Podcast Transcript

Speaker 1: Takin a Walk.

Speaker 2: I go into the dressing room. Two things I see. The first part is I see all these lobsters on the floor. They thought they could race them They says they were gonna have a race. You know, they’re from with the Spartanburg, South Carolina, right if Kand so they had all all options. I said, they don’t. They’re not gonna move. Guys.

Speaker 3: You know Hi, This is Buzz Knight and this is the Takin a Walk podcast Music history on Foot, and on this episode, the topic is major rock and roll concerts in southern Maine from nineteen fifty five to nineteen seventy seven. There’s a tremendous new book out. It’s called A Long, Long Time Ago, And the author of this beautiful book is Ford Reiche. Ford’s going to be joined by legendary music executive and a dear friend of mine, Andrew Govatsos I’m taking a Walk. All right, gentlemen, Well why did you sign into this virtual Taking a Walk edition? First of all, my old friend and Andrew Gavatzos, tell the audience who you are and why you’re here.

Speaker 2: Yeah, my name is Andrew Govatsos, and I started off playing in a band up in Maine, and then eventually became a concert promoter, did probably four or five hundred concerts, and then eventually went to work for Hall and Oates Daryl Hall and John Oates eighty four, five and six and Warner Brothers twenty two years, Motown two more years, and then I’ve been a consultant in the industry for Columbia and other major labels for the last twelve and still doing it.

Speaker 4: And I would say Andrew is a legend in the business. He’s a dear friend. He’s somebody who really is so well respected in the industry among everybody.

Speaker 1: And for those of you that might.

Speaker 4: Remember a Taking a Walk podcast that we did with Stephen Page of Bear Naked Ladies Fame, Andrew was brought up in that episode without me even having to prompt Stephen Page, which was so much fun and good friends so deserved. So Ford, tell the audience who you are and why you’re here.

Speaker 5: Thanks, Buzz. I’m Ford Reiche in Freeport, Maine, and I had a career in business and until about twelve or fifteen years ago, and then started committing myself to history, which has always been a passion of mine. So I’ve written a couple of history books, and the one that has blessed me with this meeting with Buzz this morning is a long, long time ago and it’s about the rock and roll concerts. It came through the state of Maine, major rock and roll concerts. It came through the state of Maine, particularly in the southern half in the fifties, sixties, and seventies.

Speaker 4: Well for the book is beautiful, and why don’t we tell people now how they can get it? And then we’ll tell them at the end how they can get the book as well.

Speaker 5: Thanks The book is thirty dollars. It’s been out since Thanksgiving. It’s already won one one award, and it is available on Amazon or on my personal website halfway rock dot com. That’s a lighthouse I owned here in the statedmain halfway rock dot com, and if you’re in Maine, it’s available at all the local bookstores. One hundred percent of the proceeds Buzz is being donated to the Main Historical Society. Main Historical Society is the third oldest historical society in America, so I’m supporting them with all the proceeds.

Speaker 4: So Ford obviously you’re a lover of music, a lover of history, but really talk about the motivation that got you thinking about putting this book together.

Speaker 5: Yeah, I grew up here. I grew up in the sixties. I was in high school, got out of high school locally here in May in nineteen seventy two. So I was I was an adolescent during a major cultural shift, which you and Andrews both both participated in as well. And I remember some of the great old concerts and some of the great old concert posters, great art. A lot of it came out of San Francisco, a lot of it was produced locally, and a lot of it was produced by the bands as they traveled around. And I thought, man, you know those particularly in the main venues Lewiston, Old Orchard Beach, which was huge in the Portland area. I thought I’d go into some of those old venues that might still be operating, get into their business offices, and find those posters. And I thought it would be a nice coffee table book, just the art. As I get in the got into those venues, I realized they had nothing left. None of them even have a list of their concerts. And so I realized that the story was much greater than the posters. It was actually the very unique circumstances that did brought big name bands into a little place like the state of Maine. And I discovered why. To this day, the state of Maine is connected to the rest of the world by only one highway, and it’s the main Turnpike which leads it leads to out of the southern part of the state. And the main turnpike was connected from Kiddery at our southern border to Lewiston in the central part of the state in nineteen fifty five. And when that was put together, it connected two hundred and fifty thousand people within one hours driving distance of each other. And that included seven colleges, so two hundred and fifty thousand people within an hour’s drive. That’s the same size back in nineteen fifty five, as Providence was so bands that were hitting the road to do tours could look at southern Maine and say, you know, we can get four or five thousand people under one roof, so let’s go there. So that’s the story and the book there one hundred. They were six hundred photographs and images in the book of these main events of these national performers.

Speaker 4: So forward, How did you encounter my handsome friend, mister Gavazzos to be part of this project?

Speaker 5: Way too late, that’s too late in the game. I wish I had met him on day one. But the way that this worked, because no one had ever written about this in Nane before, and not even a newspaper article about this, this extraordinary set of circumstances. I ended up dealing with with folks who were here there, who were in the thick of it at that time, local am DJ’s, local bands, high school you know, there were high school performers back then who opened for these for these acts that came through the record stores owners that were selling the tickets and the concert promoters. And it was just one person would lead me to it nowther and they say, oh, this is great. I’ll get you in touch with so and so.

Speaker 2: So.

