Friday, December 16, 2022

Keystone Berkeley, 2119 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA: Performance List January-April 1975 (Keystone '75 I)

Keystone Berkeley, 2119 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA: Performance List January-April 1975
The Keystone Berkeley had opened on March 1, 1972, taking over the site of a club called The New Monk. With an experienced owner in Freddie Herrera, and a legal capacity of 476--probably exceeded regularly--Keystone Berkeley almost immediately became the second-best rock gig in the Bay Area. The premier booking, of course, for any band, was playing concerts for Bill Graham Presents. BGP booked all the big acts in the biggest halls, but that included every major touring act. Winterland shows still usually booked three band, but for the most parts there were fewer opening acts. A local band, even one with some albums under its belt, wasn't going to play often enough for Graham to stay afloat. Popular local bands could play the Keystone every month or two, and that would pay the rent.

Although the top local acts played the Keystone Berkeley, changes in the rock industry meant that there were fewer touring acts booked there by 1975. For one thing, thanks to the "Oil Shock," the economic downturn had reduced the number of band touring. For another, the record industry was throwing a lot of support to "singer/songwriters," and they were more appropriate for the Boarding House than the noisy Keystone. The Keystone was for fans who wanted to hang out and dance. Disco music, however, was indirectly cutting into that as well. It's not that Keystone Berkeley regulars liked disco music--they mostly probably didn't. But for couples who wanted to go out and dance--or singles who wanted to find someone to dance with--a disco was another alternative. So in 1975, the Keystone Berkeley was doing well, but the bookings weren't as diverse as when it had opened. Still, the Bay Area had a thriving rock scene, and plenty of local bands had established careers and put on great live shows.

Also, although Keystone Berkeley was in the center of the city, it was on the Northern edge of downtown, and their were plenty of potential patrons who lived within walking distance of the club. While the bigger acts were going to pull fans from all over the East Bay, and probably Marin or even parts of San Francisco, on weeknights the Keystone was just a local joint. When a band was playing Monday night for no cover, a lot of nearby residents probably dropped in for a beer. Thus the Keystone could advertise for bigger acts on weekends, but still have a modest, profitable night with local bands, a rare combination for a semi-suburban nightclub.

I have reviewed all the Keystone Berkeley performances for 1972, the first year the club was open. I also zoomed in for a snapshot of the January, 1974 bookings. This post will review the performers at the Keystone Berkeley from January through April, 1975.


Keystone Berkeley Performance List January-April 1975
December 29, 1974 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Kingfish with Bob Weir and Dave Torbert (Sunday)
December 30, 1974 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Van Morrison with Soundhole/Elvin Bishop/John Lee Hooker (Monday)
December 31, 1974 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Lucky Strike (Sunday)
Keystone Berkeley had ended 1974 with some premier acts that any nightclub in the country would have been happy to book, and one "almost." 

The Grateful Dead had "retired," sort of, after some Winterland shows in October 1974. A restless Bob Weir had visited a gig by his old friend Matt Kelly and his band Kingfish. Weir had asked to sit in, and it went so well that he joined the band. Also on board was ex-New Rider Dave Torbert. Lead guitarist Robbie Hoddinott and drummer Chris Herold filled out the band. Kelly played harmonica and guitar, and Torbert and Weir shared most of the lead vocals. Kingfish played blues and old rock and roll, with a few originals thrown in. They were a good rocking band, all the more so for restless Deadheads with no one else to see. The Sunday night Keystone show was probably Weir's 5th show with Kingfish, and likely the first one where he was advertised.

A fellow blogger attended these shows, and gives a detailed account of Kingfish's performance. At this time, Kingfish's repertoire was not set, and they played a few numbers that did not stay in their subsequent rotation. Also, although James And The Mercedes were booked, they did not open the show.

On Monday night, December 30, Van Morrison was the headliner. Morrison lived in Fairfax, and liked to play local clubs. Soundhole was his Marin-based backing band. Three members of Soundhole would go on to Huey Lewis and The News (bassist Mario Cipollina, guitarist Johnny Colla and drummer Bill Gibson).

John Lee Hooker, by now a resident of Redwood City, was a Keystone Berkeley regular. My guess is that Hooker just sat in with Van's group, rather than hiring his own band.

Elvin Bishop, another Keystone regular, and friends to both headliners, was also on the bill. It's entirely possible that Bishop just sat in with Hooker and Van, rather than bringing his own group.

An early Keystone Berkeley ad listed Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders as "tentative" for New Year's Eve. In the end, Garcia chose not to play. Local band Lucky Strike filled in.

Cold Blood's 1974 album on Reprise was Lydia, banking on the potential star power of lead singer Lydia Pense

January 3-4, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Cold Blood/Caledonia Express
Cold Blood is generally associated with the East Bay funk sound of bands like Tower Of Power. The East Bay association was appropriate musically, but in fact Cold Blood had its roots in the South Bay. Lead singer Lydia Pense, from San Mateo, and bassist Rod Ellicott had been in a Peninsula Band in 1966 called the New Invaders, who then evolved into The Generation. The Generation were known as the first Bay Area band to merge a horn section with a rock band. The Generation turned into Cold Blood, and they were signed  to Bill Graham's San Francisco label (distributed by Atlantic).  Cold Blood had released two albums on San Francisco, their self-titled debut (1969) and Sisyphus (1970), which spawned a modest local hit with a remake of "You Got Me Hummin'." Lydia Pense was a powerful singer, and Cold Blood was a tight band, so the group was very popular in night clubs and at local dances. In retrospect, however, they sound as if they were trying a bit too hard, instead of just playing the music they liked. 

After Graham's labels folded, Cold Blood ended up on Reprise. In 1974, they had released Lydia, their fifth album. The album was produced by Steve Cropper, and various session heavies had played on it, along with members of the band. The great Oakland drummer Gaylord Birch was on the album, but I think he had left by this time (to become the Pointer Sisters bandleader). By calling the album Lydia, Reprise was clearly hoping to draw attention to Pense, the most recognizable member of the band. Still, while Cold Blood was good, but they didn't really stand out. Their James Brown-styled music was somewhat retro by 1975. That in itself wasn't bad, but it meant that they had to carve out their own sound, and Cold Blood never managed to rise to that level, despite being a popular club band.

Caledonia Express is unknown to me.

January 5-6 , 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Lucky Strike/Peak (Sunday-Monday) (Peak--Monday only)
Lucky Strike were an Alameda County Band that played original music, described as "danceable rock." I think they were from Hayward or Fremont. They were a popular club band and regularly played weeknights at Keystone Berkeley. I don't believe they ever released a record.

Peak is unknown to me. Keystone Berkeley used Monday nights to try out new bands. Locals would drop by for a beer and check them out, as there was usually no cover.

January 9, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Snooky Flowers and Headhunters (Thursday)
Snooky Flowers was baritone sax player who had been a regular on the rock scene for some years. He had played Woodstock as a member of Janis Joplin's Kozmic Blues Band, among other things. He had sat in with many local groups, and appeared on many albums. He was also a successful professional photographer, a profession he ultimately took up full time.

Headhunters was the name of Flowers' band, but I don't know who was in it. Flowers recorded a demo album at Mickey Hart's Novato studio around this time, and the tape circulates.

January 10-11, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee/Dave Alexander (Friday-Saturday)
Sonny Terry (1911-1986) and Brownie McGhee (1915-1996) achieved some fame in the 50's and 60s' as traditional folk blues artists, but in fact both had already had extensive performing careers in a variety of musical genres prior to that. By the 1970s, they were generally associated with folk-style acoustic blues, and that appealed to mainly white audiences. There were few paying gigs anymore in white folk clubs, but since Keystone owner Freddie Herrera regularly booked blues acts, Keystone fans got the benefit of that.

Dave Alexander was a mostly self-taught blues pianist. He had moved to Oakland in 1957, when he was in the US Navy. He had released two albums on Berkeley's Arhoolie Records. His most recent had been The Dirt On The Ground, from 1973. Alexander almost always played solo, a rarity for blues pianists in the 1970s. 

January 13, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Lucky Strike/Coal Train (Monday)
Coal Train is unknown to me.

January 16, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Earth Quake/Grayson Street (Thursday)
The Long Branch, at 2504 San Pablo Avenue (at Dwight Way) was just 2 miles South and West of Keystone Berkeley. While the two clubs were of course in competition with each other, local bands had a symbiotic relationship with both. Keystone Berkeley was larger and nearer to campus, so it had bigger and more prestigious bookings. It also drew from a larger area, at least when there were higher profile bookings. 

Still, the Long Branch had a capacity of up to 350, so it too could sell a lot of beer. The Long Branch draw from a younger, narrower base that lived nearer to the club. The Long Branch's audience was more oriented towards repeat business, however, so the same bands could play the Long Branch over and over, often every week. Bands that had established themselves at the Long Branch tried to move up to the Keystone Berkeley, and expand their audience. When they did this, however, their own Long Branch crowds remained loyal, so a successful band could play both clubs.

Earth Quake had formed at Berkeley High School in the 60s as The Purple Earthquake. In 1972, they would release their second album on A&M Records, Why Don't You Try Me. A&M would drop Earth Quake by the end of that year. Earth Quake had refused to give up, however. By 1974, the band had built up a huge following at the Long Branch, regularly headlining Friday night shows. With their own fan base, they had built a crowd at the Keystone Berkeley as well. 

Earth Quake played in a somewhat anachronistic "British Invasion" style, but it would end up coming back into vogue when the "New Wave" surfaced. Earth Quake had original material, but they also covered obscure hits from the 60s (like "Fridays On My Mind," by the Australian band The Easybeats), so they distinguished themselves from other bands. Earth Quake would resuscitate their career in 1975 by releasing records on their own label, Beserkely Records, presaging the punk/DIY movement by some years.  

Grayson Street were a sort of roots-rock band from the East Bay. They were co-led by harmonica player Rick Kellogg and tenor saxophonist Terry Hanck, both of whom sang. Grayson Street never recorded, but many of its members ended up working with Elvin Bishop, Coke Escovedo, Tower Of Power, Santana and others.  Lenny Pickett had been in Grayson Street, prior to answering the call from Tower. Grayson Street had played regularly at the Keystone and the Long Branch for over 3 years. 

January 17-18, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Grayson Street (Friday-Saturday)
While headlining both nights of the weekend was a good deal for Grayson Street, it was a sign that the Keystone Berkeley didn't really have any better bookings. Grayson Street was a local band, with a following, and surely deserved their chance. But they had played Thursday night with Earth Quake, and here on the weekend they had both nights. 

January 19-20, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Eddie Money/Third Rail (Sunday-Monday)
Back when he was still Eddie Mahoney, a recently relocated police trainee from New York City,  Eddie Money had been the lead singer of a band called The Rockets. The Rockets had been regulars at the Long Branch since early 1972. By 1974, they were headlining the club regularly, and they changed their name to Eddie Money and The Rockets, then the Eddie Money Band, and then just Eddie Money. At this time, Eddie Money was still just an East Bay act, but he was starting to get at least some attention from local writers.

Third Rail was a local band. I don't really know anything about them, but I actually saw them around this period, opening a show at Winterland. If I recall correctly, they were a hard rocking power trio.

January 21-22, 1975 Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders/Paul Pena
Jerry Garcia had always been essential to the economic well-being of the Keystone Berkeley, but that was more true than ever in 1975. All told, Jerry Garcia played Keystone Berkeley 243 times (that we can confirm) over the course of 12 years, a number that dwarfs any other venue that Garcia played. I would guess that Garcia also played the Keystone Berkeley more than any other musician, although I can't prove that.

Garcia's importance to Keystone Berkeley went well beyond the fact that he was a huge draw, which he certainly was. For one thing, Garcia often played weeknights, packing the house on nights when the club would either be dark or just have a few casual patrons with no cover charge. For another, the nature of Garcia's fans was that many of them arrived as soon as the doors opened around 8:00pm, to stake out the few seats or just to hang out. Lots and lots of extra beer was sold, even though they knew perfectly well that Garcia would not come on until 10:00.

Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders had opened the Keystone Berkeley on March 1, 1972. They had even recorded a double album there, Live At Keystone (credited to Garcia/Saunders/Kahn/Vitt). It had been recorded in July 1973, and released on Fantasy Records in January 1974. The album gave the Keystone Berkeley a regional and national status not usually afforded to a beer joint near a college campus, yet another way in which Garcia was essential to the club's well-being.

In October 1974, the Grateful Dead had gone on hiatus and stopped touring. Up until that time, the Garcia-Saunders aggregation had not really been a band, as it didn't have a name, nor even a fixed membership. Bassist John Kahn was almost always present, but even he skipped a gig on occasion. The drum chair was fluid, and other players had come and gone, sometimes for a few months or just one show. At the end of 1974, however, Garcia made his side-trip into a formal band. Legion Of Mary, as they were called, was Garcia, Saunders, Kahn, drummer Ron Tutt and tenor saxophonist Martin Fierro. Garcia was insistent that the band be billed that way, and that the Grateful Dead were never mentioned in any advertisements.

Drummer Ron Tutt, however, not only drummed for Garcia but also for one Elvis Presley (think about this for a moment). If Tutt had a gig with Elvis, Garcia often still wanted to play, so the band would use a different drummer. If they used a different drummer, the group was booked as Garcia/Saunders, not Legion Of Mary. This wasn't widely understood at the time, but it was important to Garcia, and always honored by Freddie Herrera at the Keystone.

In the case of these Keystone dates, we know that both Ron Tutt and John Kahn were not present. The guest bassist was Tony Saunders, Merl's son, and a regular fill-in. On drums was the great Gaylord Birch, one of Oakland's best drummers. Birch was probably the band leader for the Pointer Sisters at this time. Later in his career, Birch would drum with Garcia in the band Reconstruction (around 1979). 

Paul Pena's Capitol album, released in 1972

Paul Pena,
who was mostly blind due to a childhood condition, had led a blues band in Philadelphia that had opened for the Grateful Dead at the Electric Factory in February 1969. Pena became friendly with Garcia. He would move to the Bay Area in 1971. Almost entirely blind by that time, Pena called the Dead office, who helped him get work.

Pena recorded two albums, both with a who's who of local SF players. His self-titled debut album had come out on Capitol in 1972. The followup, New Train, was recorded for Bearsville in 1973, but (like many Bearsville albums) was tied up in litigation for decades and not released until 2000. However, Steve Miller had heard a copy of New Train, and in 1977 he made a big hit of Pena's song "Jet Airliner," providing Pena with a solid income.   Pena ended up living near Keystone Berkeley, so he played the club regularly

January 23, 1975  Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Frank Biner and Nite Shift (Thursday)
Frank Biner was a popular local soul singer. Over the course of the 70s, Tower Of Power recorded a few of his songs, and Biner put out a few albums as a bandleader in the 90s, but back in '75 Biner was just another guy working the clubs with his band Nite Shift. Biner was originally from Chicago, where he had recorded a few singles, but he had moved to the East Bay in the late 60s. On occasion, some members of Tower Of Power would sit in with The Nite Shift.

