Friday, July 20, 2007

The Cream of Country Music

In 1980 when I was working for British Caledonian Airways I thought it would be a good idea to get involved with the country music festival that was held at Wembley each year. Sponsoring such an event would give us profile with the fans of the music who would then naturally rush to book seats to America on board BCAL, naturally enough. The Country Music Festival was a major annual event with a crowd of 25,000 over the weekend, it was organized by the delightfully named Mervyn Conn. After a number of meetings with Mr. Conn at his offices in London we finally agreed a deal that would see BCAL transporting most of the artists, who were flying in from the USA, on our flight from Atlanta. Logistically this was easier said than done as trying organize two hundred musicians to be in Atlanta, many of whom were flying from Nashville and surrounding cities, was a challenge. Actually it wasn’t that over used euphemism at all - it was a major problem!

Eventually everything was duly organized and a colleague drew the short straw and went to Atlanta to oversee things at that end. He was also to fly to London on the same flight as the cream of country music. Everything went pretty well and the flight got off on time. Everything, apart from the fact that a number of the musicians in the smoking section thought that smoking applied not just to cigarettes but also spliffs! God knows what the atmosphere was like on that plane! It was fortunate that in those days the air in the cabin was changed more frequently than it is today. Today it’s changed less often in order to save fuel.

The other incident that occurred somewhere over the Atlantic was a fracas on board between Jerry Lee Lewis, otherwise known as the Killer, and his wife who were traveling in first class. They got into a bit of an argument and the diplomatic skills of the purser and some of the other cabin staff would have done the United Nations proud. The police met the DC10 on arrival and no charges were pressed…..thank goodness

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