Speaker 5: It was all word of mouth, and everyone kept saying saying, you’ve got you talked to Andrew Gravazzos by now, haven’t you? And I was not able to connect with him or find him as the only person and someoneuld say what I got interviewed for TV and someone said, what’s your what’s your biggest What did you miss? And I said, I think I missed one concert in the sixties that I should have known about that’s not in the book. And I didn’t meet Andrew Gavazzos. And then but how was I guess you called me when you found out I was when you finally found out I was looking for you, right, Andrew.

Speaker 2: Yes, Yeah, I called you. I was already up. I was up at BLM up in Portland, and uh and uh talking to her Biby and Uh. I figured you were probably going to try to find me. And I reached out to you because I bought two books. Yeah, and uh, and I just thought it’d be great if we got together. And after that, buzz, it was just like, you know, we hit it off. We’ve been doing you know, interviews throughout the state and maybe some other states also.

Speaker 1: Uh.

Speaker 2: But uh, the information that that that I didn’t know stuff that Ford had even and I’m in the business even during those times like what he didn’t say. For it was the fifty when the Turnpike open up. That’s when rock and roll was kind of starting with Bill Haley and the Comets. So it was this whole generation of music moving in a certain way. The other thing is if you’re an artist, because now I work with major managers and agents and stuff, you’re an artist, you’re playing in Boston. In the old days, they would drive seven, eight, nine, ten hours to the next gig, maybe even overnight just for one gig. So now you can go two hours, go north and play at the whatever seven or eight colleges and some of these small venues which made it easier. One thing I realized is artists were going they would play Pittsburgh, maybe Chicago, all these major cities, Boston, New York, and then Maine. They wouldn’t. They wuldn’t play Providence, they weren’t even play in Connecticut because it didn’t make sense for them sometimes money wise. But it’s pretty amazing story in of this book, you know.

Speaker 5: And yeah, the string, the string of acts that came through here is just just amazing. And Andrew Andrew figured prominently in the book because it was really at a turning point from nineteen fifty five. And I’ll go up to your comment Andrew about the nineteen fifty five It was purely a coincidence, of course, that Maine got connected so efficiently with the main turnpike in nineteen fifty five, but it coincided with the virtual birth of rock and roll. Bill Haley and the Comics is widely recognized as the first rock and roll band. Their hit rock around the Clock was the first rock and roll song ever to hit the national every Go number one position on the Billboard National List. And while they were number one with that song, and a week after being on the Ed Sullivan Show, they’re playing at Old chad Beach and Maine. I mean that speaks to the prominence of the main venue Andrew Andrew figured prominently in my book because from nineteen fifty five to nineteen seventy four, two decades, every concert promoted in Maine was done by a volunteer who was not looking to make a profit. They’d like to break even. That didn’t even always happen, and it was their second job the content and I can list every concert promoter. One was the shipping director on the loading dock at the local Seers. Two of them were high school teachers promoting consciences their second job. Another one with the Fellows who opened the local headshop Erebus, which was the first place to introduce everything for youth culture to the state of Maine, drug pill paraphernalia, psychedelic posters and sense bell Bottom’s waterbeds and these concerts. That was their second job. And then there were a bunch of concert of college kids who were acting as concert promoters from fifty five to seventy seventy four. That speaks to every concert in Maine, and there were hundreds of them. And then Andrew Garvazzo emerges bringing in slightly bigger acts than we’d seen before, with frequency and doing it for a profit. And Andrew, I will say, you’re the only person in my book who went on to national prominence from that beginning here in the state of main so Ford.

Speaker 4: You first, what was your first concert experience and is it depicted in the book?

Speaker 2: It is.

Speaker 5: My first concert experience was the Young Bloods in nineteen sixty nine. They showed up about my personal experience with that, they’ve sold out at the local State theater fift The venue seated fifteen hundred people. And you know Portland, Portland has a bunch of suburban towns around it. I was there, packed house. They showed up an hour and a half late. I got home an hour and a half late. I got grounded for two weeks couldn’t drive the family car. And the day I got ungrounded, the day I went two miles, was so happy to be in the car. I was going particularly fast. I drove off a bridge and totaled the car in a river. So that that was what I’ve always said, The young lads almost killed me.

Speaker 2: Wow all the bands right, Wow, Andrew?

Speaker 4: What was your first concert experience and is it depicted in the book as well?

Speaker 2: No, I don’t think it’s depicted in the book, but I can tell you it’s the Beatles Boston Garden because it’s funny. I got a picture picture, so sixty four, because you know it took you like a month to get pictures back from you know, when you would send them in. But I believe it was sixty three. I was eleven and my parents left me off. I remember it’s like it’s like because the Madison Hotel, I mean, buzz, you know that you know the area a little better maybe than Ford. So the Madison Hotel was next to the Boston Garden, and I remember my parents pulled me up. I bought a beetle. I bought a beetle jacket. That does you know the Nehru thing. I bought that, right, which is crazy right. My parents allowed me to do it. I’m only eleven, right, and they leave me off and up of the window the Beatles waving to all of us, like you know, it’s crazy, right, and like parentslicked up, left me off. And that was my first show. You know, I see the photo I see and they’re so far away. There’s like no sounds. I believe they used the sound system in the venue probably right, the stuff that’s hanging around. But that was my first show.

Speaker 5: He let me let me jump in here. The on page sixty one in my book. I’m not sure if you have ever noticed this on page sixty one in the book with the March fourteen, nineteen sixty four Beatles concert at Boston Garden, the one you’re referring to, you were their live It was front page news in Maine because they did a simulcast at Portland City Hall.

Speaker 2: That’s right, that’s right, Wow, that’s right.

Speaker 5: Same same concert.

