Justin Weatherspoon has been more than a tour manager over the years. He was a big brother to Juice WRLD when his father passed, a confidant to Kelly Rowland when she performed with Destiny’s Child at the Super Bowl in 2013, and an admirer of Teyana Taylor’s ability to balance motherhood with touring.
“Her daughter Junie has a dressing room at every show. Teyana is parenting, being an artist, celebrity, and socialite,” Weatherspoon told REVOLT. “Teyana doesn’t miss anything with her children. Being a mom first for her is huge.“
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Weatherspoon discusses Juice WRLD’s reaction to his father’s death while on tour, getting French Montana on a helicopter to get to a show, and A$AP Rocky’s wild request.
Who was the first major artist you went on tour with?
Kelly Rowland from Destiny’s Child back in 2011. I started as a road manager for Kelly because, at the time, she was doing a lot of club dates. Then, it evolved into an actual tour manager job. Being with Kelly puts you at a certain level of everything. So instead of being able to baby my way in and learn some of the ropes on smaller tours and shows, I was catapulted with Kelly. She would do shows with her and [Destiny’s Child] like the Super Bowl [in 2013] and the Stella Awards [in 2015]. Those shows showed me how to tour at a higher level.
What was the experience of helping Kelly at the Super Bowl?
There were lots of NDAs. There were lots of movements that no one knew about. That camp is very hush-hush and secretive. But [Destiny’s Child] still talk like they’re best friends.
How involved is Kelly in her live show?
She’s hands-on from top to bottom whether it’s the band, programming, or anything. She’s been doing it for a very long time — over 20 years now. She picks the dancers and musical directors. She sits down with her music director and goes through the programming.
As a tour manager, what fires have you put out to keep the show going for an artist you’ve worked with?
I was with French Montana, and we were the direct support for Wiz Khalifa’s “Decent Exposure Tour” he was on. We had a show in San Diego (on Aug. 10, 2019), but French was also speaking on a panel at Beautycon (on Aug. 10) in Los Angeles. Everything was running smoothly until they started running behind on time. The transportation we booked to get us from LA to San Diego — normally a two-hour drive — was backed up in traffic. So, we were at a point where we would arrive 20 minutes after our set. So, I ended up having to book us a helicopter. The helipad was 20 minutes away from where we were [going]. Myself, French, his DJ, and two or three other people rushed from the panel straight to the helicopter, jumped in, and landed about 20 minutes away from the venue in San Diego. We literally jumped in the car, rushed straight there, and everything was so last minute. I had an Uber sitting there for us when we landed. As we landed, I was texting the Uber driver like, “Yo, don’t leave! We’re pulling up right now.” We literally got to the venue, the DJ plugged in her laptop, and we walked on stage with two minutes to spare.
These are the stories you only get from someone who’s worked diligently in the touring business. Speaking of that, you managed Teyana Taylor’s “The Last Rose Petal 2… Farewell Tour.” Did she discuss how she wanted it to be since it was billed as her final tour?
Oh, yeah. She is the most involved artist I’ve ever worked with because she’s a creative. They called me in for the second part of the “Farewell Tour” to take over. Her mom, who’s her manager, called me in to take over the tour and the first thing she said was, “Teyana needs to be involved with every decision.” When I tell you she was involved in every detail, she was! The roses inside the telephone booth, the width and length of the stage, the costumes for herself, her band and dancers, and the choreography. For it to be the “Farewell Tour,” there was so much pressure, not just on her, but also on her whole team and me to make sure her last tour wasn’t anything less than perfect.
One thing I know Teyana is very involved in is the wardrobe.
Teyana has these budgets with all of her staff and all these different things, and she told me, “Yo, I don’t care what I tell you creatively; I want to take home some money.” One of the first things I told her was, “We’re going to have to cut back some of the personnel and this and that and this.” She was like, “No, I’m not.” Teyana had three wardrobe people and two seamstresses. Once I got into it, I understood all of it was necessary. There were times when wardrobe malfunctions or things of that sort would happen, and the seamstress would just jump in. They’d jump behind the video wall and start sewing things back in place. There were three to four wardrobe changes every show.
How did she balance being a mother and performer on that tour?
It’s admirable. Her daughter Junie has a dressing room at every show. Teyana is parenting, being an artist, celebrity, and socialite. I’ve seen a lot of parents in the industry that miss things. Teyana doesn’t miss anything with her children. Being a mom first for her is huge.
You were also the manager for Juice WRLD’s last U.S. tour. What do you remember about that experience?
That kid was really amazing. It was an honor to work with him. He wasn’t as hands-on (laughs). But he wasn’t as hands-on because he just wanted to make music nonstop. We would get kicked out of hotels because he would have his mobile studio set up in the room. There’s so much Juice WRLD music sitting on hard drives somewhere. Before we did our back-to-back shows in Dallas, I remember he found out his father passed away. I lost my father back in 2013, and I was trying to console Juice because I play big brother to many of these younger rappers I’ve worked with. I told him we could cancel the following shows. He told me, “I don’t want these fans to be let down. I love my dad, and the best way that I can grieve is to be on this stage.” He went out there and didn’t miss a beat. He went out there as if nothing had happened.
