, which turned out to be a van, re-load what fit of the gear and get us. The remaining gear and the bus sat at the Venue from last night. There were no spare keys within 8 hours driving of here and we had to get to the next gig in Belgium. Well….The van shows up at the hotel. One row of seats, and not enough room for the luggage. Skid is crying! For Real! John, Barend and I crammed in the back with our luggage on our laps. Skid, Mike and Daniel were crammed in the front. We were laughing hysterically at this. I said "Go immediately to the rental office and get me a car, I will follow." We get there and I see these trailers. I said, "Could we rent one of those?" "Oh yes" replied Skid. "Well Dummy let’s rent one!!!" We put the gear in a trailer, got another row of seats in the van and left for Vervier. Everything fit easily in the trailer and we all were very comfortable. Laughing again. After a pit stop at McDonald’s, yes again!!! We continued and made it just in time for load in. Pulling into Vervier I had a very good feeling about the night’s show. This was an extremely pretty old city with a very old "European" flair. I always like to say that there is something very European about Europe!! "Route 66" This place had a great vibe from the second I walked in. The old guy who owned the place also did the sound engineering. Sometimes you can feel the spirits of a building immediately, this place had very friendly spirits. I walked downstairs into the dressing room behind the stage to find a bowl of chocolates. There it was finally, a Lion Bar. It is a Nestle Chocolate only sold in Europe. It was Criss’ and my favorite. I always steal them from the dressing room on Savatage tours. This was the first I had seen on this tour. I grabbed it and a huge chill went up my spine as I almost started to cry. Seriously I think by this time I was exhausted, and I felt someone was trying to help. I knew then that this show was going to be great. We finished sound-check and broke for dinner. It was then that I heard the discussions about the following day, our day off. I overheard something about us driving back to Offenbach to get the bus and staying there before driving to Holland the next day. NOT!!!!!!!!! I said, "This town is nice, how about the band stays here and Daniel, you and Skid go get the bus!" I was met with little resistance considering tomorrow was to be our day off in Amsterdam. We hit the stage and the place was packed. A Tuesday night in French speaking Southern Belgium and a band with no name or record fills the house! Cool! By the time we got to Mountain King the crowd was totally nuts. We finished our encores and left the stage with huge smiles and the sights of the bar in our midst! It was a time to celebrate, this day was over! The owner told us it was the best show he had all year. We went back to our hotel to get some much-needed rest.

October 7, 1998
Day Off
  Now I can’t remember the name of this hotel. It was a 17th century farmhouse converted into a dream-like country hotel. It sat on a hill overlooking a valley. There were cows in the field outside of the restaurant. I immediately noticed the big tank of Lobsters in the corner. The rooms were totally decorated in huge old hardwood trim. Skid and Daniel left early that morning for Offenbach. Mike left back for Holland the night before with his girlfriend. So, it was just Burbon, John and I. We left to get lunch. The town was too far to walk to and we could not figure out the buses. So we returned to the hotel and there was no one there. The restaurant was closed. We were stranded. It wasn’t too bad. I changed my guitar strings, once more realizing how over-paid our techs are. I was doing my own guitar tuning and string changes this tour. I had people to set up and tear down the gear but, all in all, teching is way easy! After another nap I heard some noise downstairs! Lobster time!!!! John, Burbon and I went down to get an incredible French Lobster dinner. Funny how life went from scrambling to find keys outside of a shitty gig, to dining on Lobster in the Belgian Countryside. People wonder why I drink! Skid and Daniel made it back at around 9 and we went out to a neighboring city to bar hop. Not too exciting, a lot of college kids acting like college kids. We went back to sleep early.

