In the autumn of 1965, the band went through a fairly rough patch. We had been living in a hotel in Rome, but because our bookings at the Piper Club had ended, our income evaporated and the inevitable happened. Fortunately, after a night spent in the van near the Rome zoo, when we were woken up by roaring lions at 4 am, we were taken pity on by another English band resident in Rome, The Rokes. They had a large apartment on the Via Cassia, and provided us with some temporary accommodation. There was an insufficient number of beds, so I spent two months sleeping on a marble floor with two cushions, one for my head, and one for my hip …
Some time later, we managed to get work in the north of the country, and we moved to Modena where, as I have mentioned before, I shared a room in a seedy hookers’ hotel with our drummer Speedy.
The Rokes were booked as an act in a theatrical review in Milan, and we went along to give them moral support. They were very good on stage, quite as good as many celebrated English bands of the time. Afterwards, some of us met up in the bar at the hotel where they were staying. Somehow, a policeman joined us. He may have been part of extra security drafted in because of the foreign ‘cappelli lunghi’ (long-hairs), and was there to preserve order. He was a pleasant fellow, very amiable, and quite unlike some of the hostile members of the constabulary with whom we had occasionally come into contact.
We were having some trouble attracting the attention of the waiter, when our friendly policeman unholstered his sidearm – a Beretta automatic (James Bond’s preferred weapon) – and made as if to fire it into the air. We were all highly amused, and wishing to entertain us, he removed the magazine and passed the gun around for inspection. It was the first (and last) time I had ever handled a firearm. He then removed the bullets from the magazine, and solemnly presented one to each of us as a keepsake,.
I kept that bullet for years, but it became lost when my parents’ house was sold. I still remember the big grin on the policeman’s face as he pretended to fire into the air, and we did eventually get served.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs