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What a Long, Strange Trip...

The Missiles cap ten years with a farewell. Their manager remembers.

Beer has been a major theme of The Missiles' ten-year career. A 1992-93 Budweiser sponsorship gave them the money to finally quit their day jobs and hit the road. "Free, cold beer and a chance to play," says Bill, summing up The Missiles' credo. Amid cries of "sellout" from local musicians, The Missiles took the money and ran -- from coast to coast, spending a good chunk of time on the road with the Beat Farmers.

"We got to stay in the Buddy Hackett Suite in San Francisco," says Bill. "And go to the American Music Awards."
A friend had scored backstage passes for The Missiles to the awards, and due to some rather naive maneuvering, we managed to find ourselves in a room stocked with deli trays and the ever-popular Free Cold Beer. We commandeered a sofa and sat down, waiting for nothing in particular. We were finally approached by an official-looking backstage type.

"So," he inquired, "you guys nervous?"
"Not really," Bill answered.
"Who are you guys again?"
"The Missiles."
"Ah. Right. Of course. And you're, um, presenters?"
"Nope."
"Oh, right. You're nominated."
"Not this year," Chuck answered.

Taken aback, the stage manager seemed embarrassed. Looking around, he leaned in and whispered.

"They overlooked a lot of good people this year."
Metallica, standing uncomfortably in the corner, coveted our sofa. We eventually opted for a safer haven, where Darin Murphy (of Trish and...), who had joined us in L.A. for the show, signed autographs for kids who had him confused with someone else (we're not sure who).

"What did you put?" Chuck asked.
"Best wishes, Darin Murphy," he shrugged. "What was I supposed to put?"
From Maine to San Diego, anyplace we could book and get to, The Missiles played. I had no clue how to route them, no clue how to book them. Gigs were canceled. Clubs closed down. Bad directions, bad tires. And all the gigs that made it worth it. Throughout the tour, The Missiles managed to hook up with other Bud bands, including Boston's Letters to Cleo and Baltimore's The Loft. Some gigs were inspired, like the All Bud gig in New Haven. Others, like an opening slot for the Ellen James Society, were less so.

And every so often we found the cities where the press and radio were not just kind, but downright supportive.

"Every time we drove into Albuquerque for a show, we'd hear ourselves on the radio," Ken remembers. "It was the greatest."

So why hang up the guitars now?
"The band still has a good draw, we still sound good, so why not quit now, when we're still having fun with it?" Ken explains.

"We can always have a reunion gig," Chuck adds.
"Charge $125 a ticket."
"Open for Barbra Streisand."

A few months ago, Bud informed us that they would not be renewing The Missiles' term. And maybe that's the real reason The Missiles are turning it in. The free, cold beer finally ran out.

The Missiles' final blowout, featuring an all-night Missiles show, a nine-video retrospective and a new video documenting the band's entire ten-year history, takes place at 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 8 at the Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington, 869-

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