On writing by Stephen King

In the early nineties (it might have been 1992, but it’s hard to
remember when you’re having a good time) I joined a rock-and-roll
band composed mostly of writers. The Rock Bottom Remainders
were the brainchild of Kathi Kamen Goldmark, a book publicist and
musician from San Francisco. The group included Dave Barry on lead
guitar, Ridley Pearson on bass, Barbara Kingsolver on keyboards,
Robert Fulghum on mandolin, and me on rhythm guitar. There was
also a trio of “chick singers,” à la the Dixie Cups, made up (usually) of
Kathi, Tad Bartimus, and Amy Tan.

The group was intended as a one-shot deal—we would play two
shows at the American Booksellers Convention, get a few laughs,
recapture our misspent youth for three or four hours, then go our
separate ways.

It didn’t happen that way, because the group never quite broke up.
We found that we liked playing together too much to quit, and with a
couple of “ringer” musicians on sax and drums (plus, in the early
days, our musical guru, Al Kooper, at the heart of the group), we
sounded pretty good. You’d pay to hear us. Not a lot, not U2 or E
Street Band prices, but maybe what the oldtimers call “roadhouse
money.” We took the group on tour, wrote a book about it (my wife
took the photos and danced whenever the spirit took her, which was
quite often), and continue to play now and then, sometimes as The
Remainders, sometimes as Raymond Burr’s Legs. The personnel
comes and goes—columnist Mitch Albom has replaced Barbara on
keyboards, and Al doesn’t play with the group anymore ’cause he and
Kathi don’t get along—but the core has remained Kathi, Amy, Ridley,
Dave, Mitch Albom, and me … plus Josh Kelly on drums and Erasmo
Paolo on sax.


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