• After some 20 years, there was no escape!!! Finally, a Weather Update DVD has been released.Weather Update DVD Featuring Joe Zawinul, Victor Bailey, Peter Erskine and, Bobby Thomas and apparently recorded in Munich, Germany. I don't remember much at all about this particular concert. The DVD contains 7 tracks, but is missing what was, perhaps, our best tune, "Madagascar" and the duet Joe and I used to play of "In a Silent Way." I exchanged some e-mails with Peter Erskine and he tells me that it was a sleeveless T-shirt night at the Philharmonic!!! Lucky for me it was 20 years ago, and there was lots of black hair to go around!!!
        I am, of course, reminded of my favorite Zawinul story from that tour. During the Italian portion, a concert was canceled, and we were stranded for one week in the baking, brutal heat of the lovely one-street town, Civitanova Marque on the Adriatic Coast. My room was the size of your closet. To survive, I bought two fans, and took 2-3 showers in the middle of the night, EACH night!!! To break the monotony, we decided to pay our bus drivers some money to drive us to Firenze so that we could visit the da Vinci Museum, and just get OUT of the city. As that glorious moment approached, and we were all leaving the hotel that morning, Zawinul was returning. And so, Peter Erskine, with all due enthusiasm and boyish excitement cried out to him: "Hey Joe, wanna come with us, and soak-up some culture?" To which Joe then replied,Weather Update Umbria bellowing in his inimitable and gruff voice: "I don't need no f#&kin' culture, I AM CULTURE!!!" I think that this says about all one needs to know about the man!!! He is, truly, a piece of work!!! But, I love the guy, dearly!!! I say this because, when my father passed away in January of '93, one of the first messages on my answering machine was from Joe!!! One never forgets such thoughtful acts. And for this and countless other things, Joe Zawinul occupies a special place in my heart.
        I hope that there will be something of merit in the music. Until I know for certain, we'll just have to hope for the best!!! One thing is certain, this was filmed before my Strat, my Martin MC-28, and my two Roland JC-120s were stolen out of our equipment truck in Chicago. So, you'll be getting a last look at those pieces of ancient equipment!!!

