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One of the questions that we have been most asked was about the girls. The fact of the matter is, there were none. We always bragged about the fact that Bride had no female groupies. We never had screaming girls waiting outside of hotel rooms or trying to get backstage. I think maybe we were just too scary, and I always tried to appear really sure of myself.
However, there were the male groupies. These were young boys who were aspiring musicians. Most of them were skinhead-looking and could have fit into any punk band from the 70's. We did not mind answering all the questions about life as a musician, but we did disappoint a lot of them when we told them we made very little money and were not chauffeured around in limousines. I tried to be honest with our fans and let them know that we were not rock stars, and any one involved in playing music for the Lord ought not consider themselves stars. Our work should be completely dedicated to the Lord, and He should receive the praise for what He does through us.
The year had started slow but full of fireworks. The band was financially busted, and Troy was out of money. The band had been borrowing money from him for a long time in order to stay stocked on merchandise. His new house was almost completed and he was over budget, and now the band looked at me and what little money I had saved to get us through the next month.
We had a Germany tour and nine shows planned in 10 days for March. We had to keep our bills paid until then, and we were sure that we could get back to our feet. Rik had called me in early February a couple days before Valentine's Day needing 300 dollars for an overdue apartment bill. Since we had so much bad weather we had not been able to rehearse for almost three weeks, so I had no idea that Rik and Jerry were pinching pennies to get by. We had such a great year in '93, and now it felt like we were having to start all over again. We knew we could ride out the storm, but would we be the same band after all this sudden chaos that had erupted? I was sure the Germany tour would bounce us back or destroy us.
We were scheduled to leave Louisville March 16th. I was not looking forward to another overseas trip, but I knew we needed to return to Europe. We had many dedicated fans in Germany, and the bulk of our touring would concentrate there. March 14th, two days before we were to leave, I got some disturbing, yet relieving news from Jerry. I could tell by the tone of his voice that something terrible must have happened. He said, "Dale, are you sitting down?" I said, "I can take whatever your about to tell me standing, I think." He said, "Rik is not coming back from Europe. He is leaving the band."
It was not the news I had expected to hear, and I knew Jerry was taking this much harder than I. Jerry had always felt as though Rik was a friend and considered him a partner in music. I knew better; I knew Rik as a loner and somewhat self-indulgent. I told Jerry not to worry. "I would find a replacement." I immediately called Steve Curtsinger, who was the bass player for a band called Killed by Cain.
I had produced a record for this band about a year earlier on the R.E.X. label. Steve was a good Christian friend and a good bass player. He was not nearly as tall or as intimidating from the stage as Rik, but he could do the job. Steve said he had been praying that I would call because Killed by Cain had pretty much bit the dust. He came the following morning and picked up a cassette tape of the tunes we were doing live, and a video of our live performance in Brazil to in order to learn the songs. He said, "don't worry, Dale. I will know them by the time you guys return from your tour."
My biggest disappointment from all this was that, much like Steve Osborne (who left the band many years ago), Rik could not face me and tell me himself. He had to use Jerry. Rik had used Jerry many times to convey unpleasant messages to me. I never could understand why Jerry put up with him. All along Jerry's real friends were Troy and I, but he was hesitant for some reason to be pals with us. He kept things pretty much on a professional level with us and had trusted Rik. I feel closer to Jerry today, years after he left the band, than I did while he was with us.
Rik had a very likeable character, and his personality was pleasant on most days. He was one of those people who got more attention than he wanted, so he lived to himself most of the time. None of us knew what he was going to do away from the band, but we all had a gut feeling that after this tour we probably would never see him again. I felt bad for Jerry because he considered Rik a pal, and now I was sure that he felt betrayed. I had wanted Rik to leave on his own for quite some time because I knew he had a hard time getting his life organized, and I figured, after all this time he had been a part of the band, that he would be much closer to finding himself. I had always been there for Rik in the few times he had confided in me, but it was usually after I saw a problem and approached him about it. This time he was on his own.
"As far as I was concerned, he was on his own." I had way too many things to concentrate on rather than trying to fish Rik back in. At this time, Vince, our only road hand, had not said if he was leaving or staying. I had always felt that his loyalty was to Rik, and that he had just done minor things for us for the little that we paid him. I also wondered if he, too, felt betrayed by Rik, as Vince was very dedicated to Rik. Whatever Rik was running from, he was leaving all those who really cared about him, including myself. This would be a very interesting trip, and no doubt it would be uncomfortable for everyone. We would call this the farewell to Rik tour.