January 24, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Kingfish/Paul Pena (Friday)
January 25, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Kingfish/James And The Mercedes
Kingfish returned for a weekend of performances. Saturday night opener James And The Mercedes was led by guitarist James Ackroyd. Ackroyd had been in the Canadian group James And The Good Brothers, who had met the Dead on their infamous Canadian train tour. The band had relocated to San Francisco for a while, and recorded an album for Columbia in 1971. The Good Brothers ultimately returned to Canada and some success, while Ackroyd chose to remain in the Bay Area. One of the backing singers in his band was Frankie Weir, Bob's then-wife.

January 26, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Caledonia Express (Sunday)

January 27, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Crackin'/Amber
Crackin' was an R&B band from San Mateo. They released an album on Polydor in 1975. They also played my High School graduation dance later in the year.

Amber is unknown to me.

January 28-29, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Eddie Palmieri/Pete & Coke Escovedo and Azteca (Tuesday-Wednesday)
Eddie Palmieri was a Latin bandleader from New York, who seemed to be based in the Bay Area at this time. In the late 50s, Latin dance music had been very popular, and leaders like Palmieri added some jazz to make the music sophisticated, while still danceable. In the early 70s, however, Latin music was at a low ebb in the Bay Area. Palmieri seems to have been getting some weeknight gigs at Keystone Berkeley simply because there were few other options. Palmieri's current album was The Sun Of Latin Music (on Coco Records).

Pete and Coke Escovedo had been established musicians on the San Francisco Latin Jazz scene since the 1960s, when that music was popular in North Beach and Broadway. In the 1970s, the Escovedos had worked with Carlos Santana, and had also formed Azteca. Azteca was a remarkable group, playing progressive jazz with a Latin twist, with contemporary lyrics layered above it. Azteca had up to 15 members, including 3 or 4 vocalists and a horn section. They had put out two albums on Columbia (in 1971 and '73). The records got incredible reviews, but there was no way they could break through to sell enough records to break even. At this point, I think any band the Escovedos fronted was called Azteca--which wasn't invalid--but it's unlikely to have been the All-Star ensemble of prior years.

January 30, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Delta Wires (Thursday)
Delta Wires were a hard-working band from Oakland. They had formed in 1970 at the California College of Arts and Crafts (on Broadway Terrace), and had been gigging ever since. They had a bluesy sound with a 3-piece horn section. They played East Bay clubs for many years, and developed a local following, but never graduated beyond the East Bay. 

January 31, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Booker T/Howard Wales
While Booker T Jones was nationally famous from leading Booker T and The MGs, he in fact lived in the Bay Area at this time. He had left Stax Records and the MGs, and had been living in the North Bay with his wife, Priscilla Coolidge (Rita's sister). Booker T and Priscilla had put out two albums on A&M in 1972 and '73. In 1974, Booker T made a solo album for Epic under his own name. Evergreen had been recorded at the Record Plant in Sausalito, but with heavyweight session men from LA and Memphis (Michael Utley, David T. Walker, Jim Keltner, Bobbye Hall, Bob Glaub). Booker T's band featured Bay Area players: Fred Burton on guitar (ex-Southern Comfort), Doug Kilmer on bass and Pete Melios on drums.

Howard Wales was a veteran organ player. He had played with Lonnie Mack and others in the 60s, and then moved out to San Francisco in 1968. He had joined a group called AB Skhy, and then left them. Wales had been Jerry Garcia's initial jamming partner at the Matrix, and Garcia had been inspired by Wales sophisticated, free-form approach to improvisation. Garcia cited Wales as a big influence on his playing. Wales and Garcia had recorded the Hooteroll? album for Douglas Records (a Columbia imprint), released in 1971. Wales, however, did not like the spotlight, so he had stopped playing with Garcia.

Periodically, however, Wales would resurface in the local clubs. This was one of those periods. His band featured guitarist Jim Vincent, a Chicago transplant, who had played with Wales earlier. Wales' group didn't play songs, but rather would just jam.

February 1-2, 1975 Sons Of Champlin/Howard Wales (Saturday-Sunday)
The Sons Of Champlin had been together in some form or other since 1966. They had released three albums on Capitol, then broken up, kind of, changed their name (to Yogi Phlegm), changed it back, released an album in 1973 and then got dropped by Columbia. The band kept on plugging, however. By 1975, still a popular club act, the Sons decided to record and release their own album. This radical strategy would soon be adopted by the rest of the record industry later in the 1970s. In the meantime, steady gigs at places like Keystone Berkeley had kept the Sons afloat.

The core of the Sons had been the same since 1971: namesake Bill Champlin on lead vocals, organ and guitar, Terry Haggerty on lead guitar, Geoff Palmer on keyboards and vibes, David Schallock on bass and Jim Preston on drums. They had since added a horn section, Mark Isham on trumpet and Phil Woods on saxophone. It was this lineup that would record their independent album a few months later.

Frankie Beverly and Raw Soul, ca mid-70s

February 3, 1975 Frankie Beverly's Raw Soul
Frankie Beverly was from Philadelphia, and he had recorded some singles in the 60s as part of The Butlers. In 1970, he had gotten signed by ace producer Kenny Gamble, and had formed a group called Raw Soul. Raw Soul recorded a few singles, but wasn't right for the smooth sound created by Gamble, however. Somehow, Raw Soul had gotten support from Marvin Gaye, and they ended up relocating to San Francisco.  Raw Soul toured around with Gaye, who suggested they change their name to Maze. Maze would release their first album in 1977, and the band remains a huge success, still touring in the present day. 

Frankie Beverly and his band playing a "no-cover" Monday night is one of those bookings that makes looking back at old Keystone billings historic. 

February 6-7, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: California (Thursday-Friday)
California were refugees from the Monterey Peninsula College jazz band. They were a six-piece band with horns, who played in the style of Chicago (with the appropriate name). California was led by songwriter and vocalist Brad Stewart, who also played lead guitar. California played Keystone Berkeley regularly. I saw California a few months later, when they played my high school graduation dance (along with Crackin').

February 8, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Butch Whacks and The Glass Packs (Saturday)
Butch Whacks and His Glass Packs were a 15-piece rock and roll band dedicated to performing old style rock and roll hits from the 50s and early 60s. The band got their start as students at St. Mary’s College in Moraga playing frat parties, and eventually morphed into a very popular bay area club and theater act.

February 9, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Cold Blood/Eddie Money (Sunday)

February 10, 1975
Keystone Berkeley, CA: Elvin Bishop Group/Lucky Strike (Monday) Benefit
This show was advertised as a benefit, while being coy about the name of the headliner. Local writers effectively indicated that it was Elvin Bishop. Presumably, Bishop had an advertised gig that would prevent him from playing a publicly identified show at Keystone Berkeley.

Elvin Bishop had moved to the Bay Area in late 1968. When he formed the Elvin Bishop Group in 1969, Freddie Herrera had booked him regularly at the Keystone Korner. When Herrera had opened the Keystone Berkeley, Bishop was booked there regularly as well. Bishop and Herrera were loyal to each other, although that relationship would ultimately fray.

Bishop had been signed by Bill Graham and released two albums on Fillmore, the BGP Columbia imprint. When that label folded, Epic had picked Bishop up, then dropped him after another album. Bishop had reformulated his group and gotten signed by Capricorn Records, the Allman Brothers label. His May 1974 album, Let It Flow, was had certainly been his most successful nationally to date.

February 11, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Suntar (Tuesday)
Suntar is unknown to me.

February 12-13, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Bo Diddley/John Lee Hooker (Wednesday-Thursday)
Bo Diddley and John Lee Hooker had gotten booked at the Fillmores and college campuses when white college kids were re-discovering the blues and the roots of rock and roll. Tastes had moved on, however. Freddie Herrera still regularly booked those acts, however, keeping the blues alive and providing an opportunity for them to be heard.

February 14-15, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Kingfish/Grayson Street (Friday-Saturday)

February 17, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Eli/Mosaic Band (Monday)
I actually saw Eli once, opening a show at Winterland around this time. I don't remember them, however. The Mosaic Band is unknown to me.

February 18-19, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Eddie Palmieri  (Tuesday-Wednesday)

February 21, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Earth Quake/Eddie Money (Friday)

February 22-23, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Frank Biner & The Night Shift (Saturday-Sunday)

February 24, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Soundhole (Monday)
Soundhole was a Marin County band that had formed around 1973. In 1974, Soundhole had hired on as Van Morrison's backing band, so they had a certain status around the Bay Area, even if they had never made an album. Soundhole played rock with some jazz and soul edges, appropriately enough in the style of mid-70s Van Morrison. Soundhole never did make an album (you can find a Nov 26 '74 Winterland tape if you poke around Wolfgang's Vault), but most of the band members went on to bigger things. Guitarist Brian Marnell was in SVT, with Jack Casady, organist John Farey was in Zero, and saxophonist Johnny Colla, bassist Mario Cipollina and drummer Bill Gibson would go on to Huey Lewis and The News (tenor saxophonist Brian Hogan was the other member). Soundhole were good, if not well-known. University and Shattuck was just an hour from San Rafael, so it would have been worth the trip for the band to cross the Richmond bridge.

February 25, 1975
Keystone Berkeley, CA: Good Old Boys/Soundhole "Country Rock Dance" (Tuesday)
Tuesday night was more intriguing, and for those curious folks who showed up, it was the kind of event that gave the Keystone its cachet. The Good Old Boys were a group of bluegrass legends, who had just made a record produced by Jerry Garcia. No one knew that yet, since the record would not be released until a year later (Pistol Packin' Mama, by the Good Old Boys). The album had featured mandolinist Frank Wakefield, fiddler Chubby Wise and Don Reno on banjo. All were certifiable bluegrass legends. New Riders guitarist David Nelson was also on board, as well as bassist Pat Campbell. They had recorded the album at the end of January. 

Wise and Reno had departed the Bay Area, but Wakefield was still around. Jerry Garcia, who had not played on the album sessions, worked up his banjo chops, and the Good Old Boys had played on Friday and Saturday at a nightclub in Santa Cruz. Fellow blogger CryptDev was an eyewitness. The band for the Santa Cruz shows was Wakefield (mandolin), Garcia (banjo), Nelson (guitar), Campbell (bass) and Brantley Kearns (fiddle). Conveniently, the long-dormant tapes were released in 2019. 

It seems, however, that Garcia wasn't going to practice banjo just for a weekend. The Good Old Boys played a stealth gig at Keystone Berkeley. On an otherwise empty Tuesday night (see the advance calendar above), the Tuesday afternoon SF Examiner listed "Country Rock Dance with Good Old Boys and Soundhole." The Good Old Boys would have been thoroughly unknown, and Garcia was sensitive about his name being used when he wasn't the frontman. The underground telegraph would have gotten to work, however, and saying "Country Rock Dance" was a tip to those who might have heard a rumor. Old And In The Way, Garcia's bluegrass ensemble, had played the Keystone Berkeley many times, as had the Great American String Band, so Garcia playing banjo at Keystone would have been well understood.

Whether Soundhole actually stayed over and played another night isn't clear. I have discussed the peculiar history of this event in even greater detail elsewhere. Still, after Garcia played, word must have been around--hey, Jerry played at Keystone Tuesday night!.

February 26, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: (Man with Deke Leonard)/Earth Quake (Wednesday)
Man, a great Welsh band that was popular on Bay Area FM radio, was advertised for February. Guitarist Deke Leonard's solo albums were getting airplay, as well, so when he rejoined Man his name had a little heft in the Bay Area. Man was on tour, however (they played Toronto, ON on February 25), so I'm sure they didn't play. Earth Quake probably played.

Man would return in March, when their tour reached San Francisco (see March 23-24 below). 

February 27, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Alice Stuart and Snake (Thursday)
Alice Stuart was a fine blues guitarist and singer. Although she was from Seattle, she had been playing in the Bay Area since about 1964. Stuart had performed and recorded in a variety of solo and group settings. Since 1971, she had been leading an elecrtric trio or quartet named Snake, and they had released the album Believing on Fantasy Records in 1972. Stuart was still grinding it out in the clubs, and generally well-regarded, but Snake was treading water.

February 28, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Kingfish (Friday)
Kingfish returned. With Garcia headlining on Saturday and Sunday, it was a full Deadhead weekend.

March 1-2, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Legion Of Mary/Paul Pena (Saturday-Sunday)
Legion Of Mary was Jerry Garcia's "official" group, with John Kahn on bass and Ron Tutt on drums. 

March 5-6, 1975
Keystone Berkeley, CA: Tower Of Power/Frank Biner and The Night Shift (Wednesday-Thursday)
Although not on the calendar, the Monday (March 3) Examiner listed Tower Of Power with Frank Biner on Wednesday and Thursday. Tower Of Power was an established National band by this time, and they had played Keystone Berkeley many times, and had largely graduated. In this case, however, they had a National tour coming up and they had a new lead singer. Tower had released their Urban Renewal album on Warners in January, with Lenny Williams on vocals. But Williams had departed, and Hubert Tubbs was replacing him, so Tower chose to break him at the friendly Keystone prior to the tour.

SF Chronicle rock critic Joel Selvin described the event in his March 16 column. Tower killed it, of course, making it easy for Tubbs to get a good reception. Even though the Keystone Berkeley mostly only had Bay Area bands, they regularly got appearances by major Bay Area stars, and this was just another example.

March 7-9, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Bobby Blue Bland/Lucky Strike (Friday-Sunday)
Bobby "Blue" Bland was a legendary blues singer, and it was thanks to the Keystone Berkeley that he still had a good gig in the Bay Area. African-American clubs had moved well past the blues, and, generally speaking, white hippies preferred their blues from guitar players. Bland was hugely influential, but only other musicians really knew that. His current album was probably Dreamer, which had been released the previous year on ABC-Dunhill. Bland had been backed by ace LA session players (like Wilton Felder, Michael O'Martian and Larry Carlton), with legendary pop producer Steve Barri.

