A good roadie -- and there are thousands of them -- tunes guitars, wields lanyards, and always has a supply of batteries and clean socks. Jef Hickey is not a good roadie. He is, he’s the first to admit, a great roadie. Like a savvy butler or political aide, he knows there’s more to his job than lugging equipment and deciding which babes get backstage. He learned his best moves early on: When first handed a band’s tour schedule, he’d call major companies in all the cities on a band’s schedule, invite the top people to the show, and thus ensure that the band would be hooked up with the best swag.
Sitting outside a cafe in downtown Los Angeles, Hickey sports the traditional roadie uniform: band T-shirt and tattoos (including his ex’s name crossed out, finger tats spelling out “I REFUSE” and, inked in Swedish on his belly, “hard drugs, loud guitars, and I love whores”). He recently returned home from touring the U.S. with Swedish metal band Crashdiet. The Scandinavians had a lot of fun crossing the desert: “They were so into cactuses. They had never seen one before.”
Self-deprecating and charismatic, Hickey halts his storytelling long enough to tell a passing female that she has “nice tits.” The compliment falls naturally from his lips in a way that it must have many thousands of times before, dating back to when his career started in 1985. At the age of 17, he hopped on a bus with Megadeth in Providence, R.I., and went on to work with every band in hard rock -- from Slayer and Motörhead to Korn and Danzig -- as well as Madonna, Billy Joel, Mariah Carey, and Luther Vandross, who required Hickey to FedEx his toilet seat to every show location.
Check out the August 2012 issue of Red Bulletin magazine (on newsstands July 10) for more of the article. To read the magazine on your iPad, download the Red Bulletin iPad app.