Concerts: 25+ Years of Mayhem
PART I: The Seventies
August 20th, 1976
Anaheim Stadium - Anaheim, CA
Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
(Plus possibly; Montrose, Uriah Heep and/ or Starz)
This is the one that started it all for me.
It took place at Anaheim Stadium, CA and I was 12 years old.
The same age as Jack Sawyer in King's "The Talisman".
I was in a band, (probably not the only one) called (ahem) Jr. KISS.
We lip-synched... (better than Milli-Vanilli ever did, for damn sure) ...all of their songs in front of adoring chicks.
Yeah , I was Ace Frehley, and yeah, I am just a little embarrased.
KISS has always been a Love-it or Hate-it proposition, as was very clearly evidenced in my Junior High School.
I took a lot of heat for that iron-on KISS logo on my back, but I hung tough.
(Besides, Hollye Holmes liked it, and she starred in "The Wilderness Family". So THERE.)
Oh yes, the Concert.
Well, there is some confusion about which of the above Opening Acts actually played on that day, but I wouldn't know anyway,
because we were LATE, my friend's mother having been defeated by traffic on the way down.
Interesting Fact/ Brush With Greatness #1:
The woman driving us, actually attended the show with us as well. (and got a "Kick" out of it) She was Joy Harnell,
wife of composer Joe Harnell, who was well-known for the Haunting, Memorable Themes to
"The Bionic Woman" and "The Incredible Hulk" TV Series. (and MUCH more; click his name)
Her son, Jess, who was Gene in Jr. KISS, went on to become a successful voice-over cartoon guy.
("Animaniacs", etc.) Just look him up on Google.
Anyway, I do know that Montrose would have been really cool to see,
because soon after this show I heard "Bad Motor Scooter" and loved it.
I later saw Ronnie at a little club in North Hollywood, (FM Station) solo, Post-Gamma, and he kicked Butt. Great Guitarist.
Uriah Heep was a pretty cool band, and Starz? Do you remember them? Have you EVER even HEARD of them?
I think they were some low-level corporate KISS ripoff.
Who gives a rat's ass? Even back then, "Classic Rock" bored the shit out of me.
A true maniac. An absolute madman.
The guy is climbing up the 'K' of this HUGE, yet to be lit up KISS sign in daylight, with his HUGE Gibby Byrdland Guitar slung to his back.
When he gets to the top, (at least 60 feet) he rips this HUGE, overblown but pretty killer solo,
all the while knowing that all eyes are on HIM, and ONLY HIM.
That is Nuge for ya in a nutshell. I would later cross paths with his live extravaganzas 3 more times.
What can you say? You have either seen them or you haven't.
This show was the ultimate experience for a 12-year-old KISS freak.
It was the "Destroyer/ Spirit of '76" Tour, "Destroyer" arguably being their best release even to date.
The big highlight for me was seeing Gene cough up blood all over his armor during his "God Of Thunder" Bass solo;
to see this spectacle live, rather than on the pages of "Creem" and "Circus" Magazines.
Ace Frehley was like an Alien GOD, rising up on a platform with his
Triple-Double Humbucker-Clad Gibson Cherry Sunburst Les Paul Custom Spewing Foul Smoke.
I later tried this with a firework wedged between the strings of my Japanese Les Paul Copy. (Warped Neck)
It probably looked rather lame. Even to Hollye Holmes.
The explosions were plentiful, the crowd went nuts, and this band really knew how to put on a Show.
Here is that night's Kiss Setlist:
Detroit Rock City
King of the Night Time world
Let Me Go Rock'n'Roll
Hotter Than Hell
Nothin' to Lose
Cold Gin (Ace's smoking guitar solo)
Shout It Out Loud
Do You Love Me?
(Gene's blood act) God of Thunder (Peter's drum solo)
Rock and Roll All Nite
Firehouse (Gene breathes fire)
Black Diamond (Drumset levitates with big fireworks)
Thanks to Flaming Youth for the setlist.
June 23 & 25th, 1977
The Forum - Los Angeles, CA
This was another one for the ages.
I felt very fortunate to have seen these Epic shows at The Fabulous Forum in L.A.
This was the last Zep Tour that ever made it to the City of Angels.
We were seeing ZEP, and we had POT. Life just did not get any better.
Among the highlights:
1. Jimmy Page attacking his Guitar with that Violin Bow, encased in a green laser pyramid and making Ungodly Sounds all the while.
2. The lengthy solos performed by each member. Lengthy solos were all the rage back then.
3. The biggie; seeing Keith Moon of The Who jamming on the skins with John Henry Bonham. (They were both dead within 3 years)
We had spotted Moon earlier in the show, raising havoc behind Bonzo's Gong, and then finally attacking it with a tambourine during "Kashmir".
At that point we had no idea who he was, but they soon called him up front and introduced him.
He then began performing all manner of British Tomfoolery & Shenanigans.