October 8, 1998
Zwolle, Holland
  Yes…Another nice hotel, another cool little city. We did not check into Zwolle, we were in the town next door. Again I forget the name! We were in a hotel right on a canal. Another very old Hotel. I was beginning to like getting rooms every night. I had been in some pretty nice places the past week. Jon and I went to town and shopped for our families, I signed some autographs at a local record store and we left for the gig. The world’s biggest Savatage fan was there. His name is Frode. He sees us more times a year than anyone else. He actually showed up in Brazil last March! He flew in from Norway. He is my biggest critic, a huge Criss O. fan. Our Dutch fan club was there, as well as Robbie from Aardschock Magazine. It was good to see more friends. All in all, it was a very calm day. The show ran smooth, however my rig went down during the encores and I had to plug straight into the Marshall for Mistreated. The Fender Strat through a Marshall, no better way to do Blackmore!!! Playing that song was my favorite part of the night. I have heard several live tapes from this tour and I must say some nights were pretty cool! After the show Robbie interviewed me for the magazine, an article I saw on the road with Savatage, THANKS!!! Only two shows left and the band is finally getting tight. Burbon still has his fair share of stumbles and Mike loses track here and there, but we are having a lot of fun.

October 9, 1998
Duisburg, Germany
  Hmm…Really good catering…..Yup the show is almost sold out!!!! By now the word on the tour is out and fans are coming from all over Europe to see us. Geeze with a little more advertising this tour would have been huge! I spent some time trying to figure out what was wrong with my guitar rig when I looked off the stage and saw Mattias from Rock Hard Magazine. He was to be the DJ at the club this night. He gave up a chance to see Deep Purple to go to this show. It had to be good! The stage was small. The Savatage German fan club was there again, they were in Offenfucked also. By show time the place was just about sold out and another adventure in ARL was on the way. Our T-Shirts finally arrived this night. Very Spinal Tap-like again…They even screwed the front up! I can’t win! The show was very magical tonite. The band was the tightest yet. Mike’s solo was the longest yet. Domino’s could just about get a pizza to you by the end! Mattias greeted me again immediately following the show stating he thought the show was perfect. He is very critical of my work so I took that as a huge compliment. I really learned a lot about myself on this tour. I was really missing my friends in Savatage at times, but I enjoyed the carelessness and spur of the moment nuttiness of ARL a lot. Daniel left the tour to play some shows of his own. JB from Monster took over. He tour managed Rock Bitch before….I knew I could get some cool stories from him!!! Tomorrow’s drive should be fun! One more to go!

October 10, 1998
Off in Eindhoven
  After some very interesting Rock Bitch tour stories we arrived at the hotel around 2pm. Skid figured we would get some "SCHLEEP" before going out for the night. That was the way his accent sounded to me. I think Skid wad Dutch or something. So we went to McDonald’s---AGAIN---and went back to rest up. I got up and mailed some postcards, we left at around 9pm. I had never seen anything like Downtown Eindhoven since LA in the late 80’s. There were so many people on the streets. 70% women, 80% beautiful. It was incredible! We stopped at the Dynamo club. This placed was run by the people who put the festival on every year. There were a bunch of kids very happy to see me there. I had learned that our show with Savatage in Holland the next month was already sold out. 2500 tickets in a day! We went from bar to bar to bar and finally wound up at a place that Skid had bartended at years ago. Needless to say, we had fun! I fell asleep on the way back to the hotel, but I heard the 15 minute drive took 90 minutes. Skid got lost! Way to go Clarke!!!

October 11, 1998
Vosselaar, Belgium
  Ah the Biebob!!!! We played here on DWD too. They have since expanded it. This is actually a cool place to play now. Not that it wasn’t before, it was just tiny in every way, stage, dressing rooms, venus…..I was sad to see the Grasspop Metal Meeting poster on the wall from the Summer. Black Sabbath and Savatage, one dream that never came true. Tomorrow morning I was to finally fly home and Schleep!!! I was kinda sad to see this tour end, especially since it was picking up momentum. The place was full and I was psyched to play, then it happened!!!! Stumble Thumbs got a mind Block during Blackjack. The end of the song was a huge train Wreck. Mike screwed up, Barend screwed up, I cried, John Hid!!! Could we get into the next song and redeem ourselves? NOOOOOOO! Burbon’s Bass breaks and he is all sorts of out of tune. I was in the twilight zone!!! Finally by the third song we settled in and the show came together. It had to end this way or it would have not been ARLive!!!! I saved my best Mistreated for last and the show came to an end. Like the end of any tour, we scrambled to get our stuff together. John and I left for a hotel near the Airport in Amsterdam. JB checked us in and we went to our gate. I was very relieved to see JFK airport. Unfortunately John had a 6 hour layover, so I waited with him and watched football. In the end it was all about…Football!

