These are the artists I saw in concert in 1977. There is one top of the line classic band, an all-time great who was past his peak, some personal favorites, and at least two opening acts that I thought sucked. These are in chronological order, with the earliest concerts at the beginning, and the acts at each show listed in order of appearance.
Winterland in San Francisco was built in 1928 and served as an ice-skating rink while doubling as an arena for boxing matches and the like. In 1966, Bill Graham started using Winterland for concerts too big for the Fillmore (Winterland held about 5 times as many people). Over the years, countless acts played there ... off the top of my head, I saw Lou Reed, J. Geils, Robin Trower, the Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, and Bruce Springsteen at Winterland. Parts of classic albums like Cream's Wheels of Fire, and Frampton Comes Alive were recorded there. It was the site of The Band concert filmed by Scorsese as The Last Waltz. Eventually, the sign outside the building read "Bill Graham's Winterland".
The sound was awful, the building was old, the neighborhood (Post and Steiner) nondescript at best. When Graham decided to shut the place down, the only reason to feel sad was nostalgia. I admit I was one of the sad ones ... I spent a lot of memorable nights at Winterland. It was a shithole, but it was our shithole.
Graham announced that the final month of 1978 would be devoted to a Winterland sendoff, capped by the traditional Grateful Dead New Year's Eve concert. On December 2, Van Morrison headlined, supported by Tower of Power and the now-forgotten Moon Martin. Tower of Power was only one of the local stars to appear during that month.
On the 15th and 16th, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band arrived. The first night was simulcast on FM radio, which made for a better-sounding bootleg than usual. Bruce was on fire (perhaps appropriately, his performance of "Fire" on the second night made it to his first live album). Whether it was the quality of the performance, the availability of the bootleg, or a combination of the two, that first night is considered one of his greatest-ever shows. They were also the only two end-of-Winterland shows we attended.
A couple of nights later, Kenny Rankin headlined ... whatever. Then, on the 28th ... SVT opened, a local band that had yet to record, but which featured the legendary Jack Casady on bass. Next up was The Ramones, and I don't think I need to remind you of how great The Ramones were at their peak. The headliners were The Tubes ... they began as a local act, but they had gone national, enough so that it made sense they headlined over The Ramones.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played the penultimate concert. Greg Kihn opened, once again a nod to local artists (Kihn had yet to hit nationwide). And so, to New Year's Eve.
First up was The New Riders of the Purple Sage, yep, another local act. The New Riders often featured Jerry Garcia in their earliest years, and had been a part of Dead tours for a long time. They made perfect sense for the closing of Winterland.
Next up was an act with no Bay Area connections. Honestly, I don't know why they were on the bill, except that they were at the peak of their popularity: The Blues Brothers.
The eventual Dead concert became legendary. They played three sets, somewhere in the neighborhood of five hours, into the wee hours of 1979. You can see/hear the show on The Closing of Winterland, released on CD and DVD in 2003.
Here are a few samples from that last month at Winterland.
Click here for the audio of the entire first night Springsteen concert: Winterland
Most of The Ramones set:
The Tubes with their all-time classic, "White Punks on Dope":
Tom Petty, "Breakdown":
The Blues Brothers tackle "Flip, Flop, & Fly":
And, what the heck, all five hours of the Dead, with half-an-hour of backstage interviews at the beginning (featuring "Alan Franken") and the traditional descent of Graham as "Father Time":
Went to see Johnnie To interviewed last night. It was a bit unwieldy ... he had a translator, so everything had to go through her ... but thoroughly enjoyable, thanks to Mr. To. At the end, they took questions from the audience, and one in particular fits Music Friday, I think. It was hard to hear the question, but it amounted to a request to make some of the great soundtracks from To's movie available ... on vinyl, if possible (half the audience laughed, the other half groaned).
To was a bit confused by the question, because in Hong Kong, soundtrack albums are not a big deal. But his solution was perfect: if you want to hear the soundtrack, go watch the movie again!
Here is a scene they showed last night, one of his most famous: the mall shootout from The Mission.
And here is one of the great moments in movie music history:
Earlier this week, NPR posted a list of the 150 greatest albums made by women. It's a discussion starter, and it definitely worked ... people are coming up with "the next 150", "150 albums by men that sucked", and the like.
On this date in 1974, we saw Eric Clapton at the Cow Palace. The opening act was a band called Ross, about whom I remember nothing (they were label mates of Clapton at the time). Clapton was touring behind 461 Ocean Boulevard, which suffered, as every album he ever made after 1970, from not being Layla. Still, it was a good album in the laid-back mode that Clapton eased into around that time, with a hit single in Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff". Clapton was finally off heroin.
