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The Paul Anka Transcript June 9, 2014

Posted by geoff in News.

Way back in the mists of blogging time I transcriptedtranscribed (fershlugginer Michael!) some of the Paul Anka rant for Mrs. Peel. Several years later I completed the transcript at Ace’s request, and posted it at my site. Since my site is dormant now, I thought I’d repost it here so that future generations of bloggers can continue to enjoy the extemporaneous magic of Mr. Paul Anka.

[Original post from February 2010] This is a transcript of the famous “guys get shirts” tirade that is so beloved by the AoSHQ gang. Let me know if I screwed any of it up (thanks to Ace for filling in a couple of gaps that I couldn’t figure out, and to Floyd and Michael in the comments for several corrections):

Mr. Anka: First order of business. No t-shirts on stage. Y’understand that? See the shirts that everybody’s wearing? Everybody pr… Where’s the, where’s the guy at the end, the new trombone player, who’s missing?

Someone: He weren’t wearing a t-shirt.

Mr. Anka: Yeah, I know. The other guy on the end had the t-shirt. T-shirts! Didn’t I say shirts?

Someone: Yep.

John: I thought he was covered.

Mr. Anka: You thought, you thought.. you thought, you thought 8 things tonight. You’re on fuckin’ notice, John. I gave you a list, ya got half the list that I gave you – with cues and everything on it. OK? The guys get shirts. Don’t make a fuckin’ maniac out of me. The guys get shirts. D’ya understand? We’re not going to be as strong as our weakest link! The guys get shirts. Y’understand that? This is like football, baseball, like anything else. The guys get shirts.

That’s Just. The Fucking. Way. It Is!

Your first start was getting your goddamned list correct. So there’s no confusion. When I write something down it gets exactly that. Now what are we going to do about these cutoffs?

John: Uh, the “My Way” cutoffs? I’m kind of waiting for you, I usually . . .

Mr. Anka: What did we discuss at the last meeting? I was going to take “I’m not Anyone.” Is that correct? I was going to do that one, you’re gonna hold the chord and cut it. Is that right?

John: Absolutely

Mr. Anka: All right, now what are we going to do about “My Way?” ‘Cuz I’m walking around, waitin’ and waitin’, and then you finally give it, and where was everybody cutting off with you?

John: I don’t know. Evidently they were watching you when they should have been watching me.

Mr. Anka: Wha..but you were doing it!

John: I did it.

Mr. Anka: What’s it going to be guys. Who’re you watchin’?

John: I’d suggest they watch me, I’ll watch you.

Mr. Anka: But you were the only one to watch!

John: Absolutely.

Mr. Anka: Let me ask you this. A pilot is in a plane when he’s landing, he not only looks at his instruments, but he looks at the fuckin’ runway to make sure it’s there. What do you look at? Who’re you watching? Where were you guys on the end of “My Way?” Graham, what happened?

Graham: I was late because I usually watch you on that . . . and John . . .and, uh…I…

Mr. Anka: If I’m not doin’, if I’m not doing anything, and he throws… Do you remember the last meeting where I said a bow I’ll do to take it, to end it, except for “I’m Not Anyone,” I’ll give “I’m Not Anyone.” Do you remember that? If my arms aren’t up and he’s the only one why wouldn’t you take it from him? What is the confusion on these endings?

I don’t get it. I don’t get it. D’ya understand that?

What’s it going to be, guys? You want fucking Vinny Falcone in front? Do you want me to go up and get a conductor that’ll sit and ride your asses? Is that what you want? D’ya want your jobs? Where’s Joe?

I tell ya I want the band. D’ya understand that? I want the fuckin’ band. OK? There is a lot of loose shit going on and I’m telling you you guys are on thin ice. All right? I’m telling you right now. And when I fuckin’ move I slice like a fuckin’ hammer. You’ve seen it and I’ll do it again. When I tell you the band you better look and make sure everybody’s here when you walk in this room. I will not put up with this shit. D’ya understand that?

That’s Just. The Fucking. Way. It Is!

Every one of your fuckin’ checks cash with the amount on it. Do any of your checks bounce? Do you all get full value on your money? I want full value on your fuckin’ service. Do you hear me? D’ya understand that?

You guys have three fuckin’ days to get it together. All of you head of your departments. OK? The light on “Times of your Life” – what is that blue doing over there on all the way to the middle and then you shut it off. What is that all about?

Light Guy: That was a fuckup.

Mr. Anka: That was a fuckup. I, I see that again, you’re gone with the rest of them. Is that clear?

Light Guy: Mmm Hmm.