October 12-15, 1998
  I spent DWI….Drinking with Igor in Astoria. I slept a lot!!!

October 13-15, 1998
  I went to Mom’s to sleep more and Turkey hunt…

October 16, 1998
  I went to re-mix the tape I did with John….I needed it!!!!

The next week I really can’t remember what I did…I think I was at Mom’s. Scotti and I did go to The Birch Hill to see Dokken. Raymie and Gary were on tour with them. I think I bought the whole club a drink that night. I spent a lot of $$$$$$$$

October 28, 1998
  Johnny and Jon flew up to do a CNN special with TSO.

October 29, 1998
  Was the rehearsal.

October 30, 1998

  Was the shoot. It was very funny to watch everyone in the CNN building as we walked in to tape. They all thought we were there to cause some sort of trouble. I bet if I held that place hostage I could get the story right on the air!!!

October 31, 1998
  Halloween!!!! Johnny, Igor and I went to Judas Priest in NYCity!!!! The Ripper said hello to us from the stage! Glenn Tipton had as much trouble understanding Igor as I do!!!

November 1, 1998
  Sunday---Football!!! Our last chance for three weeks to catch games! It was also my last chance for New York Pizza!!! Star Pizza on Steinway Street, our Favorite!!! Later that day we went back to JFK for our trip to Europe. Another Tour was underway!!!!

November 2, 1998
  Rehearsal….Yes we are going to rehearse for this tour!!! Jon and I decided to get a whole lot of new stuff in the set as a consolation for the cancelled Summer tour. Jon and Al arranged a lot of it at Al’s house Saturday night. We checked into our hotel after settling into the new bus and sent the crew to rehearsal. Now, we took a tour manager, who shall remain nameless…to help Johnny on this tour. By the time we got to Austria he was trashed!!! By the time we got to rehearsal he almost ruined the whole tour. He was canceling shows, telling promoters off, threatening our band and crew….He even squared off with Taz!!! Brave man! Jon, who never gets mad, wanted to kill him. He would not last another day! We ordered out for….McDonald’s and started the wood stove. Rehearsal was underway. This set was fun. So many different songs and changes. We all decided we would not drink anything before playing this one live! We finished by 2am and headed back to the hotel. To our dismay the Hooters in Vienna was closed…..we found a local piano bar to go to. In stumbles the troubled tour manager. He ordered all kinds of drinks and refused to pay his bill. Raymie, Taz, Scotti and I bailed!!!! The next day he would be fired…..

November 3, 1998
  We woke up to a confused, sobering, ex-tour manager in the lobby. His flight home was later that day. It was a very sunny day this Wednesday. Rehearsal sounded great. I would like to apologize to anyone that said Tour Manager dude offended!!!!

Stop, go, Stop, go, COFFEE!!! We rehearsed very diligently for this show. We took the bus to…….McDonald’s for dinner!!!!!! UGH!!!! We ran thru the show once more and packed up the trailer. We hired Jan, a friend of the band for years, to run monitors this tour. We were not going thru the hell of bad monitors with this set! He ran sound for a local Florida band called "Stranger" for years. I must have seen them 80 times. Jon and I lived with a bunch of their crew guys down in Tampa. The guitarist tragically committed suicide two years ago. RIP Ronnie! Tonite we were early enough to get to Hooter’s for Wings! Still not American, but better than most. I got my ceremonial Hooter’s shirt and we left to get some sleep…SCHLEEP!!