        As it is with all tours, there are stories to be told, each person/player, not to mention the crew, ends-up with lots of personal stories - and yes, the good, the bad, and the ugly!!! This particular story actually happened to everyone on the U.S. leg of the Weather Update tour in 1986. We began with a week of rehearsals in Vienna, Austria with the first concert on July 5th, my sister's birthday! The European portion of the tour ended on August 17th in London at the Hammersmith Odeon. After a couple of weeks off, the U.S. tour began in Boston on September 4th, and it would end in Los Angeles on September 27th at the Greek Theater. However, a rather stunning event took place in Chicago on Tuesday, September 16th as we were awaiting to head over for the soundcheck that afternoon. A couple members of our crew summoned us all downstairs to the lobby of the hotel, and proceeded to tell us that the Ryder Truck with virtually ALL of the band's equipment had been stolen from the hotel parking lot while the drivers were inside collecting their belongings!!! Without question it was a most shocking moment and sent Joe, Peter, Victor, Bobby and myself into varying states of freaking out about what we might have lost.
        The Chicago police were on top of it right away as we all basically spent the next several hours huddled together in the lobby trying to figure out if we could somehow play the gig that night, or worse yet, what might happen to the rest of the tour if all the gear was lost. In brief, as it turned out, the gig in Chicago had to be cancelled and was never rescheduled, but the good news was that later that evening the Ryder equipment truck was located. Of course, our roadies had to look inside and assess just what had been stolen. And this is where the story gets most interesting. As it turned out, it would seem that I, the guitarist, got hit the worst. Gone was my Martin Sunburst MC-28 steel-string acoustic guitar; my Fender Neon Green Stratocaster; and my two Roland JC-120 Amps. I don't know why but the thieves chose not to take my fantastic Charvel Deco Designed Strat. My treasured and beloved Gibson ES-335 had been with me in my room, so I was never going to lose that. Everyone lost something of value, personal value, I do recall that Joe lost a small case with all of his personal sound samples.Weather Update Umbria In the end, we all pulled it together and hit the road for our scheduled concert in St. Louis the next day, September 17th.
        But the full story, at least in my case, has a most interesting and fascinating ending, which took at least 2 years to fully unfold. When the Weather Update tour ended and I had returned to my home in New York, a small 1-bedroom apartment, I went through the process documenting the instruments that had been lost, and filing a claim with my insurance company. We arrived at a settlement which, of course, NEVER fully compensates you for the value of the instruments and amps. But, one can't whine about such things, you just have to accept it and realize that you were lucky to have gotten anything back at all! Once that was done, I had to resign myself to replacing the instruments and letting go, emotionally speaking, of what had been lost. On October 6th, 1986, I replaced the Martin MC-28 with a natural finish version, and on October 7th, I ordered a new Strat to be slapped together by ESP Guitars. I have those two guitars with me to this day.
        But the most amazing part of the story is that, in a way, a couple of the instruments were actually found - and in the most bizarre manner, each one. Of course now, this all happened some 35 years ago and I never really fully notated the sequence of events - especially because I did not have a computer back then. Fortunately, I did make some notes in my Datebooks. So, I am not really fully sure which of these things happened first. But, here's what ended-up happening to one of the Roland JC-120 amps.
        While rehearsing for some dates with singer/songwriter Michael Franks, I first thought to be in 1987, at the rehearsal studio, perhaps Montana, I happened to place some little yellow dots by the various knobs on the two Roland JC-120 amps so that I could remember my settings and keep them that way. Within a day or two, the group arrived in Seattle on October 20th, 1988 for a date in a club there. When we arrived for soundcheck, there in front of me was a pair of Roland JC-120 amps - but one of them had what appeared to be those same yellow dots by the knobs. How the hell could THAT have happened? I asked George, who was our road manager, roadie at the time, "Did we bring along these amps from the rehearsals?" He gave that "Are you kidding me?" look, meaning that, of course we didn't!!! Suddenly, I realized that the ONLY way that that amp could have been sitting there with those yellow dotsYellow Peal & Stick Dots was if it had been one of the stolen amps from The Great Chicago Weather Update Truck Theft. I immediately wrote down the serial number and over the coming days, I checked with my records and with the insurance company and, sure enough, it was one of my amps from the past. The rental company in Seattle had purchased it, on the cheap, from someone, but there was no point in making a stink about it, because I had already settled with the insurance company. So, how about THAT?!?!?! What were the odds of THAT happening?
        If that story didn't seem bizarre enough for you, wait until you hear about what happened to the Neon Green Fender Strat. My specific memories of this are a bit more foggy, because I really did not properly write down the events as they happened. Somehow, between late 1986 and somewhere in 1987, probably via my old P.O. Box in lower Manhattan, I received, I believe, a snail mail letter from a woman in the Chicago area telling me that she believed that her ex-husband or boyfriend, might have a Strat that belonged to me. She did, I believe, give me her phone number. Sounds crazy already, right? So, it took me a moment or two to collect my thoughts as to how I was going to approach questioning her about the guitar so that I would not be giving her key information about the instrument in order that she could just parrot it back to me. When I reached her, she was very nice and proceeded to tell me that her ex had bought the guitar out of a Hefty Bag on the campus of Malcolm X College in Chicago. I got her to describe the guitar for me, and it sounded like it could have been my guitar, but when she told me that it had a checkboard pickguard? That was the proof that it was mine for sure. She told me that someone had come up to her ex at one of his gigs and asked him, "What are YOU doing with Steve Khan's Strat?!?!?" So how about THAT?!?!?! In the end, I told her that I had already settled with the insurance company, and that her ex could just have the guitar, but that I would suggest that he change the pickguard so that no one will question him about it again. And that is how that piece of this rather remarkable saga came to an end.
        I often think about these events and I still can't believe that, in a sense, any of the stolen instruments actually turned-up somewhere. When you think about it, it's pretty remarkable. Over the long years, many of my friends and colleagues have had instruments stolen - often from cars - and they never got them back or even came close to getting them back. So even though there was not a "happy ending" here per se, I'm glad that something came out of it.

