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Joey Molland en Puerto Rico

Stories & Photos by: José Nieves

Bands on the Run - Joey Molland in Puerto Rico
A full report by José Nieves

The Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico was the site for one of the most amazing gigs in this island's Rock and Roll History. On Saturday September 28th, 2002 Joey Molland of Badfinger, Denny Laine with the original horn section of Paul McCartney's Wings and the world famous Beatles tribute band, American English played to a crowd of hundreds of enthusiastic 60's and 70's Rock music fans.

Joey arrived with Denny Laine on a flight from Chicago on Thursday evening and was greeted by José Nieves - a Badfinger fan since they released Come And Get It, as well as Maribel Rios who produced the event. A press conference was held the next morning and was covered by Telemundo - the top TV station in Puerto Rico and member of the Telemundo network - reaching Hispanic households throughout the continental U.S. as well as People magazine and local radio stations. Two articles appeared with interviews of Joey in major island newspapers.

Press Conference with: Eric Michaels ('Paul') - Denny Laine - Joe Molland
Press Conference with: Eric Michaels ( 'Paul' ) - Denny Laine - Joe Molland

Rehearsals were held that afternoon in Bayamon, a major metropolitan area city. Joey took advantage of some free time during rehearsals to visit Pure Sound, an important musical instruments store in Bayamon where he was introduced to the "Cuatro," a local traditional eight string instrument. After some fiddling around with it, Joey was strumming and producing the unique sounds that the "Cuatro" makes. Back at the rehearsal studio, Joey and American English worked through Come And Get It, Suitcase, Day After Day, Baby Blue, No Matter What and Happy from Joey's latest CD - "This Way Up."

Joe tries his hand using a Cuatro

Rehearsal at Tridio Studio

Practice photos

Saturday morning found Joey visiting Villa Music - Puerto Rico's largest musical instrument retailer. There he was met by one of José's sons, Pablo, who introduced him to Marcel, a Villa Music employee and keyboard player in Pablo's band. Joey tried out a Richman guitar distributed exclusively by Villa Music and had his picture taken with some of the employees. At the Sound check that afternoon, at the suggestion of José Nieves, Joey and members of American English with Denny Laine alternating with Joey on lead guitar, rehearsed Without You as it was felt more appropriate given the concert was publicized as the music of Badfinger.

Joe & Pablo
Joe and Pablo Nieves
José & Joe : Joe & Pablo
José and JoeJoe and Pablo

Rehearsal / Sound Check Photos

Rehearsal Photos

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Later that evening, to a crowd that included local TV personalities, and noted members of the business and social communities, American English performed Beatles songs from the different periods in their career. An amazing moment, that overwhelmed everyone in the room, was "George's" rendition on acoustic guitar of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. After a brief intermission Joey came on stage and magically took everyone back to the glory days of Badfinger. Audience reaction and recognition of each song was apparent as the applause and cheering accompanied the beginning of each song. Joey then introduced a song to the crowd saying it was written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans and how two songs were pieced together to produce this hit covered by other well known singers. Being the joker that he is, Joey then strummed the first notes of the Beatles I Feel Fine.

After a few laughs, the guys played the first chords of Without You. The audience reaction was instantaneous. This was truly magical as at one point in the song, Joey was singing into the same mic "John" was using. The performer who plays "John" was "out of character" as American English had finished their set. However, he still had on the long brown colored wig and a beige suit. Both my wife and myself felt eerie as we both commented later that for a moment, it looked like Joey was standing next to Pete Ham. I later shared this with Joey in a private moment together and he was touched to the point of quiet reflection. Joey closed his set by pulling from his pocket a small Puerto Rico flag that he waved as he left the stage. The crowd's reaction evident as they stood to increase their show of appreciation for Joey's performance.

Denny Laine & Joe Molland
Denny Laine and Joe Molland

Denny Laine closed the show with several Wings hits such as Live and Let Die, Jet, Coming Up as well as the Moody Blues Go Now and others. As if all this was not enough, all the musicians came out on stage along with Jukebox - a local band and performed Rockestra, Lucille and Long Tall Sally to close the show.


Joe & José 1500' level
Joe and José - 1500' El Yunque Rainforest

On Sunday, Joey was treated to an afternoon visit to El Yunque the only tropical Rain Forest under U.S. Forestry Service administration. Joey was overwhelmed by the lush tropical flora and fauna, brooks and rivers and other sites of great interest. Joey was taken to a height of 2,500 ft. above sea level where he was able to observe a good part of the eastern portion of the island. Being the Boy Scout that he is, Joey climbed down to the river to remove a cardboard box someone had left laying on one of the boulders in the middle of the river!. He brought it back up and proceeded to deposit it in a trash bin. Joey commented that he wanted to leave with a mental picture of an undisturbed environment. Later that evening it was time for dinner and we wound up at the Hard Rock Cafe' in Old San Juan. By coincidence, the members of American English had reservations at The Hard Rock and so we all came together to laugh and share stories about the event.

After a good night's rest, it was off to Old San Juan the following morning to shop presents for Kathie, Joey's sons and a couple of nieces. Joey graciously autographed my entire Badfinger and Joey Molland collection including CD's, original LPs, a Magic Christian CD long box and a promo photo of "This Way Up." In the afternoon, it was time to head out to the airport where once again we ran into the members of American English. Further comments, anecdotes and "shop talk" continued at Waves Sports Bar and Grill where libations and burgers were enjoyed. It was time to say goodbye as a wonderful four days came to a close.

Jose, Gladys, Joey & Pablo
Jose, Gladys, Joey and Pablo
"Bands on the Run" Concert Poster
Bands on the Run poster

"And a splendid time was had by all."

José Nieves    

American English are:

• Kevin Mantegna - John
• Eric Michaels - Paul
• Martin Scott - George
• Tom Gable - Ringo
• Ken Zemanek - George Martin (keyboards)

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