November 4, 1998
  Ahh the Rockhaus!!! We played here on the last WOM tour. We were reading our last writings on the walls of the dressing room and creating new ones. We had 2 opening bands this tour. Rough Silk, who we had played with before, and Mind Odyssey. Nice guys, good bands. Now Gary, like he needs one, has a Savatage crew dressing room and put the two openers in one room…The kitchen!!! We quickly gave Rough Silk that room and laughed. Nice try G-Money!!! We were very nervous before this show. I wasn’t really. It was mostly Johnny and Jon. It went great. A few fumbles here and there, but it ruled!!!! I almost got Silk and Steel perfect tonite….in a couple of days it is mine!!!! For those of you who do not know, we put a small acoustic set at the end of the show as the first encore. It was Silk and Steel, SCHLEEP, Only Women Bleed…Alice Cooper, and Not What You See. I loved it. A chance to dry off and rest before the end of the show! The last encore we finally played Power of the Night again and the crowd loved it!!! Afterwards the fans were very psyched about the set and we felt very excited about the shows to come. There was a great feeling on the road with Savatage at this time. We were growing closer than ever with this line-up.

November 5, 1998
  Ahhh the Rockhaus!!! Déjà vu? No different Rockhaus!!!! We played here on TWOM AND DWD. Remember, Mozart’s city. Al and I went X-mas shopping, laughing about how long sound check would take anyway. As we approached the club I remember telling Al I bet Gary is still on the drums. I made the sound of a certain Tom Tom and we giggled. Guess what we heard? Yup, that drum!!!! Too funny! Something similar happened later too. I was singing the new Bruce Dickinson song, I forget the name, it is track 5 on The Chemical Wedding. I was on my way back from dinner. No not McDonald’s. Actually the cook for this club rules!!! I walked into the Rockhaus and that song started to play in the bar. Too weird! You know what I noticed…When everyone is sober, a lot of the really silly things never happen on the road. Not an excuse to drink, just an observation. We have decided to give up the Vodka after the show this tour and replace it with wine. I think we are just getting old!!!!!!!!!!

November 6, 1998
Biella, Italy
  GRAPES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is all I saw upon awakening this morning. The ride thru the Alps never ceases to amaze me. I got to see exactly where tonite’s wine came from! There are a lot of vineyards in Italy. This venue was way out in the country. Nice place, clean shower! I decided to go running towards the Alps earlier. I was greeted shortly thereafter by a large black wolf running out of the woods. I got my heart check for the day! I made it about 5 kilometers and decided to turn back. Like always in Italy there were lots of fans gathered early to meet us. Dinner was amazing as usual in Italy. I tried not to eat too much because it makes me lazy on-stage. I actually prefer to eat after we finish. I managed to steal a Savatage ski hat from the local Bootleggers. Italy has no law against it. I wore it during the acoustic set. I think I will keep doing that. My new acoustic set look! The crowd was great and we were starting to really get good. I got my wine and headed for the fans gathered to meet us after the show. The Hounds people, our Italian fan club, were here again. They saw the first two shows also. I would like to apologize to al of our Italian fans that arrived at this venue in July to find out that day we cancelled. It won’t happen again. Off to the land of broken mirror balls!

November 7, 1998
Pratteln, Switzerland
  Look kids, Big Ben-Z7. We have played this place more than the Birch Hill! It is a great room. The last time we were here we broke the house mirror ball. I arrived in the venue and was greeted by the local cleaning ladies. I helped them sweep the last time we were there. They gave me a small wooden broom and a miniature mirror ball! Very cute! I went running again. We head north soon, I am sure we will freeze then so I wanted to get as much running in as possible! I am becoming a big fan of our day rooms. These are the two rooms we take for the band to shower in each day. I like not doing sound check. It never sounds the same live anyway!!! I watched TV in Swiss and headed back to the venue. This place was packed. I think this was our best gig here ever. The crew from the venue came out on stage with a sign that said, "BEST CONCERT OF 1998!" I’ll take that! Our merchandise guy, who oddly enough was named "Stoney"—Very appropriate---was very busy tonight! Hey tomorrow is a day off!

