Tag Archives: Kris Kristofferson

A Night At The Opera

I don’t have my all my ticket stubs for concerts I’ve seen over the years, but I managed to save some.

Below – At the Beach Boys concert in Toronto, they let out everyone from the first show just as the second bunch, including us, were coming in, and it was close to a trampling scene. My wife was really freaked. I think she thought she was going to die. I suppose I did too.

Elton John wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. He wore an admiral’s hat and coat and looked a tad bored.

I saw Kris Kristofferson with Johnny Cash, and I’m trying to remember if it was from this ticket stub. You would think Johnny Cash’s name would be on the ticket, even as headliner. I don’t know. Maybe my mind is……….

I can’t remember much about Split Enz, but I remember the murmur in the crowd that Southside Johnny would be joining Gary U.S.Bonds at the show. This was ridiculous and I knew it. The two had worked together on an album in the past, which certainly didn’t mean they were going to reunite at Camp Fortune, near Ottawa.

Below –  The Who were great. Pete Townshend was great.

The Band at this point were without Robbie Robertson, but I loved them anyway. I saw them once before, in the early Seventies at the Montreal Forum when they and Bob Dylan were on the Before The Flood tour .

That little blue and grey stub means a lot to me. It was at Gerde’s Folk City in New York’s Greenwich Village, a little room that holds about 50 people, and not only did Rick Danko and Richard Manuel from The Band play only about 15 feet away, but Paul Butterfield got up and joined them. We sat at a fairly big table and Danko and Manuel and their women sat at the same table during breaks.

About a year after that, Richard Manuel hung himself, and in 1999, Rick Danko died of a drug-related heart attack. Fellow Band member Levon Helm left us just last April so now only Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson remain. It’s very sad.

Below – Willie Nelson was fun, Robert Palmer was slick, and the Pretenders were excellent. But about Pete Best: You might know that Best was the Beatles’ original drummer before being given the boot for Ringo. I have my own story about the guy.

When I lived in Calgary, an event organizer contacted me to see if I would set up a display of Beatles memorabilia, which I had a lot of, at a collectables show at McMahon Stadium, with Pete Best as invited speaker.

I said yes, and I was introduced to Pete Best and his wife Kathy, and both loved my Beatles collection. I was invited to a dinner with Pete and Kathy and the organizers, and after that we all went to this little theatre with seating for about 30 people, and we watched a screening of Backbeat, which dealt with the Beatles in Germany when Pete Best was still the drummer.

Kathy Best sat in front of me and would often remark during the screening how the movie was getting the facts wrong. “Bullshit” she said several times. At one point, I asked Pete, who was sitting beside me, if something on the screen had really happened, and he said no.

They still live in Liverpool. Or at least they did. Maybe they’re in Cannes now. After being fired from the Beatles, he first worked in a meat shop, then got a post office job which lasted until he retired. I read a few years ago that Pete finally cashed in from his time as a Beatle, when royalties arrived from the Beatles Anthology, which was a box set, a film, and a book, and his share was worth many millions.

The ticket below is for a show he did about a year later. His band went through a lot of Beatles material, and he doesn’t sing. It’s basically just a cover band.

And oh yes, I asked him why he was fired. There are lots of theories – that Ringo was simply a better drummer, that gay manager Brian Epstein tried and failed to seduce Pete, and that he basically just didn’t fit in with the others. Pete told me two theories of his own – he thinks the other Beatles became resentful because he was more successful with the ladies than they were, and also – and this one’s very interesting – he had tight curls and wasn’t able to comb his hair down in a Beatle cut, so he didn’t fit what Epstein envisioned.

He also told me that he and Paul McCartney almost burned down Hamburg’s City Hall by accident.

Next, the Eagles were fine, except we were so far away that something was definitely missing. I hate monster venues. Dire Straits, with Stevie Ray Vaughan opening was, of course, fabulous, and I also saw Stevie Ray Vaughan at the National Arts Centre, which was way more intimate than the Civic Centre.

Below –  KD Lang was neat, but I liked the opening act, a female Seattle band, Ranch Romance, even better.

Beside Elvis Costello is Steve Goodman, who you may or may not have heard of. He was a genius, longtime buddy of John Prine, and wrote City of New Orleans and lots of other great stuff. He’s been dead for quite a few years now.

Of all the shows I’ve seen, none can equal Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. They were the best, the most exciting, they blew the doors off for three hours, and everyone left these shows exhausted.  There are four tickets here, and I can think of two other shows I was at also. I saw them in 1976 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and also sometime around 1979 at the Civic Centre.

I was such a Bob Dylan fan when I was a teenager, but when I see him on TV now, it makes me sad. He was never a great singer, which didn’t bother me in the least, but now he sounds like a cat being strangled. I loved his music from the Sixties and I still do, but somewhere along the line, something happened. Maybe he’s playing a gigantic joke on us. Regardless, I firmly believe his place in culture ranks up there with Elvis and the Beatles, and his early stuff still moves me.

