Big thank you to Allen Thayer for his blog takeover this week!
In his final post he tells the heartwarming story of how Tim Maia recruited Dom Pi as a talented 16-year-old in a small town in Brazil…
Of all the sources for my book, two were essential and comprised the bulk of the new insights into Tim’s life around this time and they were both band mates of Tim’s from this phase: Paulinho Guitarra and Dom Pi. While Paulinho had been playing with Tim for a couple years before Tim’s existential detour, Dom Pi (aka Reginaldo Francisco), joined Tim’s crew at the impressionable age of 16, just before Tim went off the deep end. I couldn’t keep all of Dom’s great stories in the book, so I’ll let you read some of them here in Dom’s voice, like how Tim found the “Brazilian Michael Jackson” in a small town while on tour…
I used to play in a pretty successful party band, and we played parties from 11 o’clock to four in the morning and that kind of thing. And on one occasion Tim was playing close to my hometown [Barra Mansa, about 100 miles from Rio de Janeiro] and we did the opening for this big festival. There was Elis Regina, Os Mutantes with Rita Lee and Tim Maia was the headliner because he was so successful. He was really exploding all over the whole country, not only from just that time, but since 1970 already with all the legendary records.
This concert was 1973 and at that time The Jackson Five were huge all over the world and we used to perform a song by them and dress like the Jackson Five and I would play the keyboard and then I’d jump in front of it and grab the microphone and sing [busting out an effortless falsetto], ‘I’ll be there, I’ll be there, just call my name . . .’ with big black power hair . . . and then after the concert somebody came to our dressing room and said, ‘where’s the little guy? Where’s Michael Jackson? Where’s Michael?’ I say, ‘it’s me,’ and they say, ‘yeah, Tim Maia wants to get to know you, he wants to meet you.’ And my legs were shaking and I started sweating and I say, ‘are you kidding me,’ and they said it was no joke.
I went to the backstage there and I was shaking and I say, ‘nice to meet you.’ And he says, ‘no, nice to meet you. You’re a real talent, man. How old are you?’ I told him I was seventeen, and would turn eighteen the next year in June – this was like November or December of 1973. ‘Oh shit,’ he said, ‘you’re underage.’ He asks me if I’m going to school and I say I’m about to graduate soon. He asked me if I had any company with me and my father was there. I called my father, but my father didn’t like that Tim Maia invited me [to join the band] because about every three days he was in the news, you know, because of his drug habits or getting into fights with girlfriends.
And he asked my father right away, ‘I’m inviting your son to play with me, what do you think about it?’ And [my father] just turned to him right away and said, ‘no way! Mr. Maia, let me tell you one thing: this boy is studying right now. He’s in school and he’s about to graduate. I appreciate that you invited my son to play with you, it’s an honor to hear that, but sorry to tell you that I’m not going to allow him to play with you because of all the scandals that you have and your drug habit and all kinds of things, we are very religious people here and I think it’s not gonna work out, but he’s gonna turn eighteen in six months and you can talk to him personally at that time and I cannot decide what he’s gonna do because he’ll already be a man, but now he’s a boy and he depends on me.’
And I was devastated. And then Tim turned to him and said, ‘listen: the line to play with Tim Maia of Brazil of Rio de Janeiro is long and this is the one and only and last time I’ll make an offer to your son to play with me. I will never call you or him again. I want you to go home and think about it,’ and I look at him and he looks at me and he winks at me and I’m wondering ‘what does that mean?’ And my father went to go drink a beer and I stayed there and Tim says, ‘we’ll take care of it. Your father is gonna cool down. This is the only opportunity you’re gonna have in your life. If you stay in this little town you’re gonna be lost here.’
After that we went back home. My mom, she is a musician, an acoustic guitar teacher and [former] partner of Rosinha da Valença. And I spoke to my mom right there and she asked, ‘that really happened?’ And I said, ‘yeah, you can ask Dad all about it,’ and he heard and came in the kitchen and said, ‘no way, I told him already that’s not gonna happen and I told Tim Maia, too; he can kiss my ass.’ And then my mom tells me to get out of there and I went to go play football [soccer] somewhere and then next day my father was supposed to travel because he was a truck driver, you know he’d make a tour of the country and come back ten days later.
The matter of the fact is that my father used to earn 900 cruzeiros monthly; that was his salary. And we used to get 900 a gig, so you can imagine what happened. A week later I was back home, I went to school again and did my schoolwork and everything and made it through and then I had a holiday from the school. And my father came home ten days later and I still had the sealed envelope to give to him, because that was the law at that time if you’re underage [the money goes to the head of the household]. That was a lot of money. And my father came and my mom spoke to him privately and he asked me, ‘how was it? At least you made some money, right? Show me the money, where is the money?’
And I gave him the envelope and he opened it up and he started to count and then he looked at me with a puzzled look and said, ‘there’s something wrong. There’s too much money here. Me, I work the whole fucking month to make 900 and you come back with 2,700? Where’s the telephone, I’m gonna call Tim Maia…’ Then he calls Tim Maia… ‘Listen, Mr. Maia there’s something wrong here. You gave too much money to my son, are you sure it’s not a mistake?’ And Tim said, ‘No, Mr. Francisco, this is what my musicians make every concert.’ My father responds, ‘OK, I just wanted to make sure, thank you,’ and then looks at me, ‘well, I think you should go back… when are you going back?’