November 8, 1998
Day Off
  Why must we always get dragged out of the bus to check in early on days off? Check in, leave the keys and a rooming list on the bus!!!!! Oh well. I threw my stuff in my room and went to eat breakfast with Zak and Gary. It was like 10 AM. I took over the egg station and made my own omelet. I then continued back to my room to sleep. At 3PM we all left to go climb the very large church here in ULM. To our dismay, it closed at 4. Jon, Gary, Johnny, Al, Scott, Taz and Jan went to eat. Raymie, Jeff and I went to drink! We found the guys from Mind Odyssey in a local Pizza Place/Pub. This was 4 PM. We stopped in for a beer. I got back to the hotel at 5 AM!!!!!!! Taz and Scott joined us after dinner. Zak never left the room, very Zak-like. Taz and I were tired of beer after about 5 and decided to switch to Jack Daniels. Bad idea! The bartender gave us the bottle and a pitcher of coke and a bucket of ice! She did not speak much English, her boyfriend and her owned this place. I think she liked us, ‘cuz we finished two bottles of Jack for free! We continued to a local night club around midnight and it was amateur night for male and female strippers. I kinda remember being topless swinging from a pole. Yup two bottles of Jack. My credit card statement just came with the $100 bar tab I had at this club too! OUCH!!!!!

November 8, 1998
  I was woken up by our hotel operator at 11am. We were checking out in an hour. I turned in my key and they hit me up for $50.00. It was for yesterday’s breakfast, which I was told was free, and movies. I was in a coma in that room. Zak tried to pawn off $25.00 of movies on me. He said it was like Godzilla or something. I think it was more like Pornzilla!!!!! Needless to say I did not make sound check today! Or Dinner. Or the opening bands!!!! I dressed and left for the stage. I remember Scott asking if my monitors were OK and I just looked and said, "Does it really matter?"

The show was great. I always play great hung over. I do not think about anything except guitar then. Not an excuse to drink, just an observation! I nailed Silk and Steel tonight. I will never screw it up again! Andreas from Metal Hammer came to see us. So did the owners of both bars we were in the night before!!! I thanked them for my headache. Finally we got Vary-Lights that worked after the show!!! We were carrying broken ones! The band had to help unload and load the trailer because of lack of time. I cried Blue Arm!!!!!!!! We finally got Savatage posters to sell today. And still the Orchestra….You know!

November 9, 1998
  The dressing room in this place was bigger than the Village Pub! The Mountain King re-arranged the furniture and sent for candles and we sat and wrote new songs all day! I managed to go out to the track behind the hall to run 3 miles. Shortly thereafter Al took me Knife shopping. Don’t ask me, he just felt extra violent today!

I ordered food for after the show again, along with my wine. I took off last night! Playing is getting really fun now. I really think the ARL Tour helped me to relax while playing. I love it more than ever. I hate when the show is over. The band is so happy this tour it is almost sickening!!!!!!!!!! J This was actually a very calm day, I don’t think anything funny happened at all. Al bought knives and wanted to break things, he got Vodka after the show tonite. I think his water heater broke at home. Other than that, everything was smooth. I have those days too, I go hunting!!!!!!

November 10, 1998
  I hate arguing!!! I walked into the venue early to the lovely sound of our crew arguing. I immediately grabbed breakfast and demanded to be brought to the hotel! I spent the day watching German BayWatch. Pam and Yasmine look good in any language! Tomorrow "Big Dave", the guy who played the Butcher in our live shows, comes to Europe! He is meeting Jon and I in Amsterdam. HELP!!!! I have a feeling it should be interesting! I made the mistake of leaving the hotel and eating before the show. Catering stunk!!! It was supposed to be some sort of lasagna. I have a question?? Is lasagna usually liquid? I didn’t think so!!!!! I started to make a small table of toys to play with near my tuner along the side of the stage. A new reason to collect junk! The lights did not work at all during the openers at times. Luckily the problem was solved. This was an incredible show. Afterwards I remember it was really foggy. Speaking of cloudy….tomorrow is Amsterdam!!!

