Saturday, October 17, 2009

November 18-19, 1967, Cow Palace-Hollywood Bowl: Free Concerts

November 18, 1967 Cow Palace, Daly City, CA
November 19, 1967 Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA
The Association/The Animals/Everly Brothers/Sopwith Camel/The Who/Sunshine Company

These two concerts stand out on lists of old rock concerts, for any number of reasons. The 1967 rock market was quite small, and the 11,000 seat Cow Palace (at 2600 Geneva Avenue, just South of San Francisco) and the prestigious 17,000 seat Hollywood Bowl (at 2301 North Highland) was on a substantially larger scale than the Fillmore or equivalent venues. The Association, The Animals and The Who had all headlined the Fillmore, the Everly Brothers, while past the prime of their radio popularity, were still very well known, and Sopwith Camel had had a radio hit ("Hello Hello").

What is particularly different about these rock concerts was that they were effectively free. The article above is from the Oakland Tribune 'Teen Age' section of November 8, 1967, and it says
Tickets to the musical extravaganza are free with the purchase of any one M-G-M or Warner Brothers stereo album at any Bay Area White Front store, sponsor of the event.
White Front was a large department store, like Sears or Macy's, and there were quite a few around the Bay Area. Thus you could have gone into the store and purchased, say, Freak Out by The Mothers of Invention (on MGM), or the first Grateful Dead album (on Warners), and gotten a free ticket. Of course, in those days, the record sections of stores had considerably fewer albums, and you might find yourself having to buy a considerably less attractive album.

The article also says the show was scheduled to run for two and one-half hours. With six acts, even with a shared sound system and rapid equipment changes, bands could be playing for no longer than 25 minutes. The groups who had gotten used to the Fillmore, with its Owsley Stanley designed sound, intimate setting and two hour-long sets, must have found these shows to be trivial and alienating.

Notes on the bands
The Association
The Association were one of the most commercially successful folk-rock bands. While they were all fine musicians, they wore suits on stages, and did coordinated dance steps and little skits between songs, like a Las Vegas act, so they were roundly dismissed by the hip underground. Their big hit in the Summer had been "Windy," and their current hit was "Never My Love." They were on Warner Brothers Records.

The Animals
The Animals had been one of the biggest acts of the British Invasion. However, the "new" Animals were very different creatures indeed than the minimalist R&B combo of the mid-60s. With twin guitarists Vic Briggs and John Weider and Eric Burdon's powerful if histrionic vocals, they had a big hit with the psychedelic "San Franciscan Nights" (how good was Owsley's acid if Eric thought a San Franciscan night was warm?). On stage, the band sounded like a cross between the original Animals and Quicksilver Messenger Service. They were on MGM Records.

Everly Brothers
The Everly Brothers had been one of the biggest acts of the early 1960s, and they were a huge influence on The Beatles and many other groups. They were all but single-handedly responsible for showing that the traditional brother harmonies of old time country music (originated by the likes of The Delmore Brothers) could be effectively transposed onto popular rock music, a lesson the Beatles took very well. Although the Everlys were still making fine albums, they were no longer pop hitmakers in America. They recorded for Warner Brothers Records.

Sopwith Camel
The Sopwith Camel had formed at 1090 Page Street, the same hippie rooming house that spawned Big Brother And The Holding Company. Although the Camel was one of the original ballroom bands, they had been signed quickly by Kama Sutra Records, and had an early 1967 hit with their song "Hello Hello." The Fillmore underground rather unfairly dubbed them "sell-outs", and they missed being attached to the underground wave that they had helped begin. Reputedly they were a pretty good live band, with a tough twin guitar sound somewhat at odds with the Lovin Spoonful-ish style of their album.

