The Master

It was as a naive and impressionable 18 year old that I first encountered Ross Halfin. We met at the backstage door of the Edinburgh Playhouse in Late 1985. Gary Moore was playing. I was on one of my first assignments for Sounds magazine, for which Ross had worked, and Ross was shooting the show for Kerrang!.

"Oi!" he barked. "Grab the other end of this." I did as I was told, helping Ross to carry a heavy box of lights up many flights of stairs. For the uninitiated, the Edinburgh Playhouse is built on a steep hill and, as Bon Scott said, it's a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n' roll. Sensing an easy opportunity for winding up a young reporter, Ross informed me: "You know Gary Moore's gay, don't you? That's why Neil Carter's in the band." Carter was Moore's rather camp keyboard player and second guitarist, whom Ross knew well from Carter's tenure in UFO. Momentarily bemused, I just nodded and quietly went about my business. I have it on good authority that Ross himself was subject to terrifying rites of passage at the hands of UFO when he was new to the business. He was, I understood, merely passing on the abuse to the next generation. I decided to stand up to his bullying, and over the ensuing years, I have found Ross to be very entertaining company. Yes, he shouts at waiters if his bacon is not grilled to his satisfaction, and he has been known to be quite rude to a lot of people, but beneath it all, he's just a nice Jewish boy. A defender of the faith, as he likes to call his brethren.

In the 1990s, Ross and myself worked on numerous cover stories for Kerrang! and naturally spent many happy days at the Sunset Marquis in Los Angeles, where every member of staff knows him as 'Ross' despite his attempts to cultivate that ridiculous nom de rock, 'The Master'! I recall one night in the late 90s when Ross, myself and his lovely assistant Helena 'LG'Bergenstein were drinking in the Marquis bar. It was my round, so I bought drinks for the two friends Ross had with him - Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck! Why, I wondered later, was I buying drinks for millionaires, Ross included? I would, of course, mention the 'red bag' at this point, but this would only serve to incriminate all those present, especially Ross's handsome young friend Count Von Packerus!

When I think of working with Ross, there is one moment I hold especially dear. Pearl Jam were in London to shoot the video for 'Jeremy' in 1992. Ross and myself were working for Kerrang!. When the band assembled for Ross to take their photos, they were moping around in true grunge fashion. Ross led one band member by the ear in the manner of a school master, then asked Eddie Vedder to tilt his head upwards. He did so, grudgingly. "Thank you, Edward," Ross smiled. "Such a kind man!" This incident may go some way to explaining Pearl Jam's reluctance to deal with the rock press.

Having worked with Ross again in June of 2002 for the first time in many years, I am happy to report that time has not changed him. Upon arriving at the Sunset Marquis, I found him poolside, with a phone leading from his usual corner room. He was as orange as ever and delighted when I placed my hand tenderly on his to wake him. During his photo shoot with Nickelback at mad Neil Zlozower's studio, Ross spent most of the time telling the Metallica-worshipping Nickelback how shit Metallica are. They thought he was joking. He was not.

On the flight back to London after the Nickelback job, Ross left his business class seat to find me in economy and wake me with a wet finger in the ear. Mission accomplished, he padded back to his seat in shorts and complimentary socks. It was not always this way. On a trip to Jersualem with Iron Maiden, myself and manager Rod Smallwood sat in club class while the band and Ross were stuck at the back of the plane. As the cheese platter arrived, I cast a glance back to Ross, who was busy telling Steve Harris how shit Metallica are. In economy. A small victory, but one to savour. Ross Halfin, then. To many, an horrendous little man. To others, a kind man. To Korn's US PR, an accomplished middleweight with a searing left jab. And to guests at the Sunset Marquis, that funny little man who appears to to be taking on a decidedly orange glow.

Bash one out for me, Ross.

P A Elliott, Brighton, June 14, 2002

Some thoughts

A Human Being

The Agony and the Ecstasy

A note from Daniel

The Secret of His Success

Miscellany

More Miscellany

Apocryphal

The Master

Random Thoughts

Nasty Little Man

Words of Wisdom

Northern

Equipment

Lunch with Cheesy

A message from Lucifer

A message from Scarlet

KPTV

Dennis

Precious