Abe Awad: Lebanon
May 28, 2007
This week Iím going to take a look back at another in the long line of promoters Iíve worked for in my career. Abe Awad (I believe that was his name) promoted the ill-fated tour of Lebanon I did back in 1992. This was without a doubt the most bizarre and hazardous trip Iíve ever been on. It was also the trip in which I was the most screwed over, but Iím not 100% sure how much of that blame is to be dumped on Mr. Awad.
This was the one trip in my career where I pretty much had no idea what the hell was going on the entire trip. I donít even know how I came to be booked on the damn thing to be honest. Things got booked through so many middlemen that I never once ever spoke directly to Abe Awad, so every bit of information I got was second hand. To the best of my recollection, based solely on second hand information this is what happened.
Abe Awad was Lebanese, but resided in Texas. He was booking a 2-week tour of Lebanon, but do to USA boycotts could not book US talent. He contacted Gentleman Chris Adams, who also live in Texas but had a British passport. Chris was in charge of booking the tour and had to find non-US talent. Chris booked 3 Mexican guys thru Chavo Guerrero (Sr.) and contacted Gama Singh to book some Canadian talent. It was through Gama that I got booked. This is where details get sketchy as all of the information I got about the trip went through both Chris Adams and Gama Singh.
I think I was told Iíd get paid $1500 (us) per week with all travel and hotel expenses taken care of. This was at a time when I really need work, so despite being extremely nervous about traveling to the Middle East I accepted the booking. I figured Gama was way more experience at this than I was so if he figured the trip was safe it must be. I went purely on blind faith.
To start the trip off right, travel was ATROCIOUS. We flew from Calgary to Dallas, where all the talent was to meet up. In order for us all to meet up and depart on the same flight we had an extended lay over (I think 4-5 hours). From Dallas we flew to Boston (again with a couple hour lay over). From Boston it was on to Heathrow in London for an approximate 6 hour lay over. The reason this lay over was so long was that you couldnít purchase a ticket from the US to Beirut Lebanon so the American Airlines tickets we had, had Heathrow as our final destination. We had to claim our luggage, go to the Middle East Airlines ticket counter, get our new tickets, and then check into the last leg of our flight.
Middle East Airlines was frightening and for some unexplained reason our tickets had our destination listed as Cairo not Beirut. When we asked about it they said not to worry that we would be going to Beirut and it was for safety reasons they printed Cairo on the tickets (again I have no idea what the hell was going on).
The shows were horribly promoted and the crowds were small. We were escorted around at gun point, which to this day Iím not sure if it was for our safety or to keep us in line, as we were in a constant battle for our money. True to his word or at least the third hand word that I got, travel, hotel, and even food was covered for us, but as I mentioned our paychecks were a whole other ball game.
Originally we were all supposed to be paid in full when we arrived in Dallas. When we got to Dallas Chris Adams informed us that Abe would actually be meeting us in London and we would be paid there. When we arrived in London we got a long song and dance (again second hand as Chris and Abe would talk privately before Chris would up date us on the situation) and were told that Abeís money was in Lebanon and he promised to pay us when we arrived in Beirut. There was what seemed like a heated battle between Chris and Abe about whether we would turn back or go on in good faith. Again I just followed Gamaís lead knowing I was in way over my head.
We of course went on in good faith (this wouldnít be much of a tale if I we didnít actually go). We were not paid upon arrival, instead they took our passport at gunpoint and ushered us to Tier Lebanon for our first week of shows. We where constantly under armed guard, and again through Chris Adams, in a constant battle for our money. We did eventually get some cash, but it was just a portion of the nightly gate, which we were being given in ďgood faithĒ while being assured weíd be paid in full upon completion of the tour.
We did the second week of the tour in Beirut, which again had horrible houses and very little in the way of pay. At tour end we managed to get out alive, and our passports were returned to us with valid visas, but we were way behind in our money. As I mentioned I think I was promised $1500 pre week, and in total I received approximately $500 in cash advances during the trip and that was all. So for the 2-week tour I was owed $2500, which Iíve never received. The sad thing is I was likely screwed for much more than that.
Iíve learned over the course of my career many veterans hold back money when being paid to book talent so the original figure I was to be paid might have been much higher. I actually heard rumors, after the fact, that Abe Awad generally paid $2000 to $2500 pre week for foreign talent so in all likely hood Chris Adams was to receive the $2000 to $2500 per head for the guys he booked but was only going to pay us the $1500 and pocket the rest. This is not unheard of and to be completely honest there is always the possibility that Adams made up the entire story about not being paid and was paid in full and completely ripped us off for the entire amount. I guess I will never know.
All in all not a pleasant experience, I had to fly the most ungodly milk run of all milk runs to get there and back, got completely screwed on my money, and still to this day have no idea what really happened. Needless to say I would not recommend working for Abe Awad if the opportunity arises, but I sure would love to the chance to sit down with the man and hear his version of the events behind the trip and his explanation as to where my money is. Iím sure he would spin all the heat on Chris Adams, since he is no longer with us to defend himself.
Assuming everything I was told was the truth I would definitely have to list good old Abe Awad as the worst promoter Iíve ever worked for. While Fred Jung is still my least favourite, at least Fred never booked me in a Country where I feared for my life, and could have been shot and left for dead.