  • The other day, quite out of the blue, I received a sequence of 4 individual photos from the Photo Gallery Archives of the great Peter Erskine. After I finished laughing hysterically for hours, I decided to make a composite photo, a collage to share with everyone. So now, in addition to seeing these classic photos, you can also read Peter's captions for each one. From left to right, here are Pete's captions for each photo in the sequence, which now spans over 30 years of wonderful memories and friendship!


    [1]   Steve doing his original impression[with an additional stick twirl for good measure] of Lionel Hampton from the Zildjian Cymbal Set-Ups book. Photo taken during the Maynard Ferguson recording session for "NEW VINTAGE" @ MediaSound 1977
    [2]   Jaco Pastorius doing his impression of Steve's impression of Lionel Hampton from the Zildjian Cymbal Set-Ups book. Photo taken during the Joni Mitchell "MINGUS" recording session @ A&M Studios ca. 1978.
    [3]   Peter doing his impression of Jaco's impression of Steve doing Lionel Hampton from the Zildjian Cymbal Set-Ups book. Photo taken during a recording session, this time at the "WEATHER REPORT" recording session @ Power Station studios, ca. 1981.
    [4]   To the present, and Peter doing his impression of Pete's impression of Jaco's impression of Steve doing Lionel Hampton from the Zildjian Cymbal Set-Ups book. Photo taken outside of Budapest, Hungary @ the Drum Museum in Cegléd - and, best of all, Pete is standing right in front of the original Lionel Hampton photo that inspired this bit of insane comedy.
    FINAL NOTE:   If you look closely at Pete's last photo, you can see that HE is the ONLY one of us who actually captures what Lionel Hampton was REALLY doing in the original photo!!!! I now realize that "Hamp" only had ONE stick under his chin, and the other one was actually under his arm!!! I guess my childhood memory of that photo, from Zildjian Cymbal Set-ups book, was too fuzzy to get it correctly for my original impression - this is now the best part of all!!! Thanks Pete for this great classic comedy moment!!!

  • Well, from the land of bizarre events, I am reporting the following story. During 2002, while my dear friend, Rafael Greco was visiting me from Venezuela, here in New York, he asked me where I kept my natural wood finish "Telecaster Custom" from the 'old days' and I told him, "Well, it's buried in the back of that closet, in its Fender case, where I haven't seen it in years." But, because he wanted to see this guitar, which meant so much to me during the '70s, I decided to attempt to unearth it. I must tell you all that the only reason I have kept it was to preserve it to leave to my dear son, Heath one day. And so, into the closet I went, out came the cases one by one, showing him the other guitars as I went along. Finally, I reached the black Fender case, and confidently opened it up, only to find that it was completely and totally empty! There was NOTHING inside! NO GUITAR!!! How could this be possible?
        So, I searched my ever-failing brain to find the answer to this mystery. I first phoned the company which stores some of my equipment, in hopes that an old Haliburton case, with the foam cut out to hold both a Telecaster and a Stratocaster together, would somehow have the Tele inside. I was quickly told that it did not! I recalled that I had a 2nd black Fender guitar case, and now had to hope that it might have been there too. But some days later, after a dusty search, the case was not there! Still NO guitar!!! Manolo Badrena suggested that perhaps I had loaned it to Steve Jordan some years ago, and I phoned Steve. Again, no such luck!!! So, as I sat here back then in 2002, totally confused, baffled, I can tell you that there is NO guitar, and I have NO IDEA what I did with it!
        The terrifying thought that I had was that when I moved uptown in '93, perhaps to save space here, I threw out the 2nd black Fender case, thinking that the guitar was safely inside the 'good' case, not realizing that the guitar was actually in the case I was throwing out? If that's what I did, I can only say that now, there can be no doubt that I totally had lost my mind some years ago. There are those who would say that I have now finally had "the breakthrough" I need in self-examination!?!?! The guitar was marked with the unique feature of having a puffy stick-on decal of "Hekyl and Jekyl"(the magpies), given to me by my dear friend, Will Lee!!! If anything, this "amazing story" only adds credence to the notion that 'moving' is one of the single most stressful events a human can endure!!!