March 11-12, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Etta James/Frank Biner and The Nite Shift (Tuesday-Wednesday)
Etta James (1938-2012, born Jamezetta Hawkins) was a legendary talent, but her career had been beset by numerous health issues. At this time, her most recent album would have been Come A Little Closer, which had been released in 1974 on Chess Records.  She had recorded the album in conjunction with a trip to drug rehab, and it was a tribute to her talent that everyone got it done. It was produced by Gabe Mekler (from Steppenwolf), and had included contributions from the likes of Lowell George, Chuck Rainey and Larry Nash. I suspect that Frank Biner and The Nite Shift were James' backing band, but I don't actually know that.

March 13-14, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Delta Wires (Thursday-Friday)

March 15, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Legion Of Mary/Delta Wires (Saturday)
The March 15 Examiner listing described Legion Of Mary as a "Jazz Rock Blues Dance." This was quite accurate--everyone would be up and dancing, but the music was pretty funky, with a lot of solos. If anyone thought it was just Garcia only playing Dylan songs (he would play them, certainly), the Keystone didn't want to mislead anyone. 

I believe that Delta Wires were booked for the whole weekend, just in case Garcia canceled. Since he didn't, Delta Wires became the opening act. Even though Keystone Berkeley advertised advance tickets through a computerized service (BASS), those tickets were not available for Garcia shows. This allowed Garcia to add or cancel shows at will (and also explains why no Keystone Berkeley ticket stubs exist for Garcia shows there).

March 16, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Hoodoo Rhythm Devils (Sunday)
The Hoodoo Rhythm Devils were a funky rock band from San Francisco. They were apparently great live, and much beloved by their fans, but they never got over the top. In the early 70s, they were led by singer Joe Crane and lead guitarist John Rewind. The band released an album for Capitol in 1971, and two for Blue Thumb in '72 and '73, and then broke up by 1974. 

By 1975, the band had gotten back together. They would record an album in 1975 that did not get released, before releasing two more albums on Fantasy in '76 and '78, and then breaking up again. I'm not precisely certain who was in the band at this time, other than Joe Crane.

In 1976, Beserkely Records would release Greg Kihn's debut album. Kihn was mostly backed by label-mates Earth Quake. The cover showed Kihn in front of his then-employer, Rather Ripped Records in Berkeley (Northside, on Euclid and Hearst)

March 17, 1975
Keystone Berkeley, CA: Rubinoos/Greg Kihn (Monday)
Even if the Keystone Berkeley was a little lower on the rock pecking order than they had been a few years earlier, there was a lot going on in Berkeley, and Keystone managed to be in the middle of it.

The group Earth Quake were a popular local band, and they had put out two albums on A&M before they were dropped. They passed on any other offers. Following the direction of their manager, Matthew "King" Kaufman, they released the occasional single on his DIY label "Beserkeley." Singles played no real part in the hip record industry at the time, and they were cult items that acted as promos, and maybe keepsakes for fans of the band. The singles were probably only available through the band or at a few hip record stores in Berkeley.

Still, something was brewing. Berkeley has a knack for being ahead of the curve. Not everyone liked long guitar solos that aspired to jazz, not everyone liked "progressive rock" that aspired to pseudo-classical music, not everyone like elaborately orchestrated pop that required a huge stereo system. There was room for catchy pop music, with a rocking beat yet simply recorded, maybe with some nice harmonies and a catchy hook. But record companies weren't signing those kinds of bands. 

Later in 1975, Kaufman would release an album of some tracks recorded by Beserkely acts, including some tracks that hadn't even been released as singles. The album, comically, was called Beserkeley Chartbusters. It featured a couple of tracks from a few different artists, and the members of Earth Quake were the backing band for most of the tracks. The artists were Earth Quake (4 tracks), Johnathan Richman (4 tracks), Greg Kihn (2 tracks) and The Rubinoos (1 track). Album tracks got played on local FM radio, and the artists got heard. Beserkeley would go on to release albums, and Richman ("Roadrunner" ['76 UK] and "Egyptian Reggae" ['77 UK]) and Kihn ("Breakup Song"[in '81] and "Jeopardy" ['83]) had big hits. 

But all that was in the future. For this Monday night, I don't believe Beserkeley Chartbusters had even been released yet, and Kihn and the Rubinoos were unknown. The Rubinoos, with lead singer Jon Rubin and guitarist Tommy Dunbar (brother of Earth Quake guitarist Robbie Dunbar), played intentionally retro 60s-styled pop. Greg Kihn had moved from Baltimore in 1974, and besides playing in coffee houses, had found a job at Rather Ripped Records, Berkeley's coolest record store (Hearst at Euclid, on Northside near the Sather Gate and Cloyne Court).  Although Kihn's music was sincere and simple, he knew his music history (all Rather Ripped employees had PhD's in Record Collecting), so he would have been conscious of the pop styles he was evoking.

I don't know if Kihn had a band. Most likely, Kihn played some songs on his own, then the Rubinoos would have played, and I'll bet Kihn joined them for a few numbers (if anyone actually knows, please mention it in the Comments). In 1975 and '76, Beserkeley Records devotion to independently released albums of short, catchy pop songs seemed like a fey Berkeley pose.  A year later, with rockin' punk and New Wave bands releasing their own primitively recorded records on their own labels, Beserkely Records seemed positively prescient.

March 18-19, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Azteca/Sapo (Tuesday-Wednesday)
Azteca had been a groundbreaking group, fusing a Latin orchestra with jazz, rock and multiple vocalists. Azteca had released two albums on Columbia, their debut album (1972) and Pyramids Of The Moon (1973). Although the albums and the band received universally positive notices, neither record sold well. Since Azteca toured with around 15 members, they weren't going to make money on the road without a succesful record. The band subsquently disintegrated. I believe that for a period of time, Pete & Coke Escovedo called their live band Azteca, and not unreasonably, but it wasn't the main track of the band.

Sapo is unknown to me, but based on various listings, they seem to have been a Latin-styled jazz or rock ensemble. 

March 20-21, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Soundhole (Thursday-Friday)
The Keystone advertisement (above) has Kingfish and Soundhole for these dates, but the March 20 SF Examiner just listed Soundhole. Kingfish seems to have gone to Los Angeles to play a weekend at the Pitschel Players Cabaret (at 8162 Melrose Avenue). Freddie Herrera had a unique relationship with the Grateful Dead organization, and gigs were often tentatively booked, advertised, canceled or added at the last minute. Since there were no advance tickets (that I am aware of), and the Dead members often booked weeknights, it was a comfortable arrangement. Kingfish would return to Keystone Berkeley in May, so clearly the cancellation was well within the realm of the expected.

March 22, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Bo Diddley and Lady Bo (Saturday)

March 23-24, 1975
Keystone Berkeley, CA: Man/Earth Quake (Sunday-Monday)
In the early 70s, even though large-market FM stations were often owned by corporate chains, individual djs had a lot of freedom to choose records. Welshman Deke Leonard had been a guitarist in the group Man from 1968-71, but he had left the group to release his first solo album, Iceberg in 1972. Leonard had an insistent, engaging voice, catchy songs, and driving guitars in the style of Quicksilver Messenger Service. Iceberg started getting airplay on KSJO-fm in San Jose, and then KSAN in San Francisco. His second album, Kamikaze (both on UA) also got played. Leonard rejoined Man in1974 for their next album, Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics, and by that time, Man had their own section in Bay Area record stores.

By 1975, Man had released a new album Slow Motion. They got regular play on Bay Area FM rock stations. It was appropriate, since they were proudly carrying on the bluesy psychedelic tradition of the Fillmore, but with a Welsh twist. They had played Berkeley once before (opening for Hawkwind in 1974), but this time through they had a lot more attention. Man was booked for Friday and Saturday night at Winterland  (March 21-22), second on the bill to Peter Frampton. Frampton was another act who was popular in San Francisco but few other places, which was why his Frampton Comes Alive album would be recorded at Winterland a few months later (in May '75).

Not surprisingly, Man did great at Winterland. I'm not speculating--I saw the Friday night show, and Man's reception by the crowd was enthusiastic. They had plenty of partisans in the crowd, there to see them (although I should add that Peter Frampton was great, too). So it wasn't surprising that the Keystone Berkeley booked them for some additional dates on the following nights. At this time, Man was a quartet, with Deke Leonard and Mickey Jones on guitars and vocals, the great Terry Williams on drums (later in Rockpile and Dire Straits) and bassist Ken Whaley.

Phil Elwood of the Examiner reviewed Man's Monday night show (March 25 paper), and he gave enthusiastic approval. He also referred to them as "Man with Deke Leonard," which is how they had been booked in February. The Bay Area was probably the only market in the US where Deke Leonard had a following that was parallel to Man, since his albums hadn't done well elsewhere. 

The 2008 cd re-release of Slow Motion on Esoteric Recordings included four tracks recorded at Keystone Berkeley, listed as April 1975. They must be from these March shows, however.  For those who are familiar with the Man saga, the Monday night Keystone show was the last one with Ken Whaley on bass. He left for personal reasons. Man had numerous other Bay Area gigs booked, so old friend and former bandmember Martin Ace was flown out from Wales for some quick rehearsal. Man would return to San Francisco and the Keystone Berkeley in 1976, right before they broke up (although, of course, they got back together again).

March 27, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Hot Ice (Thursday)
Hot Ice
is unknown to me.

March 28-29, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Crackin' (Friday-Saturday)
Crackin' broadly sounded like the Sons, albeit with more emphasis on funk. As a point of trivia, the Sons Of Champlin broke up in 1977, and then reformed in 1980 without Champlin, calling themelves The New Sons. Bill Champlin, with a successful career as a session man in Los Angeles, was fully on board with this, and sat in with The New Sons on occasion. The New Sons needed to have a lead vocalist, however, so they used Les Smith, who had been in Crackin' (who had also broken up by that time).

March 30, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Crackin' (Sunday)

March 31, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Eddie Money (Monday) 

April 1, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Yesterday & Today/Alexis (Tuesday)
Yesterday & Today, later famous in the 80s as Y&T, were a hard rock band from Oakland. For whatever reasons, they are always associated with Hayward, but they were actually founded in Oakland. When Y&T hit it big in the 80s, they were somewhat lumped in with Heavy Metal--I saw them at Heavy Metal Day On The Green with Motley Crue and Poison, for example--but they actually preceded the genre.

Yesterday & Today had been formed in Oakland in 1972, as a cover band. At some point, guitarist Dave Meniketti joined, and they started playing original material. The band's name happened to be the record on the turntable at the time (a 60s US Beatles album). Yesterday & Today sounded more or less in the vein of Humble Pie, loud and rocking, with high energy vocals, but still playing within a song structure. At the time, the band did not fall into the cliche of playing elaborate little hooks that were sort of "pseudo-prog" (one of the marks of latter metal bands). 

Yesterday and Today played all over the Bay Area. On the Sunday before (March 30), they had been third on the bill at Winterland, below headliners Queen. Queen was on their first trip to San Francisco, and this was before A Night At The Opera and "Bohemian Rhapsody." Queen was presented as a sort of Led Zeppelin with better harmonies, and a lot of guitar solos and dry ice. Second on the bill was Mahogany Rush. The show was pitched as a Sunday-night special for $3.00, and while the show wasn't sold out, there was a hefty crowd there. Yesterday & Today weren't Queen, of course, but they acquitted themselves well (I was there, so I'm not guessing). 

The band would open for numerous Winterland concerts in the next several years, even though they did not rise to success until the 80s. In the meantime, Yesterday & Today slugged it out at the Keystone Berkeley, paying the bills. Their first album would be released on London Records in 1976. Ultimately they changed their name to Y&T when they signed with A&M in 1980. They finally hit it big with their sixth album, In Rock We Trust.

Alexis is unknown to me.

April 3, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Delta Wires/Kid Kohoutek and The Shooting Stars (Thursday)
I don't know anything about Kid Kohoutek and The Shooting Stars. The Comet Kahoutek had been hyped as the most amazing celestial event in, like, 150,000 years, but when it arrived in December 1973, it was not so. 

April 4, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Cold Blood/Richard Torrance and Eureka (Friday)
Richard Torrance was a guitarist and songwriter from the Midwest, but he was based in Los Angeles. In 1974 he had released his debut album, Eureka, for Leon Russell's Shelter Records label. In 1975, he would release Belle Of The Ball, by Richard Torrance and Eureka (I'm not sure if that album had been released by April). Eureka played in a bit of a Southern Rock style, anchored by the twin guitars of Torrance and Gary Rowles (ex-Love). Although Eureka never hit it big, Torrance went on to have a steadily successful music career.

April 5, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Butch Whacks and The Glass Packs/Richard Torrance and Eureka (Saturday)
Richard Torrance and Eureka played three nights at the Keystone Berkeley, opening for two established local bands with completely different sounds (and likely audiences), and holding down the fort themselves on Sunday night. From the point of view of the record company, who was probably supporting the tour financially, this was well worth it, since it diversified the band's exposure.

April 6, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Richard Torrance and Eureka (Sunday)

Kevin McKernan stepping up to sing one for Osiris, ca. 1974-75

April 7, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: The Skins/Osiris (Monday)
The Skins are unknown to me. Osiris was a Palo Alto band, who played in a Grateful Dead style. Their organ player was Kevin "Mickey" McKernan, Pigpen's younger brother. He apparently killed it on "Turn On Your Lovelight." Osiris got some help from the Dead office, and in 1974 and '75 opened a few shows for Kingfish, Garcia/Saunders and Keith and Donna. I wrote about Osiris in some detail when I discussed their New Year's Eve '74 gig in Palo Alto, opening for Kingfish (as always, check out the CommentsThread).

April 8, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Chango/Alexis (Tuesday)
Chango is unknown to me. Note that Alexis has returned for another Tuesday night.

April 10-12, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Hugh Masakela/Pharaoh's Whistle (with Patti Santos) (Thursday-Saturday)
Trumpeter Hugh Masakela was a pioneering South African jazz musician, playing jazz with a nice helping of rhythm and blues along with some African beats. Masakela had a profile beyond his standing as a jazz musician. Masakela had added a little trumpet blast to The Byrds hit "So You Wanna Be A Rock And Roll Star," and he had played the Monterey Pop Festival, too. He had a genuine hit in 1968 with the catchy instrumental "Grazing In The Grass" (better known from the later version, with lyrics, by The Friends Of Distinction).

At this time, Masakela's last album would have been I Am Not Afraid, released in March, 1974 on Blue Thumb. It was a nice mixture of jazz, soul and funk, so Masekela would fit right into a rowdy joint like the Keystone Berkeley. Masakela's next album would be released in June, 1975 on his new label, Casablanca. The Boy's Doin' It mixed Masakela's sounds with the newly-arising Afro-Beat style of Fela Ransome- Kuti. 