The Who
The Who hardly need an introduction here. Similar to the Animals, The Who spent 1967 converting themselves from a pop-oriented British Invasion band to a serious Underground band. The band had already headlined the Fillmore (June 16-17, 1967) and played Monterey Pop (June 18), but they had spent the next eight weeks touring America with Herman's Hermits. The band's most recent album was A Quick One, released in America in May 1967 (December 66 in the UK). Their current single was  the great "I Can See For Miles", from their forthcoming classic The Who Sell Out. This show was the beginning of an American tour where The Who still played "teen" venues, but by 1968 they had evolved into serious rock musicians who played the Fillmore East. The Who recorded for Decca Records.

The Sunshine Company
The Sunshine Company played a sort of psychedelic pop music native to Los Angeles, with catchy tunes, nice harmonies and quirky arrangements. They had a modest hit with "Back On The Street Again." They recorded for Imperial Records. The Sunshine Company may not have played the Hollywood Bowl.

Notes On The Venues
The Cow Palace 2600 Geneva Avenue, Daly City, CA
The Cow Palace, originally the California State Livestock Pavilion was built in the depression and completed in 1941. A local politician was quoted as saying "People are starving, and we're building a palace for the cows," and the name stock. With a concert capacity of around 11,000, it was the biggest indoor concert venue in the Bay Area until the completion of the Oakland Coliseum in 1966. The Beatles played there twice, and the Rolling Stones played there as well. Although it became increasingly outdated, many fine rock concerts were held there when better venues were filled up (I saw great shows there by Pink Floyd, Neil Young and Nirvana, to name a few, and a dreadful Iron Maiden/Twisted Sister show). The building is currently slated for demolition.

Hollywood Bowl, 2301 North Highland, Los Angeles, CA
The 17,000 capacity Hollywood Bowl is an outdoor venue carved out of a natural amphitheater on a hillside above Los Angeles. It was used in a basic form for outdoor concerts as early as 1922, but a substantial and distinctive bandshell was constructed in 1929. The Hollywood Bowl has always been a prestige venue in Hollywood, for those acts big enough to play there. It remains an active venue to this day.


  1. The Cow Palace was a huge part of the Bay Area music scene long before the shows you mention. Radio station KYA promoted numerous shows there. I remember one about 1963 that was a Motown affair with the Rightous Bros and about 10 other acts like the Ronnettes etc...and Phil Spectre on stage conducting all of them....wild! Oh, and toward the end of the show he lead a little blind black kid out on stage who played harmonica and sang. It was the only time I've seen Stevie Wonder live.

  2. This was the first concert I even attended. I was already 15 but my parents drove me and my cousin to see this. I don't remember much about it except we were pretty far away because our tickets were "free". The sound was not very good and the acts were short. I thought the Who's act of "destroying" their gear seemed very staged and artificial. We were just beginning to discover this wonderful new music now coined Classic Rock

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  4. I was at one of these shows at the Cow Palace, and it was quite entertaining. I remember that if you purchased two LPs at White Front you got seating towards the front, but one LP gave you seating towards the back half of the Cow Palace. I don't know why I remember this but an LP at White Front then cost $3.58 (or was it $3.56?) if stereo, and $2.78 if mono.

    I rather stupidly bought only one LP but did manage to walk around and see some of the show from closer to the stage than where my "one LP" seat was. I do remember I did move close to the stage when Eric Burdon was on.

  5. The Who; The Animals. Hollywood Bowl. November 19th 1967. Keith Moon tore it up! That's all I remember. Thanks Mom for taking me. I thought I was going to the circus when she said animals. Not happy until Keith did his thing then awed.

    1. Hi John, I was also 15 and my best friend's mom drove us to the concert, dropped us off and came back to pick us up afterwards as she had no interest in rock music. The album I bought at White Front for my admission ticket was Herman's Hermits. Do you remember that the Association also performed. They were my favorite band at the time and we moved closer to the stage when they came on. Do you recall that there was a rainstorm about halfway through the show. We did not bring umbrellas and were completely soaked--Woodstock anyone? The Sunshine Company hit the stage and the skies opened up. Always thought that was funny. They almost halted the show. Apparently the performers were at some risk with the rain soaking the electrical equipment. I think the Who were last. Everyone was talking about them and waiting for their instrument-smashing finale. I'll never forget that day. The friend I went with is still one of my best friends. Great memories of happy times. :-)

    2. I don't recall the rainstorm or getting soaked. I just turned 11. Keith Moon's drumsticks flying into the audience really thrilled me. I remember a couple of girls with flowers in their hair, ankle beads, long tapestry style dresses.

