Most tours before that had pretty similar set lists from night to night.
Totally. Then some humorous things would come in. At soundchecks, he’d start singing like Johnny Cash or Elvis. It was hilarious, a perfect duplication of those guys.
Do you think he enjoyed that tour?
I think he loved the tour. I think the mistake was that after we finished the majority of it, maybe nine months, we started doing the secondary cities in America, which we’d never done before. We should have just taken a month off and then picked it up for those gigantic shows in Europe. What happened is they put us on the secondary tour and it weakened us. We got tired. Then in Hamburg he had the heart attack. He managed to finish the show and we got him over to the hospital. Thank God they saved him, but we missed the last 10 gigantic shows. I think we could have pulled them off had we not done all those small cities in America. The thinking probably was they wanted to keep the band working, but we should have gone on hiatus.
The tour did go on and on. Then that stagehand died. …
A total tragedy. It was in Miami. A guy was up there high hooking things up. He was a 300-pound guy, and he didn’t put his belt on and he crashed down. We heard the sound. I’ll never forget it. We cancelled the show. But, again, secondary cities. We shouldn’t have been doing them. I don’t know if it was greed or just keeping the guys working. I don’t know what the motives were, whether it came from management or agents. It’s not fair for me to say, but I personally needed a break, so I can’t imagine what it was like for him.
Before the last show, did he tell you he was in pain?
I have a very specific memory because two days before the last show we played in Czechoslovakia. As a pianist playing with maybe a thousand singers, I’ve learned to develop a kinetic, telepathic connection to the singer. At least that’s how it was with me and David. And I felt like he was in pain. I’m looking up during the show and he’s sort of rubbing his neck and his chest. We stopped the show in the middle and he didn’t seem right. We took a break and then went back and finished it. I was very concerned.
He went to see the doctor in Czechoslovakia, the president’s doctor. The guy told him he had a pinched nerve. When we’re getting ready to go onstage in Hamburg, he said to me, “They gave me muscle relaxers because I have a pinched nerve.” It did not make sense to me at all. When we were onstage in Hamburg, he was rubbing his heart and looking uncomfortable, but like a total trouper, he finished the show. They zoomed him to the hospital and they put these stents in.