Kevin Keller MAY 10, 2013 - by Kevin Keller


Back in 1997, I went on a Deep Listening Retreat with composer Pauline Olivares in New Mexico. Also on the retreat was a guy named Sterling Campbell, a drummer who had been a member of Duran Duran for a couple years, and who had most recently been the drummer on David Bowie's album Outside, which was produced by Brian Eno. After the retreat, Sterling and I tried to stay in contact, but eventually we lost track of each other.

This past Monday evening (May 6), I had a general admission ticket to see Brian Eno give An Illustrated Talk (whatever that meant), and I thought I should arrive early to get a good seat. When I arrived at the theater, the line already wrapped around the block. So, I started at the front of the line and started working my way back. Just as I turned the first corner, I made eye contact with a guy standing alone in line, and just before I turned away to keep walking, I realised that it was Sterling! I walked up to him and reminded him of who I was, and how we met. He was delighted to see me, and told me that I could just stand in line with him. No one in the line seemed to mind, either. We stood in line together for almost an hour, getting caught up on the last sixteen years since we last saw each other. Sterling had gotten married in 2004, and was now touring with the B-52's.

When we finally got into the theater, Sterling spied a couple empty seats right down in front, in an area that was otherwise all "Reserved" seats - but these two seats for empty and available. They were in separate rows, however, both on the aisle. I took the front seat, and Sterling took the seat directly behind me. At that point, a very attractive woman sitting next to Sterling turned to us and said that she was about to get up, and that I could take her seat if Sterling and I wanted to sit together. I took her up on the offer. Once seated in the row with Sterling, another woman walked up to him and introduced herself as Brian Eno's publicist. She told Sterling that she recognised him from photos, and that Brian often talked about him. She then asked Sterling if he was coming backstage after the lecture. Sterling said "Yes", and then asked if he could take me back with him. The publicist replied, "Of course you can!"

So, for the entire lecture (which was very entertaining), I sat there feeling giddy with excitement and nervousness, knowing that I was going to meet Brian Eno as soon as he was done speaking.

After the talk ended, Sterling and I found the publicist, and she escorted us backstage where Brian Eno was sitting at a table, putting things into his bag. He looked up and exclaimed "Sterling! It's so good to see you!", and gave Sterling a big hug. Sterling then introduced me to Brian Eno as a friend of his "from sixteen years ago". I shook Eno's hand, and then a few minutes later, asked if he would mind signing my copy of Ambient 1: Music For Airports. He graciously agreed to sign it.

Then, a few moments later, Daniel Lanois walked into the room, and a few moments after that, Laurie Anderson. It was absolutely surreal to be standing there with two of the most legendary producers in modern music, and one of the legendary performers. At one point, Eno said that he wanted to introduce us to his girlfriend - who turned out to be the woman that had given her seat to me just before the show!

After hanging out for a while and talking to a few other people, I asked Eno if it was okay if Sterling took a picture of us, and he agreed.

It was quite a night.