Alcohol-Is-The-Answer

By 1989, these four had it all. Each member hosted a wildly successful game show during the day, while their band, Consolation Prize, played to sold-out clubs every night.

As they began their third record, Promotional Consideration, the quartet appeared to be on top of the world.

But behind the scenes, things were falling apart.

Trebek: “After our second album, Bonus Round, we really felt confident in our musical abilities. But all that success was too much for Pat to handle after he fell off the wagon. And Chuck… Chuck just got cocky.”

Woolery: “They had no band without me, and they knew it. Bonus Round only went Gold because of The Wools here, and I finally decided to just say it out loud. Was that arrogant? Maybe. But somebody had to take charge after Sajak lost it.”

The decades of hosting Wheel of Fortune had taken their toll on Pat Sajak. Fourteen years of sobriety were no match for the stresses of a game show host slash rock star.

Trebek: “We had a show in Calgary, and you could just tell that something was off with Pat. He was missing his cues, skipping entire verses… I found him later that night in the hotel bar, and told him straight-up that he had a problem.”

Sajak: “Alex really spelled it out for me. Going to rehab meant losing the band, but not going to rehab meant losing even more. The show, the kids, Vanna… I was putting my whole life in jeopardy, and that was a gamble I just couldn’t take.”

Sajak, vocalist and front-man for Consolation Prize since its inception, left the group indefinitely in August, 1989.

Trebek: “I knew it was the best thing for Pat, but when he left, we really lost our direction as a band. Chuck tried to take control, get us to lay down a few tracks with Bob Eubanks filling in on vocals, but it just wasn’t the same. I think that deep down, we all knew Consolation Prize wasn’t coming back. It was probably for the best, actually. Pat needed to focus on getting sober, Chuck wanted to spend more time with his wives, and I was glad to finally have time to earn my pilot’s license. But Bob? … Bob needed the band… [sniffle]… He needed Consolation Prize.”

Bob Barker, host of The Price is Right since 1972, was a notoriously private man. But after the dissolution of Consolation Prize, he became so reclusive that not even his best friends could find him outside the studio.

Rod Roddy, The Price is Right announcer and Barker’s right-hand man, explained.

Roddy: “He would come to the TV studio every day, record a helluva show, then just disappear. The Beauties and I tried to reach out to him on-set, we did! But he just pushed us away. We tried calling, visiting his house, but he was never there. Even his housekeepers told us they hadn’t seen him for months on end. I think that Bob just felt like he belonged in Consolation Prize, and when they split, well… so did he.”

Trebek: “Bob Barker is a world-class game show host, and the goddamn best drummer I’ve ever heard in my life. The best. I say, if Bob wants to do his own thing, he’s earned it. More than any of us, he’s earned it… I just miss him is all.”

Sajak: “Do I blame myself for what happened with Bob? No… Maybe part of me does, but he made his own choices. I didn’t force him to fall in love with the drums, that just happens.”

Woolery: “I saw Bob a few years ago in Burbank. It’s no secret that we didn’t always get along in the studio, but all that time apart can change things. We shook hands, that day, and I wished him the best. I still do.”

Consolation Prize was no more, and their third album, Promotional Consideration, remained unfinished. The four members returned to game show hosting, and rarely spoke publicly about their years together.

Sajak: “Those were some hard times… really hard times… But I wouldn’t change any of it. Consolation Prize made me the host, and the man, I am today.”

Trebek: “We made some good songs, but we made some great memories. What is Consolation Prize? The best collection of game show musicians the nineteen eighties had ever seen… and my best friends.”

Woolery: “Since Consolation Prize, I’ve played in more than a few different bands. But nothing will match the connection I had to that music… I had some spats with Bob during those years, and I doubt Pat and I will ever be friends again, but that music… That meant something.”

Trebek: “I like to think that Consolation Prize made a difference in the world. As game show hosts, we give out money every day, that’s easy. But music is different. ‘Music is God’s gift to man, the only art of Heaven given to earth, the only art of earth we take to Heaven.'”

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Next week on Behind the Curtain, we profile how Ken Jennings went from 74-time Jeopardy champ to wanted Yakuza crime lord. Only on VH1.

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