Saturday Single No. 725

During a conversation about concerts over the Texas Gal’s birthday dinner yesterday, I came to realize that I’d made an error in yesterday’s post about the concert meme running around Facebook.

She mentioned that sometime in the early 1970s, she’d seen both the Partridge Family and the Cowsills , and that triggered my memory. It turns out that the first pop/rock concert I ever attended that was not at St. Cloud State was a performance in 1970 by the Cowsills at the Minnesota State Fair. All of us – Dad, Mom, my sister and I – were there.

I vaguely remember the family band coming onto the stage in spangly costumes, and I imagine they performed their hits: “Hair,” “Indian Lake,” and “The Rain, The Park, & Other Things,” but I don’t recall that part of the evening. Nor do I recall the opening act, which was Bobby Vinton. So, if I don’t remember it, does it count? I dunno.

(I could rely on the same scoring system I encourage the Texas Gal to use: Her older sister brought her along when she was very young – maybe seven or eight – to see the Beatles. She doesn’t remember anything of the show, just that there were a lot of people screaming. Does she get to say her first concert was the Beatles? I say yes. But should I count the Cowsills? I guess so.)

Another candidate for first pop/rock concert not at St. Cloud State also took place at the State Fair, a year after the (evidently) forgettable performance by the Cowsills. This one I remember: Neil Diamond. We’d been at the fair most of the day, and when showtime – likely 6 p.m. – rolled around, my folks wandered around the fairgrounds while Rick and I took in the first of two shows that Diamond did that night.

It was the day before my eighteenth birthday, and I recall bits and pieces of the concert: “Sweet Caroline,” “Done Too Soon,” and my favorite of the time, “Holly Holy” all come to mind.

And since the conversation over our meal yesterday, I’ve been wondering how many concerts I’ve been to that I’ve utterly forgotten about, as I did the Cowsills’ performance as I was writing yesterday. Not many, I don’t imagine. I didn’t go to that many to begin with, probably between twenty and thirty pop/rock (and related) shows. There are a few others that are dim in memory, though. As I’ve noted here before, I sometimes have to remind myself that I saw It’s A Beautiful Day when I was in college and that I saw the Rascals a year before that when I was a senior in high school.

Ah, well. No big deal. Here’s Diamond’s “Cracklin’ Rosie,” which I’m sure we heard that evening in September 1971, as it was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 at the time. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

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One Response to “Saturday Single No. 725”

  1. Yah Shure says:

    Your mention of seeing the Rascals reminded me that I saw Felix Cavaliere perform in the Mall of America’s east rotunda, maybe fifteen years back . It was odd looking down at the top of his head from a level or two above.

    I had to look it up, but the first concert I ever attended was on December 23, 1961. For his birthday party, a neighbor up the street’s parents took all of the party-goers to the “Fun With Music” presentation at Northrop Auditorium, featuring the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra and Bob Keeshan, in his Captain Kangaroo persona. The highlight was seeing the Captain in color for the first time.

    Next up was either Carole King or Gordon Lightfoot, who appeared in separate 1973 shows, also at Northrop. The first of those came with an unexpected surprise: I immediately recognized the ornamentation along the side walls of the auditorium from the ’61 “Fun With Music” concert. How could it be that I’d remember more about the architecture than anything the orchestra had played a dozen years earlier? There was also a Judy Collins show that year at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium. A fan presented Judy with a bouquet of roses early on, which Judy set atop the piano. At least I wasn’t memorizing the walls this time.

    The only show I attended at Met Sports Center in Bloomington featured Strawbs, Foghat and the Guess Who, probably that same year. Saw Strawbs, missed Foghat to go backstage with my college radio cohort, Mike, to interview mostly Dave Cousins of Strawbs, then returned to see Burton Cummings’ backside at the piano. You’d think that A&M Records could’ve provided better seats! A few years later, they did, when I took several friends to see Head East at UWEC in Eau Claire. The band shouted, “Hello, you Claire!” Luckily, the audience did not immediately kill them.

    Saw numerous country acts while living in Oklahoma City during the first half of the ’80s. Had to leave the Alabama gig at the Myriad downtown because my ears couldn’t take the volume, even with hearing protectors. Favorite shows there included Rosanne Cash, Paul Revere & The Raiders, and the Righteous Brothers. I also remember being surprised when John Anderson launched into a cover of “Under My Thumb” at an otherwise very-country show at Lloyd Noble Arena in Norman.

    Bucket list checkoff concert: The Everly Brothers at the Carlton Celebrity Theater in Bloomington, 1985. I invited several record collector friends up from Oklahoma City for the show, one of whom owned a record store. He took a couple of the brothers’ original Cadence 78s to get autographed, and when he handed one to Phil, the younger Everly said “Don, look at this!” It was the first time either of them had seen one of their records on a 78. They explained that they were always on the road and had no idea what the record company was putting out. I had tickets to see the Everlys again a year later, but the Carlton folded less than a week before the date.

    Worst concert: Emceeing the Turtles at the Medina Entertainment Center. The band was wasted and the set list was way too heavy on unfamiliar heavy rockers and far too light on actual Turtles hits.

    Best concerts (tie): Johnny Rivers and Roy Orbison, both at Doc Severinsen’s in Oklahoma City. Pure electricity between the performers and the audiences. Also right up there: Neil Diamond at the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul, maybe ten years ago.

    Most recent concerts: the Happy Together Again tour, paired with a full Tommy James & The Shondells performance at the Minnesota State Fair grandstand two years ago, courtesy of my old WJON comrade, J.J. The Turtles stuck to the hits this time. Tommy told stories about the songs and his relationship with Roulette Records’ Morris Levy. The audience gasped when Tommy revealed Roulette’s mob connection. So when is that long-promised biopic coming out, Mr. James?

    A couple days later, J.J. and I returned to the State Fair to see Herman’s Hermits at a free stage in the quasi-drizzle. One can never go wrong with “No Milk Today” and “My Sentimental Friend”, plus the obligatory singalongs. The fries were good, too.

    Next concert?: J.J. and I are contemplating going to the rescheduled Bachman-Cummings show at Mystic Lake Casino this summer. J.J.’s seen Randy solo before and I’d like to see what Burton’s face looks like.

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