  • On Monday night, October 7th, '02, Steve did an incredibly stupid thing while attempting his yearly post-summer removal of the AC(air-conditioner) unit from the bedroom window.....which, for the record, is on the 2nd floor and overlooks the sidewalk on West End Ave., in New York City.
        Well, we don't know why, but he somehow did not employ his usual procedure for getting it safely out of the window. That is to say, by usually holding onto the handle with one hand, and then bringing it into the room slowly with the other hand, until it could be firmly grabbed and supported with both. But, nooooooooooooo!!!! He just raised the window without holding onto anything, and the next thing he knew the AC unit was falling/flying out the window and down below!!! He then committed an even worse error in judgment, and grabbed at the AC cord(electricity cable) which then completely sliced through his left hand("rope burn" style). AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!
        Blood was flying everywhere! It looked like Manson had been there, either one, Chuck(Charles) or Marilyn!!! But first, we must let you know that no one was injured below! Thank goodness. Wow, that would have been too much to have injured, not to mention to have possibly killed, an innocent person walking beneath the window at that horrifying moment.
        Well, as there was no Clara Barton(a nurse, founder of the Red Cross) standing nearby, he quickly ran into the bathroom, grabbed the hydrogen peroxide and just threw it all over his mangled hand.....most of the damage seemed to be around his 3rd finger, the one next to the pinky!!! Coño!!! Anyway, when he finally had the courage to actually look down and assess his wounds, he felt that he had been pretty lucky, and was certain that he didn't need stitches or a trip to the hospital Emergency Room. Next step, an immediate run to the freezer for ice bags.....he then spent the rest of the night icing the damn thing to prevent any swelling. But when he finally tried to go to sleep there were a few monstrous moments of insane throbbing!!!! Faaaaahhhhhhccccckkkk!
        The next morning, Tuesday, October 8th, he went to his doctor's office to get the annual flu shot....and took the opportunity to get a professional swabbing of the wounds. The bandaging made it all look much worse than it was. What a mess! Parts of his hand looked like hamburger meat!!!! There, are you properly grossed out yet?
        At that point in time, Steve's message to everyone was: "Take care my guitar playing brothers. Shred, shred, shred.......because the skin on this hand is totally shredded!!!!"
        However, now it's Thursday, October 24th, and the healing is miraculously nearly complete, and Steve is playing again. The truth is, if he had needed to play the next day, he could have done it.

    P.S. The most ridiculous part of all of this is that the AC unit, a GE® "Carry Cool" portable......hit a plant on the way down which lessened the impact.....and, if you can believe this, the damn thing still works!!! Can you believe that?!?!?!?!
        So, what is the lesson here? Well, simply put, BE CAREFUL!!!
        In an update to this story, I can now tell you that just this past summer of '05, my brave, courageous "Carry Cool" finally died of natural causes and had to be discarded. Truly a sad, sad moment. And, worst of all, I couldn't find another "Carry Cool" to replace it!!!

  • And now, the great Hollywood Holiday Inn FIRE story......

