When it became clear I was never going to be the next Nuno Bettencourt, Yngwie Malmsteen or even Phil Collen (that’s Collen – I never wanted to be a little bald drummer boy) I often wondered about becoming the ‘Merch Man’.
You know the guy.
He’s so laid back he should be shifting swag from a deckchair and he’s cooler than a Guinness Extra Cold.
The bloke looks like he could be in a band but then he’s so at home stood behind his table that maybe he was born into selling.
He has an easy manner, can unfold a boxed Tee with lightning quick speed and possesses the dexterity to display a CD, a bandana and 17 different sizes of hoodie in one hand.
He also has the deepest pockets in rock. Deeper than Mick Jagger’s, even. Once those fingers disappear into a pit of loose change and crumpled notes the picture is complete.
Merch Man is making a sale and he has never looked happier. Wouldn’t you if you’d just taken 20 quid off a kid for a mass produced piece of tat?
Anyway, it always seemed like a great job when I first went gigging. Tucked away in the foyer of the City Hall, Merch Man had almost as many mates as the band.
He knew some great stories, chatted up the hottest rock chicks for fun and I bet he had the pick of the leftovers come the end of the tour.
So that was it. Forget trying to master power chords and finger picking. I wanted the disposable income, the interested women and the free sweat band.
And eventually I lived out my dream during a stint as sometime manager for sadly missed North East bad boys Baby Rattlesnakes.
They were opening up for Tokyo Dragons (equally missed at a time when their exceptional classic rock should be ruling the airwaves) and rushonrock faves The Quireboys.
And I was fronting the merch stall. I was Merch Man.
Now it was never going to be like selling clockwork Eddies at a Maiden show. Or selling eye make-up and nooses to Alice Cooper fans.
I wasn’t expecting a rush on the black Tees with yellow logo but I did have a target. After years spent studying Merch Man’s technique I reckoned 10 sales would be well within my reach.
An hour later I’d shifted four. Or make that three if you factor in that I’m still waiting for the money from a Daily Express hack who once wrote a boxing book for Nicky Hutton.
Like power chords it wasn’t easy. And there were no women. No pockets full of loose change and not even a free Tee at the end.
I might have failed but Merch man is still going strong. And never stronger than after a Backyard Babies gig.
Anyone who witnessed the Swedes’ superb UK tour will surely know what I’m talking about. There can never have been such a rich array of merch on one band’s stall.
Forget the six different styles of G-string, the paperback books and the key fobs. This Merch Man was selling official Frisbees for God’s sake.
Anyone who can sell a Frisbee to a tanked up rocker at 10.50pm deserves the status attached to Merch Man. And you know what? They were literally flying off his table all night…