As a tour manager, you often have to make the impossible possible. What’s a really difficult request an artist had for you on the day of a show?
I remember one day [A$AP] Rocky was like, “Yo, tonight, I want to start the show in the middle of the crowd.” I told him, “Rocky, the problem is getting you to the crowd to start the show from there.” He told me, “We have to figure it out.” So, he puts on a hoodie over his head. We then took two of the smaller security guys. I’m walking with him, and I had just bought this pair of red and white Jordan 3s. So, we get out there, and nobody notices him. He finally gets out there, I pull the microphone out of my pocket and I’m like, “Here you go.” The music starts, the lights go low, and everybody’s going crazy waiting for him. The show begins, and nobody’s on the stage — it’s just the empty stage. The crowd is looking that way, waiting for him to come out. A few people around us started realizing it was him because he was talking into the microphone. They started going crazy, and they started backing up. Then, he goes, “Cut the music; I’m right here.” People start going crazy.
View this post on Instagram
What do you have coming for the rest of this year and 2023?
Today, I got two calls for two tours for the rest of this year that I’m not going to speak about because two rather large tours go back to back. But if those don’t pan out, I plan to rest. I’m a father of one. I have a 5-year-old, and I’m married. Touring came back so aggressively in 2021 and 2022 that I’ve been gone since February. I also run a business here in Arizona where I live called the Cereal Killerz. But 2023 is shaping up to be a really busy year.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Below, our gift guide highlights some of our favorite Walmart finds for anyone in need of a home refresh.
“REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy Rue counts down the top five moments from the 2023 Billboard Music Awards, including surprising wins, historic firsts, and dope performances. Sponsored by Amazon.
On Oct. 10, Walmart unveiled a brand new, state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University.
The Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour made its final stop at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) and left a lasting impact on students and alumni alike.
After unveiling their state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University, Walmart brought the HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour to Virginia State University (VSU) on Oct. 13.
Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour brings attention and wisdom to North Carolina Central University
On Oct. 17, Walmart brought the third stop of the HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour to North Carolina Central University (NCCU).
In October, Walmart unveiled a brand new, state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University. The HBCU located in Wilberforce, OH was the first stop on Walmart’s Black and Unlimited HBCU Tour.
In this new episode of ‘Bet on Black,’ food and beverage take center stage as aspiring Black entrepreneurs from It’s Seasoned, Black Farmer Box, and Moors Brewing Co. present their business ideas to judges with mentorship from Melissa Butler. Watch here!
Groovey Lew on hip hop style, Johnell Young's industry secrets, BGS salon's wig mastery and more | 'Black Girl Stuff'
Fashion King Groovey Lew on masterminding hip-hop’s most iconic looks. Actor Johnell Young reveals the secret to breaking into the entertainment industry. Celebrity hairstylist Dontay Savoy and got2B ambassador Tokyo Stylez are in the BGS Salon with the perfect wig install. Plus, comedian Lauren Knight performs.
On this all-new episode of “On In 5,” multitalented Nigerian artist Pheelz opens up about waiting for his opportunity to fully express himself through music, his inspirations and emotions, and the musical icons he grew up admiring. Watch!
Kareem Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke & networking | 'The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels'
On this all-new episode of “The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels,” the host and REVOLT CEO sits down with Kareem Cook. Throughout the introspective episode, Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke and being nervous to be in the South at the time, network vs. education, taking advantage of your opportunities, and connecting with Debbie Allen. Watch!
Tiffany Haddish on therapy, wild fan interactions & the upcoming 'Haunted Mansion' movie | 'The Jason Lee Show'
On this all-new episode of “The Jason Lee Show,” the one and only Tiffany Haddish sits for a must-watch conversation about wild interactions with fans, her new movie ‘Haunted Mansion,’ bringing her therapist on dates, and being present. Watch the hilarious interview here.
For this all-new episode of “On In 5,” singer-songwriter BNXN discusses his journey from IT to music, finding his voice and originality, linking up with Wizkid for their hits “Mood” and “Many Ways,” and what fans can expect from him this year — including a new album. Watch the full episode here!
REVOLT is continuing its impactful partnership with Walmart by teaming up to showcase Black creatives at HBCUs all-across America. The panel consisted of three experienced, accomplished Black HBCU alumni: Actor and media personality Terrence J, entertainment attorney John T. Rose, and actress and “REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy-Rue McCullough.
The health of a community can often be traced to the health of the environment that surrounds it. In Atlanta, a woman named Dr. Jaqueline Echols has dedicated her life to helping ensure that people in economically underserved communities have clean rivers – for better health and for the joy of outdoor recreational space.
This is the inspiring story of Karen Washington, a pioneering urban farmer who has been revolutionizing urban spaces by transforming them into vibrant community gardens and educational hubs. Sponsored by State Farm.