This week, all four acts were openers when I saw them.
Robert Gordon, 1977. Gordon was the lead singer for the Tuff Darts, a punk band from New York that appeared on a early live compilation recorded at CBGB. He broke off and teamed up with guitar legend Link Wray for his debut album, which came out in 1977. Part of the rockabilly revival of the time, Gordon was already 30 when the album, Robert Gordon with Link Wray, was recorded (Wray was almost 50). I saw him on a bill at Winterland headlined by J. Geils. "Red Hot" got most of the attention on that first album.
A few years later, he turned up in a skit on SCTV:
English Beat, 1982. Another revival, this time ska in England. They opened for The Clash at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium. Known simply as The Beat in their home England (renamed for the States, as there was already a band called The Beat here), they had released three albums, and while their popularity in England was dropping, they were more popular than ever in the U.S. They broke up in 1983, spawning General Public and the Fine Young Cannibals. Singer Ranking Roger died of cancer last year at 56. "Stand Down Margaret" is a favorite of mine from their first album ("Margaret" being Thatcher): "I see no joy, I see only sorrow. I see no chance of your bright new tomorrow. So stand down Margaret, Stand down please, Stand down Margaret."
Malcolm McLaren, 1984. Also opened for The Clash at The Civic, only this time, it was what I think of as the Faux Clash, after Mick Jones had left. McLaren, of course, had a varied career, only part of which was spent making his own music. I can't remember a single thing about his performance that night. His music wasn't insubstantial, including this blend of opera and R&B:
Jewel, 1995. Finally, there's Jewel, who opened for Liz Phair at the Warfield. I wrote about that show earlier this year. She closed that night with "Chime Bells", which she still sings today.