What a raging fiend he was. A madman. He was dead within a year.
A link regarding this very event, WITH Video! I cannot believe I just found this!
4. "No Quarter". This is still a killer song.
This was the showcase for John Paul Jones and his lenthy solo. It was really cool.
Also cool was the lengthy acoustic set, even though nowdays, the whole 'MTV unplugged' thing just gives me the shits.
Zep did it with great style, though.
Zep's show clocked in at over 3 hours, if memory serves. No opening act. Just Zep for 3.
And then I got to go back 2 days later and do it all again. Great memories.
March 18, 1978
Ontario Motor Speedway - Ontario, CA
California Jam 2
Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush
A Mass of Humanity amidst a veritable ocean of Humans; some estimates had the crowd in attendance at a cool Half a Million.
This was my first exposure to a concert and crowd this size, and for all intents and purposes, it was an absolutely Chaotic Mess.
U.S. Interstate Highway 10, which stretches cross-country from Santa Monica, CA to Jacksonville, FL
...was nothing more than a 10-lane parking lot.
Ontario Motor Speedway was Southern California's home to NASCAR and Indy Racing back in the 70's,
and has since been replaced by a commercial complex.
To give an idea of the era, my friends and I were dropped off
(in the middle of the I-10 'parking lot')
from Larry's dad's Orange AMC Gremlin.
The show itself was interesting, to say the least.
The first couple of bands, Bob Welch and Dave Mason were not bad, but were instantly forgettable to my young ears.
Welch had 'Ebony Eyes', and Mason had 'We Just Disagree'. That is about all I can tell ya.
To tell you the truth, I don't remember a single thing about Rubicon, so they must have really stunk it up or bored me to oblivion.
It is almost as if they never even played !
I have mixed feelings about Santana, Heart and Foriegner.
They were all semi-cool back then, and Santana is great if you like a bunch of congas and bongos and drawn-out soloing.
Besides, we were so far away, they sounded like they were playing underwater.
I do remember Heart's 'Barracuda' being pretty exciting, and they were certainly a talented group of musicians.
Foriegner? They were ...well, Foriegner. Mick Jones had some good solos.
The crowd seemed to like it. We were waiting for Nugent.
Meanwhile, there were no shortage of roving wanna-be hippies wandering aimlessly around
trying to sell all the kids a bunch of homemade drugs and bunk pot,
and if you wanted to take a leak or worse, a shit, go stand in a line a quarter of a mile long
to use a filthy, excrement covered Andy Gump.
Back to the music:
During the last daylight, Ted Nugent takes the stage.
Now we are getting to the bands we really came to see.
This was already my second time in the presence of the Nuge, and as expected, he was a raving maniac.
He screamed, soloed, yelled and carried on about 'Poontang', and RAWKED the whole raceway pretty good.
It is a good thing 14-year olds have good eyesight, because from where I was standing,
Uncle Ted appeared to be about the size of an uncooked grain of rice, held at arm's length.
If you ever see a video on VH1 where Ted is playing 'Cat Scratch Fever' in white, this is the concert where that was filmed.
I am in that crowd, ...s o m e w h e r e
Aerosmith was, at this point in their career one of the best bands around on vinyl,
but as we were about to find out, a bunch of inept, drunken losers in the live setting.
I will say that out of the 6 times I saw them, maybe 2 shows were quality performances.
None of that mattered to us kids, because back then, Aerosmith RULED, MAN!
and drunk or not, we were fucking ecstatic to be "seeing" them.
As for the Aerosmith of today, I am here to tell you that those cloying, MTV-pandering wads
would be on the ShitList right now if I did not have a bit of respect for their past.
I will also give them props for their longevity, but man their music has been crap for quite some time now.
And then there was Frank Marino:
This is what made the whole show worth the massive effort.
I was not very familiar with Marino's music at the time, but it did not matter.
From the moment he hit the stage, there was a tangible magic in the air.
This guy is one of the all-time great rock guitarists, and man does he deliver the goods on stage.
The sound was even awesome, which is amazing considering the scope of the venue.
To this day, I am convinced that the promoters put Marino on last
because they knew damn well he would blow the rest of the bands off the stage, and nobody wants to follow that.
I am currently trying to locate a setlist for Frank's performance, which will assist me in remembering more about it.
Please email me if you know of one.
By the way, Frank is still rocking away, so please visit his website. (click his name, above the image)
This guy is a class act, and an amazing talent.
The real drag during Marino was that it was late, and reality was setting in quick.
We were more than 60 miles from home, and had no way to get there unless we could find Larry's dad on the dreaded 10 freeway.
There really must have been magic, because although we had to leave before Marino's set was finished,
we by some miracle found Larry's dad almost right away.
Thank God for Orange AMC Gremlins.
I still have about 5-10 more 70's shows to write up. Then I really started tearing it up in the 80's.
I have a whole lot of work to do. Check back often.
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