November 11, 1998
Day Off In Amsterdam!
  Finally! I am back at the adult Disneyland! We woke up in Tilburg, showered up, grabbed money from Johnny and proceeded to walk to the train station. The crew was Jon, Gary, Jan and I. I laughed as these guys had me walk about two miles the wrong way. The train station was about a 5 minute walk from the hotel. It took us almost an hour!!! We boarded and were on our way. It is almost a 2 hour train ride, however it is beautiful country, so I did not mind. We arrived in Amsterdam around 4pm. We took a cab to Big Dave’s Hotel. A nice little place overlooking the canal right behind the Planet Hollywood. That was my home for the next 24 hours! I hadn’t seen Jon this excited since we first found the Indian Buffet near our apartment in NYCity!! Jon and Dave paused briefly for "Mind Expansion, M.E." and we left to eat. We actually found a great steakhouse. I had a killer grilled chicken platter. Jon, Gary, and BIG DAVE ate a whole cow I think! We then left towards "The BullDog". That is the most famous "café" in Amsterdam. Everything is legal here it seems. We were determined to try about anything! We drank there for about an hour, some more "M.E." was in order. It was all about green from that point on! From there we headed towards the Red Light District to give Jan, Gary and Dave a Tour. The Hard Rock Café moved there. I have a guitar hanging there, figures, above the ladies room door, also figures!!! We found the guitar and Scott and Taz!!! They took a train and tried to locate us. Smart guess! We went window shopping for about an hour. It is very funny actually. Sing…"How much is that Beaver in the Window!!!?" Everyone but Jon, Dave and I left for Tilburg at 10pm. Gary and Jan had no eyes by then. They were doing their best Charlie Chan’s!! We headed back to the Bulldog! I had them stop in a little Reggae café that Johnny and I were in during a press stop a year or so ago. I remember getting stoned just being in the place! We were not the tannest people in the building! The same Bob Marley music was playing still! We stayed for a drink when Dave and Jon started to get really hungry. Before we went to sleep Dave ate Schwarma, 2 pieces of pizza and 4 cheeseburgers-A Big Mac-and fries at McDonald’s!!! Geeze, I wonder why? By midnight it started to rain and they wanted to crash. I wanted to check the SamSam club out. Remember they had a party for us last year. They said they were broke and needed to go. Oh well…The owner was not there, but he called and said to give me and whoever I was with anything I wanted!!! PSYCH!!!! I closed the bar with some Sava-nuts and stumbled back to the hotel in the rain! Good Night!!!!!!!!!!!!!

November 13, 1998
Friday the 13th!!!! Tillburg
  After trying to get sleep amidst the snore-fest of Jon and Dave, I went down to Breakfast, re-hydrated and got those 2 up in time for checkout. We grabbed a cab and headed for the train station. We arrived in Tilburg and found out the bus was broken into the night before. Everyone was woken up at 4am to go see if anything was stolen. Funny, Johnny did not want to drive the bus to Amsterdam on the day off ‘cuz he said it would not be safe!!! J Nothing was stolen Thank God!!! The venue was only a block from the hotel so we dropped off our stuff and headed over. Wow!!! "The Choice" the new name for the Noorderlight! We were going to be the first show there. It did not officially open as a club until the next day. They were taking mikes and monitor wedges out of boxes. Everything was brand new. I guess the government helped sponsor this place with Pepsi. It cost Millions! Johnny started to feel funny right around today. I think he is tired and stressed! This venue was very cool. My monitor was from planet Zolton, so was my tuning and it took me a few songs to get into the show. By the 5th song I was calm and started to appreciate the 2500 Savatage nuts in their glory! I know the photos on Magellan are way better than DWD ‘cuz on that tour their were barely any females in front of the stage. On this tour Johnny and my side is full of girls!!! I like it. A pleasant surprise! I dedicated Believe to a Dutch girl who died earlier this year. Some friends of hers gave me photos of her grave with the lyrics to Believe on it. They asked me to remember to mention her. Rest in Peace Chantal. What a great show! Afterwards I got up and sang "Tush" from ZZ Top with the cover band that followed us as an after show party. I like singing! Maybe one day I will do that solo record after all! We stayed as long as we could…Gary punched one of the local bootleggers that tried to escape with illegal T-shirts. Way to go G-Money! We have a long drive to Paris!!!