  6. Do you recall who opened the show ? Or the order in which the bands played ?? Great recollections... thanks !!

    1. Sorry Malc. I don't recall the opening act or order.

    2. Hey there - according to the SF Chronicle, in an 11/26/67 article well after the show date, the order was: Sopwith Camel, Sunshine Company, The Who, (intermission), The Animals, The Everly Brothers, and The Association closed it.

  7. I remember the rainstorm. It poured! I also remember Eric Burdon dancing in the fountain in front of the stage at the Bowl. And Keith Moon's drum flying into it!

  8. I was fifteen when I attended, and I went there by bus with a friend from Burlingame to the Cow Palace. I got two tickets from Whitefront, but I don't think I bought an album. The show was fantastic. The Animals and The Who stole the show. When the Who busted up their instruments, the crowd did not know what to think. I distinctly remember the Who playing "I can see for miles". The Everly Bros were surprisingly good and pros. The Association did their pop song "Cherish", and others. The order was Sopwith Camel, Everly Bros, Association, Animals, the Who. I don't recall the Sunshine Company playing. Not my first concert, Santana and the Troggs played separately at the Burlingame Rec for 50 cents.

    1. I was 17 at the time. I'm pretty certain that the Sunshine Co. opened the show. I also recall a few of the younger audience members booing when the Everley Bros were introduced because they were passe and not cool, with their slicked backed hair and tuxedos. I did not boo because I appreciated their talent and music and still do. For my ticket, I bought the Animals Greatest Hits on MGM records as I already had the Grateful Dead's first album on MGM. I do not, however, recall the rain. I gathered the roof leaked? I nonetheless recall enjoying the show very much. And I agree with the comment that the Who's destruction was partly staged, with phony smoke pouring from behind the amps. If you ever watch videos of the Who, you don't see Entwistle smashing his bass. He stands off to the side and merely watches as Pete and Keith smash things a bit, obviously valuing his gear.

      The following month I saw the Doors and Chuck Berry, along with Salvation, a local band I believe, at Winterland. The Doors disappointed. Morrison was bizarre. Berry was great and stole the show. The Steve Miller Blues Band backed him up. He did not travel with a backup band. Somebody had to round up a local backup band. He would show at a show with guitar in hand and demanding to be paid in cash up front before taking the stage. He apparently later got into trouble with the IRS for failing to fully disclose his income on his tax returns.

  9. I was there and for some reason I thought the Spencer Davis Group opened the show but I don't see them listed. if you have any info .

  10. I remember buying an LP at White Front and getting my tickets. Great fun! Couldn't recall the names of all the groups that played.

  11. I was at the Hollywood bowl concert and it certainly did rain. This was my first concert, and I was 15 and happy to be sitting in the rain and enjoying. I believe I paid no more than 50 cents for a ticket.
    My recollection was that that Sopwith Camel opened, followed by Sunshine Company. Spencer Davis Group was not on the bill and did not play. One important thing to remember about Pete Townshend smashing his guitar into his amps is that the cabinets he hit were empty props: no speakers inside! Eric Burdon was great for jumping into the fountain in front of the stage. The Association were the headliners, even though they were really a Vegas show act, as their subsequent career showed. The stars of the show were The Who and The Animals. Great first show for a lifelong music fan.

  12. I was at the Cow Palace show. Loved it. I was in 9th grade. My brother Mike and I with a school friend took the bus. Loved Monterey by the Animals and of course the WHO Rocked!