MSG's motorway dash to save Reading Festival


Chris Glen recalls a 120mph motorway dash to convince a recently sacked Gary Barden to rejoin the Michael Schenker Group in time for a Reading Festival performance.

In 1982, the band replaced Barden with former Rainbow singer Graham Bonnet, supposedly because they wanted a more well-known frontman. But after Bonnet’s first few gigs ended in disaster, Glen and drummer Ted McKenna drove from Sheffield to London to make nice with Barden.

Glen tells Rocktopia: “We got Bonnet in and, I hope he doesn’t mind me saying this, for a man with such talent he had a lack of confidence. He has such a voice but it was hard work coaxing it out of him. We did the album and we were doing the Reading Festival on the Saturday, so we did a warm up gig the Tuesday before in Sheffield.

“We started with Armed And Ready, did another song and then Let Sleeping Dogs Lie. It’s one of those ones where there’s a riff and then a vocal. Graham would always come in on the riff and we would go, ‘No that’s wrong.’ He did it again at the gig in Sheffield and the song ground to a halt. Graham went ‘Fuck It’ and just walked off the stage. Third number. There was 750 people there going what the fuck is happening here.

“After the gig Ted and I got into a Mercedes and must have driven about 120mph to get back to London to meet Gary Barden on the Thursday night to rehearse with him on the Friday and play Reading on the Saturday.”

Schenker was this month given the Icon Award at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods.