This blog is inspired by a concert blog my wife posted on her MySpace page quite a while back. I thought it would be interesting to try to re-trace all the shows I've been to over what is now my fifth decade of concert-going. In many cases I have ticket stubs, which have been an immense help. But for the vast majority of shows from the '70s and '80s I've had to rely on memory, and -- thank goodness -- the amazing amount of information one can find on the internet.
If I listed all the shows in one blog it would go on forever, so I've separated them by decades. In some cases I've listed dates as either/or. That's because I know I was at one of the shows, but without a ticket stub I can't remember exactly which one it was. In other cases, I haven't been able to find the exact info, so I've listed just the month or time of the year. But I guarantee you that I've been to every show listed.
I wish I had kept all my ticket stubs, but I've added the ones that I have kept, and for some shows I've posted pix and videos.
With that, see if any of these and the ones to follow jog your memory...
DECEMBER 18, 1970: GRAND FUNK RAILROAD, with HUMBLE PIE (including Peter Frampton) opening – MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, NY
My first official concert. Grand Funk was at the top of the charts with I'm Your Captain. Who knew what would happen with Frampton just a few years later?
MARCH 12, 1971: JAMES TAYLOR, with JO MAMA and CAROLE KING opening - MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
I'm pretty sure this was James' first show at the Garden. Carole played piano with Jo Mama, which was fronted by James' long-time guitarist Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar. Carole then played a solo set and played piano throughout James' set. This concert happened just before "Tapestry" was released.
JULY 9, 1971: GRAND FUNK, with HUMBLE PIE (w/Frampton) - SHEA STADIUM, FLUSHING, NY
Not quite The Beatles at Shea, but a packed stadium nonetheless.
JULY 23, 1971: YES, with JO JO GUNN and the J. GEILS BAND opening (Free Concert) – GAELIC PARK, BRONX, NY
Gaelic Park usually hosted soccer and rugby matches, but in the '70s it also was the scene of many excellent free concerts. This one was just before the release of "Fragile." J. Geils was, at that time, I think, more well-known, so it was a surprise to see them opening for Yes.
NOVEMBER 4, 1972: GEORGE CARLIN, with KENNY RANKIN opening - PALACE THEATRE, MANHATTAN
I went to this show with my Bronx buddies Steve H. and Pete R. Carlin was at the top of his form for this show, but the bigger attraction for me was Kenny Rankin. I was introduced to Kenny's music just two months earlier while working at my college radio station. I was completely blown away by his beautiful voice and vocal range. And in a live setting in a "real" theater...he was simply amazing.
FEBRUARY 18, 1973: KENNY RANKIN, with LINDA LEWIS opening - THE BITTER END, MANHATTAN
Just three months later Kenny headlined at one of the top clubs in the Village. We were sitting three rows from the stage, which made the night simply magical. Linda Lewis was a British singer with an amazing voice. I think she got lost in the shuffle in the States because of the similarity between her style and Minnie Ripperton, who was very popular at the time.
APRIL 1973: YES - MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
I'm not entirely certain of the date, but I know it was after "Close to the Edge" was released and before "Tales From Topographic Oceans."
APRIL 14, 1973: STEELY DAN, THE DOOBIE BROTHERS, LOGGINS & MESSINA - NASSAU COLISEUM, UNIONDALE, NY
Heck of a show, wouldn't you say? They played in that order. It was a great long night of music!
JULY 20, 1973: THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND - MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
The two regrets of my concert-going years is that I never got to to see The Beatles on stage, and I never got to see The Allmans with Duane and Berry Oakley. This tour featured new members Lamar Williams on bass and Chuck Leavell on keyboards. The band's website offers an archival CD of a show from Nassau Coliseum two months before the Garden show, if you want to get an idea of how they sounded at that time.
OCTOBER 26, 1973: THE MOODY BLUES - MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
The only time I've seen the band in its classic lineup with Mike Pinder on keyboards. I believe this was their last U.S. tour before their hiatus.
SPRING 1974: JAMES TAYLOR - NASSAU COLISEUM
Not entirely sure of the date, but it was after the release of his "Walking Man" album and before Nixon's resignation, because he played "Let It All Fall Down" from that album (which was ostensibly about Nixon) and it got the biggest cheers of the night.
MAY 4, 1974: SEALS & CROFTS - NASSAU COLISEUM
I believe this was before the release of their "Unborn Child" album, because they hadn't yet faced the controversy that the title track brought them. What was nice was that when the show ended they told the audience that if anyone wanted to wait around about 20 minutes they would come out just to talk. A lot of people stayed, and they basically sat at the edge of the stage taking questions. Very cool.
OCTOBER 23, 1974: KENNY RANKIN - THE BOTTOM LINE
I don't remember much about the show, but I know I was there.
WINTER 1975: HERBIE MANN - THE BOTTOM LINE
I know this had to be in the early part of 1975 because I was living in Brooklyn with my then-girlfriend. There was a terrible snowstorm and we took the D train into Manhattan to see the show. If the club was half-full it was a lot.
FEBRUARY 2, 1975: TIM WEISBERG, KENNY RANKIN - THE BOTTOM LINE
This was a great evening. Like with Rankin, I was introduced to flutist Tim Weisberg at my college radio station. Having the two of them at one show was magnificent. This was a couple of years before Weisberg teamed up with Dan Fogelberg for "Twin Sons of Different Mothers."
MAY 30, 1975: JAMES TAYLOR with special guests CAROLE KING & DAVID CROSBY - CARNEGIE HALL
James' "Gorilla" album had just come out, and I seem to remember he wore a white suit that evening, much like the one he wore on the album cover. I know David and Carole came out late in the show to sing "You've Got A Friend" with James, but I don't remember if they did more than that. Very cool to see a concert in Carnegie Hall.
JULY 2, 1975: DAVE MASON - SCHAEFER MUSIC FESTIVAL/WOLMAN SKATING RINK, CENTRAL PARK
The Schaefer Music Festival was a mainstay of affordable concerts in the early-to-mid '70s. Two bucks for a seat in the bleachers, a huge FOUR bucks for a seat on the floor. Outdoor setting, in Central Park...what more could you want? This tour became the backbone of Mason's live double-LP.
FEBRUARY, 10, 1976: JONI MITCHELL – ARMORY FIELDHOUSE, UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI
I was visiting my then-girlfriend (and future first wife) while she was a student at the university. I remember that it was not a great show, that Joni was somewhat out of sorts. And this review confirms my memory of that night: "Cold Blue Steel," by Jeff Danner [News Record, University of Cincinnati] (Credit for the date of the concert and the review go to jonimitchell.com)
MARCH 7, 1976: CAROLE KING - THE BEACON THEATRE, MANHATTAN
The last of a series of shows Carole played at the Beacon. This was the first time I saw Carole solo, and she was excellent. The surprise on this night was that Bruce Springsteen came out with Carole for the encore, which was "The Loco-motion."
MAY 25, 1976: WINGS OVER AMERICA - MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
There are some concerts you will just never forget. This is in my personal top five. McCartney hadn't played in the States in 10 years. Everyone wanted to see how well he'd do without the others. My cousin bought tickets from a broker; I had told him I was willing to spend up to $100 (!) for a ticket. In the end I paid 30 bucks for a ticket with the face value of TEN DOLLARS! Would you believe the seats were in the first section up from the floor??!! I could probably write an entire blog just about this night, but I wish there was a way I could express what it felt like to hear Paul sing "Yesterday" to a hushed crowd of 20,000 people. It was truly a magical evening .
DECEMBER 17 or 18, 1976: DAVE MASON, with THE JAMES MONTGOMERY BAND and LIVINGSTON TAYLOR opening - THE ACADEMY OF MUSIC, MANHATTAN
What a strange show: a blues band, an acoustic singer/songwriter and a rocker with full band. And they were all terrific!
SPRING 1977: KENNY RANKIN – AVERY FISHER HALL/LINCOLN CENTER, MANHATTAN
In 1977 Rankin released "The Kenny Rankin Album," which was recorded live in the studio with his quartet and a full orchestra conducted by Don Costa. Costa also orchestrated all of Kenny's songs for the session. Rankin has talked in numerous interviews about his love and respect for Don Costa, and this show exemplified that. It was Kenny, his band and a full orchestra conducted by Costa on the Avery Fisher Hall stage. They played the entire album, in sequence. I believe Kenny did a one song encore; it might have been "Haven't We Met."
JUNE 17, 1977: CROSBY, STILLS & NASH – NASSAU COLISEUM, UNIONDALE, NY
This was the first time I saw them in concert. It was a good show. Some of the live performances from that tour are captured on the "Allies" album.
SUMMER 1979: JAMES TAYLOR - THE SHEEP MEADOW/CENTRAL PARK
This was a free concert on a lovely summer's afternoon/evening.
SEPTEMBER 19, 1979: NO NUKES/MUSICIANS UNITED FOR SAFE ENERGY - MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
The first of five nights at the Garden. Great sets by Bonnie Raitt, the Doobies, Graham Nash, James Taylor - with a knockout duet of "Mockingbird" with Carly Simon. I still have my T-shirt from the concert!
NEXT UP: THE 1980s