Patti Santos (1949-89) had been the lead singer for San Francisco's It's A Beautiful Day. Everybody recognized her voice from "White Bird." When IABD broke up, she sang with various ensembles. I don't know anything about Pharaoh's Whistle. Sadly, Patti Santos died in an auto accident in Mendocino County.

April 13-14, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Axis/Earth Quake (Sunday-Monday)
Axis was a group featuring former Stephen Stills (and CSNY) bassist Calvin "Fuzzy" Samuels, and 60s English pop star PP Arnold. In a mark of the newly transatlantic nature of the 70s record industry, Samuels was a London Jamaican, who had come to America when he hooked up with Stills in England. Patricia "PP" Arnold was an African-American from Los Angeles. She had joined the Ike & Tina Turner Revue as an Ikette in 1965, but left them after an English tour in order to go solo. Arnold had signed with Immediate Records, and had a number of hits like "Here Comes The Nice." Keith Emerson was part of her backing band at one point (and his first ensemble, not coincidentally, was called The Nice).

By 1974, Samuels and Arnold had teamed up in LA with guitarist Leon Rubenhold. Lowell George had produced an album for them, intended for Atlantic Records, but it was never released. I assume these oddball weeknight dates were a tryout for a tour that never came. 

It is telling that this period of the Keystone Berkeley only has touring acts with record company support on weeknights, and usually pretty obscure bands at that. There were plenty of Bay Area bands, some of them quite established, who played the Keystone regularly. But record companies were only putting their bands in the club when they seemingly had no other choices. I suspect the biggest factor was not money, nor the club itself--bands were apparently treated well, and the crowds were usually lively. Since Keystone Berkeley was largely a beer joint, with just a few tables, shows didn't get reviewed much there. Local rock critics and radio people preferred the Boarding House or the Great American Music Hall, where they could get a table and drinks. As rock music focused towards FM radio play, that affected where touring acts were booked.

April 15-16, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: "Blockbuster Show" call for details (Tuesday-Wednesday)
I don't know who might have played these nights, but "stealth" shows at Keystone Berkeley tended to be the Usual Suspects. Since we know that Garcia didn't play, and Tower Of Power had done some stealth shows the month before, the most likely suspects would be Elvin Bishop or Van Morrison. Now that Bishop had a more substantial recording career, casual club gigs may have upset his management or booking agency, so a lower profile may have been in order.  Van was just Van, of course, and couldn't be predicted anyway.

April 17, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Hoodoo Rhythm Devils/Waterbaby (Thursday)
Waterbaby is unknown to me.

April 18-19, 1975
Keystone Berkeley, CA: Kathi McDonald/Eddie Money (Friday-Saturday)
Kathi McDonald (1948-2012) had sung with 60s bands in the Pacific Northwest like the Unusuals and Fat Jack, and they had opened for all the touring San Francisco groups. McDonald moved to San Francisco in the late 60s, and ended up a member of the Ikettes (even though she was blonde), and then toured with Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen. By 1971, she had joined Big Brother and The Holding Company, participating in the album How Hard It Is. McDonald had the unenviable task of singing Janis Joplin's iconic songs for a few years.

In February 1974, McDonald had released Insane Asylum on Capitol. It was produced by David Briggs (of Neil Young fame) and pianist Pete Sears, and the record had an All-Star cast. Still, the album didn't really go anywhere. McDonald sang with various ensembles, and sometimes fronted them. I'm not sure who was in her band at this time.

April 20, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Eddie Money (Sunday)

April 21, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: James And The Mercedes/Cisum (Monday)
Cisum is unknown to me, although I recognize the name from numerous club listings.  

The March Keystone ad (above) lists Leo Sayer playing on this Monday, but he did not. He was then advertised for the next week (April 28), but didn't play then, either. This was one of those signs that Sayer, then a rising star, got better bookings and didn't need to play Keystone Berkeley on an off-night.

April 24, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Alice Stuart (Thursday)

April 25-27, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Willie Dixon/Frank Biner and the Nite Shift (Friday-Sunday)
Bassist Willie Dixon (1915-1992) was a blues legend, but in the early 70s he was better known as a songwriter and Chess Records producer. By the time he started touring outside of Chicago, many of his songs had already been made famous by English rock bands: "Little Red Rooster," "Hoochie Coochie Man," 'Spoonful," "Back Door Man" and others. Dixon only released his own albums intermittently. His most recent would have been Catalyst, released on Ovation in 1973.

April 28, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Holly Penfield/Spectrum (Monday)
Holly Penfield has been a singing star in London and Europe for over 25 years, known for her sophisticated jazz styles. Penfield was a native of San Francisco, however, and back in the 1970s, she was writing her own songs and accompanying herself on piano. At this time, of course, Carole King was one of the most popular recording artists in the world, and the singer/songwriter track was a viable one. Penfield played many club gigs around the Bay Area, but did not thrive until she went to London and re-invented herself in the 1980s.

Spectrum was a disco-styled dance band. My guess is that Penfield played a set for the after-work crowd, and then the tables were cleared out for Spectrum and dancing. There were few, if any, places to dance in downtown Berkeley, so the Keystone Berkeley once again found a way to fill in a variety of gaps in the neighborhood entertainment.

Leo Sayer had been advertised for this night (with Penfield), but Spectrum was added instead.

April 29, 1975
Keystone Berkeley, CA: The Shakers (Tuesday)
Berkeley was always different than everywhere else in the United States, and exceedingly proud of it. When was smoking banned in restaurants in your town? In Berkeley it was 1971. Against the Vietnam War? The Berkeley City Council officially declared in 1972 that they were not at war with North Vietnam. Drugs? Berkeley was years ahead of every other town for any drug, for better or worse. Music? Whether it was bluegrass, psychedelic rock or punk, Berkeley got on the train the first.

A byproduct of Berkeley being Berkeley, however, was that some things caught on in Berkeley that didn't make it far past the city limits. One of those things was Reggae-Rock (sometimes called "Yankee Reggae," or something similar). In the mid-70s, numerous bands of mostly white rock musicians played original rock with a reggae beat. They wrote their own songs, they had some sophisticated jamming, but everyone could dance to it. The Shakers the first of those groups, and there were a few others like the Tasmanian Devils and The Edge. In some cases, the musicians lived in Marin or wherever, but the prime stomping ground was Berkeley. The Shakers got their break at The Long Branch, so now they were getting introduced at the Keystone Berkeley.

The Shakers were likely the first white reggae band, and recorded the album Yankee Reggae for Elektra/Asylum in 1975. Thanks to Elektra, the Shakers got to open for many great reggae acts on their first (or early) American tours. But it wasn't to be, and the band faded away. None of the other white reggae acts got much traction beyond Berkeley, either.


Thursday, November 17, 2022

Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Concert History 1972-74 (Stadium Concerts I)


John Scher and Al Hayward presented the Garden State Music Fair in the Summer of 1972, with shows at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, the Capitol Theater in Passaic and the New Jersey State Fairgrounds in Hamilton. All of the venues were in Northern New Jersey, accessible to the whole state but not too far from New York City Metro.

Jersey City, New Jersey is just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. The Statue Of Liberty and Ellis Island are just off of Jersey City, directly across from the World Trade Center, but JC gets no respect from New York. For most of the last 150 years, Jersey City was just a railroad town, as several major railroad lines brought freight and passengers into the Port of New York from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and points South and West. Jersey City was a noisy, working mini-metropolis, with little cultural heritage, unhip and full of immigrants.

And yet in the Summer of '72, the crumbling Roosevelt Stadium in decaying Jersey City was the first place in the United States where "stadium rock" got traction. Live rock music had gotten bigger than ever at the turn of the 70s, with band after band headlining basketball arenas with able to fit 15,000 or more patrons. Yet could rock get bigger? The idea of "Rock Festivals" was bankrupt by 1972. Too many fans, too many promoters and too many communities had been burned by hundreds of thousands of young hippies going to some muddy field that didn't really have the facilities to handle them. 

By 1972, however, sound systems had improved, and the rock market had gotten even bigger. Roosevelt Stadium was just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, so whatever happened there got noticed, even if Manhattanites pretended they paid no attention. It turned out that rock fans would turn out for stadium concerts, and just to see one band. They would show up, pay their admission, buy a lot of Pepsi and hot dogs, have a great time, and come back for more another day. It was a revelation in the rock concert industry. 

Roosevelt Stadium did not have a minor league baseball team after 1961, so it was free all Summer. Roosevelt was the first stadium in the country to be regularly used for touring rock bands. The music industry was anchored in New York and Los Angeles, so Jersey City was in the mix. Within a few years, major rock shows were being booked at stadiums all over the country. But Roosevelt Stadium was first, back in '72. This post will review the rock concerts at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, NJ, from 1972 through 1974, at the dawn of the stadium rock era.

New York City railroad map ca. 1900

Jersey City, NJ

Jersey City is a world away from Manhattan, but still right next door. Jersey City and its nearby sister, Hoboken, are on a Peninsula bounded by the Hudson and Hackensack Rivers. Newark is just across the Hackensack, a few miles to the West. In 1908, a subway tunnel was built from Jersey City to Manhattan. The Hudson Tube is now the backbone of the PATH (Port Authority Trans Hudson) Train lines. With direct trains to the World Trade Center, Greenwich Village and Penn Station, commuting to and from Jersey City is like living in a lost New York Borough, even though that is never acknowledged by New Yorkers.

Jersey City is also home to the Holland Tunnel, which opened in 1929, so Jersey City's connection to Manhattan has been fluid and intimate since long before World War 2. At the same time, although it was stuck out on a narrow strip of land, by the 1960s Jersey City became far more accessible to the rest of New Jersey thanks to the New Jersey Turnpike. Thus Jersey City was near Manhattan, with its own subway access, yet was still accessible to much of the population of suburban New Jersey. Jersey City had seen its commercial peak come and go by the 1960s, and it was definitely on the downward slide. What that meant, however, was that existing venues were available for rent, even to dubious hippie endeavors.

Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ (1937-82)
Roosevelt Stadium had been built in 1937 at Droyer's Point, on the edge of Jersey City that was farthest from Manhattan. It had a baseball capacity of 24,000. From 1937-50 it was home to the highest level New York Giants farm team, the Jersey Giants of the International (AAA) League. Jackie Robinson's "professional" (white organized baseball) debut was on April 18, 1946, when the Brooklyn Dodgers top farm team, the Montreal Royals, opened their season on the road against the Jersey Giants. Over the years, Roosevelt Stadium had hosted heavyweight fights, high school and college football games and other events, along with minor league baseball.

However, minor league baseball had declined after the 1950s, and Roosevelt Stadium did not have a minor league team after 1961. Once fans could watch New York major league baseball teams on TV, the appeal of a minor league team shrank. There were occasional special events, such as NASL soccer games, but by and large the stadium was unused during the Summer. Roosevelt Stadium was a civic facility, so I presume that by 1972 they were pleased when John Scher came along and offered to book a series of concerts throughout the Summer.

John Scher himself was only in his 20s, but once Bill Graham had closed the Fillmore East, it became possible to book groups in New Jersey. Initially, Scher had been booking shows at the Sunshine Inn in Asbury Park, as well as a couple of concerts at a tiny racetrack in Belmar (Wall Stadium). By the end of 1971, Scher had moved up, booking shows at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, not far from Jersey City. The John Scher story is a great rock story, but too long to tell here. Although in his0 early 20s in 1971, Scher had recognized his moment:
Decisiveness has been a hallmark of Scher’s career and one of the cornerstones of his success. The Fillmore closed in June ’71; by December, Scher began his 18-year run at the Capitol Theatre. The 3,000-seat former vaudeville house in downtown Passaic — which was showing porn flicks before Scher and partner Al Hayward took it over — became a near-mandatory stop for touring acts, and demonstrated that New Jersey could stand on its own as a major pop market.

Roosevelt Stadium was old and crumbling, but that also meant that Jersey City was presumably unconcerned about what a bunch of hippies might do to it. Roosevelt Stadium had a capacity of 24,000 for baseball. Initially, shows at Roosevelt were entirely reserved seats--I think this included folding chairs in the outfield--so the capacity was around 20,000. By 1973, shows were all General Admission, including the playing field. Per a 1973 article, the official capacity was around 30,000. Of course, one of the many attractions of "Festival Seating" for promoters was that the venue could be oversold, and it was conveniently deniable to the Fire Department, the tax man and in some cases the bands themselves. So the total capacity had to be in the range of 35-40,000 for rock shows. 

From the point of view of a concert promoter, this meant that a successful booking could sell a lot of tickets, a far different situation than the fixed profit/loss ratio of a theater with reserved seats. Roosevelt was far larger than any venue that the Grateful Dead, for example, had headlined in the New York metro area. Furthermore, its size meant that everybody who wanted to go could not only get a ticket, they could bring their brother, their girlfriend and their roommate as well. Other bands rapidly followed the Dead. If there was a lot of interest, then ticket sales weren't capped by the size of an arena. If a band was getting a lot of airplay on FM radio, and the weather was nice on the day of the show, a lot of last minute tickets could get sold. 

Summer '72: The Garden State Music Fair
In the Summer of 1972, John Scher and Al Hayward advertised what they called "The Garden State Music Fair." It was a series of shows with major acts, in three venues in Northern New Jersey, all within easy driving distance of Manhattan. There were two shows at the Capitol in Passaic (Deep Purple on August 22 and Ginger Baker on September 7), three more at the State Fairgrounds (the Beach Boys on August 19, the Allman Brothers on September 2 and Partridge Family teen idol David Cassidy on September 3) and four at Roosevelt Stadium. 

Conventional as this advertisement may seem, it was a subtle revolution. Nine shows of major touring rock bands, appealing to different fans, but all popular primarily with just teenagers and young adults. In the 1960s, rock music of course appealed to the young, but hip live rock was in bohemian urban neighborhoods, like Greenwich Village or the Haight-Ashbury, or in college towns. FM radio and Rolling Stone, however, had expanded rock out into the suburbs. Kids out in the 'burbs couldn't necessarily get into downtown, or the college campus: they couldn't get tickets, they didn't have a car, or their parents wouldn't let them take the family station wagon into a drug-infested enclave in the coolest district in the nearest big city. 

But who was buying the albums played on WNEW or KSAN or WBCN? There weren't that many free-thinking bohemians downtown--it was kids in some postwar suburban development, spending their allowance money on American Beauty, Allman Brothers Live At Fillmore East or Yessongs.  John Scher came along, putting on the cool bands not in Manhattan, but in suburban New Jersey. The Capitol, the Trenton fairgrounds and Roosevelt Stadium were near enough to Manhattan to include New York Metro, but more importantly they were easy pickings for the New Jersey suburbs. That was where rock fans were in the early 70s, not in cities, but out in the 'burbs. Roosevelt Stadium foretold the concert business of the 1970s, where live rock moved from downtown to the outskirts of cities, in big arenas and stadium where directions were simple and parking was easy. 