The attitude of the band was dull. Instead of feeling like the heavy weight champs of the world we all felt like a boxer who was under trained. The sharpness and killer instinct were in the back of our minds. For this tour to be a success spiritually, mentally and financially, the Lord would have to step in and give us a hard push.
Troy seemed unmoved by all the disasters that had recently occurred. His mind was preoccupied mainly on his house and getting it finished up enough to either move in or sell it. Troy was so sedated that I was beginning to feel that he had blocked all the recent events out of his mind and had put on his rose colored glasses. Maybe he just held up under pressure better than the rest of us, or maybe he was about to have a breakdown. If anything, I figured that sooner or later exhaustion would get him and he would have to admit that I had reason to worry; but, as of yet, he was steady as a rock.
Germany Again, Again
We flew from Louisville to Cincinnati on Delta airlines, and from there straight to Frankfurt Germany. Our plane was delayed because of electrical problems, but we landed safely. I had not enjoyed my previous trips to Germany, and this one, with the delay of the plane for over an hour and then the fact that I had to sit behind a couple from India who had not bathed in weeks, made me wonder why I was going again. Sharon (my wife), Michelle (Troy's wife) and Vince were on this trip.
Rik and Jerry joked about the fact that Rik was leaving the band, and wanted to send out press releases that Rik's height had something to do with his departure. They wanted to write that Rik had not quit growing, and now he was as tall as a tree and had to move into the forest to live with the Big Foot. They had talked about enlarging a photo of Rik and superimposing it among the red woods. At the beginning of the trip I found it hard to even look at him, feeling betrayed and let down by his sudden decision that he did not even have the nerve to tell me himself.
We had not done a tour since the Stryper tour, and we had only been playing weekends. This tour was not major by any stretch of the imagination, but it would be the most shows we had played in a row in over two years. We rested for a day in Darmstrdt at the Reuterhof Hotel, then it was off to Witten, where we would play the first of several shows with the band Creed. Creed was the premier German white metal band (not the now popular American rock band).
We traveled in a rented RV that Andres (the promoter of the tour) said would "sleep ten," but in reality would sleep maybe four, and carry only 8 people. In Witten we played to 500 people in a nice room. In all the years of playing, this would be my first big experience with hecklers. One lone fanatic screaming from the audience put a damper on my message at the end of the night. He was upset over statements I had made concerning secular music. He was shouting obscenities against me and Jesus.
We had played a blistering set of old and new material, and now, using a translator, I was trying to speak of the love of Jesus to the crowd. The heckler was yelling things like, "You better not say anything against Axl Rose," "I'll see you in hell," and stupid things like that. I replied by fueling his anger, saying, "Axl Rose did not die on a cross for your sins, now did he?" I soon closed my message and went out front to meet the people. As usual, this heckler, who was all mouth while I was on stage, never approached me.
However, a thin "hippie" looking rocker did, and said in a drunken voice, "why don't you go to hell." Not being in the mood for anymore of this, I threatened to throw the guy over the balcony. Even Troy and Jerry were ready to fight. The guy wandered off into the crowd and stood with a group of his buddies, and there were no more incidents this night.
Here are my thoughts on secular music.
A lost person who is listening to secular rock music has tuned their interest or the radio channel in their head to a certain frequency or sound. They identify with certain beats and sounds, and then the lyrical content of the song is usually the last thing that they listen for. The lyrical content comes from the heart of the performer. Once a person has determined what they like to listen to, they normally will not stray too far from that particular sound.
What comes out of a man is what he is. If people are filling themselves with corruption, then out of his mouth his heart will speak of corruption. These performers are very influential, and the corruption spreads like a wildfire in the hearts of those who embrace it. Can a person take fire against their chest and not be burned? A person who sings of Jesus and practices what he preaches, who takes in the Word of God daily, will produce righteous things from his mouth. Thus, the songs he sings will reflect God in him, and the listener of righteousness will be exposed to the spirit of God, who is more than capable of bringing salvation to the lost. It is important for those who play Christian rock to get on the right frequency so that they can attract the unrighteous to the truth.
For anyone to say that it is wrong to use Christian rock to attract a secular rock audience to come to the knowledge of the Lord does not know nature itself.
In order to catch fish you must use the right bait. Sometimes it is possible to use a net, other times a worm is used. I have run out of worms before, and I will use pieces of a sandwich that I have brought. Like a moth is drawn to the light, so a certain audience is drawn to a specific style of music. If rock music attracts an audience that the Christian has been called to reach, I suggest we use wisdom and modern technology to bring them into the kingdom by means of Christian rock concerts. Knowing that music is very powerful and stirs emotion, it is important that the music stop somewhere in order that the Word is preached to them.
