When I was a kid, and I do mean a kid first grade. I wasn’t into music by any means. I grew up the oldest of 4. My siblings are three younger sisters. My parents weren’t into music, so neither was I. My friend Greg Stuckey lived across the street, we’d play baseball and football. Greg had older brothers. I can’t remember how many but it seemed like a lot. They did listen to music - all the time and very loud. I had no idea what it was but I liked it. I remember very vividly, the riffs from “Smoke on the Water” from Deep Purple, “Parasite” from Kiss, and “Who Are You” from The Who.
One day, Greg’s brothers were playing an album by The Who and I asked them who it was they were listening to. What ensued was a musical version of Abbott and Costello’s ‘Who’s on First’ routine. I finally figured out that the name of the band was, in fact, The Who. A little few days later, my mom had the radio on in the car, which was rare. The Who came on and I remember being so excited because I knew who it was. At the time, we lived in a suburb of Dayton, called Bellbrook, Ohio. It’s about fifty miles from Cincinnati. As it turns out, the reason the radio station was playing The Who because the band was in town playing at the brand new Cincinnati arena that night. Not knowing any better, I asked my mom if we could go to the concert. Her response was a resounding – NO!
That night was December 3, 1979. Eleven people died in a stampede trying to get into the show. Fans rushing to get the best spots in a festival seating event. A huge tragedy that I found out about on the news the next night. This was my introduction to concerts. Clearly this was not a deterrent.
The more I got into music the more I found how much I really liked The Who. As the years rolled on, I got their back catalog.
While working for KNAC radio in Los Angeles, The Who announced a big tour. They were coming to town and playing the Los Angeles Coliseum. We got tickets through the station. It was my job to take the van to the venue and pass out bumper stickers. I was getting paid to finally go see The Who!!
My friend Eric went with me and got to the Coliseum early to set up. My boss stopped by the van and said he would be back to give us our tickets. We passed out a ton of stickers and talked with excited concert goers. It was getting close to showtime. Still waiting for my boss to reappear with our tickets, Eric and I were playing Frisbee in the nearly empty, of people, parking lot. The first notes of the first song starting ringing through the L.A. night and we are still sitting in the lot. I received a lot of apologies but still had never seen The Who.
A decade later The Who had a show scheduled for Tampa, Florida. I bought tickets. No having to ask mom, no working – just going to the show. A new outdoor amphitheater set on the Tampa fairgrounds, was the scene for the first time seeing the band. Parking was a nightmare. Finally we made our way in to the venue just as the opening band was finishing their last song. We had time to wait in a line for a drink. While walking to our seats the lights went out, the crowd erupted. The opening chords to Can’t Explain come pouring out of the amplifiers. Side stepping our way to our seats the first couple of lines are being sung by Pete Townsend. Pete Townsend?! I turn to look at the stage, just in time to see Roger Daltry walking off stage. The band stops and Pete addresses the crowd. It seems Roger had lost his voice, they were going to see if he could find it and the band would be right back. Fifteen minutes later Townsend comes out on stage and informs the crowd that the show wasn’t going to happen.
Visions of an angry mob were flashing in my mind. It could be another Cincinnati. Luckily, The Who fans had gotten older and didn’t have the energy to riot on a weeknight. I literally heard the people behind me say, “Well, at least we can make home in time to see CSI.”
Maybe someday will be my time. The stars will align, Mercury won’t be in retrograde, and maybe it will be a harvest moon. Whatever it takes. I’ll keep a positive attitude and who knows?