To understand the transformation of the live concert market in the 1970s moving from downtown to the suburbs, we have to consider how accessible concert venues were. There's few better examples than Manhattan. The Fillmore East was in Greenwich Village. If you lived outside New York, driving there was all but out of the question--certainly if you were a teenager, your parents weren't likely to let you borrow the car to drive to the Village. Now, they might have let you drive to the local train station. NYC commuter trains (NJ Transit, LIRR and Metro North) only served certain places, however, and there weren't really trains after midnight. So assuming a teenager's parents would even let them go into Manhattan, they had to live near a train line and could only see a Fillmore East early show. 

Roosevelt Stadium would have been an entirely different proposition. Despite the fact that Roosevelt Stadium was a rundown facility in a city that was in decline, it had two things that set it apart from metropolitan venues: it was near two major New Jersey roads and it had 10,000 parking spaces. Roosevelt Stadium was at the intersection of New Jersey Route 440 (formerly NJ Route 1) and Danforth Avenue. NJ440 links the New Jersey Turnpike Extension (Exits 14-14C) to the Pulaski Skwyay. The Pulaski Skyway has been immortalized in the opening credits of The Sopranos, but it dates back to 1932. The Skyway links US Routes 1 and 9 to the Holland Tunnel, and was thus a key transit point linking New Jersey and Manhattan by automobile. Pretty much all of the populated parts of New Jersey have easy access to the Turnpike, Route 1 or Route 9, so getting to Roosevelt Stadium would have been a breeze.

Even today, in the era of GPS and Google Maps, many people will not attend an event where the directions are not easy and the parking is not straightforward. This was doubly true when navigation was just off of a gas station map. Then add in the fact that many of the people attending the Roosevelt Stadium were teenagers or college students driving family cars who needed explicit or implicit permission for the trip. The reality that directions to Roosevelt Stadium from anywhere in New Jersey were easy had to have made a big difference. The ease of parking must have been reassuring too, not least because Jersey City had a "dangerous" (read: predominantly poor and black) reputation, and a large parking lot suggested no unpleasant circulating in sketchy neighborhoods, looking for parking.

As for Manhattanites, they too would generally have had to drive to Roosevelt Stadium. The PATH Train did not go anywhere near the stadium, although I suppose many people could have taken the train over to the Summit Avenue station (now Journal Square station) and tried to hitchhike (in 1973, Scher would have shuttle buses from PATH). In any case, the journey from Manhattan to Roosevelt Stadium would have been short, so cramming as many people as possible into a VW Microbus would not have been a big deal.

Although the commuter dynamics varied from city to city, the basic pattern did not. "Multi-use" stadiums and basketball arenas were always on the edge of the city, or an actual suburb--for land use reasons, usually--on a major freeway and with a huge parking lot. You didn't have to, say, take the Golden Gate Bridge split off the US-101 freeway to South Van Ness and turn left on Fell (or Geary) and then right on Steiner, and begin looking for street parking there, in the dark and in city traffic (which were the directions to San Francisco's Winterland). At a big arena or stadium, you just drove the proper direction on the highway, and pulled into the giant parking lot when the freeway sign said "Coliseum Exit-next right." The simple directions were hugely significant, and allowed the entire suburban teen rock audience to attend concerts throughout the 1970s. But John Scher was the first to figure that out, at Roosevelt Stadium.

Chicago V, released 1972 on Columbia Records

July 13, 1972 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Chicago
John Scher's first booking at Roosevelt Stadium was headlined by the group Chicago. I'm not sure if there was an opening act, although their probably was one. At this time, Columbia had just released Chicago V. It was the band's first single album, having previously released three double albums (Chicago I, II and III) and the four-lp set Live At Carnegie Hall. Since the band's 1969 debut (as Chicago Transit Authority), the group had scored numerous hit singles. Chicago V would be no exception, as it included "Saturday In The Park," which would reach #3 on Billboard. The album would reach #3 as well. By any standard, Chicago was a hugely popular group. 

I'm sure this concert drew alright, as Chicago was a popular act, particularly in the New Jersey suburbs. But Chicago wasn't the biggest drawing act, even at the height of their popularity. The inference I draw is that while a lot of people bought Chicago records--that's a fact--they weren't a "destination" concert act. Squads full of teenagers did not get a parental station wagon and make an expedition to the venue. A significant identifier of the '70s was a split between high record sales and enthusiastic concertgoers. Black Sabbath, Ten Years After, ELP, the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead, for example, all drew fans well beyond the scope of their record sales.

July 18, 1972 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Grateful Dead (Tuesday)
The rubber hit the road the next week, when the Grateful Dead played on a Tuesday night at Roosevelt Stadium. The Grateful Dead were definitely popular on FM radio, as they had scored three gold albums in a row (Workingman's Dead, American Beauty and "Skull & Roses"). Yet the biggest outdoor place they had played in New York Metro was Gaelic Park in the Bronx, back on August 26, 1971. It probably had a capacity of about 15,000. Gaelic Park was accessible by subway, however, while Jersey City was the gateway to the 'burbs. In these early days, all the seats were reserved. Per a review (below), the stage was around second base.

Marty Packin's review of the Grateful Dead at Roosevelt Stadium on July 18, 1972 (July 20 '72 Asbury Park Press) "Marathon Concert By Grateful Dead Crams Ball Park"

The concert was a roaring success. Marty Packin's review in the Asbury Park Press on Thursday (excerpted above) was enthusiastic. There were 19,000 fans, and in an indicator of things to come, Packin describes "the immense parking lot filled with all kinds of hawkers" selling Grateful Dead t-shirts. All these t-shirts would have been home-made jobs, by the way, as neither the Dead nor other bands had yet figured out how much money there was in merchandise. John Scher (described in Packin's review as "22-year old Johnny Scher") made sure to have a substantial fireworks display during the Dead's show, too. Apparently, once the Dead kicked off at 7:45 with "Bertha," and a blast of fireworks, the crowd went and surrounded the stage in the outfield. The reserved seat sales would be gone by 1973.

This wasn't happening entirely in a vacuum. The Grateful Dead had played the Sunday before at another suburban, minor league stadium, Dillon Stadium in Hartford, CT (on July 16). Dillon was a minor league football stadium, rather than multi-use, but comparable to Roosevelt. That show, too, had a packed house in the range of 15-20,000. Some members of the Allman Brothers (Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley and Jaimoe) had showed up to jam with the Dead. On the next night, (Monday July 17), the Allman Brothers were playing Gaelic Park, and Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir came onstage for "Mountain Jam." So the success at Roosevelt wasn't entirely an outlier--bands like the Dead and the Allmans didn't have hit singles, and yet they could draw big crowds. 

More importantly, the fans were coming just to see one band, not an all-day "Festival." Now, granted, both the Dead and the Allmans played long, multi-set shows, but there weren't even opening acts. Here was the Dead and the Allmans drawing crowds comparable to acts like Elton John, who had sold way more records. There's no way the music industry didn't notice.

August 10, 1972 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Alice Cooper/J. Geils Band/Flash
The next show at Roosevelt was headlined by Alice Cooper. Cooper had just scored a big hit with "School's Out," from the June 1972 Warner Brothers album of the same name. The band had put out a few albums before this, but the single and album were what made them a national phenomenon.  This original version of Alice Cooper was still a band with roots in Arizona. Lead singer Vincent Furnier was not yet exclusively associated with his alter ego. The Village Voice alluded to large crowds for Alice Cooper. 

The message from Alice Cooper's success for the rock industry was a subtle one. Alice Cooper had a hit, so he deserved to be booked as a headliner, but by the concert date he was busting out. Unlike a smaller arena, however, Roosevelt Stadium had a lot of capacity and a lot more tickets could be sold. This allowed both concert promoters and the bands to profit on a hot record, instead of being stuck in a smaller venue. In formal terms, a stadium allowed the concert to capture upside volatility while managing risk. It's another way to say that it left room for everyone to make more money when they could. 

Alice Cooper's audience at the time was pretty young. Think about it: a song about "School's Out Forever" is going to really hit the mark with 14-year olds. Young North Jersey teenagers weren't going to be allowed to go into Manhattan, but getting your older brother to borrow the family car to go to a nearby football stadium? That was probably something you could talk your parents into.

Opening the show was Boston's J Geils Band. They had released two albums on Atlantic, the most recent of which was October 1971's The Morning After. J Geils weren't particularly popular or well-known, but they were a disciplined, exciting live band. They knew how to take a crowd that didn't really know their music yet and make it exciting, so they would have put on a good show even if the crowd had never heard of them.

Opening act Flash was a progressive rock quartet that featured ex-Yes lead guitarist Peter Banks. 

Joe Cocker's third studio album, recorded by his '72 road band, was released in November '72 (it was released in the UK as Something To Say)

September 6 1972 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Joe Cocker with the Chris Stainton Band/Mark Almond/Patto
Joe Cocker's show was booked at Roosevelt in the middle of the Summer and added to the schedule. Cocker was hugely popular, but musically and personally he was not in a good place. Cocker had toured America relentlessly in 1969 and '70, and had some huge hit albums to show for it. The burned-out Cocker had simply decided to move in with his mother in Sheffield, however, and he was mostly out of sight for a year and half. In the meantime, however, he performed in two high profile movies, Woodstock and Mad Dogs and Englishmen, and became bigger than ever. Cocker's situation was complicated enormously by managerial and record company machinations that ensured Cocker saw little of the money he was making for everyone else.

Chris Stainton, who had played organ at Woodstock with the Grease Band, and had been the only Greasebander to join the Mad Dogs tour, had put together a funky little band. Although formed in England, they had rehearsed in Connecticut. In a messy, complicated saga (described admirably by Mike Stax in Ugly Things #22), Cocker ended up fronting the Stainton band. The band was talented, with guitarist Neil Hubbard and bassist Alan Spenner, drummer Conrad Isidore and American pedal steel guitar player Glenn Ross Campbell (ex-Misunderstood, ex-Juicy Lucy), and also horns and a conga player (Flaco Falcon). Mid-tour, Jim Keltner had been added as a second drummer, and Jim Gordon had replaced Isidore. 

By this final leg of the tour, Cocker and the Stainton band were running on fumes. Glenn Ross Campbell had left, Alan White had replaced one of the drummers, and no one was happy. Cocker was a huge draw, however, and sold a lot of concert tickets. Everyone but Cocker made money off Joe. 

This show was advertised, but not reviewed in any of the New Jersey papers. Mark-Almond was an intriguing jazz-rock band featuring two former members of John Mayall's Turning Point band. Cool as they were--I saw them live in '73, so I'm not guessing--their semi-acoustic jazz-rock wasn't really the right fit for a stadium. Patto was a fascinating band with singer Mike Patto and the great guitarist Ollie Halsall. They put out quirky, powerful albums, and could have gone over well, but absolutely no one in the crowd would have heard of them. Patto's current album would have been their first on Island, produced by Muff Winwood, Roll 'Em Smoke Em, Put Another Line Out.

Leon Russell's 1972 live show was captured (in Long Beach) on the Shelter triple-album Leon Live, released in 1973

September 17, 1972 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Leon Russell/Captain Beyond
Leon Russell had been a producer, arranger and Hollywood session musician in the 1960s, but the 70s gave him a chance to shine. Russell didn't have an obvious singer's voice, but he was expressive in a Bob Dylan kind of way. After producing for Joe Cocker and Eric Clapton, he had stepped out on his own. Carney, his third album for his own Shelter Records, had been released earlier in 1972. The album was huge, and would reach #2 on the Billboard charts. He even had a two-sided hit single with "Tight Rope" and 'Masquerade" ("Masquerade" would go on to be an even bigger hit for George Benson).  

For his stage show, Russell combined elements of old-time rock and roll with Southern gospel music, which was one of the key sources for old rock and roll in any case. He merged that with his own fine songs and a disciplined stage band. His group always featured crack Hollywood session musicians: in this case Carl Radle (bass), Chuck Blackwell (drums), Joey Cooper and Don Preston (guitars), Jon Gallie (organ) and Ambrose Campbell (congas). Russell himself played piano and guitar, with the Reverend Patrick Henderson and a gospel quartet providing musical support along with his rock band. 

Russell had an energetic, exciting show, described in detail in Enid-Joan Parker's review in the Asbury Park Press (September 21). Although Leon's show appeared frenetic, in fact it was carefully arranged and presented, befitting an experienced producer like himself. Parker's enthusiastic description of the show tracks exactly with the album Leon Live, released in '73 and recorded a few weeks earlier (August 28) in Long Beach. Russell knew how to bring it, but he didn't leave anything to chance.

Opening the show was Captain Beyond, an interesting band on Capricorn Records. Despite some Southern members and their presence on the Allman Brothers label, they sounded more like an English band than an American one.


September 19, 1972 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Grateful Dead/New Riders of The Purple Sage (Tuesday)
We don't have to guess how well the Grateful Dead concert at Roosevelt Stadium in July had gone. The Dead returned on Tuesday, September 19. This show would have had to have been booked as soon as the July show happened, so the success must have been self-evident. This time, the New Riders of The Purple Sage were along for the ride. A "Special Guest" was promoted, too, but that turned out to be a "Swami" on a bed of nails.

Patrick Carr described the show in the Village Voice (thanks to the indispensable Dead Sources). Carr mentions that Bob Dylan was backstage, and wonders why 23,000 fans would show up for the Dead, even in the rain (he also alludes to the big pre-teen crowd for Alice Cooper). Carr's Manhattan contempt for being forced to go out to Jersey City is palpable, but live rock music was moving to the suburbs. 

Another innovation can be discerned from the September Dead ticket (above). There weren't reserved seats--just General Admission. This pattern would remain in force at stadium rock concerts until the 1980s. Carloads of teenagers from high schools and college dorms wanted to meet up with other carloads, and having to plan in advance with reserved seats didn't fit the model. If it was catch-as-catch-can, however, one ticket was good as another. Also, conveniently, a smart promoter could sell a few more tickets than the fire department really wanted them to, yet another attraction for general admission stadium shows.

The High School and College Football season began on the weekend following the Grateful Dead show. Roosevelt Stadium was taken over by various local football teams, and in any case the weather in the Northeast became daunting for booking outdoor shows. There was no question, however, that the shows at Roosevelt Stadium had drawn well, and made a profit for all concerned. Since Roosevelt Stadium was a Civic establishment, Jersey City had to be pleased at the chance for summer revenue.

