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Gil Clark: Blog

snow days with jeff vail

Posted on January 25, 2013

Snow days always make me think of Jeff Vail. Jeff was the drummer for Rob Tyner’s National Rock Group or NRG as it was known. Jeff was the first drummer in Fred Smith’s Sonic Rendezvous Band until Fred told Rob that he should come see his drummer and Rob stole Jeff away. At the end of his life, Jeff was promoting his Knights of the Grande gigs around Detroit featuring classic acts that played the Grande Ballroom such as SRC, Dick Wagner and Mitch Ryder to name a few. He always wanted to get the group called the Gang together because they were from his part of town and were involved with Ted Nugent in the early days. I met Jeff when I was a brash kid and Rob Tyner was playing the Old Miami on Cass Ave. in Detroit. I strolled up to the band and said “You guys aren’t bad, give me a contract and I’ll work for you. Jeff looked like he was gonna punch me but Rob butted in and said “Give him a job.” I have a million stories that happened after that night but that first night I sat with Jeff in his van in alley next to the Miami and smoked and drank all night long and a great friendship was born. So back to snow days…Jeff’s house is where rehearsals were held and where we recorded 4 track demos. One winter it snowed a ton and we got snowed in for about a week, partly by choice. We lived off the party store and pizza joint in the strip mall next store. Jeff proved to me that you could ignite a fart. Ah, the good old days. Jeff always called me during snow storms to reminisce about our great snow-in. I miss him and he was a helluva drummer and a cool dude. He always wanted to play with Iggy. Loved Iggy – liked to tell the story about when the Stooges warmed up the MC5 at the Grande  and during the MC5’s set Iggy came tearing across the stage and grabbed Tyner’s crotch, gave him a honk and kept on going. I’m snowed in again, partly by choice. It always reminds me of Rob Tyner and Jeff Vail. They’re both gone. You’ll have to take my word for it. Rob sang in Dreams of Steel –

In the White Castle parking lot

She said your car is really hot

We sat there in my parking spot

And I fell in love…..

 click the link below to see Jeff...

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