Larry Preston

Champion of Endless Optimization (CEO) at Digital Opera & Raceday. Happy stoic, aspirational minimalist, recovered big hair 80’s rock star. Author of “Star Fire Kids – Midnight Blue Express”.

Bart the Bus

This was the traveling home of my first professional band Belgium, my next one – Redarri, as well as the band Slave Raider, and I am told some band called “Touched.”

Oh, the stories this vehicle could tell. Awesomely customized by Bob Saurdiff in about 1983, it had a camper in front that slept about 6-8 people, or we could rehearse, play cards, or inhale beers. The back had the most awesome PA system on the circuit at the time – we could make charging rhinos pee themselves with that thing.

Apparently, she’s been scrapped, but at least we found this one photo of her.

The parties, the stories, the road, the dancers, the ladies… come to think of it; I am glad this bus cannot talk!

Jim Saurdiff Steve Allen Michael Findling Lance Sabin – I’m missing a lot of people, and we’ve lost a few… I know Geno Spiegel was the biggest instigator of trouble with Bart! LOL

Belgium drummer Steve Allen found these photos of “mean” Gene our sound man with Bart and behind the wheel in the 1980’s.

Lots of people have great memories of Bart!

Lance Sabin “Love it, I almost flipped it over one night!”

Kirk Hvinden “I could tell you some pretty crazy stories of Geno and the bus when I was working with the band…  and man ‘o man did seeing this picture bring back some memories. I always had a little spot for in the winter where I could hole up in, as the heater hoses could be directed right in on ya. LOL”

Jim Saurdiff “I put a lot of miles on old Bart. I want to say that if Nicci were around, he would have many stories of him and Bart. But no one had a connection with Bart more than Geno. He and Bart were brothers. I put many miles on Bart. I can remember playing a gig loading out and putting gas in him, grabbing a Deli Express red hot burrito, and driving all night to the next gig. The bus of the ’80s.”

Bob Saurdiff “I built that bitch (Bart) and never under-designed anything as bad as I did Bart. I bought it as a school bus in Monticello. I brought it to Alex and sat out in the old man’s driveway for a month or two and tore, banged, and beat the bitch into submission to find out the storage area we put the equipment in was too small.

Also handled like shit cause the weight was all in the back and no weight on the steers. It was built for BELGIUM.

We got a ticket for having it painted in school colors on it Duluth, so we painted it black (thereby creating Black Bat). I took it to Sturgis the first year it was built. We put a stick picture of a woman with a circle and line through it for each princess we had in it. I got pictures of that. I had a lot of shit happen in Sturgis 83, and it never let up when I got back.

Does anyone remember the Smelt fry in Duluth? I partied with a bunch of bands up there in it up there. I could write a book. ‘The unauthorized biography of Black Bart’ Stories from beyond the grave.”

One of my favorite Bart stories: Doc was driving, I was riding shotgun to keep him awake, everyone else was asleep. A week before Nikki (David Hussman) agreed to be the band treasurer, so had to wake him up to get gas money. Hussman was sleeping on the heater hose, reached down, and help up a wad of cash and said: ” I quit”. I walked up front and told Doc “Hussman just quit” Doc just rolled his eyes and said “Meh” And that was that. LOL

My other favorite Bart story: Bart broke down at the hotel, and Doc got out bed early the next morning to fix him. When I went outside to check on him, it was 31 degrees below zero, and there was Doc, under the but, nothing on but a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and a light jacket working away like he was in south Florida. Cold weather had ZERO effect on him back then. LOL

Steve Allen’s signed Belgium cymbal

Belgium’s PA system that Bart carried.


Got Something to Say About This? Email Me. I Respond to All.