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 When Bart met Robert Plant

 In 1990, Robert was playing small towns across America.  In his career, he'd done so many
 stadiums and hueueueueuge venues, this was his "back to the clubs" tour.  We had front row
balcony tickets in a 2,000 seat auditorium in Joplin, Missouri.   (You may have seen the video.)

 We got to Joplin early, about 5 or so.
 We went to the auditorium and saw the roadies setting up for tonight's gig..
 There were some groupies there, and they'd been following Plant's bus for a week or two.
 They said Robert was staying at the Joplin Ramada Inn, so we drove over there.

 We went inside and saw lots of Englishsters wearing Zeppelin t-shirts.
 We asked them when we could catch Robert for an autograph and they said "7 sharp at the back door."

 The best part was, we locked the video camera in the car pointing towards the front of the purple bus.
 Sure enough, right at 7, Robert and his hair came flowing out of that door.
 Funny, he was carrying his own suitcase and a guitar.

 He signed several autographs for us, including some tacky bootleg called "Robert Plant, In the Evening."
 I think it's  from his 88 tour in LA. He looked at both sides of the album  and asked if it was a good one.
 He seemed interested in it.  I wished I would've thought to GIVE it to him. All the enjoyment he has
 given us over the decades and here I had a chance to pay him back, but I wasn't thinking.

 He signed our Zeppelin Box Set, which we framed, and he was off to do the Joplin show.
 It was our 14th wedding anniversary, and he played a song "Anniversary" that night.
 We figured he did it special - for us.

 We snuck my new camcorder in the gig in a very ingenious way.
 I got a pair of crutches and a spy-type overcoat. The crutches made my arms stick out wide on both sides,
 allowing the camcorder to dangle from my shoulder strap without being seen.  Instead of patting me down,
 the security people moved everyone out of my way so I could stride in unmolested.
 With front-row balcony tickets, this HAD to work.

 Then, Plant catches me taping DURING the show.  I wear glasses, and the tiny camcorder monitor
 reflected light in my glasses.  During the middle of a song, (if you have the tape,) Robert points directly at me
 and the camera.   I didn't realize what that meant at the time, but then two cops started down my aisle
 in the front row.   Robert sent the cops to bust me!!!

 Luckily, two drunks between me and the aisle gave the cops some shit, so THEY got busted instead of me.
 Thank you, God.

 When the excellent concert ended, I gave Mrs. Bart the two tapes and sent her out ahead of me.
 The security dudes might've wondered why I didn't need the crutches on the way out,
 but with the tapes secured, we were home free.

 Six days later, Plant played Muskogee, as in "Okie from Muskogee."

 Since we semi-knew the drill, we got there early and checked out the Holiday Inn, the only decent hotel in town.
 We had two cars in front and a car round back, so he was helpless. We had walkie-talkies to keep in touch,
 so he couldn't get in without us seeing.   Just after dark, here came a big limo. It was the last night of the tour,
 so I guess they ditched the bus.  Plant got out with Mike from Faith No More, his backing group.
 We met them at the front door, trying to get another autograph.

 Another side funny - one of my friends had a 20-ish blind date with him. When we were trying to talk to Robert,
 she said to him, "I think your band was EVERY BIT as good as Motley Crue."  Plant and the rest of us
 laughed a good one about that, but he wanted to get to his room, so he told us, "Maybe later," on the
 autographs. I took that as a promise.

 We decided to get a room there, too.
 It was so expensive, about $70 for Muskogee's best, ha ha

 After we checked in, his people were still in the hall. They had an entire entourage to check in.
 I walked towards Robert trying to get another autograph. Rex, the pit bull, stopped me.

 I heard them whining about "no liquor."  (It was the night before the show, a Sunday.)  In Muskogee,
 there's no liquor on Sunday, and the band wanted to get drunk.  I'd purchased a 1.75 liter of Crown Royal
 to give to Robert, so I approached him again, this time with the liquor.

 Rex tried to stop me again, but Robert told Rex to let me through - and this is the coolest thing ever -
 Robert looks at me and says, "Where do I know you from?"


 Robert Plant recognized ol' BartCop?

 I felt real good about that, knowing I was occupying a small part of his brain, it was so cool.
 I said, "We met in Joplin, almost a week ago."

 Anyway, I didn't know at the time that one of Robert's longtime idols, Robert Johnson, died from
 a poison drink he was given at a club by a jealous husband. But Robert accepted the bottle of liquor.
 I gave him the Crown Royal, a videotape of stuff, a cassette of a Texas band called "Akasha,"
 (which was Rock Del Castillo's old band) and he said "Thanks," and disppeared into his suite.

 Of course, we got ALL this on videotape, from two different angles. My motto's always been,
 "If you don't have it on tape, it didn't happen."

 Later that night, he and some band members went to eat Mexican food and to see "Dances with Wolves."
 I'll never forget Robert dancing in the halls of the hotel singing, "Dances with wolves, dances with wolves."

 Then, still later, the roadies got up a poker game, and I saw guitarist Phil Johnstone go to the cafeteria.
 (We left our door open, and pointed the camera at the door, so we got a bunch of 1 second clips
 of everyone in the band as they walked back and forth.

 One time, I was coming out of my room and ran into Robert.
 He looked at me and he laughed and said,

"I see you, LURKING," then he laughed and asked me, "Have you seen Phil?"

 I said, "He's in the cafeteria."
 Robert said, "OK," and went back to his room. I should've volunteered to get Phil for him.
 It was the second time I blew a chance to do him a favor.

 Then, the last time I met him, it almost went badly. Rex the pit bull was trying to clear the halls so
 Robert could get to the limo to get to the gig.  It was my last chance for an autograph.

 Trouble was, half of Muskogee was there, looking to meet Robert or get an autograph.

(A quick funny - one of the hotel staff ladies was giggling with us about how cool it was that Robert was in
 one of her rooms, just down the hall. She lifted her keys in the air and looked at Mrs. Bart and said,
 "I have keys to his room. Let's just go TAKE him!")  Trust me, she was tempted.

 So, after Rex the pit bull made everybody leave, everbody except us, because we were hotel guests,
 I snuck down to Robert's suite.

 I was all alone in the hall, when Robert stuck his head out the door to see if the coast was clear.
 Robert saw me and I said, "Could I just get one more autograph?"

 He looked at me and screamed "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"
 It was kind of a frustrated scream, like you'd give out if you saw your tire was flat on your car.
 I didn't mean to piss him off, but it was kind of fun to hear my own, personal, primal scream from Robert Plant.

 So then Rex comes around the corner and chews me out - again.
 By this time, Mrs. BartCop was there with the camera to record Rex giving me all kinds of hell.

"It's off-putting, what you're doing!! Off-putting, indeed!!" scowled Rex.

 Then, they all left for the gig at the Muskogee Civic Center.
(Maybe you've seen the Muskogee tape?)
 If you see ANY video of Robert Plant in Joplin or Muskogee, 1990, that's us.

 After the gig, things were locked down pretty tight, so we just partied.
 The next day, as we were leaving, we walked down past his suite - the door was open.
 We walked in like we owned the place, and looked around. There were maps of New Mexico,
 and faxes from his record company and some other stuff. One fax said they had to re-title his
 upcoming Brazilian "Best of Plant" record because the title they picked out meant "penis" in Portugese.

 Since last night ended the tour, Plant was free to roam, so he rented a car and took off
 for the mountains of New Mexico.  Sounds like a good plan to me.

 It was a lot of fun.
 Jimmy, you're next.

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