Speaker 1: That’s amazing. So Ford and in the book, talk about some of.

Speaker 4: Your favorite not only posters, but you know, memories of shows.

Speaker 1: That are in there.

Speaker 4: There’s so many, obviously, but talk about some of your real highlights.

Speaker 5: I will I’ll end with Queen, which kind of segues into into the beginning of Andrew’s career. But there were there were tours that would go around the country. Sometimes bands would Sometimes bands would travel alone. It was particular if they were just starting out. For instance, the Beach Boys. The third time the Beach Boys ever played east of the Mississippi was an old orchard beach in May and they would they would just travel around. It was just just just the band, and they had a manager with them, and they had a crappy old station wagon and a small U haul trailer and Mike Love had a Jaguar Sedan and he took the passenger seat out so someone could sleep on the passenger side while they turned around. So, you know, there was pretty humble beginnings for a lot for a lot of these bands. And sometimes they would start a tour and they would not have much notoriety, and then they would have a hit song that would really go to the top of the charts in the middle of a tour and all of a sudden, their careers come together while they’re actually on the road. And that happened a number of times. It happened with the with the Supremes. In sixty four, Dick Clark of American bandstand Fame, I had a tour that ran for seven years called the Caravan of Stars, and they would go on tour each year for seven years, for either two or three months, and just just bang through the country venue after venue, and Dick Clark had fifteen different acts, major acts on one bus with him and his one backup band called the Casuals spelled with a K, and he jammed everybody in one bus and they went around the country. And when they came to Maine, the Supremes were an unknown. They were not even showing up in the advertising. This is an early in the early summer sixty four, and then the song where did Our Love Go? Came out, and of course they rocketed to the They rocketed to the forefront of that tour. So I enjoyed some of those in discovering some of these acts that they kind of matured on the road. There’s another one called Raven. Do you either remember a band named Raven that was around nineteen sixty nine. Andrew, this was right before you, right about the time that you were leasing the Paris Cinema in Portland. Right before that, these guys played there and Raven had Raven was on the national tracks with one song and this did Again. This is kids trying to conduct their own business affairs, and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Raven was asked early early in the year nineteen six nwenty if they wanted to play at a three day outdoor rock and roll concert that was going to be in Woodstock, Vermont. That could have been a big opportunity. They declined.

Speaker 2: Uh.

Speaker 5: About a month later they were asked by George Harrison if they wanted to record it at a new studio in England, Apple Studios. They declined, And of course you’ve never even heard of them.

Speaker 1: They could have.

Speaker 5: Who knows what their ascendancy could have been. Later that year, they’re playing at the State Theater in Portland, Maine. You know, they just never really got off the ground. But one of my one of one of the concerts that I just got a kickout of, and it kind of played into the dynamics of how the concert scene in main Change was at a much later date nineteen seventy five. In fact, you have the poster behind you, Andrew was that seventh Queen’s Concert was seventy five. Right, yeah, so that was in Lewiston. Lewiston, Maine is the second biggest population based in Maine. Andrew would run a string of big concerts there. It was right before the Cumberland County Civic Center which opened in Portland, which was the became the Rock Palace for Northern New England. And the Queen concert was in Lewiston, and there had been they had been kind of a rough start up there. It’s a very traditional community. City council didn’t like some of what had happened. Andrew brought Queen Ann. There were a number of arrests. Front page news like they characterized it as a riot. The cop said to fish some kid out of a basketball hoop. Two people were this was written up in the paper. Two people were having set in an all glass phone booth. And the city council I guess they dragged you into city hall and said this will never happen in Lewiston again.

Speaker 2: Right yeah, well yeah, uh part of that. First of all, the headline said the concert begins and ends in drunken riot. Okay, that’s what it said. But one thing, and I’ve talked to photo of this, they weren’t crazy about me. I’m an outsider. I moved up there to be in a band, had you know, long hair. Of course, as time went on, became the concert promoter. But you know, they weren’t used to seeing people at these shows. They’re smoking pot, you know outside. You know, it’s very like he says, very conservative town, old school at that time, and a lot of stuff was going on. I mean, the police didn’t like me. Uh you know, it’s just like all of a sudden, this guy’s here. People are peeing out, you know, one thing. They would go out and pee like in somebody’s lawn and stuff. And I’m sure a lot of this went on these Both of these venues, by the way, are in the center of Hound so there’s no uh you know, there’s like this. It’s not like a big giant area in Land. Although the Central Main Youth Center, which I ended up moving to after Queen because and what what what Ford brought up was the city wanted the band rock concerts, all right, So I said, you know, at this point, now I’ve done I’ve done Fog. These are acts that are really big at the time, actually Fog had you know, I did five thousand people. I mean I paid the band. I made more than the band. It’s easy, right, listen, no computers, no phones, No, I mean there’s you’ve found stuff out two or three days later pretty much. I mean, if you’re lucky. Right. So I did Queen, I did the Fog had John Mayo, B B. King pro called Harem and then Queen was the big show. Uh. And I remember them driving in by the way limousines, uh for coats. It was February. It’s like freezing. They’re probably going like, what are we doing there? But then when you realize you go back by Ford’s book, I learned this. They already think they if I’m correct, for they already played the uh the Portland what was it called the now the place they.

Speaker 5: Had for a year, Yeah, a couple of years previously they played at the Expo.

Speaker 2: They opened to Monta Hoople or something like that.

Speaker 6: Hoop.

