Thank you to Facebook, for giving me flashbacks of my travels.
I spent a lot of time in North Hollywood in the 80s and 90s. That 5 mile strip between NH and Burbank was loaded with rehearsal studios. They were interesting places, but not open to the public. Most of them had 6 or 8 rooms about the size of a garage and at least 1 huge room with an expansive stage, sound and lighting. The other rooms had optional rentable sound equipment. Bands would have the rooms on a monthly “lock-out” arrangement so their instruments could be left there safely. The big rooms were used for a band to prepare for a tour. Their sound and lighting engineers could work on their set-ups as the band rehearsed their show sets. Sometimes videos would be made for promotions.
By 1990, Michael Anthony had been the great bass player with Van Halen for 18 years. They were young kids when they started the band in ’72. I developed a relationship with Michael as we decided on his equipment while Van Halen was rehearsing for another tour the next year, 1991, to promote their new album, “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge”.
Michael had designed an awesome stack of bass speakers and power amps that would fill one entire side of the stage. On a particular evening after rehearsal, our engineer and product manager for Ampeg (both named Tony) Michael Anthony. Ed L. (the manager of Van Halen), a close friend named Pat S., Bret Michaels(was lead singer with Poison and was hanging around the rehearsal studio) and myself all converged on Tokyo Delve’s in North Hollywood. Bret was just about to leave on tour with Poison (the last tour before his fist fight with the guitar player, CC Deville, another one of our endorsers). We were hoping Van Halen’s manager would pick up the tab. If you have never been to Tokyo Delves you have never been to a party bar. It is still there 22 years after we first visited. http://www.tokyodelvessushibar.com/
Every night at this place is New Year’s Eve…just crazy stuff. They have changed and improved over the years and have the “party thing” down to a science. Back in ’90, they just played very loud rock music and the Japanese waiters wore headsets and microphones to talk to the kitchen and sushi chefs. Every half hour the music would be turned louder (didn’t seem possible) and everyone was encouraged to stand on their chairs and scream and sing with the music while a chain of flashing lights ran around the border of the entire room. It was like lighted musical chairs. At some point the music and the zipping lights would stop and ONE light would remain lit over one lucky table. That table would have their “bill” wiped clean. IT WAS ALL FREE!
Most of the famous millionaire rock stars don’t pay for anything. They get free guitars, clothes, food, drinks and girls. Yes, they are spoiled. We were putting away Sushi and beer like there was no tomorrow; six crazy guys having a crazy time. Most music instrument companies would be happy to “foot the bill” for famous rock stars that played the companies instruments. My company didn’t operate like that. There was no expense account, no food allowance, no motels paid, no gas money. We were straight-commission…period. So, I was a tad worried as I counted 43 giant empty Sapporo bottles at one point. (I had remembered the waiter had cleared the bottles earlier…oh my.)
The music stopped and the light stopped above our table. Yes! $345 FREE!
So, we started again; more sushi, more Sapporo. At one point I thought Bret Michaels looked pale and shaky. I asked him if he was alright. He told me he was not alright. He said he had Diabetes Type 1 since he was six years old. He asked me to call his gal to come get him because he couldn’t drive. There were no pocket sized cell phones in 1990 so I took the number he gave me and went to a pay phone about a block away and dialed the number. He said to tell Pam where he was and please come get him. She was furious and read me the riot act for contributing to the death of a diabetic. Yes, it was Pamela Anderson who was cussing me out. She refused to come get him so Van Halen’s manager took him home; now the party was down to the two Tony’s, Pat, Michael Anthony and me. At least two more musical dancing lights and standing on chairs happened before the night was over. It wasn’t over for us, but Tokyo Delves had to close. We said our good byes to Michael Anthony and the poor engineer from St. Louis somehow got stuck with the bill. It was well over $400 and to this day I don’t know how he explained that when he got back to Missouri.
Michael Anthony is a fun guy, a great husband and father and he loves to party. That night at Tokyo Delves was the start of many fun times we had together throughout the 90s.