As part of the 1972 Garden State Music Fair, John Scher and Al Hayward also promoted some shows at the New Jersey State Fairgounds in Hamilton, near Trenton. These will be the subject of a post in their own right, but a few comments are in order. The State Fairgounds were, in fact, private property. While I think music had been part of events at the Fairgrounds for some time, Scher seems to have been the first to book long-haired FM rock and roll at the venue. There may have been a music pavilion of some sort, but the major rock concerts were held at the grounds of the Trenton Speedway, an "Indianapolis-style" auto racing facility on the Fairgrounds site.

Rock concerts at the Trenton Speedway, few as they were, are a subject of great interest to me, as the opportunity to use auto racing facilities near major population centers were very rare. There were only a few such events at the Trenton Speedway, and the final one (August 24, 1975, with Aerosmith and Kingfish) was a debacle of legendary proportions. Nonetheless, Scher and Hayward's first effort, the Beach Boys, The Kinks and Looking Glass ("Brandy") drew 9138  on August 19, 1972. The second concert was canceled (the Allman Brothers on September 2, listed above as "Surprise Group"). Teen idol and Partridge Family star David Cassidy was booked for September 3, but I don't know if that occurred. 

The rock industry was clearly intrigued by a series of rock concerts in a stadium with great suburban access. Trenton Speedway was not something found in most cities, but just about every city had stadium on the edge of town, easy to reach by freeway from the suburbs, with a big parking lot. If that stadium was owned by the City or County--most 60s stadiums were--they were looking for revenue. The Roosevelt Stadium model could be repeated. Indeed, within a few years, suburban stadium rock concerts were the biggest event on every region's calendar.

The Grateful Dead at the Yale Bowl, New Haven, CT, on July 31, 1971. Things did not go well.

Parrallel Developments
The concert series at Roosevelt Stadium hadn't happened in a vacuum. The live rock market had exploded, and numerous concerts had been held in football stadiums around the country, particularly on the Eastern Seaboard. Most of these were on college campuses, and most of those were not at schools that had particularly large football stadiums. In the Summer of '69, promoters were looking for places to stage rock festivals, all-day events with numerous acts, and stadiums were tried a few times. One of the issues was that the largest and most accessible stadiums, typically baseball venues in larger cities, did not want to allow crowds on the playing fields. In any case, the typical model was a full day's booking of acts, many of them minor, and a stadiums did not seem to represent the "freedom" that made otherwise spartan accommodations at rock festivals appealing.  

Here and there, a few single act events at large stadiums took place. The Grateful Dead had been booked at the Yale Bowl on July 31, 1971, as part of a series of concerts. They were the sole act. Way too many people showed up, however, and fought with the cops because they thought "music should be free," and Yale canceled future bookings at the Yale Bowl. 

July 25, 1970  Berlin Airlift Festival, West of Ocean City, MD: Steppenwolf/Allman Brothers/others (Sunday) canceled
1969 had been the Summer of rock festivals, good or bad, and 1970 was the Summer of mostly canceled rock festivals. A rock festival had been scheduled for an empty field near Berlin, Maryland, not far from the coastal resort town of Ocean City. The all-day festival was at some farm, and featured various acts. A judge's injunction stopped the show. This was common throughout 1970. Unlike almost all of these events, however, the Berlin Airlift festival was moved to a stadium, and took place, albeit with a different headliner.

September 20, 1970 RFK Stadium, Washington, DC: Grand Funk Railroad/Pacific Gas & Electric/Allman Brothers Band/Crow/Crank/Sageoworth/Tractor (Sunday) Berlin Airlift festival
The revised Berlin Airlift was headlined by Grand Funk Railroad, then an absolutely huge band. Also booked were two bands with albums (P,G&E and the Allman Brothers) and some local groups. The show is only recalled because the Allman Brothers performed (I learned about it from the great Duane Allman site). Although a tremendous live act, the Brothers had not even released their second album, and only had a real following in the Southeast. 

Apparently, though, something like 35,000 showed up to see Grand Funk. At this time, RFK was the home of the Washington Senators baseball team, but they had just departed for Arlington, TX (to become the Texas Rangers). Things did not go terribly, and there was no longer a baseball tenant, so when there was an opportunity for a stadium concert in 1972, the offer wasn't rejected.

July 4, 1972 RFK Stadium, Washington, DC: Rolling Stones/Stevie Wonder (Tuesday) Electric Factory Presents
In a parallel development to Scher's presentations at Roosevelt Stadium, the Philadelphia-based Electric Factory presented the Rolling Stones at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC. The concert was general admission, but the stage was at second base, and no fans were allowed in the outfield. Around 40,000 tickets were sold. There was pressure for tickets, and cops ended up firing off tear gas outside the gates and it blew back into the stadium. The atmosphere wasn't great (even if the music was) and there were no more concerts at RFK until the next Summer, when the Dead and Allman Brothers shared the weekend on June 9-10, 1973.

Roosevelt Stadium Rock Concerts, 1973
Rock concerts at Roosevelt Stadium had been been a big success in the Summer of '72. It was no surprise that John Scher was back with a regular series of shows at Roosevelt in the Summer of '73. General admission stadium concerts were starting to catch on around the country, but Scher was far ahead of other promoters. Nationwide, there were a few Led Zeppelin concerts (Tampa and Atlanta on May 4 and 5, and San Francisco on June 1) and a few Grateful Dead concerts (San Francisco on May 26 and RFK in DC on June 9-10), and Pink Floyd had a stadium show in Tampa (June 29), but only Jersey City had an entire series of stadium shows all Summer long.

In 1973, all tickets were general admission. Al Hayward was no longer Scher's partner, pretty heady stuff for the 20-something Scher. The fine print in the ad for the summer series (from the Village Voice) says "leave your car at home--take PATH from the World Trade Center of 33rd Street and 6th Avenue to Journal Square [Station]...Shuttle Busses direct to the stadium from there." Scher had figured out how to get the largely car-less NYC Metro rock audience to the stadium. Thus Roosevelt captured both the suburban audience from New Jersey (and probably Philadelphia) and the city audience as well.

The planned schedule was:

June 16, 1973 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Pink Floyd (Saturday)

July 26, 1973 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Three Dog Night/T Rex (Thursday)

July 30-August 1, 1973 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Grateful Dead/The Band (Monday-Wednesday)

August 12, 1973  Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Santana/Tower of Power (Sunday)

August 18,  1973 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Grand Funk Railroad/Blue Oyster Cult/Lee Michaels (Saturday)

August 25, 1973 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Beach Boys/Poco (Saturday)

August 31, 1973 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Allman Brothers Band/Grinderswitch (Friday)

The Summer concert series at Roosevelt was a big success, but the shows didn't quite work out the way they were booked.

June 18, 1973 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Pink Floyd (Monday) rescheduled from June 16
The June 16 Pink Floyd concert was rained out. The crowd had been allowed into the stadium, but the rain continued to pour. Eventually the performance was canceled, and Pink Floyd was rescheduled for Monday night (June 18, two days later). In between, the Floyd had played Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in upstate New York (Sunday June 17).  The crowd had returned to Roosevelt on Monday night, and the concert was a big success. The show had been sold out in advance, as Dark Side Of The Moon was a gigantic hit, so this was a premiere event for every teenager with a ticket. Unlike almost all 1970s touring bands, Pink Floyd had an actual stage presentation, with lights and props, and a quadrophonic sound system. It wasn't as elaborate as what would come a few years later, but it was in distinct contrast to the jazz ethos of bands who just stared at their guitars and smoked cigarettes during their performances.

The big fear about an outdoor concert for a promoter was a rain-out. Almost all concert promoters worked show-to-show, and lacked the capital (or insurance) to refund a huge sold-out show. While the ticket no doubt included rain-out provisions (like every baseball game ticket), a promoter had to be scared that fear of a rain-out would discourage advance sales. The Pink Floyd rain-out showed how much the rock market had changed, and how different the dynamics of a stadium concert were from a rock festival. 

At a rock festival, tens of thousands of patrons traveled long distances, expecting to camp out for days. If a show, or even a headline act, got canceled, the promoter had big problems. But a stadium concert was just an event. Everyone had planned to sleep at home anyway. When they were sent home on Saturday, the kids just got in their cars and came back a few days later. That couldn't have happened at a projected rock festival. The "rain-date" was played, the promoter didn't have to refund any money and the band got paid.  Pink Floyd's '73 Roosevelt show seems to have been the first rain-delayed rock concert--certainly the first high-profile one--and it went off fine. You better believe the entire concert promotion industry noticed. A stadium show had weather risk that could be safely hedged with a rain date.

July 26, 1973 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Three Dog Night/T Rex
In 1973, live rock music was recognized as culture worthy of note in newspapers, even suburban dailies. Even so, reviews in any daily paper were limited, and tended to focus on artists who seemed to have the most status. For rock bands, that meant that acts preferred by Rolling Stone magazine got critical attention, while bands that were merely popular were dismissed as mere entertainment. 

Three Dog Night had formed in 1968, full of unknown Hollywood musicians who all had plenty of experience in struggling bands. Three Dog Night's angle was that they did high quality cover versions of contemporary songs, rocked up and well-produced. The band had scored huge hits with songs by the likes of  Harry Nillson ("One" 1969) and Laura Nyro ("Eli's Coming" 1969) and Randy Newman ("Mama Told Me Not To Come" 1970).

By 1973, Three Dog Night had scored 15 Top 20 singles, including three #1's ("Mama Told Me Not To Come," "Joy To The World" and "Black And White"). Their albums (six studio and two live) were huge as well. Their second live album, the double Around The World With Three Dog Night had been released in February 1973 on ABC-Dunhill, and had already achieved gold record status. They had also scored yet another hit single, "Shambala", which had been released in May. It would reach #15, and would come out on the next studio album, Cyan, released in October.

Three Dog Night had had numerous gold albums, #1 hit singles, sold truckloads of records and were a really popular live act. They got no respect. Rolling Stone and its readers dismissed them. Since they didn't write their own material, they were dismissed as inauthentic, and "just Hollywood." Whether you think that was fair or not, the net result is that while I assume the Three Dog Night concert at Roosevelt Stadium came off successfully, it wasn't reviewed or alluded to in the local press. In fact, Three Dog Night was at their peak at this point, and various problems would break up the band soon after. Various combinations of the original membership have toured as Three Dog Night over the ensuing decades--there was three lead singers, so that helped--but as 70s phenomenons go, it's like the band never existed.

T. Rex was the English "Glam Rock" band led by guitarist and singer (and songwriter) Marc Bolan. T Rex had been huge in the UK and Europe since 1970. T Rex had scored a pretty big US hit with the catchy "Bang A Gong" in 1971, but the follow-ups were all but unnoticed in America. T. Rex's current album would have been Tanx, on Reprise Records (EMI in the UK), released in March 1973. Marc Bolan was an important figure in rock, primarily in the UK, but to Americans in the 1970s he was just a fading one-hit wonder.

In 1972, Capitol had released the great double live lp Rock Of Ages, recorded by The Band the week of New Year's Eve at the Academy of Music in Manhattan

July 31-August 1, 1973 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Grateful Dead/The Band
The two 1973 Grateful Dead concerts at Roosevelt Stadium with the Band are rightly legendary in Deadhead circles, so I needn't revisit them as musical performances. With respect to this chronicle, however, the significant factor was that the Dead, the Band and the Allman Brothers had just played Watkins Glen Grand Prix Racecourse the previous weekend (Saturday July 28) for no less than 600,000 fans. While the Glen was 4 hours Northwest of Manhattan, surely some Metro fans had made the journey. Yet here were two of the bands, headlining a football stadium on two weeknights.

Both shows were packed. Now, of course, we take for granted that Deadheads would see the band as many times as was physically possible, but this week was one of the indicators that showed the music industry that the Grateful Dead in a stadium had a kind of infinite appeal. It's true that the bands were originally booked for Monday night as well (July 30), but I suspect that night was canceled just out of concern over the logistics of getting the bands and their equipment over to New Jersey.

August 12, 1973  Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Santana/Tower of Power (Sunday)
Santana had become huge thanks to the Woodstock movie and some memorable hit singles. By 1973, however, the band had changed somewhat, and Carlos Santana was playing much more daring music. It was a risky thing to do, but it cemented the band's place as an important rock group, not just a 60s hitmaker. Santana was popular and important enough in the States, but in the rest of the world they were huge. Their mostly-instrumental music, with worldwide roots, catchy and danceable, but still sophisticated, translated well to other continents. From June through August of 1973, Santana had toured Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.  

Santana's most recent album was Caranvserai, their fourth on Columbia. It was all-instrumental, and while it still included some members of the Woodstock lineup on some tracks, the membership was starting to evolve. By the time of their '73 tour, the new Santana lineup was

Leon Thomas (vocals), Tom Coster (organ), Michael Shrieve (drums), Richard Kermode (keyboards), Jose "Chepito" Areas (timbales), Armando Peraza (congas), Carlos Santana (guitar), Douglas Rauch (bass) 

Only Carlos Santana, Shrieve and Chepito had been at Woodstock.

Santana, unlike Three Dog Night, were considered "serious" music. The Paterson News, for example, gave a glowing review of their Roosevelt Stadium performance in the  August 15 (Wednesday) edition. 

Tower of Power were a rising group from Oakland. Thanks to their knockout horn section, the band would have an impact beyond just their own hits. The group had been together in some form since the mid-60s, but by1973, they were busting out all over. Warners had just released their third album (Tower Of Power) in May, with the classic track "What Is Hip." Tower Of Power had played with Santana many times, and no doubt killed the crowd, whether they had heard of them before not.


August 18,  1973 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Grand Funk Railroad/Lee Michaels (Saturday)
In contrast to Santana, Grand Funk Railroad was considered a sort of joke, popular with long-haired boys who would wind up working in a gas station. Nonetheless, the band sold lots and lots of albums, despite the lack of any really recognizable songs. In mid-73, Grand Funk had seemed a bit tired, but in fact, teamed with new producer Todd Rundgren, they had released their biggest album ever in July. The title track, the dumb-but-unforgettable "We're An American Band," was a huge AM hit. The show was probably packed, and the crowd of long-haired boys probably went nuts. We don't know that, however--none of the daily papers nor the Village Voice would deign to acknowledge a Grand Funk concert as worthy of review.

Blue Oyster Cult, from Long Island, had been booked, but seems to have played Tampa, FL instead.  

