Several Dog Night

At least nobody's demanding Geritol or Depends

New Mexico record producer and piano player Norman Petty jotted some advice for his pals Buddy Holly and the Crickets in the summer of 1957. The red-hot band was about to embark on its first trip to New York City, and road warrior Petty felt obliged to help.

In a handwritten note, he advised the Texas boys to "take along enough cash to pay for excess weight and meals between flights. Take about $30-$40 cash . . . the rest in Traveler's checks.

"Sign only engagement contracts and nothing more. Take extra sets of guitar strings, drum sticks, heads, etc. Take out floater insurance for entire group with everyone's name on the contract. Be sure to pack records with clothes to take on the trip. Take all available clean underwear . . . and other articles for use on trip."

Finally, the wise old Petty -- who was nearing his 30th birthday at the time -- told the Crickets to "take a small Bible with you and READ IT!"

On New Year's Eve -- more than four decades after their Big Apple tour -- the Crickets are scheduled to take the stage at the Celebration 2000 in downtown Phoenix. (Mr. Holly, of course, will be present in spirit only. He died in the infamous February 1959 plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa, that also killed the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens.)

Like the other acts slated to perform -- all were booked by Charlie Johnston of Scottsdale, the owner of Select Artists Associates -- the Crickets' contract includes several perks. The band's "rider" is fairly benign, in keeping with a bunch of guys on the edge of social security eligibility.

In part, their contract demands the following:

"One 12-pack of Mello Yello (soda), one 12-pack of Classic Coke, one case of beer (nothing lite, please), fruit or vegetable tray. Home-cooked, hot meal for six people following soundcheck."

Nothing about small Bibles. But at least three of the original Crickets still are on board, and recent reviews indicate that the "boys" still can play quite well. (Two of the three left Holly a few months before his tragic demise. The third quit before that.)

Another plus is the Crickets' relatively modest fee. Collecting $12,500 may sound fine for a band that hasn't had a hit since Ike -- that would be Dwight David Eisenhower -- was president. But that sum pales in comparison with the other musical dinosaurs booked for a gig that promises to be worth its weight in excess.

Take, for example, Three Dog Night, those slick songsters who had 21 hit singles and 12 consecutive gold records before officially disbanding in 1977. Yup, they called it quits in the same year that Elvis died and Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" ruled the airwaves.

The "group" to appear here might accurately be called Two Dog Night, because only two of the original members -- Danny Hutton and Cory Wells -- are currently touring. Original front man Chuck Negron won't be here. (A lawsuit over rights to the group name was settled last week.)

The band's fee is $70,000 for 75 minutes.

How can people be so cruel?

That sum accounts for a little more than 10 percent of the price tag for the evening's "talent" -- $623,000.

Among Three Dog Night's perks: "First-class hotel at Hyatt or Hilton . . . Please Note: NO Fast Food!!! (Two non-red meat eaters) . . . Pepperidge Farms or Famous Amos cookies. Pringles -- no fat . . . Moist antibacterial towelettes."

If any of the gala's acts is to inspire jealousy among others on the bill, it's the Gin Blossoms, that fractious but nonetheless pricey band out of Tempe whose last release was 1996's disappointing Congratulations I'm Sorry. The Blossoms haven't played a gig together since New Year's Eve 1996.

Why not get back together for a tidy fee of $115,000 for working 75 minutes? While they're at it, the Blossoms have a few of their own contractual demands, including:

"Green salad with separate dressings, oil and vinegar . . . USA TODAY, local newspaper . . . One quart lowfat milk -- on ice . . . Deli tray for four people -- KEEP REFRIGERATED UNTIL AFTER THE SHOW . . . One loaf of whole-wheat bread."

The venerable Harry James Orchestra will get $100,000 for its appearance. Unfortunately, Mr. James will not be performing with his band. He died in 1983.

Beloved country "rebel" Waylon Jennings is due to collect $75,000 for his gig. He and the "boys" also will be playing for 75 minutes, if Jennings can last that long. The old troubadour -- who cut his teeth as a teenager in Phoenix's club scene -- hasn't been feeling well recently: He walks with a cane because of a chronic bad back (his contract demands a ramp), and has heart trouble and diabetes.

An aside: Jennings was a member of Buddy Holly's last touring band, and gave up his seat on the ill-fated Clear Lake flight (bound for Fargo, North Dakota) to J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson.

Jennings' contract calls for a "traditional hot breakfast" for 20 people, plus several dressing-room requirements: "One bag EACH of Tootsie Pops and plain M&M's . . . Fruit tray with yogurt dip . . . One basket of fresh WHOLE UNPEELED fruit (apples, bananas, grapes, etc.) for 12."

Just about everyone remembers John "Born to Be Wild" Kay and Steppenwolf. The band broke up in 1972, after a magic-carpet ride that earned them a place in rock history. Kay -- born Joachim Krauledat -- re-formed the band in the mid-'80s, and has made some well-deserved bucks on the oldies circuit.

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