Speaker 2: Yeah. So uh so after the show, I mean I knew there was stuff and they they what they did, buzz is they pushed all the stuff that the pictures that they ran in the paper. They put all the trash in the middle of it and took a photo of that. And that’s so they’re trying to ban rock concerts. Well, I ended up getting a lawyer and uh what I What we said was, if you have to ban rock concert you have to be in all public events. You can’t just band a rock concert. You have to you have to be, you know, people at a football game, people at you know, outside outings or whatever. So they we worked out a deal. But then I moved from there to the Central main U Center, which was owned by the Church of Lewiston, and I put a deal together with them, which was very interesting.

Speaker 5: I recall the newspaper stories and there were loads of them correctly about you and the Queen concert. They tried to shut you down by throwing a bunch of fire code fire safety issues and saying, even though it seats five thousand, you can only put fifteen hundred people in there. So you went, You went across town to the Franciscan Fathers offered him ten percent of the gate, got a bigger venue. Yeah, and you brought in Bruce Springsy, but you had to lake Plywood down over the whole hockey rinks for the seats, right.

Speaker 2: Yeah, yeah, actually ten percent would have been too much, but it wait so basically what happened was, so my next show, they’re on me now. They go, okay, we’re going to let concerts go. We’re going to watch them. You know this and that matter of fact, it’s in the pavement measure this is this is about concerts and it’s like front page stuff in Lewis Thon right, uh, because they really wanted to stop them, right, And what happened was my next show is Blackman turn Overdrive, right, who at the time was huge. I mean bt O was giant. You know, Buzz, you’ve been in this business a long time. You know the shertain artists. You know that we during a period of time where like the biggest artists of that day of that year, you know, and Block and turn Over Drive was so h They said, okay, this is the new building now and we had giant garage doors in the back to put to put the trucks in, right, and they said, okay, well let’s do the show. You can only do five thousand people, but you have to put plastic, like plastic over those I mean I’m talking about giant would track the trailer all over the all over the doors, so if there’s a fire, people could run through them, which think about that, how crazy that is, because because as you know, these are all ice areners, so going through it would be running with a sound with a stage you know, stopped and the ice boards. It was like only about eight or ten feet, so imagine five thousand people. Well here’s what happened. I had a partner for this show, Don Fox, who still exists and does all of Billy does all of Michael Bublaze concerts still right, you’ll see his name on stuff. And I called him up. I told him what was going on. He says, we can’t do that. We got to sell another thousand tickets because that’s where our profit is. I says, listen, they’re on my back. He says, I’m ordering a thousand tickets. You’ll have it in a few days. So now I’m like, oh, what am I going to do? I sold all the tickets, so buzz I sold all the tickets, right, So now that I’m thinking, I’m so screwed. Right, well, I come up with this idea, which was pretty nasty, but you know it was what we did then, right, I says, I’m going to open up the doors. In my mind, I’m working out with the people I work with. I’m opening the doors up two hours early because the cops were going to count them with those clickers, those stinking little clickers, right, so they get there, they’re so pissed off. I can see them like now, running around trying to click everybody. It was already three thousand people inside. So I got away with that. That was a good one, A funny story that I didn’t know. And here I am doing doing the Queen Show. Is Queen went to a local radio station WP and O, maybe you could talk about that a little more forward.

Speaker 5: Dave Dean and again this is this was It was such a joy meeting the people that I was led to with this book. And someone said, you must have Dave Deans still around. Call him and he was a He was a very popular long term AMDJ in Lewiston. And I called him and he said, he’s. One of the biggest thrills in my career was the day that that Queen concert was going to happen. He said, the whole town’s excited because everyone’s going to that concert. Everyone’s talking about it. And I looked outside my window from the studio while I was on air, and a white limousine pulled up and all these longhead guys and white suits got out of it and they just came into the studio and Freddie Mercury and the and the rest of them commenteered the studio and just took it over for a few minutes. And as you said, Andrew, they didn’t have any you don’t email ahead for something like that.

Speaker 2: They yeah, I’m doing that. I’m promoting the show and I don’t even know that’s happening. That’s how you know, he says.

Speaker 1: That’s great.

Speaker 2: You know, I think you actually, I think buzz. You might have known the record guy like he became like a natural guy at Electra. So who was that Kurt neirldn’t you?

Speaker 1: Oh? I know that name for sure?

Speaker 2: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 6: We’ll be right back with more of the Taking a Walk podcast. Welcome back to the Taking a Walk Podcast.

Speaker 4: So you into what my question was about the role of radio, talk a little bit more about how radio played into you know, this emerging scene.

Speaker 5: I will it’s mostly a story a buzz about AM radio. When these bands were coming to town, they would first make contact with the local AM station. Because you know, this would be in the particularly the sixties. Everyone’s listening to AM radio back then. You know, in May they were only three TV stations six, eight, and thirteen, but every town had their own AM station. So the AM DJs for weeks in advance would be hyping a concert. You know, it’s a synergistic relationship the bands. The bands needed the AM DJs and the a M DJs needed the band so they’d have something to talk about. And so it was a very interactive role. And the amdjs were on stage introducing these acts, and you know they would be in studio when when the band came to town. So it was a very very important relationship, and the amdjs would be you know, because they had lincoln over to the local radio, local record store where you’d go to buy your paper tickets. That continued until up up until the mid mid seventies when there was a complete takeover early seventies, I guess, pre complete takeover by FM. But this an interesting story. You being from the Boston area, you probably know WBCN. Sure, well, you know they they in nineteen sixty seven they made radio history when they became the first free form FM rock and roll station. Prior to that, FM radio had been for old folks who go old fuddy udies who are listening to stereo, you know, to symphonic music. Nineteen sixty seven was WBCN. It was the first, but the third was in Portland, Maine, and it was it was a local, a local here who had gone to school in Boston, had experienced did and he convinced a local country station here in Portland from from midnight to six am to let him do pre form rock and roll, and he played whatever he wanted, you know, full albums at a time. It only lasted a year because the station manager said, dirty hippies don’t spend money, so no one will give us any advertising.