November 14, 1998
  I woke up at around 3pm today. Just was real tired from the past 2 days I guess. We were finally playing a show in Paris that did not start at 2AM. I think we actually finished by 11PM. It was the best show we ever had in Paris. Great crowd. It was like most French dates; Bread, wine…..And the French Legion! Hi Jon Luc!

After the show we decided to convince our bus driver to cruise by the Eiffel Tower. Following a twenty minute attempt to get out of a traffic circle. "Look kids…Big arch, French street signs!" We arrived at the Tower right about 12:55 AM. Now this tour I decided to go without my camera and get more of a visual memory rather than chasing things with film. GOOD THING!!!!!! Zak and I got out of the bus and were looking at this beautifully lit wonder. Everyone else on the bus was scrambling for cameras. What we didn’t know was that at 1AM the lights went out.

They all came out too late for pictures and too late to see the tower up close. I took a very good look with Zak and we even noticed that it looked a bit crooked or leaning. No camera….big memory. This was the first time I saw the tower up close with the lights on….Next time, I will bring a camera….I will also wear it around my neck!!!!!!

November 15, 1998
  DUH!!!!!!!! Yup, I pulled my hamstring today. I decided to go to the Hotel with Zak right after we arrived at the venue. It was a beautiful new 16 floor hotel. Eastern Germany has come a long way since I have toured here. I also decided to run up and down the stairs a couple times without properly stretching. OUCH! I went in the sauna….(however it still hurts to this day ,) We cut the set a bit short tonight. Tomorrow we play for our new record label and we want Jon and Zak to be at full voice. This stage was so tiny…hard to perform when you can’t move! I did have a great show playing wise, so did the rest of the band. Everyone went to sleep early anticipating an important day.

November 16, 1998
  Going to sleep early sucks!!!!! You find yourself awake at noon with absolutely nothing to do. About all I did all day was decorate this silly tuning table I have onstage. There was so much dust on this venue’s light show that it looked like a big patch of moss was growing on each light. Why must the important gigs have such terrible production? We met our new label, SPV Records. They will be releasing our new record in Europe. They are very excited and so are we. The show went very well. I could not stop laughing looking at my table! Tomorrow is the last night of the Wake Tour. I am kinda sad. We were really tight tonite. I wanna keep touring. Oh well, next year is another record and another tour. Johnny is not feeling too well. He went to get his ears checked out, they are fine….I think he is tired!

November 17, 1998
  Well….At least we end with a cool venue. This place was huge. My table was even more silly tonight. We also added some palm trees onto the stage, which we found in the dressing room. I decorated mine with the lighted fruits I stole from the night before….Sorry "Kick!!!" I spent most of the day packing. I have to go to Hamburg tonight to record tomorrow. I fly out of Hamburg Thursday and meet the bands connecting flight in Zurich. No rest for the Ranger!!! I am going to play guitars on an Accept Tribute record! Cool!!! I watched our openers for the last time….Bye guys, Thanks! Gary and Scotti took Rough Silk’s drums away….I did not get involved. By the middle of the set Johnny was in Trouble….We got him a chair to sit in. He sat for about 10 songs. We tried to give him liquids and keep him cool. At the end of the show I was pretty scared. Johnny was lying on a table in the dressing room with an oxygen mask on. Next thing I know, he is on a stretcher on his way to the hospital!!! Yikes! The show was still a lot of fun. Thanks to our fans around the world for a great tour and we will see you in 1999. I said good-bye to everyone on the tour and gathered my stuff. I have to leave for Hamburg.