Those who would oppose the use of rock music also discredits any of the blessings attributed to the results. Let me pose a question. I believe that God is Holy. I believe that He uses vessels of righteousness, and that God is a spirit and those that worship Him must come boldly to the throne of grace if they are going to be liberated. If a person is saved at Christian rock show are they really saved? What kind of spirit does rock music call? In the eyes of the opposition, those against the use of rock music, everything associated with it is evil. So wouldn't the spirit that is called be an evil spirit if it were not in communion with God? So the opponents suggest that these people who come for salvation never receive it? How can the work of Satan produce eternal life? Of course it cannot! I believe that the Holy Spirit is far wiser than to work through evil means for the good of the gospel. The Holy Spirit is not present where there is confusion; God is not the author of confusion. So if a band were not honoring God then the Holy Spirit would not be present. He would not self-inflict reproach. People do not become saved unless the Spirit draws them because it is impossible to reach God through Christ if we do not come by the Holy Spirit.
What is so different about Christian music than the music of the world? We are supposed to be singing about God's love and salvation through Christ, lifting Him up in spirit and in truth. When the world hears Christian music there should not be any confusion over what that person is listening to. The bible tells no longer walk and us we are to be different, because we as Christians have been changed after the things of the flesh. The world should recognize the difference because the music should be uplifting Christ.
What comes out of the Christian musician's mouth should be a far cry from what comes from the mouth of the world. We are to speak about and sing those things which we receive from God, whereas the world is still listening to the voice of the devil. I am against the promotion of Christian artists alongside of New Age Music, Nature Music, Eastern Religious Music, etc. for the very simple fact that the world wants you to believe that all of it should be lumped in together as one big happy family. 2 Corinthians 6:14: "Do not be yoked together (teamed with those, form a partnership) together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?"
When people saw Jesus they saw Him as someone different than the religious leaders of his day. They saw him not as a religious man, but a Godly man. I believe to lump Christian music in with the secular is to remove the importance of Christ. We have been set apart from the world by the Holy Spirit. We are not to fellowship with the world, but to live the life of Christ as examples to the world.
How can we be the light of the world if our light is shinning alongside of music which promotes false doctrines? 2 Corinthians 6:14: "what fellowship can light have with darkness?" There are those in the Christian marketplace who would say that getting the Christian music into the hands of the lost is a great way to witness. I totally agree, but there is so much compromising going on that the Spirit of the Lord has been removed and replaced by the face of a dead president on a piece of green paper. Maybe there are more records being sold by Christian artists than ever before, but I am also seeing a black cloud hanging over the youth of America, casting shadows of spiritual darkness.
Christ did not compromise in order to fulfill His purpose. He stood up and spoke boldly the truth. Those that received Him were fewer than those who picked up rocks to stone him, but Jesus had backbone and integrity. I would love for every lost headbanger in the world to have the opportunity to pick up a Bride record, but if it is looked upon as just another record to bang your head to then what purpose has it really served? I cannot agree with the "sneak the Christian music in and maybe no one will notice that it is Christian" tactics. I want the world to know that I am a Christian, and my faith comes from God, and my life belongs to Him. I do not want anyone to ever have to guess what my intentions are. 2 Corinthians 6:17: "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord."
We left the following morning for Immenhausen 250 km away. There was some discussion that two of our people would have to switch RV's and ride in the Creed RV. No one volunteered, so for now we kept the same travel arrangements.
In Immenhausen, we played a small club called Akku to about 250 people. Although it was a small crowd the room was tight. After two opening bands Creed went on, playing about an hour; then we took the stage. I did not feel led to speak to the crowd this night. I was still bummed out about the hecklers the night before, and I wanted to be able to go out and speak in a good spirit as to not let my feelings get in the way. It seemed as though everyone was drinking and I did not want to throw the pearls before swine (Matt.7:6).
That night we stayed in a private home, which we never do. There is usually always problems, but this house was big and, other than the lack of heat, it was comfortable. The next day it was the Hamburg show. After a 4 hour drive through changing weather we arrived at the 300-person club called Logo. It was dark like CB-GB's in NYC, but the sound system was huge.
