straight from Butch’s blog, 8/9/11–not a memorable night for the band, for sure.
This story begins October 30, 1970. We had played a concert at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, coincidentally the birth place of Duane and Gregg. Someone picked up a big piece of tar (opium) and we were pulling little balls off of it and eating it, We also found a club and jammed after our show at Vandy. We finally made it back to our hotel and everyone scattered for the night. At that time Red Dog was the official driver of the “Windbag”, the Winnebego camper in which we were then luxuriously traveling the country. After damn near a year in a Ford Econoline, trust me, it was luxury. Anyway Augie hadn’t participated in the evening’s mind altering delicacy and since the next show was in Atlanta, only a few hours drive, he wanted to get everyone in the Windbag and drive while it was night with no traffic.
Those of us still at command central started rounding up everyone and getting them ready to move their butts and baggage into “Winnie” (she had several nicknames). We tried calling Duane’s room but no answer. We knocked on his door and no answer. We knew he had gone to his room so the first tingling of anxiety started. Someone got the hotel dude with the master key to open Duane’s door and there he lay fast asleep. We tried waking him up but no deal. Then we turned on the lights and the tinglings jumped through the ***** roof. His lips and fingernails had a slight bluish tint to them. An ambulance was called and all hell broke loose. We all jumped into the Windbag and somehow managed to keep up with it to the nearest hospital. Everyone scrambled out when they brought Duane out of the ambulance and their triage dude gave him a once over. I don’t know if he was a doctor but he looked at us and said something to the effect of “we’ll do what we can but don’t hold out too much hope, he’s pretty far gone.” Then they ran him into the hospital.
I don’t really know what was going through my head. It was all a bit surreal. I had eaten some of the tar so my mind wasn’t exactly clear. I will never forget, however, Berry looking up and on the verge of tears saying over and over please just give him one more year.
Someone finally came out and informed us that Duane had pulled out of it and that he would be just fine. We even made it to Emory University for the gig that night.
I was there. It was 10/31. I know because my birthday was the next day. Duane did not perform with the band that night (it was many years later when I found out why), and it was not a particularly memorable show. The Emory gym was not the best place to hold a concert either. I had seen the abb several times before, and this show was disappointing to me for a number of reasons…I wasn’t having the best birthday I ever had either, but I didn’t know then that next years’ birthday would be even worse…I turned 22 on 11/1/71, and everybody knows that was a really bad day.