Stories From The Road: Pylon tours with Gang of Four

Posted: December 3, 2008 by ginavivinetto in music, Stories From the Road
Tags: , , , ,

By Vanessa Briscoe Hay

Back in 1980 or so, my band Pylon was on a short tour through the Midwest and parts of Canada with post punk legends the Gang of Four. The two bands have been friends since the summer of 1979 when we had opened for them in Philadelphia and in New York City on our first trip out of Athens, Georgia.

Pylon performing in the 1980s.

Pylon performing in the 1980s.

Both bands had stopped for the night at an enormous Holiday Inn near the Canadian border. The generic corridors seemed to stretch for miles. The next day, we were making our first trip across the border to our first Canadian show. The members of Pylon and our roadie/soundperson were all staying in one room. Guys two per bed. I got the rollaway cot, but it was my own bed and not the floor. We were used to sleeping on floors. Actually getting to stay in hotels for the whole tour was a huge step up for us.

Hugo Burnham (the drummer for the Gang of Four) and his brother Jolian, (GO4 tour manager), invited us to come watch TV and hang out in their room. I noticed that Hugo had a nicely typed-up list of their equipment and serial numbers sitting on top of the TV. I became worried because we hadn’t done anything like that. I brought it to the attention to the rest of the band so we could make an equipment list too. I remember drinking beer, chatting and watching a documentary about Jimi Hendrix on the television. I’m sure that some Rebel Yell was available too. All great fun!

The British band Gang of Four.

The British band Gang of Four.

After awhile, most of the members of Pylon had drifted back to the hotel room. Curtis Crowe (Pylon’s drummer) and I remained behind. Eventually realizing that it was getting late, we decided to head back to our room. I guess we were inebriated — as a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure that we were! On arrival to our room, we suddenly realized that neither of us had a key. We banged on the door for awhile to no avail. Our fellow bandmates were sleeping pretty deeply and obviously didn’t hear us. Curtis and I put our heads together and decided that we should go back to Hugo’s room and ask if we could sleep on the floor.

Heading back down the hall, we passed an open door. On the bed lay Jon King (the lead singer of the Gang of Four) fully dressed and sleeping on his back with the lights blazing overhead. Curtis and I both agreed that Jon wouldn’t mind. He was our friend! It was very convenient, too. We carefully locked and latched the door for him and turned off all the lights and crawled into the other bed fully clothed and went to sleep.

Sometime, early the next morning someone was shaking me. I blearily opened my eyes. Cold, early morning light was pouring through the window. Ouch! A guy was angrily yelling “Who the fuck are you?!” Curtis and I both sat up and looked at each other and realized, yikes! THIS WAS NOT JON KING! Just someone that looked a little bit like him.

We jumped up. Apologized. And ran back to our room. This time when we knocked on our door, someone woke up and let us in.

Vanessa Briscoe Hay is the lead singer of both the influential alternative rock band Pylon and the more recently-formed Supercluster. Vanessa is married to musician Bob Hay. They have two daughters.

  1. Deborah Frost says:


  2. Hugo B says:

    Many members of G4 woke up in hotels all across the world over the years wondering “Who the fuck are you?”….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s