Lee Michaels, an interesting performer from the Bay Area, had been booked to open the show. Michaels had gotten known for performing with just his Hammond organ and a drummer. He could absolutely yell the blues, he was a great organ player, and "kicked bass" with his feet. Michaels was famously, earsplittingly loud. Michaels  had scored a reasonably popular hits with "Heighty-Hi" (1969) and "Do You Know What I Mean," but Michaels was treading water himself. His 1973 album was the disappointing Nice Day For Something. In '73, Michaels was still only accompanied by a drummer (Keith Knudsen), but he played electric piano (really loud) instead of organ. I, personally, found that configuration pretty interesting, but it didn't go over that well. After 1973, Michaels took a break from touring and recording for a few years.

August 25, 1973 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Beach Boys/Poco/Stanky Brown
The August 25 show appealed to a different audience than the rest of the Summer's Roosevelt shows. The Beach Boys were still hugely popular, thanks to the constant play of their classic 60s hits on AM radio. The band had struggled to remain viable in the 1970s. Their most recent album, Holland, had been released in 1973 on their own Warner/Reprise imprint, Brother Records. Holland is generally seen as the last "classic" Beach Boys album. The song "Sail On Sailor" got good airplay on FM radio.  Brian Wilson had participated in the recording of the album (some of it in the Netherlands), but he no longer toured with the band.

The touring Beach Boys still had Mike Love on lead vocals, along with Carl Wilson (guitar), Dennis Wilson (drums), Al Jardine (guitar), Blondie Chaplin (lead guitar) and Ricky Fataar (drums). Jardine and the Wilsons provided the vocal blend that made the Beach Boys so special. The group was supported by Daryl Dragon on  keyboards (later "The Captain," of The Captain and Tennille), Ed Carter on bass, Billy Hinsche (ex-Dino, Desi and Billy) on guitar and keyboards. This lineup was memorialized by the late '73 album The Beach Boys In Concert (released by Brother/Reprise in November '73).

The significance of the Beach Boys booking was that many of the Roosevelt shows had appealed to long-haired teenage boys who wanted to get rowdy. Whether it was the relative sophistication of the largely college-educated (or college-bound) Grateful Dead crowd, or the proudly working-class appeal of Grand Funk Railroad, Roosevelt was selling tickets to boys who liked it loud and long. The Beach Boys would have appealed to a mellower crowd, including a lot of girls--you have no idea how male the 1973 Grateful Dead audience was, take my word for it--and it was their turn to caravan to the stadium in the family station wagon. Concerts like this one helped revive the Beach Boys as a massive touring act, even though they had not had a "real" hit since the 1960s. In many ways, this dynamic would prefigure hugely popular stadium acts of the 80s and 90s who had not had a really popular album since the 1970s. 

Opening act Poco were country-rock pioneers, having formed from the ashes of the Buffalo Springfield in 1968. They were associated with some other substantial acts through their management (then Lookout Management, later Hartmann-Goodman). At this time, Poco still featured ex-Buffalo Springfield singer Richie Furay, along with future Eagle, bassist Tim Schmidt. Their current album would have been A Good Feelin' To Know, released in September 1972 on Columbia. In September '73, Poco would release Crazy Eyes, their sixth album on Columbia. Poco was a great live band at this time (I saw them this month headlining at Winterland, so I'm not guessing). Furay would leave soon after.

Stanky Brown, then an unsigned band, were managed by promoter John Scher. Unappealing as it may sound at a distance, if only 10%  of the audience were around for the opening act, that was still a far bigger audience than would have seen the band in any night club. From the point of view of the promoter, a lot of fans were going to get there early, so having a band to keep them entertained kept everyone entertained. If people didn't like the band, they would go buy popcorn or soda, and that was good for business too.

August 31, 1973 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Allman Brothers Band/Grinderswitch (Friday) canceled
The Allman Brothers Band had been booked for a Friday night show at Roosevelt, just a month after Watkins Glen. The concert was canceled on August 29 when drummer Butch Trucks' suffered a hand injury in an auto accident.

October 7, 1973 Trenton Speedway, New Jersey State Fairgrounds, Hamilton, NJ: Allman Brothers Band/James Montgomery Band (Sunday)
When the season-ending Allman Brothers show had to be rescheduled, John Scher was not free to re-book the show at Roosevelt. Roosevelt, like all municipal stadiums, had a variety of clients, and rock concerts had to be booked around them. This theme would be played out at stadiums throughout the area, as promoters navigated the conflicting obligations of different sports teams.

The New York Football Giants had played at Yankee Stadium since 1956. After the 1973 baseball season, however, the crumbling 50-year old stadium ("The House That Ruth Built" had opened in 1923) was closed for re-modeling. The Yankees would play in Shea Stadium for the 1973 and '74 baseball seasons, and the Giants played football home games at the Yale Bowl in New Haven, CT. The Football Giants, however, had rented Roosevelt Stadium as their home practice field after September 1. So the Giants had control of the facility in September, and were not going to share it for a rock concert.

An aerial view of the Trenton Speedway, at the New Jersey State Fairgrounds in Hamilton, NJ. The track had a unique 1.5 mile "kidney bean oval" shape. The big events were for USAC "Indy Cars" and the NASCAR "Northern 300."

Scher re-scheduled the Allman Brothers for the New Jersey State Fairgounds in Hamilton, near Trenton. The core of the planned performance space was the Trenton Speedway, a 1.5 mile tri-oval race track used for NASCAR and IndyCar racing. The most recent major race had been on September 23, 1973, when Gordon Johncock had won in an Eagle-Offy. The Trenton Speedway was on Route 33, just East of US-1, so it was easy to get to, just like Roosevelt. Also, many teenagers had been to the State Fairgrounds, and it wouldn't have been hard to get approval from parents for a Sunday trip to the Fairgrounds.

The Watkins Glen show with the Allmans, the Dead and the Band had been the biggest rock concert in American history. With an estimated 600,000 present, it was perhaps twice the size of Woodstock. Everyone forgets that at the time of the Glen (July 28 '73) the Allmans had not even released their massively popular Brothers And Sisters album, with the massive summer hit "Rambling Man." Those records came out in August, so by October the Allmans were even bigger than they had been for the Glen show. 

Monday's edition of the main Trenton paper had a shot of the crowd at the Allman Brothers concert at Trenton Speedway. The stage looks back towards on the main grandstands.

Scher had promoted shows the previous year at the Fairgounds. Details are scant, but we know that the Beach Boys and The Kinks had drawn over 9,000 in August, 1972. From pictures and memories on the web, the layout for the Allmans show seems to have been to build a stage on pit row, with the built-in grandstands facing them, along with a huge area on the infield for additional fans. The James Montgomery Band was another Capricorn act. Capricorn's strategy in this era was to ensure that all the Allman Brothers shows were opened by other Capricorn acts. Many of their bands built good followings this way.

Was the Allmans show a success? It depends on how you looked at. UPI reported (on Sunday night) on the show.

TRENTON, Oct. 7 (UPI)—More than 38,000 people paid $5.50 each to hear the Allman Brothers in concert today at the New Jersey State Fairgrounds.

The Allman Brothers, who arrived in two helicopters, appeared on a 25‐foot high bandstand built especially for the four‐hour concert.

The concert, promoted by Monarch Entertainment Bureau Inc. of Passaic, also featured the James Montgomery band.

The audience was very orderly, according to the police. The police said the crowd did cause heavy traffic backups from the New Jersey Turnpike to the fairgrounds.
Web memories paint a somewhat wilder picture. While UPI reported that 38,000 people paid $5.50 each to hear the Allman Brothers, something like 50,000 or 60,000 fans showed up. Teenagers who had been to the Fairgrounds many times certainly knew all the ways to sneak in, and they did. It was a hot day, and there was plenty of madness. Everyone remembers the show fondly, except for the epic traffic jam. There weren't any more shows at the Trenton Fairgrounds until 1975 (and that one, headlined by Aerosmith, was an even bigger debacle). 

1974 New York Metro Sports Landscapes
The Trenton Speedway had only been in play because Roosevelt Stadium was booked by the New York Giants as a practice field. One characteristic concern for stadium concerts in every region in the mid-70s was the status of the various local sports teams. At the time, rock fans and sports fans were somewhat different universes, and the conflicts were not always readily apparent. For the purpose of this post, I will illustrate why Roosevelt Stadium was still the best choice for stadium rock concerts in New York Metro in 1974, even though these details are unique to the region. The important point, however, was that each region had similar conflicts or concerns.

Roosevelt Stadium: Roosevelt Stadium was accessible by car to the New Jersey suburbs, with a big parking lot. It was also somewhat accessible to NY Metro by PATH, since John Scher provided shuttle buses from the Journal Square Station. Still, crumbling old Roosevelt only had an official capacity of 30,000. Scher probably sold more tickets than that--I mean, c'mon'--but compared to NFL/MLB stadiums, it wasn't a huge number. The fact was, however, in 1974 there weren't going to be bigger, better choices in the NYC Metro area.

Yankee Stadium: Yankee Stadium was under the control of the Yankees, but the 50-year old venue was a crumbling mess. The Yankees had played their last game their on September 30, 1973 (and the Football Giants on September 23), and the stadium was closed for two years for remodeling. The Giants, as noted, had moved to the Yale Bowl, and the Yankees played the 1974 and '75 at Shea Stadium. The Mets probably hadn't wanted the Yankees at Shea, but Shea was a city-owned facility. When Mayor John Lindsay approved city funds to fix Yankee Stadium, he also mandated that they Yanks would share the baseball season at Shea.

Shea Stadium: Shea Stadium was in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. It had been built by the city of New York and completed in 1964, with a baseball capacity of 57,000. The regular tenants were the Mets and the AFL (later AFC) New York Jets. There had been a few rock concerts in Shea, most famously the Beatles on August 15, 1965. There had also been a "Summer Festival For Peace" on August 6, 1970, with Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival and other major acts. Grand Funk Railroad and Humble Pie had played Shea in 1971, but there hadn't been any other shows. In any case, since Shea had a baseball team and a football team as a tenant, there weren't a lot of free weekends. In 1974 and '75, the Yankees were added to the mix, and in 1975 the New York (Football) Giants played in Shea as well, so the stadium was simply unavailable for any rock promotions.

Concerts West had promoted Santana (with Bobby Womack) at Tampa Stadium on March 24, 1973

United States Stadium Rock, 1974
Roosevelt Stadium, despite its comparatively modest size, had been the first such venue in the country to book a slate of rock shows. Yet a few other promoters and venues were starting to catch on. Tampa Stadium, another municipally-owned stadium, had been built in 1967 with a capacity of about 46,000. The city had tried to attract a pro football franchise, but would not succeed until 1974. In the meantime, the city was looking for revenue, of course, and without a regular tenant the stadium was available for booking. The first instance I can find in the US of a single headline act playing a single-day concert at a a "major league" football or baseball stadium, was at Tampa. Santana headlined at Tampa on March 24, 1973.

In California, Bill Graham booked the Grateful Dead at the former San Francisco 49ers home field, Kezar Stadium, on April 26, 1973. Graham booked Led Zeppelin at Kezar on June 2, 1973, and sold 60,000 tickets. In between that time, however, Led Zeppelin had packed Tampa Stadium on May 4 and Fulton County Stadium on May 5. Thus Zep began and ended their '73 American tour with stadium shows (at Tampa and Kezar), foretelling what was to come. Pink Floyd also played Tampa Stadium that summer (June 29, 1973), the band's only other stadium show besides Roosevelt.

Graham had some neighborhood problems with the Led Zeppelin show at Kezar, and for his third stadium show of the Summer of '73, he moved to Oakland Coliseum. On August 5, 1973, Leon Russell and Loggins and Messina headlined the "Day On The Green" there. Such promotions would be booked every summer at the Oakland Coliseum for the next two decades. Roosevelt had been first, but stadium rock was coming. It started to arrive nationwide in the Summer of 1974.

John Scher Presents The 1974 Garden State Summer Music Fair
John Scher returned with a "Garden State Summer Music Fair" in 1974, but this time it was all at Roosevelt Stadium. Throughout the latter 70s, other cities would have a series of big shows at sports stadiums. For many teenagers, these huge events were memorable episodes of their college or high school summers, with whole carloads of back-in-the-day best friends and girlfriends spending a sun-drenched (or occasionally rain-drenched) afternoon hearing future Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame bands with 50,000 or more fellow travelers. But Roosevelt was the first stadium to have an entire slate throughout the whole summer, way back in '74.

June 7-8, 1974 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Allman Brothers Band/Grinderswitch (Friday-Saturday)
Paradoxically, the Allman Brothers Band had gone from being sort-of-popular to hugely popular after leader Duane Allman died on October 29, 1971. FM radio had discovered the Live At Fillmore East album, the band had released the engaging Eat A Peach and then the somewhat out-of-date "Layla" single (released 18 months earlier) had become a hit in Summer '72. The Allmans had headlined the biggest rock concert ever (at Watkins Glen) before their next album even came out. Brothers And Sisters had been released in August of 1973, and driven by "Ramblin' Man," it took the Allmans from hugely popular to Mega-Popular, as only a 70s rock band could be. 

The Allman Brothers Band was the first group to tour football stadiums throughout the country. Led Zeppelin had played the first stadium concerts in 1973, but Zep didn't tour again until 1975. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young had the first high profile tour in the Summer of 1974 that was almost all stadiums, grossing a then-incredible $7 million. The Allmans, however, had been regularly playing football stadiums since late '73, and played them throughout the Summer of '74, long before the CSNY tour got underway. Whether civilians noticed this isn't clear, but other concert promoters and rock band managers were surely seeing that the Allmans could headline a stadium without a co-headliner and pack the place, and they could do it all over the country. 

The weekend before this Roosevelt booking, the Allmans would play Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta (Saturday June 1), and in following weekends they would play Royals Stadium in Kansas City (Friday June 14), Mile High Stadium in Denver (Sunday June 23) and Jeppesen Stadium in Houston (Sunday June 30). They may have played Texas Stadium in Dallas (Friday June 28), too. By and large, the Allmans headlined these places with other aspiring bands on their label as opening acts, The one exception was Houston, where the Eagles opened (along with Commander Cody), but the Allmans showed that they could draw a big crowd by themselves. 

The Allmans played two shows at Roosevelt, not just because NY Metro was a big area, but because Roosevelt was distinctly smaller than the NFL/MLB stadiums they were playing around the country. Grinderswitch was another Capricorn Records band, formed by former Allman roadie Joe Dan Petty. The band had just released their debut album Honest To Goodness. Capricorn used the Allmans' huge drawing power to ensure that Allman fans heard all the label's other acts, an approach that was instrumental in the early success of Marshal Tucker Band (for example, teenage-me saw Tucker open for the Allmans in Oakland in '73, and was very impressed). Other managers took note, and the opening acts for headline tours by mid-70s heavyweights like Peter Frampton and Yes were often driven by shared representation.

