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Roadie For A Day

05:31 AM Sunday 2/17/08 | |

The Times of London recently published a roadie's tale of the insight he gained working for Morrissey - for one day.Whether it's true, exaggerated or sour grapes, it's an amusing yarn. The Times article is filled with details and it is those details that make the story compelling.

Andrew Winters, a longtime fan who attended Moz's solo New York debut in 1991 and caught the first concert The Smiths played outside of Manchester at the Rock Garden in London in 1983, wrote in the Times that he jumped at the chance to be Morrissey's assistant road manager for a two-month trek across America last fall.

After receiving the job offer in an initial phone call he was e-mailed a list of application questions. Following the normal questions such as his recent tour management experience and how much he expected to earn, Winters said he was asked if he smoked, if he was married and to provide a picture of himself.

Also, naturally, if he wanted to work for the former frontman of the band whose second album is titled Meat is Murder, he was asked if he was a vegetarian or would he be willing to act as one for the length of the tour, according to the Times.

Winters said he chose a picture of himself with his fiancée's cat rather than his VIP pass from the Madison Square Garden gig. A good choice because he later learned that the application of anyone resembling a diehard fan of the man or his music was promptly ripped to shreds.

Next up was Winters' interview at a pub in Suffolk, England, with Morrissey's road manager, who informed him that it's really an excuse to check out Winters' choice of clothing and general demeanor.

"Anything resembling archetypal road crew apparel, such as turning up with a baseball cap reversed on my head or a cap-sleeve T-shirt emblazoned with the words 'Saxon - World Tour 1987,'" Winters wrote, would make him automatically ruled out.

Winters was told if he was accepted for the job it would be the most unusual one he has ever experienced. He was reminded that the one overriding rule is the vegetarian one - when working for Moz, do as Moz does. That means no burgers from room service, no ham on salads - no dreaming about a steak - you get the point.

He must have chosen the right ensemble for the interview, despite asking what the view is on eating fish, because he's hired and would fly out to L.A. for the tour in a week.

Winters said in the Times memoir he was responsible for the musicians - getting the musicians to the venue on time, making sure the band is wearing their "sound-check suits" as well as dry cleaning and steam-pressing the suits before each show, ironing shirts and cleaning their shoes.

The list went on, including the duty of spraying a fragrance spray between the front row and front of the house. Winters was informed that he would be provided with a fragrance of the day "if required."

After flying to the U.S. - with a preordered vegan meal of course - Winters arrived and soon tackled his assistant road manager duties by accompanying one of the band members while he took care of some business. The band member reportedly said Morrissey asked everyone to tell the first record they ever bought. Winters decided to be honest and revealed it was "Rocket Man" by Elton John."F*** me, Andrew," the band member reportedly said. "Don't tell Moz that, you'll be right out the door. T. Rex is always good."

The band member turned on L.A. radio station Indie 103.1 and asked Winters if he had ever heard the station's show by Sex Pistol Steve Jones. Winters said yes but that he also liked to listen to Henry Rollins, whose "Harmony in my Head" show is on the same station.

The band member responded with a frown and then silence and Winters wondered if he said something else wrong, but forgot it.

Later that evening the band and crew were summoned to a local bar, a well-known Morrissey hangout, Winters wrote.

"Be careful, Andrew," someone warned him. "Moz hates people who are boring - but then, he also hates people being too pushy around him. Establishing common ground quickly is important."

An hour later Winters shared his first and only exchange of words with Morrissey. Moz asked his bandmate how his day was, who responded that it was a bit boring, "but it was good to have Andrew around as company."

Morrissey looked at him with a slight smirk and shook Winters' hand, saying, "Don't worry, Andrew, it can only get better than this."

According to Winters, everyone started drinking and then one of the musicians knocked back a pint to a chorus of "Down in one, down in one, down in one" while Morrissey added flamenco claps and skips in front of his employee. The process repeated after Moz requested another pint for the same musician.

The group moved to another location but Winters, unsure if he's even invited to come along, headed back to the hotel with a band member whom he's been tasked to keep an eye on and is feeling a bit jet-lagged.

The next day - the second day of rehearsal - Winters woke up to find a text from the road manager: "Please chck ur e-mail."

He did. The e-mail, as Winters related to the Times, read "Morning, Andrew, I'm sorry to say I have been instructed to arrange travel back to the U.K. for you today. Your flight details are below."

Shocked, Winters asked the road manager for a hint of an explanation.

He reportedly told the now-former employee, "It's nothing to do with you, really. It could have been the shirt you were wearing, your haircut, anything. Please don't take it personally. This happens."

Winters wondered if maybe news of his first record purchase found its way back to Morrissey as an Internet search revealed that Moz has apparently given a speech along the lines of "bring me the head of Elton John" when performing his song, "The World is Full of Crashing Bores."

Maybe it was the reference to Henry Rollins? Winters, desperate for an answer, Googled "Morrissey" and "Henry Rollins" and said he found Moz once attended a Rollins show and sat in the audience shouting "F*** You" at the punk icon/spoken word artist.

Winters' last contact with the Morrissey crew was with Moz's PA. He asked her for a clue into his firing and she e-mailed, "Well, I'm none the wiser! Safe journey home and good luck."

Winters wrapped his Times story with the image of sitting in an airplane seat, telling the same flight attendant he met on the flight over that this time, instead of the vegan meal, it's time for some beef.

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