G.D. Praetorius 2017
Behind the scenes “fanoir” of production manager who helped stars be on a roll.
Punters who pack concert halls to see their favorite artist may encounter an occasional thought of how much work goes into it, yet they’re rarely concerned about the players’ crew, let alone people who make it possible on the production side of things. That’s where Gregg Praetorius dwelt for quite a long time, and that’s what this tome is about – about work, rather than anecdotes which fill the book’s pages. To retain a wide-eyed wonder after all those years is not only difficult but also more important than to have been a witness or even participant – willing or otherwise – of musicians’ many shenanigans… or lack thereof. Still in awe of his erstwhile charges, Praetorius respectfully managed to distance himself from it all to tell some riveting stories.
“Drama is the stuff that rock bands always have and always will be made of”… One of a few shrewd observations strewn here, this line can easily be applied to Gregg’s old job, too. Whereas he goes into detail of running a venue, manning the stage or organizing a show, it’s interaction with artists that Praetorius focuses on, be it keeping a long-term friendship with Dee Snider or snorting coke with Steven Tyler, although there’s no boasting of either part of his life. The reader may have heard those anecdotes, yet the author often finds a curious angle to add to such a lore, including the rationale for VAN HALEN’s infamous demand to have brown M&M’s removed from bags in their dressing rooms: if promoter took care of the candy, the rest should have been tended to as well. Which was Gregg’s responsibility, and he rarely let it slip; if he did, Praetorius turned the experience into another arresting account.
There’s a couple instances of fact-checking negligence in the book, and a couple of other raconteurs’ tales – about Billy Joel and PINK FLOYD – seeping through Gregg’s own reminiscences of various scenes, and his stray reflection on Woodstock could be left off these pages, but Praetorius’ memories of an evening spent in the company of Keith Richards more than make up for less interesting passages. It’s an autobiography, after all, an unordered diary of sorts, and if you’ve never been on the other side of where the live action is and never seen those scenes, this slim tome may be a revelation.