This is part of a series of posts I’ve entitled, “Stories From the Road.” Each week I will post a new story from Rick Sikes, a Texas musician who traveled the roads of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and out to California for well over twenty years. With hours to pass in a bus full of sweaty musicians, they found ways to entertain themselves. These stories are told in Rick Sikes’ words. I’ll do my best to correct grammar, but I want to keep them in his own voice.
“Back in the sixties, it wasn’t good enough just to be able to play great music. You had to look like a band and you had to have a little something different or extra that the next guy didn’t. So, we came up with different skits that we’d perform along with certain songs. My brother, Bobby was always game for acting a fool.
We created this one skit for “Please Mister Custer.” I helped Bobby make a Yankee Calvary uniform he’d slip into that had a wooden block with three holes in it, in the seat of the britches. He wore horn-rimmed glasses and would be saying, “Please Mister Custer, I just don’t want to go. Those people are savages,” and so on until the end of the song. Then, while he was singing, I’d be slipping arrow shafts into the wood block so it looked like he was shot in the rear. At the end, he’d do a stumbling, falling act (Bobby was double-jointed and very agile.) He would fall off the stage and do a dying ritual out on the dance floor. At the end, he’d lay completely still on the floor with these arrows sticking out of his butt. Then the band would play “Taps” while I pulled the arrows out.
One night we were doing this act and he fell off the stage, wiggling and squirming around like an inchworm with his butt in the air. I go down, like normal, and start to pull the arrows out while the band plays “Taps.” This lady ran up from out of nowhere, knocked the hell out of me and said, “Get away from him, you son-of-a-bitch. You done hurt him enough already.”
That was one of the skits. We had another little gig we did that was a version of “Hello Walls #2,” that Ben Colder recorded (the old drunk). Bobby would act like he was throwing up. He’d take his hat off and pretend he was throwing up in his hat. One night he was doing that act and he deliberately fell off the edge of the stage and stumbled around on the dance floor until he fell down.
Some drunk lady came running up to him with a wet bar towel trying to wipe his face. She said, “Here, honey. Maybe this will help. I know just how you feel. I’ve been there myself.”
Bobby said, “Dammit lady, get away. Get away. You’re ruining my act.”
She didn’t give up. She said, “I’m gonna help you feel better. I know how it is. I’ve been drunk too.”
We never meant any harm doing these skits. We just wanted to entertain and do more than stand up there and plunk on guitars. It helped earn us a reputation and kept people coming back just to see what we were going to do next.
That was before laser shows and all the fancy electronics they have nowadays. We had to invent our own.”
I searched through tons of pictures looking for one of the “Please Mister Custer” act, and couldn’t find one. But, did find one of Bobby doing “Hello Walls #2.”
And I found another one of their popular skits where they dressed like Hippies and played rock ‘n roll.