Speaker 2: So it’s interesting. So with me, it’s like the perfect storm. BLM forms in nineteen seventy three, right, and that’s when I started doing shows. Matter of fact, I’m the first advertiser. I believe it was three dollars for thirty maybe six dollars for a sixty. It’s funny we talk about it now because we’re going on. My relationship with the station still exists as we’re going on fifty one or two years, right. So it was, and by the way, you’re right for it. It was when they started, I believe it was still classical or something during the day, and they rocked at night. And that quickly changed when the new owners came in, Bob Fuller and JJ Jeffries. All of a sudden, artists are going big artists that people know about are going to Lewiston right right, and there’s a radio station that’s playing them. And it’s this hole. Let’s face it, the whole generation, it’s still was still in the woodstock generation, moving up a little higher, you know, drugs, whatever, you know. It’s just this whole vibe of a feeling. Of course, the Vietnam War gets is done. I mean, so it’s this feeling of it was actually a great time, great great time for me. I had a lot of fun.

Speaker 5: Andrew, I think another part of the perfect storm, another dimension to the perfect storm that you referred to for your career, was the construction of the Cumbley County Civic Center.

Speaker 2: Yeah. So I started to get fed up with Lewiston only let me listen, great town. When I say Louis, I mean doing shows there. And now I see a new venue that’s coming. I’ve read about it, I’ve talked to the people about it, and I had one other partner I had Alex Cooley, who I did a lot of stuff with, so we came up with this idea, let’s open up the venue all right with zz Top. Well the problem is the venue wasn’t going to be done for another week, all right. So we actually booked zz Top with a group called The Blend, which I managed, which was signed to MCA, and a week before the actual legitimate opening we did. We opened it up with zz Top and the Blend to wear the seats in the back the back of the bowl. The back of the bowl had the bolts sticking up. There were no chairs, so there was no chairs in the back of the band, like from all the way back. So you know, as you know it’s lacking security. Then I mean things weren’t like they are now, you know. So it was pretty amazing. One I thought you were going to bring up Ford is one great story about when I’m still in Lewison with Springsteen, which is and I think, buzz you know this, There was a time when he was being sued by his manager. He couldn’t he couldn’t perform like a major city. So like for some reason they must have said in court, to make a living, you can play these markets, which was you know, part of New England, I think Halifax, maybe some places up the midwest, and we were lucky to get him. And I remember, like yesterday he got there and he had like a like a I don’t even know, fifty or one hundred foot court if it seemed like that. During soundcheck he walked out and by the way, he’s still not blowing up. I don’t even know if we actually sold out that show. Okay. I was just blown away because one of the was the first time. By the way, the stage that we had at this venue. We’re back in Lewison, the Central Main U Center right now. They call it the Gale or something right in my Craig Wood. Yeah, the stage was literally scaffing, like when you paint your house. In other words, you put scaffing along the side of the house. So that’s what we had. Scaff on top of scaffolding was twelve foot or maybe even sixteen foot full by fours. That one on that on top of that a roller blading. At one time I thought it was a basketball court, but it was a roller blading one of like hardwood all put together all you know, shimmy, you know, if you looked on the need to go. Oh my word, but Bruce was the first time that anybody asked for stairs out front or just you know, so we Mickey Mouse some stairs so he could It’s really I mean, I was really wary because his plan was to walk, you know, through the people, through the crowd. And what blew me away that night was. First of all, I was a huge fan already, but blew me away is the people came from all over New England. You know, he maybe further away because he wasn’t doing a lot of shows, right, he went through and instead of like hugging him and touching him, they just were like such at awe him walking through. I can see it because I’m up at the press box watching looking down and he’s walking through this crowd. This this islot we already had planned because it was the first time we had seats too, which was really weird. We just and uh and Ford talked about it earlier. There was ice. We always had ice underneath if there was a show during the winter, and well we bid was put plywood over it, and so it was it was always cold, always cold, right, But the kids they give a crap, But it was just Uh, that’s one of those amazing nights. You weren’t there for it, right.

Speaker 5: I was not there.

Speaker 1: Wow, what a picture.

Speaker 4: So talk about the current state of some of the venues that are in the book. There obviously are some of them that have been preserved and are still living on.

Speaker 2: Right, Portland is a I got to tell you as a vibrant music city. Vibrant I mean when I I mean I went to Main for a reason to play in a band. Because when you’re in Boston, New York City, any of these it’s pay to play. If you’re a local band, you have to pay to play. In other words, they they gave you tickets, you got to sell them. That that’s how you get paid. Right, going to Main, I realized that, Wow, there was this company in Lewis and I’m kind of arcing around Eddie Bushy u EA B Studio. So you can make a living well years go by, years go by, the music scene is still super vibrant in Portland. Where there’s so there’s the State Theater, there’s area, there’s the Civic Center, there’s multiple small places, there’s a lot, there’s and as you know, buzz being in the radio business, Portland per Capita had the most radio stations. Uh then a lot of cities in the country for a long long time and probably still do so. Vibran wise, music wise, artists have come out of there recorded albums have done very well. So in the Civic Center have got readone a little. They fixed it up a bit because I think when they were building it they were doing it with like, you know, duct tape, and you know, you know, I just think they had to go back in and fix it up. But uh oh, there’s Meryl, which is a great venue, but no very vibrant. Thompson’s point, there.

