Rick Price - A Brief History up to 2001
THE COMEDIANS FRIEND
In 1980 Peters & Lee broke up and went their separate ways. I worked with Dianne on her solo tour for a year before answering a call from Laurie Mansfield (It's him again!). He had Jim Davidson going out with a massive rock and roll type production. Jim was taking a ten-piece band, a lighting and laser show and, best of all, he needed a quadraphonic sound system for the tour. I didn't jump at this chance straight away because the previous time I'd seen Jim, I was (sort of) the enemy.
My only previous experience of Jim had been when he was supporting Lennie and Dianne in a Torquay summer show. It was the last year that he would be a support artist as his TV appearances were becoming compulsive viewing and I think he was frustrated at being second on the bill. Like most comics he was guaranteed to run over his time every night. Jim was closing act one and Lennie and Dianne were doing all of act two, so the only people affected by his overrun was the top of the bill. I had to go to his dressing room nearly every night and tell him off. Mad eh? He's a millionaire businessman now so, looking back, it all seems a bit daft and unnecessary. The only time he was ever off stage early was when his performance clashed with Star Trek on the telly. In spite of all this, I did take the gig and it's a good job I did, as it's led to most of what I've done since. It was also the tour that introduced my son Warwick to lighting designer Spike Falana. It sparked his interest in lighting and he went on to design lighting rigs for many well-known artists including Diana Ross and Luthor Vandross.
Anyway, the tour with Jim had gone without a hitch. Well, nearly. I stayed on for two years as his driver/sound engineer. This was during the 'drunk' period. Jim was a terrific drunk. Not to the wife of course, but to an outsider, particularly a bloke. His boozing never offended me - he was always in such a good mood. Well, I say never, there was one time.
I usually drove him around in one of his own cars but one weekend we were going from The Circus Tavern in Purfleet to his home on the Wentworth estate, in my old but treasured Volvo 1800S sports car. Normally Jim could hold his drink, I'd never seen him get sick from it. This particular night, after coming off stage, he had demolished the best part of a bottle of brandy and was invited to join a party that was downing champagne and orange juice by the bucketful. Naturally, old Jimbo joined in.
We were about five minutes from the club when Jim slurred "D'ya mind the window open, Rick?" He wound it down but didn't have the time to turn his head. The second-hand bucks fizz, brandy and pizza hit the inside of my windscreen, still fizzing like a large glass of Andrews. Apologising his brains out, he took off his shirt to clean it up, but only managed to wipe it all over the car instead. Then, with the window wide open and wearing no shirt, he fell sound asleep. I drove all the way back to Wentworth, manhandled him out of the car, managed to get him over my shoulder and carried him upstairs and onto his bed without him waking up. Thankfully, he only weighed nine stone at the time.
I never managed to rid the car of the smell and twelve months later I was forced to sell my prized possession at a bargain basement price. As you can imagine, there were other weird and wonderful adventures but I'm keeping them to myself. This story only gets an airing because I know he's fond of telling it himself!
From 1984 to 1985 I worked as personal assistant to Tommy Cannon of Cannon and Ball (Another Laurie job – "You're like a little job centre to me Tommy"). I loved the work and loads of golf, but I missed being involved in the music and sound side of things. Once again, galloping out of the sun came Jim Davidson, who had just formed his own audio company. I managed the company for four years, until the summer of 1989.
I finished with Jim at the end of a Great Yarmouth season and was offered the chance to design the sound system for a West End musical. I'd never done this before. Usually, I'd just turn up and empty the van into the gig.