My throat was very scratchy because of the insane weather, and when I was having vocal problems I was very irritable and cranky. Normally I could sing for hours at a time, but this cold weather, coupled with no heat when we slept, was misery. My voice, however, as in the past, came back to full force, and we rocked a packed house who were right in our faces all night. This had to be the single hottest show I had ever done. I never remember pouring out so much sweat in one night.
Monday 21st we would be traveling 6 hours. This would be a no show day. We were scheduled for a t.v. appearance that morning before the drive. This would prove to be very interesting. No one had informed use that the producer of the show wanted us to panamime to the song I Miss The Rain. We thought it was going to be an interview only.
Rik and Jerry, in fear of being forced to do something that they would be embarrassed by, decided not to budge out of the RV. Troy and I, always taking the heat of the action, went into the studio to discuss different possibilities. The producer was very closed minded and much like Hitler in his dictator style. After a 30-minute argument we were allowed to do an interview. A very pretty blonde female sat in between Troy and I and asked us questions for about 20 minutes. The producer was angry and very upset over the panamime but he had to deal with it.
We spent the night in Darmstadt, which is about 40 minutes out of Frankfurt. The next day we decided to do a little shopping. Troy was downing alka seltzer as he felt the flu coming on. That night we were to play a club called Negativ. It was the smallest club we had ever played. It was smelly, dirty and I was afraid to touch anything. Lightmare and Creed were the opening acts. I decided to lead an assault on our dressing room out of boredom, smashing apples and yogurt on the walls. "This is what rock & roll people do." Now that I am older, we do not give ourselves over to such shenanigans.
Jerry even went as far as breaking an overhead light with his drumstick. Andres just shook his head. I think he had expected this behavior from us. 150 teenagers squeezed into the tiny room. Into the 3rd song of the set, Hired Gun, my monitors went off.
In these days I was merciless to sound people and monitor folks, and I threw my water bottle against the cave-like wall in total disgust, and then pounded Jerry's cymbals relentlessly with my fist. No one came to my rescue, so I left the stage and refused to play until they were turned back on. Vince and the soundman worked feverishly to get the monitors back on, and after a 5-minute delay we were back into the set as happy as June bugs. One must remember that the band at this time was stressed, exhausted, not focused and really did not want to be in Germany at this time. Overall the night went average, and we were happy to get out of that hole.
We went back to Darmstadt to Petra's father hotel, which was more like an apartment. (Petra was a German girl who had been an exchange student to the U.S. Her father owned hotels and she spoke excellent English.) After a good night of sleep we ate the famous German breakfast of sandwich meat and bread as hard as bricks; then it was on the road to Boblingen. This would be an unplugged show at a Baptist church in Gartrigen.
Andres got word from home that his wife, who was pregnant, was ill, but it was nothing serious. This day we could tell that his mind was preoccupied. This show drew only about 120 people, who sat on the floor the entire show like some 60's love-in. I was supplied a translator and spoke in detail of the death and resurrection of Jesus. I talked more this night than any of the other shows.
The next morning it was an adventurous trip to Bern Switzerland. Because of laws prohibiting more than 6 people to an RV, Sharon and Vince would ride a short distance with Creed. Andres said that he had never had trouble getting bands across the border, but then again he had never traveled with Bride. We were stopped at the border, strip searched with the exception of the girls, fined, taxed, and delayed almost two hours. The fine for not reporting merchandise and the taxes on it were about 750 marks.
We were soon released, and we all got a good laugh. Not far into Switzerland, we saw what appeared to be low clouds. But they turned out to be the Swiss Alps. It reminded me of when we had played D.C. on the Stryper tour. Going into Washington, seeing all of the white buildings was very majestic. But the Alps were God's handy work, which seemed a bit more impressive.
Driving on the Autobahn n1, the Alps followed us on every turn. Of all the places in the world, Troy said that he thought he could live here. The show in Bern was a little late getting started, but the 700 fans did not mind. They rocked as hard as the German audience, and even had an incredible mosh pit. We played this night with Desert Voice and Creed.
Going back into Germany was no problem for the RV's. However, our p.a. was stopped and detained by the German border guards because it was too heavy for the truck that was carrying it. Another truck was sent back to the border to retrieve it. We made a stop in Fribourg, a small German town with lots of old churches and buildings. Sharon was on a hunt for a real cuckoo clock, and we were very close to the Black Forest where they made them. Unfortunately all of the clocks were too expensive.
We did get to visit a magnificent old church that dated back to 1200 AD. The church had huge stained glass windows and two towering pipe organs, one at each end of the church. The weather was still changing, and a warm front had moved in. Jerry was now the only one who was sick. He would get worse before getting better.