Speaker 5: Was an interesting point in time with the Civic Center. It changed all the other venues, and then the and then the other cities changed the Civic Center. And I’ll tell you how, based on my research, there were fifteen major venues in southern Maine. If by major I mean over one thousand and up to sixty five hundred prior to the Civic Center fifteen. When the Civic Center opened in nineteen seventy seven, it cut down to two. And the Civic Center just you know, everything came to the Civic Center, more, more concerts than ever. The year before the Civic Center opened, there were only fifteen concerts in southern Maine seventy seven when it opened, it triple but that was short lived because other cities in New England saw this rock palace thing, the civic If the Civic Center could could see ninety five hundred people, they could do better in Hardford and Albany and all these other cities. And so it sided with electronic ticketing and national concert promoters more corporate in my perception, and they started taking control of the tours, and promoters would say, we’ll buy out the whole tour, and then they go to venues and negotiate, and because you know, a couple of three or four years after the Civic Center was built, it wasn’t the only game in town anymore, and promoters would beat up on the Civic Center and say, we’re not coming at all because you can’t see fifteen thousand people, or if we do come, you have to give us so much the gate that you’re going to starve.

Speaker 2: Is that how it played out, That’s exactly how it played out. Yes, yeah, it became a thing where companies were buying the whole tours and why go to Portland if the place is small? And expensive, you know at the time, you know, or for like you said, they would rather want to get a deal. My thoughts are also but and we’ve talked about this for it is a buzzy. It was a place where you would go. So now, because you know, I worked with Hollan Oates and I remember starting the second leg of that tour. We’re out in like a college in Oklahoma somewhere, because that’s where you start your tours, or you build your tours, these small little places get you know, get the rough stuff out, you know, production all this stuff. Well, Portland it became this is after the book. So everybody always asks me because I talk about the book why seventy seven And it’s exactly what Ford said. It’s when you know, it kind of like killed all those other venues. Now, there was other shows going to Augusta or Lewiston, but very few, you know, just because if if there was a hockey game going on in Portland or another show, they would go somewhere else. But that’s pretty much how it went there, which was very interesting.

Speaker 5: Because the Civic Center closed down all those venues that were seating four or five thousand people two or three years later.

Speaker 6: It realy.

Speaker 5: A number of small places opened up, five hundred to one thousand. You know, there’s a new crop of them, Rauls and and the Loft and so forth that brought in bands that were kind of on their second, second part of their career.

Speaker 2: The great tal you’re about these shows buzz like I’m looking at I’m looking at the queen. Hold on here, the queen is five point fifty in advance, but listen, we’re going to get you for fifty more cents the day of the show six dollars.

Speaker 1: Unbelievable.

Speaker 5: Jimi Hendrix was two dollars and fifty cents.

Speaker 6: Wow.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: And by the way, Hendrix played the Armory in Lewiston because of Bates call it. Bates put the show on, which is unbelievable. And I think that Hendrix was on that stage. I was walking around, you know, just a few years earlier.

Speaker 5: These concerts, These college kids that produced so many concerts was an interesting and interesting eerror and an interesting set of mechanics. Did you have a second for me to talk about that? Buzz? Of course, every major college in the country must have been doing the exact same thing. My orientation is limited to Maine, but around nineteen seventy one to seventy fi or really until Andrews started, uh, the only concerts in Maine were put on by colleges. Boden had a wonderful string of concerts. Simon and Garfunkel and Bonnie Ray. They Boden probably put on thirty five major concerts in the same era. In the early seventies, University of Southern Maine was doing the same thing, and they they brought in you know, icon, Teina Turner and America and the Eagles. And the thing I love about these concerts is it was just kids, you know, they had they didn’t have an advisor, They didn’t have anyone, you know, someone About the time that a kid got good at putting on a college concert, he or she would graduate and she turned it back over underclassmen. They had a They didn’t have to make a profit or even break even because the college, the colleges would give them a budget, but they gave them no no supervision at all, and they’d give them an auditorium or a gymnasium where they had a free venue. They had free friends to be you know, run the gate and security and everything else. You know, as kids did bring in these concerts. They they’d skip class so they could go to the airport and pick up pick up John Prime or or I contain a turner. You know, it was really a cool thing. They got into jams because they just didn’t have any business savvy or they didn’t have any experience, and you know not you know, they’re dealing with, you know, a ton of money. If you sell five thousand tickets and four dollars a piece, you got a ton of that’s a ton of cash you have to handle. And you know they’d get you know, they’d get a whole bunch of counterfeit tickets. They’d get screwed that way, or the bands had changed the price. They wouldn’t go on stage if they didn’t pay them more money. And they had these riders, you know, the performance contracts would have riders in them, which I guess you probably know some of the crazy stuff that bands would put into their riders. But Aerosmith came their rider. Require did they have a thanks a full Thanksgiving feast before the concert? When you deal with college kids, I guess they probably got what they deserved. The bands got what they deserve. The college kids didn’t know any better. They thought a Thanksgiving feast was a bag of fried chicken from Kentucky Fried Chicken, and so it was. It was all that route, you know, that whole routine.

Speaker 1: You know.

