Special Guest: Harry Magee
As always it was great catching up with my old friend and previous manager, Harry Magee. We had some food, I checked out his new place and we sat down to talk about his journey in music. He dished out a lot of info. Here’s part of a story he told me about being on the road in Berlin with his then business partner Per Kviman and a nice gesture that ‘could’ have proved costly.
We were just learning and we were young and we were having a lot of fun. So, can you imagine, Per was like, say I was 27 by this time so, he’s about 24. You know? We’re in America. We’re in LA and New York, in the 80’s. It was good fun.
We’re back and forth to Stockholm, but in Germany and we’re driving around and we’re in… I mean, Berlin was such a party city. I mean, it still is, but when it was just West Berlin and the wall was up, it was fascinating because when you were in West Berlin, there was like, there’s the wall. And then there’s watch towers on the East side. And at night they’d have spotlights.
You’d see the spotlight going across the water and anybody trying to get out or swim across water, they’d get shot.
Guns On Show.
And you could see machine guns on it. You’d see guns on the towers with the spotlights and everything. And then they had these transit motorways, as they were called, going through the East, into West Berlin.
So, if you imagine, West Berlin was an Island in the middle of East Germany. Their transit motorways linked the West into West Berlin and we used to drive down these transit motorways. Rent a car, I have my little Volkswagen Polo in London, but of course I’d rent a nice BMW.
When we’d go to Germany, we’d drive because you could drive the speed you wanted on the Autobahns. But, when you were on the transit motorways, you were in East Germany.
Hitch A Hike.
So I remember being stopped for speeding, getting tickets by East German police. You would worry that you’d be arrested or something would happen. There was that uncertainty around the East and the Cold War and those Eastern block countries at the time, was sort of shrouded in mystery to an extent.
But yeah, I remember once, you were never supposed to take any hitch hikers or anything. We’d stopped at this gas station and they had these kind of chill cabinets with a hard roll in it and a Frankfurter, you know, full of water, I mean, just inedible food pretty much and watered down coffee and just such basic East European fare as it was at the time. Anyway, he picked these two girls up who, one said they wanted a lift to, wherever it was.
Of course it was just out of the goodness of my heart that we wanted to help them [laughs]. But, we were not, as they told us, we were not supposed to be picking anyone up… It was illegal, what we were doing. And because you have to Visa to go back. I mean, you can’t… The suspicion would be that you were trying to smuggle them into Western Berlin. That would be the suspicion.
So you could not, you couldn’t go to the border. Because they were all armed guys searching the cars. They would do the old check the metal detector thing. Look in the trunk, the boot of the car. If you’d had two East German girls in there, you would have been arrested.
That would have been a red herring moment! So we dropped them off, so I had to drive past. Suddenly there’s these guys on the side of the road doing some maintenance work in these orange jumpsuits and they were looking over as we were slowing down as we were coming towards the border to go into West Berlin.
A Close Shave.
I was going, “Shit, we hadn’t dropped them off.” And I can’t turn right in towards the border. There was a checkpoint, they’re looking in, what are they thinking? So I kept driving and anyway, I found a place to drop them off.
We had one of our bands playing in Berlin or we were shooting a video, or both. And so we had CD’s, stocks of CD’s in the car and posters. They’d never seen a CD or a credit card, or anything like that, so we gave them posters, we gave them CD’s and off they went and then we turned around and went across the border.
We were worried that we would have been seen and then come back with them, not in the car, but them knowing that we’d had people in the car before. So we were quite nervous then crossing the border into the West. You could do what you want when you’re in West Berlin. I mean, West Berlin was a serious party town, so we shot a couple of videos there.
You could not go off the motorway. There were transit motorways. You were locked in until you got to the Island that was West Berlin. And you either flew out of West Berlin or you went back out through the same transit or a different transit motorway back into the West, into a West German city.
Yeah, so we used to have a lot of fun in West Berlin.