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More Yellow and Black
I (Dale) called Robert Sweet not long after we got home to see how he was. He said Michael was definitely leaving Stryper to pursue a solo career. He offered me the job. I was somewhat shocked, but I kind of was expecting it for some reason. He called me a day later and said that Stryper had a couple of shows booked at Knottsberry Farm in California, as well as a possible date in Las Vegas, if I would be interested in doing them. I thought, 'hey, what an opportunity to sing some dates for Stryper.' We agreed that there were no strings attached, and that this was not a commitment to join the band. I explained to Robert that I was still under contract with Star Song and had to deliver two more records.
Since I did not own any Stryper records Robert mailed me songs to learn, and I begin rehearsing them in my bathroom. I had plenty of time to learn them. Stryper, meanwhile, went to Europe without Mike, using Oz as their singer to fulfill some commitments there. I rehearsed the songs everyday, and soon they became familiar enough that I no longer needed the lyric sheets. I am sure that the rest of the guys in Bride were wondering if I was going out to never return. I assured them that this was just something I was doing, and I had no intention on being the new lead singer for Stryper.
Robert flew me to California and met me at the airport. We went to his house, and I tried to get settled in. The first day I somewhat got acquainted with all the houseguests. He barbecued, and we talked about Stryper's future most of the evening. He explained to me the story of their past success and somewhat of the fall from grace. He told me how the Lord had worked in his life, and tried to convince me how I was right for the job.
The next day we all tried to get organized with rehearsing. Rehearsal would take place at Robert's house in a spare bedroom. We rehearsed three days before the neighbors shut us down because of the noise. The third rehearsal was cut short anyway because of the Rodney King beating. We all raced upstairs to watch the live reports on the news. Oz was worried about his wife and children being home alone, so he called her and had her load the guns. None of us expected the riots to escalate into what they became.
I had enjoyed my stay there in California. Robert had become a good friend. He was so likable that, after just a short time with him, I felt like I had known him all my life. We had spent time hanging on the beach and racing his hot rod GTO up and down the street together. He was the type of guy you just had to like.
Then came the shows.
I had a good relationship with Michael Sweet, and for me to take the front man position was an awkward situation. I was not going to pretend to be Michael, for there is only one Michael Sweet, but I understood that this position was a sacred place in the hearts of Stryper fans. I wanted to do the very best job I could. If I did not do well and was not believable to the fans, it would make all of Stryper look bad.
The riots definitely affected the turn out at Knottsberry. It was a small crowd. Robert and I rode some rides together before the show to kind of get rid of the butterflies. I had borrowed some Stryper style pants from Michael because Robert did not want me to show my tattoos. I also had to borrow a shirt to wear from Timmy because Robert's girlfriend said I looked fat in the first shirt Robert had picked for me. I remember hiding backstage from Robert's mom, who was determined to put makeup on me before I hit the stage. (Been there, done that, didn't want to do it again).
I waited to come out of hiding (beneath the stage) until I heard the intro tape start. The first show started off rocking, and I kept thinking, 'I cannot believe I am really on stage with Stryper.' Not long into the set, Oz busted a string. He had no backup guitar, so we had a bit of a delay before we kicked the show off again.
I let Oz talk mostly between songs because I was not Stryper. Their way of doing a show was much different than the Bride show. Stryper stopped between each song and kind of became cheerleaders to get the crowd worked up for the next song. Bride never planned our sets. We did not feel the necessity to set up each song with a speech. Robert broke a snare head this evening also, and that killed some more time getting that repaired. The second set went much smoother, but it was certainly rough for me.
Robert and I, along with some of his friends, rode rides after the show. Robert particularly liked the water ride. I later heard that Michael was in the audience in a disguise, but I could never confirm or dismiss the rumor. I spent the night with Oz because he lived closer to the airport. Oz played me a lot of records, and I hung out with him the day before I left.
I did a lot of thinking on the plane ride home, but my heart had not changed. I was tempted with the Stryper offer, but I had to refuse it. The rumors of what had just happened would go on for the next two years. Bride would use it as positive press, and we would exploit it as long as we could. Even though I told the press I did not really want to talk about the whole Stryper thing anymore, they persisted with every interview. The secular magazines even began to print my name as their new singer.
It was time for a new Bride record.
Kingdom Bound '92
Buffalo, NY was the sight of the long running festival known as Kingdom Bound. We had played there two years earlier, and were eager to play again so near to Canada. We hit the stage with an explosive set that impressed Dez beyond belief. After we played, he talked about the possibilities of doing a live album and live videos, which would never transpire. Seemed like Star Song would get all worked up, get us excited, then forget who we are after the thrill wore off.
We went the following day to Canada, where we hoped to see the Canadian side of Niagara. We were stopped at the border and harassed by the border patrol. We had left a box of t-shirts in the van from the show, and the border patrol would not let us enter Canada with the shirts. (I guess they were afraid that we were going to sell twenty shirts to the Canadians and not pay any taxes.) I was irate, and ended up breaking my right hand punching the van several times. The AMERICAN side of the falls were much more breathtaking, but it was hard to enjoy them with my hand throbbing in pain.
We had planned on selling merchandise an extra day, but the rains came in. Even though we were under a tent, the rain fell so hard that we were washed out. The festival crew were digging trenches in the tent to keep the water flowing, but it created a mess to walk through. We packed up and headed home.
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