For the concert, Clapton almost disappeared. He wore shades and, at least part of the time, a floppy hat. His band:
George Terry - Guitar Dick Sims - Keyboards Carl Radle - Bass Jamie Oldaker - Drums Yvonne Elliman - Backing Vocals
My memory is that he let Terry take too many solos.
43 years ago, we attended our first Day on the Green. (I eventually attended five. My second featured Robin Trower, Peter Frampton, Dave Mason, Fleetwood Mac, and Gary Wright. The third had The Who and The Grateful Dead. The fourth, Peter Frampton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Santana, and The Outlaws. Finally, my fifth and last had Led Zeppelin, Derringer, and Judas Priest.)
First up was Jesse Colin Young, who was at the peak of his post-Youngbloods career. I remember him being enjoyable. Here he is from late 1973:
Next, we got Joe Walsh and Barnstorm. This was just before they broke up, with Walsh going solo and eventually joining The Eagles. Again from 1973:
The co-headliner was The Band, who we had seen just a few months earlier with Dylan (the tour album, Before the Flood, had come out the previous month). From The Last Waltz in 1976:
Finally came Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. If you want to hear the entire 3+ hours, you can click on this link:
We saw them near the beginning of the tour, which was a reunion of the foursome. They were supposedly not happy with the results of the tour, playing in giant stadiums ... ah, but they got lots of money! As was often the case at Day on the Greens, people took toilet paper rolls to the top row of the upper deck and slowly unrolled them ... the best ones would completely unravel and float across the sky towards the center of the stadium. When CSNY began the acoustic part of the show (a bad idea in itself), the crowd had been there for many hours, and heard some great music. CSNY wasn't really doing it for me, at least, and I remember a guy sitting next to me shouting, when Crosby was admonishing us to quiet down for the acoustic stuff, "Sorry, Dave, the toilet paper guy's got you beat!"
Let me get one thing out of the way at the start. I have never seen Hair, on stage or on screen. My memory is vague on this, but I think a lot of my friends went to see it in San Francisco, where it first ran in 1969, continuing on for a couple of years. I didn't go with them. You'd think Hair was right up my alley, between my love of rock and roll and my status as a wannabe hippie. But I am not a big fan of stage musicals in general, I didn't think the music in Hair was anything like the rock I loved, and what kind of hippies are there going to be in a play, anyway?
I suppose one day I should see it.
Meanwhile, I did have one encounter with Hair, a tale I have told many times. Here, I'll pull a quote from the first year of this blog, in 2002, slightly edited:
In January of 1981, a friend and I played hooky from work on Reagan's first Inauguration Day to attend a Punk Inaugural Ball at the Mabuhay, headlined by a drag band called Sluts a-Go-Go. It's been more than 35 years, but one thing from that night still sticks with me, when the Sluts sang "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" while incense burned. There I was, in a punk club at the dawn of the Reagan Era, listening to men in drag sing a Broadway version of hippiedom, and I'm not much for irony, for that matter ... in any event, I felt one with the band and the crowd, I wasn't alienated from America in that moment, I was as close to Hippie Community as I'd ever been in the actual hippie days, and I started to cry at the ridiculous wonder of it all.
I've often wondered what was the primary force that brought me to tears. Was it simply that I was amongst "my" people? Was there something brilliant in the performance by the Sluts?
Whatever. To this day, I can get choked up by any and all versions of "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In", including the actual finale of Hair, which is "The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)". I don't know why, any more than I know why I was so taken by the Sluts a-Go-Go version in 1981.
Here are a few of those versions. First, the original version, a medley from the musical at the Tony Awards:
The Milos Forman film ... apparently this has a different ending than the stage musical:
A more recent version, on The View, for those of you who wondered what it would be like if Barbara Walters got swept up in hippiedom:
For the past 300 days, I have posted a Facebook link for my cousin Jonathan that goes to a video for a song from the past (almost entirely 1960s). Here are the 300 songs, with as many links as I could grab again on short notice (and, if possible, matching the links from the original posts). I'll continue to update this post over the next week or so until all of the songs have videos. All of these songs come from my ever-evolving Spotify playlist, "FM", which can be found here:
Here is the first record actually released by Phillips on Sun, Johnny London, "Drivin' Slow" b/w "Flat Tire", from 1952:
From 1953, Rufus Thomas with an "answer record" to "Hound Dog", this one called "Bear Cat" (Joe Hill Louis on guitar). Phillips tried to claim this was a separate song, but he ended up settling, with Leiber/Stoller getting writing credit:
Next, "Mystery Train" by "Little Junior's Blue Flames" (Little Junior Parker), also from 1953 ... this would later be covered by Elvis:
And speaking of Elvis, his first single, from 1954, "That's All Right" b/w "Blue Moon of Kentucky":