Why Mick Jagger Jokingly Threatened Michael Anthony’s Bass Tech
Michael Anthony’s longtime bass tech, Kevin “Dugie” Dugan, recalled the moment when Mick Jagger threatened to have him killed – only to realize it was a revenge prank.
The moment took place several years after Van Halen performed before the Rolling Stones at a 1981 concert. During Van Halen’s set, Anthony encountered a problem with his favorite bass, and Dugan was rushing toward a backstage storage box to collect a set of strings.
“I see Bill Graham, the promoter, and he's leaning on my workbox talking to some other guy,” he recently told Ultimate Guitar. “So, I yell, ‘Bill! Get out of the way!’ Bill jumps out of the way, and I grab the door of my workbox and throw it open. … The other guy he was talking to, the door hits him in the chest, and he flies back on his ass about five feet. I yell sorry, grabbed the strings, ran back out, changed strings and got Michael his number one bass back.”
He immediately returned to apologize to Graham, who told him, “Don’t worry about it. We were in your way.” Only then did he realize that person who’d been caught by the door was Jagger. “Michael comes offstage," Dugan said, "and I'm not sure how he found out so quickly, but the first thing he says is, ‘You knocked Mick Jagger on his ass?’”
Years later, Dugan offered to let guitar tech Jim Barber stay with him while the latter worked on a Jagger recording. "I went to LAX [airport] to pick him up, and there's a limo and a couple vans for all the gear he flew in," he said. "So, I started helping go back and forth and grab gear and put it in the van, and every time I'm walking past this limo."
As he helped carry equipment, he had to keep passing the limo with two crewmen standing beside it. "They open the door to the limo, blocking my path, and they push me into the limo and slam the door shut. … Mick Jagger is sitting there by himself, and he looks at me and he goes, ‘I understand we've met before.' … I’m sitting there thinking, ‘What the fuck?’”
Jagger asked him to help persuade Anthony to make a guest appearance on his upcoming solo album, then invited Dugan to dinner. “Then he says ‘Oh, and one more thing I've got to mention,'" Dugan recalled. "All of the sudden, his facial expression changed, and he lunged at me, grabbed me by my shirt … pulls me towards him and says, ‘If you ever knock me on my ass again, I'll have you killed!’”
The roadie admitted he was “horrified” until Jagger started laughing and admitted, “I can't keep a straight face." He continued: "[Jagger] rolls the window down, and there were 10 people outside laughing and saying, ‘We got you!’ That was pretty funny. The fact that Jim got Mick to do that is something else.”
Reflecting on 40 years of working with Anthony, Dugan described the bassist as “a wonderful friend and the nicest rock star in the business.” He recalled "the first week of [Van Halen tour] rehearsals he'd be going around asking everyone's name and what they do. … During rehearsals, he would take everyone out for dinner twice … 80 guys! And he'd pick up the tab. Then, at the end of rehearsals, he'd take everybody out again and say, ‘Order whatever you want and whatever you want to drink.’ He's just the nicest, most down-to-earth guy and the most incredible singer.”