“Officially I was a stage tech,” says New Orleans Glen “Monster” Warner, as he reflects on the many facets of his long career in the music industry. “With Bob Dylan, I was his official Corona beer man. With David Lee Roth, I carried him on a surfboard!”
A Zelig-style figure in the world of arena rock, the Canadian expat got involved in the music industry in 1979, and his congenial attitude and open hearted outlook have made him hundreds of friends since.
Warner, who began his musical life hooked on polka music by a grandma who loved the genre, worked his show with legendary Irish-Canadian expatriates the Irish Rovers. But from there, he quickly ventured into a much wilder scene.
“One time I was doing a gig as a house manager in Barrie Ontario at the Roxy Theatre, doing a Teenage Head concert,” he recalls. “There was this couple on acid, making out, buck naked—right in the centre, first row. I didn’t know what to do! I was probably 19 or 20 years old. I thought I should maybe run out and throw a blanket on them, but my boss told me, ‘Just let ‘em go at it.’ It was one of my first experiences with crazy people. I’ve seen it all! But that was my first.”
Soon he moved to Victoria, where he fell in with Bryan Adams and began working shows at the Memorial Auditorium as a stage tech, which put him in a position to meet a variety of the world’s biggest music stars.
“I’ve always had lucky breaks,” he says. “Every time a band came to Memorial Arena, I was the lucky guy—I did the load in, but I’d also do the show. I got to be on stage, and be the guy that bands would go to for stuff. That’s how I started hanging out with everybody. I’ve met everybody!”
It isn’t hard to imagine why stars would find Warner’s positivity and enthusiasm a great fit backstage. He’s boundlessly excited even about stars with whom he didn’t have the most positive experiences—like David Lee Roth.
“He threatened my life!” Warner—who wears a David Lee Roth t-shirt in his LinkedIn profile photo—chuckles, recalling nervously carrying the spandex-clad legend on a surfboard. “He got dropped the night before in Buffalo, and there were four of us working that day. He pointed at me and told me I was going to get my ass kicked if he fell that night. The other three guys were safe! But I was the one whose ass he was going to kick. Everybody has cool David Lee Roth stories about how wonderful he is—and he’s one of my idols!—but he wanted to kick my ass!”
What about Stageline?
Talked out of the industry for a while by his ex-wife, Warner decided to get back into action in 2010 in his adopted home of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In typical style, he says he just started making friends, and the work followed—he’s since teched and made music videos for a number of local draws, including Grammy-winning Cajun accordionist Wayne Toups, and good-time bands the Molly Ringwalds, the Chee Weez, and Bag of Donuts—elaborate cover-song acts that incorporate character costumes and wild stage-sets.
“That’s how I got hooked on these Stageline stages!” he says. “I’d never seen that before— a portable stage that just opens up? That was so cool! You gotta remember, I never started out in the bar business. I’ve always been in arenas, since the ’80s. So when I started hanging out with everybody here in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, there were all these portable stages in front of nightclubs.”
An avid music-video maker, Warner guesses he’s now made over 2,000 videos of acts playing on Stageline stages. And because he’s one of the few people you’ll ever meet who happily says he arrives early to work to help out, Warner arrived early enough to help load in Wayne Toups before a July 4th show a few years back where he saw Stageline’s SL100 in action in a challenging situation.
“This gig was right on a levee, and the only place this stage could go was on a peak,” Warner recalls. “They had to back in the stage. I was just amazed by how flexible those stages are—you can put them anywhere. You really can. It was so difficult to put a stage where that was, on the levee, but they made it look easy.”
Stageline’s stages are a nice companion for a guy like Warner, who’s been everywhere, seen everything, helped everyone—and who everyone likes because he’s so easy to work with. He’s got the kind of enthusiasm about live performance that makes live music magical for those people who pack stadiums and bars and parking lots all over the world hoping for a really special night. But to hear him tell it, the music scene is the one who’s been helping him all along.
“I’m the lucky one, because I’m in the middle!” he says. “I get to go into the Superdome and sit in the middle of the lawn there and look at people! How many people do you know can go to the Superdome and walk around?”
And that’s only a taste of his life in music—it doesn’t say anything about his recent turn towards movies, of which he’s now been in more than eighty, including Django Unchained and the upcoming Magnificent Seven. But Warner’s an easy guy to talk to. Get him going and he might even tell you how Denzel Washington’s private driver bought him a new computer—but that’s another story.