I hear that my buddy Robbie Williams — global superstar (well, excluding the US) — has a new record coming out in the UK. I actually really love some of Robbie’s solo songs, and I especially love his sense of humor. His MTV Cribs is a classic (“I said to bring me a couple of WHORES, not a couple of OARS!”). But Robbie and I didn’t have very auspicious beginnings, I admit.
In 1995, European music conference PopKomm invited me to their August event in Cologne, Germany to speak on the topic of American college radio. I flew in, arriving at the usual US-to-Europe crack of dawn, and headed to the giant, mirrored, monolithic luxury Marriott right near the convention center where I was staying.
Checked in, wearily went to my room and ordered room service, only to discover I needed ice for my soda. So I grabbed the ice bucket with a sigh and headed into the hall. As I was ambling toward the ice machine, I saw a guy coming in the opposite direction, probably going to the same place. I was sort of closer than he was and saw no point in slowing down to let him go first, so I walked right up, got there before him, and started the machine.
Like the pop of a gun, I hear an outraged “WOT?!?” behind me. Good grief, was I tired. I jolted around. It’s the guy. Man, is he lookin’ all Euro. Like those guys on the right, not so much like the guy up there on the left. He’s livid. Out of his mind. Eyes popping out of his skull. “Don’t you know who the FUCK I AM?!?!” I looked at him, and with the confused, pure honesty of a newborn babe, I said, “Uh, no.” My Euro friend was stunned. He threw his ice bucket on the ground, called me the big ol’ c-word and stormed off.
Baffling. I figured I was just beyond bleary. Maybe the guy was closer to the machine or… I don’t know what. Why is someone getting ice at 5AM anyway?
Later that morning, as I left the hotel, throngs of teenagers outside indicated that I was staying in the same hotel as some band called Take That. As I walked away, I saw one squealing teen with a poster, and… wait a second… “Excuse me, who is this guy?” “IT’S ROBBIE!!! ROBBIE ROBBIE ROBBIE!!!” Oh geez. I cut off a guy from Take That at the ice machine.
Cocaine is a hell of a drug.