Seals & Crofts 1972 Warners album Summer Breeze, with two giant hits (the other was "Hummingbird") made the soft-rock duo into stars

June 30, 1974 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Seals & Crofts/America /Maria Muldaur/Souther Hillman Furay Band/England Dan and John Ford Coley
This Sunday booking was distinct from other Roosevelt shows in a number of ways. For one thing, there was no single "must-see" headliner. Seals and Crofts were very popular, and had a new album (which, in fact, ended up not doing that well), and America was also popular. All of the acts had a certain amount of status--Maria Muldaur had just had a big hit and Souther Hillman Furay were brand new and getting the full treatment from the likes of Rolling Stone. This lineup encouraged fans to come for the whole day, not just to see the blockbuster headline act.

More importantly, however, in the parlance of the time, all the acts were "mellow." Other Roosevelt Stadium bookings in this period were directly aimed at a male audience.  This booking appealed to girls. Now, sure, carloads of kids came from high school and college, but for this show there would have been a lot more girls in the car. Also--this is an important demographic point--not all of them would have been with their boyfriends. For a lot of bands at General Admission concerts, almost every woman at the show was "with somebody." Even in a comparatively benign crowd, like the Grateful Dead audience, the scene was defiantly male, so "unaffiliated" girls and women were going to attract an awful lot of attention. If they didn't want that attention, better for them to stay away.

Jim Seals (1942-2022) and Darrell "Dash" Crofts (b.1938) were both long-time professional musicians from Texas. Both of them had been in The Champs, albeit touring some time after "Tequila" had been a smash hit in 1958. Both of them had also backed Glenn Campbell in Van Nuys nightclub, back in the early 60s, when Campbell was an established session musician but not yet a recording star. After various ins and outs, they ended up as a singer/songwriter duo signed to TA Records. Seals & Crofts' self-titled debut came out in 1969, and their follow-up Down Home would come out in September 1970. They would not see big success until after they signed with Warner Brothers in 1971. By '72, they had huge hits with "Hummingbird" and "Summer Breeze," and the Summer Breeze album from September was equally giant. "Diamond Girl," from April 1973, was equally huge. The album would reach #4, and the title single would release #6.

Seals & Crofts' newest album was Unborn Child. It had been released in February 1974. Warner Brothers had warned the duo that the subject of abortion in the title track was not going to be commercially popular, and they were correct. The album would only reach #18 on Billboard, with no hit singles, and the duo's popularity crested after this album. On stage, the pair were usually backed by a small combo.

America was a soft-rock trio on Warner Brothers. In June, they had just released their fourth album Holiday. The group was best known for the worldwide 1972 hit "A Horse With No Name," but they had  scored other hits as well, most notably 1973's "Ventura Highway." Right around this concert America released "Tin Man," another huge hit. While America was built around a trio of singers playing acoustic guitar (Dan Peek, Gerry Buckley and Dewey Bunnell), they usually had some supporting musicians on tour. 

Maria Muldaur had been a Greenwich Village folkie as a teenager, recording with the Even Dozen Jug Band (1964) and then the Jim Kweskin Jug Band (1965-68). After some duet albums with her husband Geoff Muldaur, Maria had gone solo. Her self-titled debut album on Reprise had been released in August 1973. It included the iconic hit "Midnight At The Oasis," The single peaked at #6 on Billboard, and the album made it to #3. By May of '74, Maria Muldaur was certified Gold. Her second album, Waitress In A Donut Shop, had been released in mid-74. It was a terrific album, although it would not reach the success of the debut.

The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, meanwhile, was a "supergroup" put together by Eagles/CSNY manager David Geffen. By this time, Geffen had given up management to start Asylum Records. JD Souther had written songs for the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt, Chris Hillman had been in the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers and Richie Furay had been in Buffalo Springfield and Poco. They all sang and played well, and had some very heavy Hollywood players in the band (steel guitarist Al Perkins, organist Paul Harris, drummer Jim Gordon and percussionist Joe Lala), all with stellar resumes. SHF had just released their debut album, and they seemed destined for stardom (although that in fact did not occur).  

England Dan and John Ford Coley were a soft rock duo, like Seals & Crofts. "England Dan," in fact, was the younger brother of Jim Seals. The duo had gotten together as classmates in a Dallas High School. They had been in a psychedelic rock band called Southwest FOB. Dan Seals was given the nickname "England Dan" by his older brother Jim, since he liked the Beatles so much. By 1970, Dan and Coley had moved to LA, and they got signed by A&M as a folk duo. They had put out two albums on A&M, but were dropped after their 1972 album Fables. England Dan and John Ford Coley kept plugging away, however, and would finally release another album in 1976. They would hit it big with the single "I'd Really Love To See You Tonight," which would reach #2.

The Seals & Crofts/America show had a coherent package for their audience. It's important to note, however, the links between the bands. Seals and Crofts, America and Maria Muldaur were on Warners, and SHF were on Asylum, and Warners and Asylum shared distribution. The managers of America were former partners with David Geffen, who had left to start a record label. England Dan and John Ford Coley were without a label, but of course Dan Seals' brother was the headliner.

There's nothing sinister about these arrangements, nor secret, and the booking made a lot of sense. One of the characteristics of multi-act stadium shows, however, was that it created the conditions for such packages. If a promoter wanted to book a hot headliner, he likely had to take some other acts with it. In this case, it made for a good afternoon, but that wasn't always the case. Many headline acts were supported by utterly forgettable bands who shared management with them. 

July 7, 1974 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Eric Clapton/Ross
After some well-publicized drug problems, Eric Clapton had released a new album and returned to the road. 461 Ocean Boulevard wasn't that great an album, and there weren't a lot of hot guitar solos, but it didn't matter: Eric was back. Clapton has been a recording and performing fixture for so many decades that we forget what a big deal he was in 1974. Clapton would have a huge hit with "I Shot The Sheriff," and Clapton would have a big part in making the rock world aware of Bob Marley.  

Clapton's 1974 touring band featured the musicians from the album:

Eric Clapton-guitar, vocals
George Terry-guitar
Yvonne Elliman-vocals
Dick Simms-organ, keyboards
Carl Radle-bass
Jamie Oldaker-drums

Old pal Carl Radle, from Derek and The Dominoes, had invited Clapton to play with Simms and Oldaker, all from Tulsa. Florida guitarist Terry and singer Elliman (she had been in Jesus Christ Superstar) were added during recording.

Opening act Ross was led by guitarist and songwriter Alan Ross, and were signed to RSO. Ross had played with John Entwhistle, and had released two albums. Despite the opportunity offered by opening for Clapton, the band would break up in mid-tour (some sites also list Freddie King as an opening act).

A ticket for the Grateful Dead concert at Roosevelt Stadium on August 2, 1974. Note that despite the "Rain or Shine" admonition, the concert was rained out and re-scheduled for August 6. Note also that the ticket says "Rt 440" which would actually have been sufficient directions.

August 6, 1974 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Grateful Dead
(Tuesday) rescheduled from Aug 2
The Grateful Dead returned to Roosevelt Stadium for their sixth time in three years. By this time Deadheads probably considered it tradition. Unfortunately, the show had been booked for Friday, August 2, and there was a torrential downpour. At around 10:00pm, the show was officially canceled and rescheduled for Tuesday, August 6. In between, the Dead played two shows in Philadelphia (read a newspaper description of the grim weather on Friday night in the indispensable Deadsources).

August 8, 1974 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were surely the most popular American group. Only Led Zeppelin would have been a bigger live attraction. CSNY had been working on an album to follow up their massive Deja Vu album, released back in 1970. The usual clash of personalities and musical differences left any new album in the can, but the tour scheduled in support of it happened anyway. Although the tour was relatively short (about 30 dates), it was booked mostly at stadiums and other huge outdoor venues, far bigger than just basketball arenas. The Allman Brothers had been playing football stadiums as part of their touring schedule, but the CSNY tour was the first tour that was exclusively organized around those giant venues.

The four singers, ably supported by bassist Tim Drummond, drummer Russ Kunkel and percussionist Joe Lala, would play for over two hours. Their were CSNY songs, solo album songs, new songs, and plenty of great music. The tour would gross $7 million, a huge number. Expenses were out of control, and the band only showed a slight profit, but clearly rock touring had graduated to the big time. Two years earlier, Roosevelt Stadium had been considered a large venue. Now, compared to places like Cleveland Municipal Stadium (with a baseball capacity of 78,000), it wasn't so big. 

At many stadiums, CSNY was supported by a slew of other acts, including Joe Walsh, The Band and others. Those shows were on a weekend, however, whereas the Roosevelt show was on a Thursday night. As far as I know, there was not an opening act for CSNY. The memorable moment was when Graham Nash announced to the crowd that Richard Nixon had just resigned as US President. David Crosby then launched into "Long Time Gone."

Emerson, Lake & Palmer's January 1974 album Brain Salad Surgery, on their own Manticore label

August 20, 1974 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Emerson Lake & Palmer
(Tuesday) rescheduled from August 17
Emerson, Lake and Palmer had been booked for Saturday, August 17, but they got rained out. The band's next show (August 19 at Saratoga Springs) was canceled, since Keith Emerson's Moog had been damaged in the storm. The Moog was repaired over the weekend, however, and ELP returned to play New Jersey on Tuesday night (August 20).

Emerson, Lake and Palmer
had released their fifth album Brain Salad Surgery, back in January. After the trio's previous album, Trilogy (on Island) had reached #5, ELP (as they were known) had signed with Atlantic. Atlantic had given them their own "Imprint" label, Manticore Records. Brain Salad Surgery would reach #11. ELP were dramatic live performers, playing surprisingly difficult music in an energetic way. Back in 1970, they had had a modest hit single with "Lucky Man," but they were an album band, famous for Keith Emerson's prodigious keyboard skills and Carl Palmer's powerhouse drumming.

ELP had formed out of the ashes of Emerson's 60s trio, The Nice. The Nice were progressive rock pioneers, featuring Emerson's formidable organ and piano skills, augmented by odd time signatures and orchestral accompaniment. Along with the difficult stuff, The Nice would do highly musical covers of Bob Dylan songs and the like. They were very popular in England. The Nice had ground to a halt by the end of 1969, and Emerson and Greg Lake teamed up, finding Palmer in early 1970. Almost from their inception, the band's merger of classically-themed pieces and loud rock virtuosity made them a huge concert attraction. ELP was the first really successful Progressive rock band, and they were a huge concert draw. ELP showed that rowdy young men could get just as excited about a 20-minute rock adaptation of a classical theme as they would for a blues boogie. 

August 23, 1974 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Beach Boys/Eagles (Friday)
The Beach Boys were undergoing an unexpected popular renaissance, and the Eagles were getting bigger than ever. The rock audience had expanded massively since 1966, and there was a huge swath of younger fans who hadn't been radio listeners for the first wave of Beach Boys hit. In June 1974, Capitol Records released Endless Summer, a double album of their classic hits. Old Beach Boys hits were played on AM radio, and the band was bigger than ever, but with a younger group of fans. The Beach Boys had headlined Roosevelt the previous Summer, and returned in 1974 even bigger than before.

The Eagles had just released On The Border, their third album for Asylum Records, in March 1974. The album would ultimately reach #17 on the Billboard charts and sell two million copies (double platinum). The record would have three huge, memorable singles: "Already Gone" (released April 19 '74), "James Dean" and "Best Of My Love." The Eagles were already really big, but they were going to get much, much bigger. 

The Grateful Dead at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, NJ, supported by the Wall Of Sound, on August 6, 1974

Aftermath: Stadium Concerts After 1974

In 1972, when John Scher had started booking rock concerts at Roosevelt Stadium, he was one the first to regularly book rock concerts at a sports stadium. By 1974, there were more and more rock concerts at football and baseball stadiums. After the Allmans and CSNY showed it was possible, the live rock concert industry expanded its horizons. From 1975 onwards, stadium concerts were a regular part of the Summer season, all over the country. Roosevelt was just another stop on the tour, and in that respect it was much smaller than other national venues. Initially, however, there weren't other choices in the NY Metro area. Still, many Roosevelt shows were on weekdays, since more lucrative bookings could be had at NFL stadiums on weekends.

John Scher booked rock concerts at Roosevelt Stadium in the Summers of 1975 and '76 (see the Appendix below). By 1976, however, Yankee Stadium had re-opened, and the Yankees and Giants moved out of Shea Stadium. The first rock concert at Shea in many years was headlined by Jethro Tull on July 23, 1976 (supported by Robin Trower and Rory Gallagher). The show was recalled as "Tull vs Boeing," as jets landing at La Guardia interfered with the concert sound. Still, airport aside, Shea was in the mix as a venue, and it had a capacity twice that of Roosevelt. 

In any case, Roosevelt Stadium was a municipal facility, and the AA Eastern League moved a franchise to Jersey City (in 1977 for the Indians, and in '78 for the Oakland A's). With a baseball franchise, the stadium wasn't available for concerts. John Scher booked the Dead at Englishtown Raceway in 1977--for 109,000 paid--and then the brand-new Giants Stadium in 1978. Time marched beyond Roosevelt Stadium, but it had been the venue that proved to the entire industry that stadium concerts could work.

Appendix: Roosevelt Stadium Concerts, 1975-76

June 14, 1975 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Pink Floyd (Saturday)

July 6, 1975 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Alice Cooper/Johnny Winter/Leslie West with Corky Laing/James Gang (Sunday)

July 13, 1975 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ:  Yes/Ace  (Sunday)     

July 19, 1975  Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ:   The Eagles / Seals & Crofts (Saturday)

August 22, 1975 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Rod Stewart & The Faces/Ten Years After/Lynyrd Skynrd (Friday)

August 31, 1975 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Doobie Brothers/The Outlaws/New Riders of The Purple Sage   (Sunday)


June 17, 1976 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Yes/Pousette-Dart Band (Thursday)

July 10, 1976 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Kiss/J Geils Band/Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band/Point Blank  (Saturday)

July 29, 1976 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Eagles/Boz Scaggs (Thursday)

August 4, 1976 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Grateful Dead (Wednesday)

August 28, 1976 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Beach Boys/Richie Furay Band (Saturday)

September 4, 1976 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ: Chicago (Saturday)
John Scher had begun his series of rock concerts at Roosevelt Stadium with Chicago on July 13, 1972, and by accident or design he ended with them as well.                       

In 2012, Stadium Pizza in the mall parking lot was the only trace of Roosevelt Stadium

Roosevelt Stadium, old and tired, was torn down in 1982. It was replaced by a housing development called Society Hill. The parking lot was turned into a mall. The incongruously named Stadium Pizza is the only hint that Jackie Robinson and Jerry Garcia trod there in past times.