Mr. Anka: That’s just the way it is around here. D’ya understand that? That’s how fuckin’ crucial this is. You have nothing to do but watch to see if one special is on and the, if the film is on, correct? You have nothing else to worry about with those lights. That whole thing was washing out that film.

You will straighten out this goddamn cutoffs John.

John: Absolutely.

Mr. Anka: D’ya understand? You will get it straight.

I’m the only important one on that stage.

John: I know it.

Mr. Anka: Do you guys have any to add to this, can you help him out? You guys have, can you add to this, the confusion? Can you give us some intelligent input here? What is your problem?

I’m warning you, I’m the only important one on that stage. D’ya understand that?

Do you want him to lose his job? Do you? Then put me some fuckin’ knowledge in here! Tell me what’s wrong! He’s the only one with his hands up and he cuts off. Now give me some intelligent fuckin’ answers. Who’re you watching? Go ahead.

Someone: Well I have an idea.

Mr. Anka: I don’t want an idea, I want to know what went wrong and I wanta know how to fix it.

Graham: Well that was on me. [blah blah] From now on I’ll definitely take it from John. It won’t happen again. Absolutely.

Mr. Anka: Where’s Joe?

Now guys I’m giving you all one week to get this together. OK? I’m giving you one week. To play that music the way it’s supposed to be played. I’m giving everybody one week. Everybody’s got one week to do it right. ‘Cuz I’m in my form right now. If you guys are not going to come up and support me with the enthusiasm I’ve got for it, it ain’t gonna work. I’m the only important one on that stage…and you are letting me down. D’ya understand that?

I don’t get it. I don’t get it. D’ya understand that? And the only satisfaction I’m going to get is to ream your fucking asses like the coach of a ball team or any goddamn business till you get it. D’ya understand that? Because if you don’t feel embarrassed about it, then you have no conscious, you got no heart you got no integrity. D’ya understand that? Then all you do is you take the fuckin’ money and you’ve got no substance, remember that. People of substance and character care about what the fuck they do and they fix it. OK? And I think that you’re working with me because I think that’s the way you are. And I don’t pull any punches with you guys. I am telling you that his job is on thin ice. And you know how fast I move.

I don’t care if you’re a light man, a production manager, an agent or a theater owner like last night – you understand? I have a new philosophy. I don’t care if it’s Jesus Christ. I’m the only important one on that stage. If you don’t do it my way, then it’s the highway. Things go the way they’re supposed to, properly with integrity, or no one is fucking dispensable and you all fucking can go.

I’m the only important one on that stage. You understand that? It’s just the kick that I’m on, the mood that I’m on. I don’t care if the promoter is the theater, I don’t care if it’s C. J. Powell.

Is that fair enough? I’m warning you. Is that good enough, for all of you? I’m on that kind of an integrity kick. If you really don’t care step forward. You’ll finish up the rest of the tour and then you’re gone.

Now we’re all important in the totality. You don’t care like I care, I don’t need you guys to take my money. Just like that guy last night, that fucked up my crew and we’re short labor – I lost out 20 or 30 fuckin’ thousand dollars because my crew got fucked. D’ya understand? You understand where I’m coming from with integrity?

You guys better have the same thing. Because you’re all replaceable. D’you all like your jobs? D’you want your jobs? Do you?

Now you better protect this(?), so that happens again, he does not have that job again. You understand? You better make it right.

If you don’t do the job, you’re gone. And that goes for everybody. And that’s Just. The fucking. Way. It is!!

Because you got it too good!! And as long as you got it good, you gotta make it good. Get it fuckin’ right. That’s just the way it is around here.

D’you hear me? D’you understand that?

Don’t make a fuckin’ maniac out of me!!

Where’s Joe?


1. Cathy - June 9, 2014

Bravo! This cracked me up the first time — and this time too. Any mention of Paul Anka gets a giggle out of me. Thanks Geoff. I nominate this one for “CLASSIC IB THREADS”

2. lauraw - June 9, 2014

There was a bit of unseemly browbeating going on at that meeting.

3. geoff - June 9, 2014

Well, many a musician is a slacker who needs his fanny kicked regularly to keep him on task. I doubt this is that unusual for groups with largish bands.

4. daveintexas - June 10, 2014

A few years ago Terri Gross interviewed Anka on NPR’s Fresh Air – she replayed this for him and asked him if he was embarrassed about it. He laughed and said the same thing, musicians are the worst and you have to kick them around to get their attention. He’s a businessman with thousands of dollars on the line.

