In 2001, I had the wonderful opportunity of performing in England twice, along with some appearances in Ireland and Spain. September 8 and 9 of 2001 had me performing in England for a second time along with a spot in the lineup at the Harvest Blues Festival in Monahagn, Ireland with the late Gary Moore, Omar & The Howlers, and the late Candye Kane. It was a wonderful experience, having worked with some great talent and meeting some wonderful people.
September 10, 2001, had Jolie and I on a plane all day returning home on flights from Dublin to London to Atlanta. We flew over Boston, New York, and Washington. After at least 14 hours in the air, we were quite tired when we made our way through customs upon arriving in Atlanta around 8pm. The massive International Concourse at Atlanta’s Hartsfield/ Jackson Airport felt like a football stadium crowd had just run out on to the field. The lines to get passports stamped seemed endless, and the U.S. Customs
officials appeared to just be mechanically stamping passports one after another without even looking at them. Just as an airport official herded a group of about 10 possibly undocumented passengers through a restricted area, I mentioned to Jolie that with the way things were in that airport, it just seemed like anybody could walk into this country and do anything they wanted to do at any time.
My checked heavy duty road case contained a pedal board with several guitar effects pedals attached, along with a black metal box that supplied power to the units. To the average person, this piece of equipment could raise questions. I asked that question out loud, “Why doesn’t someone go into the belly of the plane, grab my road case, open it up, and ask me what this is that I’m carrying?” I thought that if I am carrying something that is as harmless as this equipment is, but still appearing so threatening, there’s no telling what anybody else could be carrying. It was a very haunting thought, and as tired as I was, the thought was even more nauseating.
It was about 9:15pm when I looked at my watch after getting into the airport shuttle bus that evening on September 10. Tuesday was to be my one day off before having to head out on the road in the motorhome with the band for Michigan. That next morning, on the 11th, I was up doing some computer work at about 9:45am. I received an instant message to turn on my TV. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. There was only one tower standing! It was a sickening and helpless feeling as I watched the second tower fall. It was that much more distressing in realizing that I had spoken out loud of such a possibility just twelve hours before.
Jolie was also preparing to go to the airport again to head out of town on business. She has had many twelve-hour turnarounds from one flight to the next, but this day, I told her she wouldn’t be going anywhere. The rest of the day was pretty much spent watching the live news coverage in disgust, anger, and grief as was the rest of the country, if not the world. It was evident that things that I was worried about a day or two ago were of no longer a concern to me then.
If there was a positive moment to arise from this horrible event in the U.S., it had to be back on June 27, 2001, just about two and a half months before. My two boys, Roger, Jr. and Ryan, then sixteen and thirteen, were on the road with me while the band I were booked that night at Chicago Blues on 8th Avenue at 14th Street in Manhattan. While we decided to take a walk on this beautiful afternoon down to the docks on the Hudson River that had been converted into city parks, Ryan decided to snap a photo of the Twin Towers, pictured here which were in clear view.
Later, in 2018, while on the ferry from New Jersey to NYC for an appearance on Sirius XM’s E Street Radio, I managed to grab the accompanying picture of the newly formed Manhattan skyline.
The final photo is the view from my childhood hometown on the Jersey Shore of Keansburg, NJ. We must never forget!