He also received a disturbing telephone call on Andre's car phone that his son, Jacob, was ill with a massive sinus infection, but it was not anything too serious. Seemed like we all were fighting illness and there was some force at hand trying to shut down the tour, but we pushed on. After a ride at Alpha Romeo speeds through the Black forest we came to a halt. For twenty minutes we were delayed by a herd of sheep being driven down the main highway. The flock numbered about 300 and blocked both lanes of traffic.
The show in Freudenstadt was excellent. Rik broke his 2nd bass string of the tour. On the song Under the Influence the e string snapped, and Rik went ballistic. He threw the bass from his shoulder to the ground, then stomped on it a couple of times. I was wondering if it would hold the weight of his size 12-shoe coming down on it, and it did. The crowd of 650 looked amazed and a little scared at this true western behavior. Rik received another bass, and the show rolled on.
After an encore where we played Troubled Times, Murder, and Hell No, I addressed the audience, who would rather hear the music. After about a 10-minute message to a restless crowd it was to the T-shirt table to sign photos and other merchandise. The crowd was very heavy, and Troy and I had the brace the table with our thighs as the crowd pressed us heavy. I thought we might be pushed through the wall behind us. It made me sign things much quicker.
That night we stayed in a guesthouse a couple of minutes from the hall. After a much-needed sleep, we left the next morning for Owen/Teck. This was a festival featured The Electric's, Ken Tamplin and a couple of other bands. We were headlining, but when I found out that we would not go on until around one in the morning I told Andres to switch our time slot with Tamplin, who was suppose to go on before us. This was no problem and I was much happier.
The stage was enormous, and hundreds of lights draped over the stage. Harry and Connie, our overseas crew supplied by Andres, would not be working the show because a crew had been supplied. Connie would work the Creed show a few miles away. Harry would hang with us and take photos of the band.
Close to 2000 people jammed into the hall. Many people were turned away. The show Started with me having trouble with a broken mic stand that was given me. I trashed it right away and rendered is useless. I relentlessly abused the stand throughout the show. The crowd seemed a little tired from the other bands and the fact that everything was running an hour behind.
This was Rik's last full-blown show with us and he was rocking hard. Our encore included Hell No, a song on which Jerry, who was very ill and medicated, had to push himself hard to make it through. The last tune was Troubled Times, and Rik bid an explosive farewell to the band's live performance as he smashed his bass against the stage at the end of the song. I began slamming the already broken mic stand as Troy debated maybe cutting his strings off his guitar, but would never want to damage that Gretsch.
The monitor man and the few timid in the crowd watched in horror, as if they were witnessing a murder as we finished off the set. Rik's bass lay in hundreds of pieces, some splintered into tooth picks. The headstock was never found. My mic stand, which had not served me well, was now twisted like a pretzel. The crowd here had witness an end to a Bride era, and I do not think they understood any of our actions. After the show, a handful of people among the masses questioned our decision to destroy our gear. I tried to explain to them we did it out of fun and to bid a real farewell to Rik, but not many of these people were willing to understand.
The last show of the tour would be an unplugged set where we would rejoin Creed. My voice was burnt after the night before, so we were going to just try and have some fun. We had visited a couple more old churches that day, as well as a castle on a hill. We had all run down the hill, and now my legs were aching. I was glad that this would be a sit down show.
This show was in Wurzburg, where we stayed at the hotel Zum Winzermannle. Our very last show with Rik was to about 120 teens in the upstairs room of a Christian bookstore. This would turn out to be one of the best shows of the tour. We ended the set with a new song called Time, which was very fitting since Rik's time with us had now ended. Late that evening, we all went to an Italian restaurant where the crew, Creed and Bride enjoyed some fellowship and celebrated the end of the tour.
The next morning we said farewell to Rik, leaving him back at the hotel as he waited on a ride to the train station where he would travel to Italy. He had always been a loner, and now he was all alone. As we drove I heard Andres make a comment about the tour. He said, "It is over." I mumbled it under my breath as a final goodbye to a friend and a musical partner. Rik had always wanted to understand God. I remember, when he had joined the band, I had given him a Living Bible so that it might be easier for him to understand the scriptures.
He had the knowledge in his head after all of these years, but I never felt like he really let it into his heart. He had seen so much negativity and so many contradictions in the lives of other Christians. I feel like he quit because he did not want to be labeled a hypocrite. There were several "Christian Bands" who publicly had stated that they drank beer, and that had not been a good witness for him. Rik was gone, and now it was time to Start over again.
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