In other words “yes, I was being an asshole on purpose”

5. skinbad - June 10, 2014

If Retired Geezer (with integrity and conscious) would have been his light man we never would have had this comedy gem.

I guess we might have heard about the cutoffs.

Cathy - June 10, 2014

I totally get Anka’s intensity — but it’s still funny.

6. Michael - June 10, 2014

Is “transcripted” a word?

7. geoff - June 10, 2014

Errrr, uhhhh, sure it is. It’s the lesser known brother of transcribed. Yeah, that’s it.

So I mended it, you so smart.

8. geoff - June 12, 2014

Michael – I restored your comment. You had me dead to rights.

9. Retired Geezer - June 15, 2014

I’ve been on vacation for a week so I missed this thread

I actually was on the road with Mr. Paul Anka but I wasn’t on this particular tour.
He is talking to Johnny Hayes, his conductor.
Joe is Joe Guercio the musical arranger.
The Blue light was the conductor light that we kept on at all times.
It must have gotten bumped and was now hitting the projection screen.
We kept that light on all the time so the band members could see when the cut offs happen.
I believe Carl Fontana was the trombone player and Dave Culp was one of the trumpet players.
Chino Pozo was the rhythm guy.
C.J. Powell was the tour manager. I gave his business card to Lauraw and she passed it on to Ace, who wore it and the Backstage Pass, during one meetup.

I never met Graham. Chips Davis was the soundman when I was with him.

More later.

10. Retired Geezer - June 15, 2014

I was on the road in the early 70’s.
We went to NYC to do a show on Broadway but the musicians were on strike.
We did nothing for a week (except take the circle line boat tour around Manhattan, go to the Hayden Planetarium and throw paper airplanes out the window for a week).
Musician strike never ended so we went home.
I had been saving money by eating crackers and cheese all week but the night before we left, John Anka, (Paul’s uncle?) told us that they were picking up the room service tabs for everybody.
I had steak that night.

After the strike ended, we returned to NYC and played the Uris theater. We stayed at the President Hotel.
Paul usually had the band/crew stay in the same hotel.

11. Retired Geezer - June 15, 2014

More stupid remembrances; first ever roady job.

Paul Anka in Youngstown, Ohio. Took 2 days to unload truck, hang and focus lights. Some crew showed up drunk for show.
I was not thrilled with being a roady at that point.

Next day fly with the crew to Hamilton Ontario Canada in the Jet.
Wake up in the morning, dreading the day.
Go to the theater and discover that the Canadian crew had removed the piano hinge on the road box, found the light plot and hung the show before we even arrived.
Hamilton Place theater.

Maybe being a roady isn’t so bad after all.

12. geoff - June 15, 2014

Man of Substance, wasn’t it?

13. Lippy - June 16, 2014

The Classics never get stale or dated. Always worth a re-read.

14. Cathy - June 16, 2014

Loved your stories, Geezer. Hugs to you and the Lady!

15. Retired Geezer - June 16, 2014

One last story:
Caesars Palace, Opening Night, Anka walks on after his introduction but the lighting is wrong. He stops the band and says ‘We’re going to do that again’.
Walks offstage and we lower the curtain and start over.
He comes out and we do the show.
Major ass-chewing after the show.

The next night we do the show flawlessly (we think). He calls a meeting backstage and we don’t know what to think.
At the meeting, he gives every member of the crew a $100 chip.

Good times.

16. Cathy - June 16, 2014

Cool.. Gotta love that guy!

17. All Roads Lead to IB | Innocent Bystanders - September 2, 2016

[…] that’s Mr. Paul Anka of the Paul Anka rant […]

18. David H. - November 17, 2018

I’ve heard this audio clip several times, and I find parts of it to be light comedy and other parts edge-of-your-seat drama. I’m not a musician, mind you, but after hearing Paul Anka talking to his band backstage in this clip, I can understand where he’s coming from. He’s right about the band being in the totality (Mr. Anka included) in that when one member screws up, the whole band screws up, and it makes the star of the show look bad. Paul Anka’s name’s on the tickets, programs & on the marquee, so he’s “the only important one on that stage”. People spend their hard-earned money to see Paul Anka, not the band, nor the light man nor the sound man, even though these behind-the-scenes guys are an integral part of making this production happen. The people who attend Mr. Anka’s shows deserve to see a flawless, first=class performance. Could someone here tell me what year this was recorded? I believe someone said this was recorded in the mid-1980s, although I’m not sure. An excellent bit of audio footage I never tire of hearing! I wonder if anyone knew of or found Joe’s whereabouts? 😀

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