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Stow -- Mike Andy lives quietly now, so when he says he is thinking about writing an autobiography, some people might have doubts.
That would be a mistake.
Andy, who grew up in Stow, was inducted into the University of Akron's Sports Hall of Fame last February in honor of his time as a Zip in the 1970s. He moved to Kent in May. But his glory days on the football field were the forerunner of a remarkable chapter in his life as tour manager of such rock icons as AC/DC, Motley Crue and Jon Bon Jovi.
"I got my passports out and I've been to 32 different countries," he said.
Andy, 57, earned bachelor's degrees in food service management. In the 1980s, while working in the hotel industry in the region, he also did security work at concerts for Belkin Productions. Through a friend, Bob Wein, Andy was offered the job of security director for an upcoming AC/DC tour. It was the band's 1986 Who Made Who Tour and it was the start not only of a new career, but his relationship with the band he would have the longest association with.
Andy worked security, but found himself doing other things outside of his job description. One incident in particular earned him appreciation from lead guitarist Angus Young when they were at a small Midwest airport during tornado season, preparing to fly to their next stop.
"I was like a mother hen, making sure my little chicks were on [the plane]," said Andy.
Young, a nervous flyer, refused to get on the small plane. So Andy rented a car and drove Young and his wife to the next stop on the tour, a 14-hour trip that earned him a $1,500 bonus from Young, slipped under his hotel room door, and a promotion to tour manager on his next outing with AC/DC. That was the 12-month Blow Up Your Video Tour in 1988, which he went out on after spending two months on tour with W.A.S.P. and 11 months on U2's Joshua Tree Tour in 1987.
"They're a great bunch of guys," said Andy, of AC/DC. "They come in, do their job, work hard, then go home."
In early 1989, he spent four months with the Bee Gees on their One Tour, then 10 or 11 months on Motley Crue's Dr. Feelgood Tour. He then spent 24 months, again with AC/DC, on the longest tour he would ever go on, Razor's Edge. Andy said it was also when he would have both his best and worst moments on tour. The latter came when the band played at the city-owned Salt Palace in Salt Lake City. Andy said the city unwisely offered general admission seating, resulting in a rush that lead to the deaths of four young fans.
"They were trampled to death," he said. "One of the victims, I pulled over the barricade myself and tried to revive her, but she didn't make it."
The better part of the trip was in Europe when AC/DC joined Monsters of Rock, a tour within a tour that included other bands, including Motley Crue and Mettalica. They traveled through numerous countries and played in a variety of venues, such as stadiums and castles, but the part that made the biggest impact was the three days Andy spent without sleep in and around Moscow. It was the time when the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia was opening up, with young people ready for a rock concert like nothing they had ever experienced. It took place at an abandoned airfield outside the city, with an estimated 1.4 million attending the free concert.
"The security we had was 30,000 Russian Army troops," said Andy. "I was looking out over a sea of people. It was absolutely overwhelming."
Andy said there were concerns about rain, but they were told that the military had taken care of it.
"They sent up jet fighters and seeded the clouds and it did not rain," said Andy. "I thought they were yanking our chain, but they did it."
In 1992, Andy spent nine months with Emerson Lake and Palmer and in 1993, he was hired to be tour manager on Jon Bon Jovi's Keep the Faith Tour.
"That was the first tour after he cut his hair, trying to go in a different direction," said Andy.
It included an appearance by Bon Jovi on "Saturday Night Live" as the musical guest, which allowed Andy to meet guest host Danny DeVito, and Bon Jovi acting as a guest presenter at the Grammy awards. One day, Andy said he and Bon Jovi went to a bar and saw Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson and John Goodman sitting at a table together and Goodman called Bon Jovi over. When Bon Jovi introduced Andy, telling the actors that he had worked for AC/DC, Andy said that Nicholson, wearing his trademark sunglasses, rubbed his chin and said, "AC/DC, I like them."
Andy was with Bon Jovi for four months when he was asked by Vince Neil, formerly of Motley Crue, to be his tour manager. That lasted seven or eight months and then he spent similar amounts of time with David Lee Roth, formerly of Van Halen, and Skid Row, before going back to Vince Neil from mid-1995 to early 1996. He then went home.
"I landed at Cleveland Hopkins and said, 'I'm done,'" said Andy.
Andy was married with two young sons, Michael and Tyler, now 28 and 23 respectively. His family had often visited him on tour, but he wanted to be a "regular guy."
"I quit because I wanted to be a dad," he said.
Andy worked as a production coordinator on Cleveland's 1996 bicentennial celebration for eight months, which lead to a job as operations director with Electrostage, a company that provides services for concerts and other events.
In 2000, he and his wife divorced, a situation that would lead to his final touring foray.
"AC/DC found out about it and I went out and did a tour with them in 2001," he said.
The Stiff Upper Lip World Tour lasted 13 months and then he started his own seal coating business, work he had done in high school. He moved back to Stow in 2006, after living in Cleveland for 30 years, and stayed there until his move to Kent.
He is now living on Social Security disability since being diagnosed last year with Lupus, an autoimmune disorder that for him causes painful swollen joints. He said that for someone who has worked steadily for so long, it has been a difficult adjustment.
"It's been a challenging year," he said.
But he remains positive, using a football analogy to describe his life as at "halftime."
"A lot of people have it worse than I do. It's great to be alive," he said.
As for that book he is thinking of writing, he said it would be "very exciting, behind the scenes."
"But it wouldn't be any dirt slinging because I have absolutely nothing bad to say about any of these people," said Andy.
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