        During those years, and at varying times, as schedules permitted, I did some touring with singer/songwriter, Michael Franks. His band was filled with great players, who also happened to be dear friends of mine. Drifting in and out of the band were people like: Manolo Badrena; Mark Egan; Bill Evans; Gil Goldstein; Clifford Carter; Danny Gottlieb; and Robin Gould. For the Hollywood Bowl concert, we were booked into the conveniently located Holiday Inn on Vine St. in Los Angeles.
        Like many well-traveled musicians, I have my own little 'road routine' to try to keep myself at peace, and to not allow any of the external forces to smash my spirit. And so, on this particular evening, after the concert, we returned to the hotel in the van, and, of course, we all knew that there was an early wake-up call to be 'in the lobby' to take another van to the airport, and continue on to Anywheresville, U.S.A.!
        So, I came back to my room, and decided that, before taking a bath and soaking my aching bones and replenishing my spirit; I was going to light a candle(which I always travel with to eliminate the fragrance of every 'hotel room'), and put on some headphones and listen to a cassette I had made of various James Taylor tunes. My 'instructions' to myself were: Just listen to ONE tune and then take your bath. Well, I was, of course, in a non-smoking room, and there were no ashtrays, so I didn't really have a 'safe' recepticle in which to place the candle. But, of course, I knew that I was only going to listen to ONE song, so what could be the problem? And so, stupid me, I placed the candle on top of the complimentary GE clock radio, put on the headphones, closed my eyes, and began to listen.
        Well, I don't know what happened to the time, but the next thing I knew, the "smoke alarm" went off signaling a fire, somewhere. Of course, I awakened in shock, and with my heart POUNDING, because I was so startled by all this. However, as I came to my senses, I looked to my left and, "Oh my God!!!" lo and behold, hours had somehow passed, the candle had burned all the way down to the clock radio, and it had caught on fire. More than this, the flames were now climbing up the wall behind the bed. MY ROOM WAS ON FIRE!!! Wow, I completely freaked, grabbed the nearest pillow, and began to pound the flames into submission. Lucky for me, I was somehow able to do it, once it had been squelched, I ran into the bathroom, got several glasses of water, and threw them against the charred wall too.
        When I finally calmed down, I surveyed the status of my room, and just in that short amount of time, the room was covered in ashes. It was incredible. And, in the other comic sidelight of this event, I looked at the poor clock radio, and half of it was melted!!! The first thing that came into my mind was Salvador Dalí's famous painting with the "dripping clocks" entitled: "The Persistence of Memory." Others refer to those clocks as the "soft watches."
    THE PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY     Now, I faced another obvious problem. HOW do I check-out of the hotel without getting charged a fortune for having totally "rock 'n' rolled"(totally trashed) my room? Of course, being a devout coward, I decided that I would lie(Steve, you are such a jerk!!!) to the person at the front desk, and just try to escape, even though they obviously had an imprint of my credit card. Well, as we entered the van that morning, it seemed that I had made my 'escape' without being charged anything extra. But wow, I was really nervous. Of course, once we were on the road to the airport, I couldn't resist telling all my bandmates the story of what had happened to me during the night. Everyone was convulsed with laughter, because this kind of thing NEVER happens to someone like me!!! But, it did!!! Everyone took their shot at calling me a "pyromaniac" and worse!!! This lasted for days, weeks!!! One moment of stupidity, of complete carelessness, and I could have burned down the hotel, and accidentally killed myself, and who knows how many other innocent people!!! I felt like an amazing moron, an idiot, a schmuck!!! You name it, I was all of those things!!!
        Of course, the story was not over. Some weeks later, I received a 'bill' from the hotel and I had to pay for the now Salvador Dalí-style electric clock-radio, and for damage to the room. I paid the charges and the story was finally closed. But, I felt very guilty and embarrassed by my dishonesty. I think that the lesson here is rather obvious, but, to those of you who are musicians, and who travel, and to those of you who are not, and simply travel, DON'T ever do what I did. Be careful, and never do anything stupid with fire, or with a cigarette. Remember this too, that "smoke alarm" saved my life!!!

  • REMEMBERING JFK: Now 20 years ago, on the 40th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, I offered this remembrance of just where I was, and what I was doing during those 3 days in November of 1963. Now, as if suddenly, we have arrived at the 60th anniversary of a series of days that still affects our lives.