Speaker 5: Alice Cooper wouldn’t Alice Cooper banned the whole band showed up at the Portland Airport. Their contract riotor was white limousines in nineteen seventy two. There were no white limousines in Mane in nineteen seventy two, so they showed up with a black limousine was waiting for men. Alice Cooper wouldn’t get in the band, and the college kid jumped out of class. He heard there’s a problem, gotten his shipbox nineteen sixty five blue Ford Fai Lane and went to the airport and said, you’re going in that black limousine or you’re going in my Ford Fai lane, but there are no white limousines for you, by the way, Buzz two stories.

Speaker 2: One is first of all colleges. And it’s still the case. They paid at least thirty percent and more for the artists because and a lot of times when uh, these artists play colleges now it’s not publicized other than the school. You know, because it’s they got to do the other parts of the market. Well, you know, if you have like Nation, A g whatever, Uh, tell them the story about Hendrix and Lewiston.

Speaker 5: Yeah, I will, I will, But but first I’ll say to these colleges, you know, because they didn’t when I had I had a real obstacle in my research because no one’s written about this before. There were no venues that had any records, and so I was piecing together these concerts by going through newspapers or even even with all the college newspapers. But these colleges were they didn’t advertise off campus because they were going to fill the auditorium without advertising in the community. So there’s nothing in the local newspapers. Frequently there was even nothing in the in the college newspapers because it was just word of mouth. Bates College brought Jimmy Hendricks to to Lewiston, and that was a that was much a much bigger event than just Bates College because Bates was a very small school as it is now.

Speaker 2: But they were in sixty nine, right or sixty sixty eight.

Speaker 5: March fourteenth and sixty eight, and Jimmy Hendrix was was coming, so they they sold over five thousand tickets for that at the Lewiston Armory. Uh, it was going to be a big deal. And Jimmy Hendrix and a band called the Soft Machine, which was a big deal in Europe, had a cult following. They’d been playing in Canada, must have been Montreal or probably Montreal, and they’re coming back through the Canadian border to then play Lewiston next h and Soft Machine had drugs and they and they got they got arrested or got in trouble at the border, couldn’t come in. So Jimmy Hendrix loses his backup band, and Soft Machine had three of the stacked amp sets the Jimmy Hendrix need. Jimmy Hendricks had six what were those big.

Speaker 2: Amps called the Marshalls Marshall and they.

Speaker 5: Were they were six feet tall, and he had he had six, six of those that would go on stage, and Jimmy Hendricks showed up with only three of them. The other three are back in Canada, so uh, no backup band. Half the amps are missing. And the local the local band manager Eddie Bouchet who you referred to, and Lewis and said, well, I can get your backup band. So he got a bunch of a bunch of high school kids, Terry and the Telstars, and Terry and the Telstars, and they were probably fifteen years old, opened for Jimmy Hendrix. And then Jimmy Hendrix is on stage. I had a picture of him on stage with three of the three of the big amp sets, and then he filled out the rest of his equipment with little Fender Fender Showman amps from from from Terry and the Telstars on stage. They just pieced it together. They said it was a terrible sounding, terrible sounding performance by probably the biggest name that’s played in Maine.

Speaker 2: Then he asked a fight with not him but management five thousand more again.

Speaker 5: You know, Jimmy Hendrix. Jimmy Hendrix was such a had become such a big name on the road that his manager was saying, we would never be playing Lewiston, Maine. We shouldn’t have booked this. Things have changed. We wanted and he wanted twenty five dollars more and they had to pay it, even though there had been so many complications with the performance.

Speaker 1: Wow, I got to tell you a funny story.

Speaker 4: I was telling you before we started that I had a brief career while I was in college at the University of Dayton working on the radio there, but I was also the entertainment director for a brief period.

Speaker 1: Did a terrible job of it.

Speaker 4: But I reconnected with my friend Jim McNamara, who I went to college with, about a year.

Speaker 1: Ago, and he said, hey, you remember that time when you.

Speaker 4: Booked the artist Larry Coriel at the University of Dayton, And I.

Speaker 1: Said, yeah, actually I do.

Speaker 7: And he said, do you remember that you invited him over the house and he came over to our house and partied with us. And I had forgotten that, and Larry Coriel spent a.

Speaker 5: Long night with us. I guess the band’s routine you both would know better than the band’s routinely would would hit the town one way or the other after their performance, right, Oh, for sure. The concert promoters who gave me so much information for this book because they’re my age now, but they were saying after that incident with Alice Cooper being difficult, the band refused to get in the limousine. Turned out they became friends over the course of that day and after after the concert, Alice Cooper invited these kids back to their crap the hotel room in a crappy hotel, holiday in it in Westbrook, Maine to party with him for the night and Alice and Alice Cooper said, we got to order out pizza. And these guys said, you can’t order out pizza.

Speaker 1: They don’t bring it to you.

Speaker 5: And he said, he said, you just give me the phone number. And Alice Cooper called the local the local pizza place and ordered and said, now here’s our address.

Speaker 1: Bring it to us.

Speaker 5: And they said we don’t deliver. And Alice Cooper said, for a hundred bucks, you do, and the pizza showed up.

Speaker 1: I love it. I love it all right. I want to close with something for both of you.

Speaker 4: There is a new Spinal Tap that is being created, a new retake of it, and I can’t wait for it.

Speaker 1: I’m going to ask you forward.

Speaker 4: First, do you recall a Spinal Tap moment that you know could have been the worst concert, the one that went awry, whatever, But in tribute to Spinal Tap, what do you remember that kind of can surface within the book?

