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Nick Mason - New York City appearance and "The Parrot story!" Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Sunday, 24 April 2005

We've reported over the last few days about Nick Mason's appearance in New York City, to promote his great new book "Inside Out - A Personal History Of Pink Floyd". With thanks to Chris Kluttz, we have an additional selection of pictures, and a great report from the event to share with you. And if you attended the New Jersey signing, we'd love to hear from you!

In my 20 year history of being a Floyd fan, I have never met any of the band. Through various friends and insiders, I was given leads but nothing ever panned out - the original Dark Side sticker remained unsigned; the Waters tour book remained pristine. Today would be different.

The train ride to New York took less than four hours. I was so filled with anticipation that it could have taken one hour or ten hours and I wouldn’t have noticed. Only one thing had been on my mind for the past week - how long would the line be when I showed up? If I walked up to Barnes & Noble and saw 300 people would I just leave? Oh well - it wouldn’t be the first letdown.

I exited Penn Station and deliberately stayed in the shadows as I checked my map - a sign of weakness that I could not display publicly. A quick turn and a few blocks later and I was at the base of the Empire State building.

In no time, I approached B&N. I came from the north side; the store entrance facing south. From a few blocks away I saw no line but my cynical self assured me that everyone was lined up just around the corner. I rounded the corner and poof - no one. I couldn’t believe it.

At 11:30am I went inside and spoke to one of the staff regarding the evening’s book signing. He told me not to worry and to come back around 3pm or so. I couldn’t believe it - was I the first person there? Where was everyone? I was in disbelief.

I re-surfaced at B&N around 12:50 to find two men standing out front. I was then informed that the one gent had arrived at 4:30am. Very impressive. They told me that the signing would be on the 4th floor. The three of us headed upstairs and began the wait. (A personal ‘thank you’ to the B&N staff for allowing us inside all day - the air conditioning was a blessing on a hot NYC spring day.)

Over the next few hours, we learned that wristbands would be given out to the first 300 people around 5pm. At one point, store staff announced that the area of the book signing would be closed at 4:30pm. They also announced where to line up - the microphone had barely gone quiet and we had formed a line along the side wall. So, that was it, until 5pm. Over the next few hours, BD’s correspondent, Elliot Tayman, showed up but I didn’t know it was him until reading his write up!

Promptly at 5pm, wristbands were distributed. We had the option to leave and come back - but once you had a wristband, the seats were first come, first serve. I took my spot in row 2, right in front of the podium. Unbelievable. The next two hours were pleasantly spent talking with fellow fans.

As time passed, the 4th floor filled up. By 7pm, there were people standing several deep in the back, by the bookshelves. A few minutes after 7pm and the cheering began. From the escalators came the reason we were all there - there he was: Nick Mason. Nick was dressed in a sharp gray shirt, black pants, belt and shoes. He stood briefly and took his seat. Nick’s introduction was given by an English lady - I’m not sure if she was an assistant of Nick’s or a store employee. Since she’s the one who affixed my wristband, I’ll make a safe bet on the latter.

A local radio DJ started off the questions. At first, the DJ did most of the talking and Nick couldn’t get many words in, in my opinion. That said, he did ask some good questions. His first question was regarding funding for the aMLoR tour. Nick explained that he had to hock his Ferrari - it’s his dearest car and that wasn’t something he enjoyed doing.

Nick also talked about meeting Roger on the island of Mustique and playing with him a few years back. It was fun playing with him because of the familiar faces in the band like Jon Carin. When the DJ acknowledged that Nick was the only consistent member of the Floyd for 40 years, Nick took time to tip his hat to Rick Wright, saying he had played in every Floyd show.

The ’40 year old band’ comment encouraged a great line from Nick. He said, "You have to understand that when we started, we were kids playing for kids. Now, I stand up here and look at the audience and feel like Obi-wan Kenobi." From the audience came several good questions:

Who is on the cover of the book? Storm’s son Bill, in Nick’s racing outfit.
Wall concert on DVD? (see Elliot’s write up)
Would you please sing something? Deadpan as ever: "Absolutely not".
Status of the PULSE DVD? Forthcoming - with an apology for how long it’s taken to get out.
Delicate Sound on DVD? No plans (and in my opinion, Nick made it sound like this would never be happening, as he said that PULSE is the record they’d like to leave.)
Playing on DG’s solo album? No.
Who inspired his drumming? Ginger Baker. He told a brief story of him and Roger seeing Cream. Roger and himself looked at each other and said, "We need to do this."
Clare Torry and her lawsuit? He’s been out of the country for the past several weeks and doesn’t know the status. Beyond that - no comment. (At this time, an audience member began to shout that Clare wrote the song and started to approach the stage; things quickly quietened down though.)
In regards to the future? He couldn’t offer any speculation because he didn’t want all of us leaving saying "But Nick said this!" (The audience got a laugh over his impersonation of us.)

Clearly, my favorite answer was to the question regarding the Roger Waters song: Give Birth to a Smile from The Body. The question was in regards to how it came to be that the entire Floyd played on that song, when the Body was essentially Roger’s first solo album. Nick answered for himself, saying that he agreed to play for Roger, if Roger would buy him a parrot.

You see, Nick explained, he was really into parrots then. Nick then asked himself, "do you [the audience] really want to hear about parrots? Hmm, yes, you do." So he told us about this particular bird that he really wanted. After he did some research, he learned that the bird would grow up to three feet tall and tend to... um... get bad gas. The owner needs to manually remedy this build up, so upon finding this out, Nick thought better of the parrot and settled on a model speedboat. Absolutely great story - lots of laughs.

The Q&A period went by quickly and the DJ began to wrap things up. One of the announcers told us how we’d approach the stage and as we started to collect our belongings, Nick stood up, took the microphone and said he had one last thing. He had brought a book with him for the fans to sign. At least from where I sat, there was a collective "aww...". I don’t remember his exact words, but it was a touching moment.

The lines began to form on the right of the stage and before I knew it, we were being herded like cattle past Nick. I have to say, the actual signing was the biggest disappointment of the evening. When I stood in front of Nick, there was already confusion as to whose book he was signing. I managed to ask for my cover to get signed and unbelievably almost forgot to get my photo signed (aMLoR promo, with Gilmour’s autograph already)! Nick looked over the photo and added a nice signature to it. I thanked him for the book and received a sturdy handshake.

Much thanks to Chris for the report (loved the parrot story!) and the photos.

 
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