As everybody in Seattle knows, he’s the other Microsoft cofounder — the one who isn’t Bill Gates.
This fellow went on to explain that he wasn’t supposed to talk about it, but he worked for Mr. Allen, who paid him a full-time salary. He didn’t work much — never more than a few days a month — but he was unable to join any other band or take a lot of other gigs. Or take long vacations. Or make New Year’s Eve plans.
That’s because his contract with Allen stipulated that he had to be available with 24 hours’ notice to fly anywhere in the world, on one of Allen’s private jets, to play rock and roll for Allen and his guests.
He claimed he had been flown to Hawaii, South America, and Allen’s yacht somewhere off the coast of Africa. Sometimes Allen and his party guests just listened. Other times, Allen got up to play the guitar with world-famous musicians like Eric Clapton or Bono.
This guy had to know his classic rock covers down cold — there was no telling which old nugget Allen might want to play — and also had to be able to jam over random chord progressions. Allen was a pretty darn good guitar player, according to this musician, although his singing needed some work. (Check out this YouTube video of him jamming with Ticketmaster employees in 1995.)
The story sounded absurd, just another musical tall tale, like the street guitarist who claimed to have opened for Hendrix back in ’63.
Except, about a year later I heard the same story from another musician — “did you hear about the Paul Allen gig?” And then from a third, who said she knew a guy who knew a guy … and so on.
The Paul Allen gig could be an urban legend, like Bill Gates sharing his fortune with everybody who forwards an email message, or Marilyn Monroe being discovered at a Hollywood drug store. But if so, at least it offers some solace to Seattle musicians as they struggle to make ends meet.
And if it’s true, then Paul Allen is the coolest billionaire in the world.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.