        I vividly recall being at University High School in West Los Angeles, California, and walking towards Mr. Libenson's French class. I remember someone running by me and telling us that President Kennedy had been shot! Like everyone else in that moment, I thought that it was some kind of cruel and stupid joke. However, when I arrived at the bungalow for my class, there was an unusual sense of quiet, and Mr. Libenson sat in stoic silence at his desk. I had never seen him quite like that. As my French teacher, he had me totally terrified!!! After a time of quiet, he rose, and began to speak to us. I had never heard him speak like this, so much emotion, fire, and passion in his voice, and especially his words. I remember as his extemporaneous speech rose in intensity, he actually said the words, "They killed him!" As a young, and not particularly politically worldly person, I really didn't grasp the gravity of those words. And then, for the first time, the only time, I saw tears in his eyes, and his voice choked with emotion. I had never seen any of my teachers like that. I never saw any them like that again. It was very moving, and obviously unforgettable.
        Like everyone else in the U.S.A., during the hours and days which followed, I was glued to our television set. I had never seen respected newsman, journalists of great dignity on the verge of tears before: Walter Cronkite; Huntley and Brinkley; Frank McGee, and many others. And, like the rest of our nation, I desperately wanted to know how this had happened. Did a man named Lee Harvey Oswald really kill the President all by himself, in a moving car? HOW could this have happened in my country? I remember the following Sunday morning, sitting in my father's library, by myself, and watching the TV, waiting for the Dallas police department to transfer Lee Harvey Oswald. Then, all of a sudden, I was actually witnessing a man being shot, killed, right in front of my eyes on 'live' television! HOW could that be?Men Who Killed Kennedy DVD I couldn't possibly realize that this moment would send our nation into 40 years of feeling deprived of possibly knowing what had really happened during those days in Dallas; and perhaps during the days, weeks and months leading up to that moment. We would never really know what information died that morning with Lee Harvey Oswald.
        I am obviously not alone in being of the opinion that there had to have been other shooters that day. That Lee Harvey Oswald was, as he stated himself, just "a patsy." I'll never forget the first time I actually visited Dealey Plaza in Dallas, and went up to the 6th Floor of the Texas School Book Depository; and then, stood close to the window [You are not allowed to stand near "the window"!] where one 'shooter' surely was. It seemed like an impossible shot to me. And I, of course, know nothing about guns and rifles. Then, I went down and stood behind the fence on the "Grassy Knoll" and that seemed like such an 'easy' shot! Being there brought back all those old feelings to me. Time seemed to freeze for a moment. Like so many Americans, more or less of my age, I too feel like "hope, and our national innocence died" that day in Dallas; and that we, as a nation, as a people, have never been the same since!
        On the other hand, I am now reminded of a couple of things which my father always used to say: [1] "The key to life is 'paradox.'" And, [2], and I'm going to be quoting him rather loosely here, "Just because an event seems as though it must be totally impossible, improbable; that is the very reason why it can be, and therefore is! Real life is just like that!" So, in his view, this is precisely why Lee Harvey Oswald could have made all those shots, and did do it......alone!
        But then, after spending an afternoon watching the entire documentary series: "THE MEN WHO KILLED KENNEDY" on the HISTORY CHANNEL, it is impossible for me to adopt my father's curious wisdom. Oh well, you'll have to decide for yourself.

    Addendum: When I sat down to write the above recollection, it was 2003 and 20 years ago. I'm stunned that it was THAT long ago. I am stunned that I don't even mention Mark Lane's bookMark Lane - Dealey Plaza Model or documentary. Shocking!!!. This year, 2023, it is now the 60th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, 1963 - a singular moment that changed all of our lives forever.
        It all caused me to think back to Mark Lane's brilliant book, "RUSH TO JUDGEMENT"(August, 1966), and his subsequent documentary film by the same title in 1967. The book and the film changed my perspective and thinking, and how I was to view all of these events right up into the present. Of course, the "government" didn't want the public to read the book or see the film as it would surely cast doubt on the Warren Commission Report - so, as quickly as they arrived, they seemed to disappear - and became very hard to find.
        Just recently, and suddenly, video excerpts from the film began to appear at YouTube - and I started to watch these fantastic interviews by Mark Lane with various eyewitnesses to the events in the Dallas that day - and they all still stand as remarkable - and that 'things' are just not always what they might seem to be - or even appear to be. For those of you who have feelings about that moment in our history, and questions - I urge you to take the time and seek out these Mark Lane interviews via YouTube. Just remember they were conducted within a year or two after the assassination.

         - Steve Khan [New York, November 22nd, 2023]

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