Speaker 5: Oh man, that’s a that’s a tough one. I thought you were going to ask my favorite mode was Spinal Tap, which absolutely would be the amps that turned to eleven. And I also, I think that’s a very bold, very bold move to try to improve on the original Spinal Tap. The just in terms of the chaos of Spinal Tap, of course, showed up throughout a lot of the bands that came to Maine. I Cantina Turner came to Maine in sixty nineteen nineteen seventy, I think, and they showed up and two members of their band were missing. And they didn’t even know it, you know, because they came in such an entourage, gear and people showing up in different vehicles and different parts of the day. And as they were assembling to go on stage, they realized two members are missing, and they made some phone calls and they were in prison. They had been been thrown in the can back in New York City the night before. So they had some They had two roadies go on stay to fill out the band.

Speaker 1: Andrew, I know you yeah, I.

Speaker 2: Mean, we could write a book just in these to be honest with you. Uh, well, first of all, I’ve walked, I’ve walked the artists through kitchens by mistake like spinally, you know, like you know. And then oh also I remember artists writing down where they were you know, so they don’t say, you know, hello Cleveland when they’re in Chicago. Right. But one of the funniest things is at the Central Main Youth Center and it’s uh, it’s kind of a spinal tap moment. And this would be perfect because the guys that are English supposedly in spinal right. And you know, so I had to do with lobsters. So when I sold out a show, a couple of things would happen. I would have t shirts made to commemorate the date, you know, with the name of the thing, blah blah blah, you know the day, and you know, give them to the crew, give them to my crew, and also get them lobsters. So with Marshall Tucker, I got them a bunch of lobsters was in there. In there we were going to cook them, show them how we cook them and stuff. So I go into the dressing room. Two things I see. The first part is I see all these lobsters on the floor. They thought they did Grayson. They says they were gonna have great. You know, they from different with the Spartanburg, South Carolina, right, the fu’mint right, and so they had all the options. I said. They don’t. They’re not gonna move guys. You know. The other thing I mentioned I don’t even know if I told this to to Ford, was uh, there was probably well I saw listen, there was there’s there’s a whole other book on drugs and all the stuff back stage and stuff. But I remembered Marshall Tucker and uh, you know when you have a one of these right, uh, you know, like filled with cocaine, like you know, usually everybody had like a little mouth. They had that like and I was like, all right, I guess this is you know, they’re having some fun here. But uh, yeah, there was a lot of stuff though. I mean you could go back to me opening the doors earlier. I mean that would be you know, at the show. Oh I got a really good one. So this is a little afterwards. This is van Halen. Van Halen already came through. Now we’re past seventy seven. Van Halen came through the shows I did. They came through with Black Sabbath. There’s an opener, which is crazy show.

Speaker 6: Right.

Speaker 2: Then they came through on their own. They wanted instead of doing the whole Civic Center in Portland’s coming to County Civic Center they said, we want to put a curtain up and just do five thousand people. And I was like, you know, I thought that was you know, I’ll do whatever they want. But I had a promoter. I had a partner, Larry Vaughan in New York. He said, don’t get the curtain. He said, what do you mean, don’t get the curtain. We’re going to see there’s no curtain. It’s a giant curtain that goes to the sides and cut out the plate. So I remember it was Ed Leffler was the manager. You remember Ed, Yeah, sure, the tour manager. They sat me down and there was like they grilled me, like where is the curtain? You know. We had to come up with some Mickey Mouse sing that day, but it was kind of a spinal tap thing. But I think the Lobsters is probably my favorite. Uh there’s so many right.

Speaker 1: What a visual? My god? I love it.

Speaker 2: Oh yeah, there saw them as you know, Marshall. I mean in those days, I realized doing Southern Rock and Maine that was a you were going to sell out, you know. I mean I probably did Charlie Daniels five or six times, Grindest Rich, the Outlaws, Atlanta rhythm section thirty eight special right, Marshall Tucker. Of course, all the all of them, Yeah, all the ones that were you know, grindes. Switch showed up to every show. It seemed like I don’t know why.

Speaker 1: But you know, yeah, Oh my god, this has been amazing. Guys.

Speaker 4: I’ve just loved every second of it. Ford give the book one more plug on where people can get it. And a long long time ago and you did get Don McClain, he gave you permission to use that.

Speaker 1: I see, yeah, he did.

Speaker 2: He did.

Speaker 5: I a long long time because the first two lines of American Pie a long long time ago. I can remember how the music used to make me smile. The I sent him a note, told him what I was doing, said it was one hundred percent for nonprofit, and he was kind enough to let me use it as a title.

Speaker 1: That’s awesome. So tell folks how to get the book again.

Speaker 5: The book I’m Sorry is available on Amazon is thirty dollars. One hundred percent of the proceeds goes to Main Historical Society, Amazon or my personal website is halfway rock dot com and at the local bookstores here in Maine.

Speaker 1: Amazing time.

Speaker 4: Andrews so good to see you forward so great to meet you, and thanks for taking us on a walk through music history.

Speaker 5: Thanks so much for doing it, Buzz, thank you.

Speaker 6: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Taking a Walk podcast. Share this and other episodes with your friends and follow us so you never miss an episode. Taking a Walk is available on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your podcasts.

About The Author

Buzz Knight

Buzz Knight is an established media executive with a long history of content creation and multi-platform distribution.

After a successful career as a Radio Executive, he formed Buzz Knight Media which focuses on strategic guidance and the development of new original content.