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“As with the best shows, you have to shift through the file of worst or leave-favorite gigs. The one that pops into my mind took place in 1983. I was working with an artist named Nicolette Larson. People may remember her as a classic rock fave – she had a big hit called Lotta Love, among a few others.
“I was playing with her at some place in the Bay Area. It was a daytime show, and we were opening for the Jefferson Starship, a rather big gig for me at the time. The night before, I had gone out and ate sushi. Lo and behold, I got sick on the sushi – a bad case of food poisoning. And when I say 'sick,' I mean really sick – the kind of sick you just can’t imagine.
“This went on for something like 30 hours. I was sick the night before the show and the whole next day. Suffice to say, there was very little left of me by the time we had to play. I even said to the band, ‘I can’t do it… I can’t play. I can’t even stand up.’ They were like, ‘Well, what if we got you a barstool or something? Can you just sit there and play? We can’t do the show without you, and it’s too late to cancel.’
“They got a barstool for me, and I was able to pull it together – adrenaline kind of kicked in. Still, I don’t know how I made it – every song was a struggle. You’re going into each number thinking, ‘Can this be the last one, please?’ An hour-and-15-minute show seemed to take days. I was just physically shot. I was running a temperature and was sick in every other way. I was a shadow of a man.
“Nicolette’s band was great, though, and they all kind of rallied around me and helped get me through it. I remember the words of Etta James, whom I’d worked with for many years; she said in an interview once: ‘I don’t know what it is. I’m a survivor. It’s like, I call up the warriors within. If I’m having a tough day or a tough night, if things aren’t going my way or life is against me, if I’ve got a show to do and I’m sick, I call up the warriors within.’ Those words helped.”