Roadies unite for their pension plans

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The Independent Culture

Hide the drugs and booze: the roadies are coming and they are terribly concerned about their pension plans.

The first trade union for roadies - the hard-living road crews for bands - was announced yesterday for those intent on forward planning and collective action belying the legends of their hedonistic lifestyle.

As Glastonbury began, Billy Bragg and Coldplay backed the Roadcrew Provident Syndicate, which could draw members from thousands of workers hired as road crew. "Everybody is worried about pensions provision these days and road crew are not immune to such concerns," said Bragg, whose own roadies have included the broadcaster Andy Kershaw.

"It's about time that we made sure our co-workers were looked after."

Whether this new spirit of responsibility will be embraced by some in the profession remains to be seen. The US roadie Phil Kaufman, who worked with the Rolling Stones and Frank Zappa, stole the coffin of the country rock pioneer Gram Parsons, who died after an alcohol and drugs binge in the 1970s. Claiming to be fulfilling his friend's wishes, Kaufman drove it to a national park, doused it in petrol and set it alight.

Noel Gallagher, of Oasis, began as a roadie to the Inspiral Carpets in the 1980s. He said the band sacked the entire road crew for "excessive drug abuse and being generally unprofessional".