November 18, 1998
  Ahhh the Reeperbaum!!! This is Hamburg’s red light district! My hotel was right in the middle of it. However I would not get much time here. Lars Ratz from Monster Productions picked me up in Dusseldorf and drove me here to check in and shower. We did manage my final Euro-McDonald’s stop of the Tour! Lars promoted the ARLive Tour and as I said before, he took very good care of the band. He called and asked if I would come here to play guitars with a project called "Metallium" for an Accept tribute record. I told him I would be happy to. Mike Terrana played drums. I received a demo of three other songs and decided to play on them also. This singer is amazing! Sounds like a young Ray Gillen. As of now there is a deal for this band to record and I am hoping to play the rest of the album in February…as long as I can find the time!!!!! I arrived in the studio at around noon. It took me all of five minutes to get a sound. I am getting pretty good at this guitar thing by now! By 1pm I was recording. I first played rhythms on all three original songs. There was another guitar track to follow. A German guitarist named Mattias was there to help me along. He is in this band. Lars was engineering. He was very meticulous and was fun to work with. I was extremely tired by now however. We broke at six for some press photos with the band. I called to check on Johnny…he was fine. Heine…I think that is how you spell the singer’s name, showed up and immediately made me laugh. He is a lot like a young Oz.. in personality. Daniel from Monster took the pics. Afterwards I continued onto lead world. I had a lot of fun firing off some lead ideas that Lars really loved. We work very well together in the studio. However he was driving me nuts! He did get the best performance out of me, I was just so tired. I had only slept about 3 hours the night before. I finally finished at around 1AM. We all went out to eat. Lars dropped me and Heine off at around 4 AM. Heine had to catch a train at around eight so we decided to hang out. I had to take a taxi to the airport at 7:30, I was not going to get much sleep! First Heine and I went to Hamburg’s Dollhouse, he knew a dancer there. We only had enough time for one drink there before it closed. We then went walking past all of the "Snow Beaver" towards our Hotel. There are a lot of street girls in Hamburg. In the winter they all dress in snowsuits. It is funny to watch. I kept asking them how much they would pay me for a half an hour!!!! They didn’t think it was as funny as Heine and I did. Heine then asked if I wanted to go to the Backstage. It is an after hours club there. I remember this place….I went there with Savatage in 1990!!! Wow, we were so young! There was a picture on the wall of all of us. Criss, Wacholz, Johnny, Jon and me. I just stared at it for about 15 minutes. I told Heine some stories. Hamburg was the first city I ever played in Europe. We signed the guest book in this club. They asked me to sign again and I gave them some new picks. YES…I finally had my guitar picks this tour!!! The old Sava-page in their book was so funny. Johnny wrote "Stop the world and let off Wacholz!!!" J I wrote, "Where am I? Where are we playing? What are you saying?" Jon and Criss sort of just signed. Wacholz drew his little drum. Nine years later I can still remember the night like it was yesterday. We were having the time of our lives. Five guys on tour in a foreign country. A kick ass new record and a killer band. Five friends, traveling the world as one. There I was; single, not a worry in the world, a bright eyed kid in Europe for the first time living his dream of playing guitar. Almost ten years later; Criss is gone-Man I missed him at this moment, Steve is out of the band, Jon is no longer singing all the vocals, Johnny is in a hospital passed out from exhaustion…….Here I am, Six AM, no sleep, a wake up call in 30 minutes and I am still in a bar; single, not a worry in the world, a tired-bright eyed-older kid still living his dream of playing guitar!!! Geeze, A lot has changed in my life!!! N O T! I started to think about the past 11 years and how much Savatage has meant to me. It was at that point in time when I realized how much it meant to you fans too. I always knew it meant a lot. But, with all of the changes, all of the tragedy, all of the ups and downs; we would not still be here without you. I love you all. That is when I decided to write you another story. It is not perfect, I am not even going to proof read it. I just want to wish you all Happy Holidays and a great 1999! I can’t wait to make another record so we can get out on the road and do it all again! God Bless and Good night!!

November 19, 1998
  I got back to my hotel at 6:30. I walked past the front desk and noticed them on the phone. I went to my room and the phone was ringing. It was the front desk. I made it home in time for my wake-up call!!!! I left Heine my room key, we went down and ate breakfast. My cab came at 7:15. I said good-bye to Heine, he was very cool, and left for the airport. I met up with the guys in Zurich at around noon. I slept the whole way to New York!!!! I got off the plane, called my car service, got back to Camp Savatage, called Igor and went out for a night of DWI…."Drinking With Igor!" I really should sleep one of these days!!!!!! When? When? Bye for now…. CCC