I was never a Kenny Loggins fan, but we were in New York and wanted to go to Radio City Music Hall.

A year before that in New York, we went to see Oh Calcutta at the theatre next door to our hotel. I had no idea until it was playing that the male and female actors got naked.

Below –  My brother-in-law and I were given free tickets from a friend playing in the opening act, Honeymoon Suite, and the seats were great. I grew up listening to the Kinks, and I fully expected a nostalgia-type show like the Beach Boys, but it wasn’t that at all. They combined new stuff with old, and Ray Davies is a terrific showman. The Kinks were fabulous.

Melissa Etheridge was powerful and professional, ZZ Top played in front of a giant ’56 Chevy, and Robert Palmer was good, but the reason we really went was because it was Radio City Music Hall.

Finally, the Beatles. This is the big one for me, although I sat in the last row on the floor. I could see them just fine, but the screaming and fainting was amazing. The girls were just nuts, and although I could hear the music, it was difficult and often drowned out. Screaming and such was the big reason the boys stopped touring soon after this Toronto show, and would prefer the studio. I was 15, and all my life I’ve been proud to say I saw the Beatles.

There were other shows too, although the ticket stubs are long gone. The Hollies twice, John Prine, the McCoys, Led Zeppelin in Vancouver, the same city I saw the Grateful Dead and Ten Years After in. There was John Mayall in London, Van Morrison at Massey Hall, Blind Faith with Eric Clapton at Varsity Stadium, the Youngbloods at Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, plus, in various towns and cities – Gordon Lightfoot, Phil Ochs, the Young Rascals, the Association, Roger McGuinn, Murray McLaughlin, Sha Na Na, Billy Joel, John Cougar Mellencamp, Wynona Judd, and others I can’t remember at this point.

I also had tickets for Joe Cocker, who never showed up, and Roy Orbison, when I had to work.

What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been. Part Two

The drive back from Vegas has been very cool, in a non-weather sort of way. We fought traffic through LA to take close-up pictures of the big old Hollywood sign up on the hills, and shortly after, cruised the Sunset Strip. The Strip brings back slightly unsettling memories for me, as it was there in 1967 when I was busted for breaking the 11 o’clock curfew for those under 18 that was instilled at the time because of previous riots, (I was only 16 and all alone) and I was thrown in the slammer for seven days and deported back to Canada.

This time, though, things are much different, as I’m all grown up and married and have some money for food and shelter, and we hopped back in our car and drove through Beverly Hills, down to Santa Monica, spent the night in Malibu and walked along the beach the next morning, gawking at all the beach homes belonging to the filthy-rich who may or may not have made their money legally. After that it was up to San Francisco where we gazed at Alcatraz from the marina, and then over the Golden Gate bridge heading north. The only time I heard from Gaston in the back seat during this whole trip was when we passed the turnoff to San Quentin penitentiary and he got all excited because he felt homesick and started to think about those Christmases and such that he’d spent there with all his old pals. Who says you can’t go home again?

There were other highlights. Salinas, from the pages of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, that Kris Kristofferson and Janis Joplin sang about in Me and Bobby McGee. “And somewhere near Salinas, Lord, I let her slip away.” There was the Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood that I went in again to see after 40 years, the place I was at just before I got busted in 1967. There was the greaser bar in the Napa Valley that is now my favourite juke joint. Just wash your hands afterwards. Actually, it’s not my favourite juke joint. It was really a piece of shit.

And there were all the beautiful palm trees throughout the trip which I have major affection for.

Now we’re nearing home, rain, reality, and the cat. I’d like to turn around and go again.

Willie Nelson And My Sister Getting High And Mighty

My sister Wanda smoked a joint with country singer Willie Nelson. Two joints, in fact. She also drank a lot of alcohol during this time, and when the room started spinning, she staggered out. I know this because she told me. She is what you would call a “reliable source,” mainly because she’s my sister.

Certain things I find shocking. I had no idea that big stars, especially Willie Nelson, would resort to smoking drugs. The next thing you know, I’ll find out that Keith Richards smokes pot too, and probably drinks too much sometimes. I’m just hoping that that rumour about politicians telling big whopping fibs and not even feeling bad about it isn’t true.

I don’t get shocked much when it comes to Wanda. This is a girl who hitchhiked to Calgary from Ontario, who bombed around Calgary in a slick, maroon-coloured 1979 Harley Sportster when the weather was good, or reasonably decent. In the driving rain and wretched winter, her ride was a ’76 Chevy short box with a 454 under the hood. This is a lady who went back to Ontario for a wedding, and on her way back on the train, was kicked off in northern Ontario by the conductor when they didn’t see eye-to-eye.

Willie Nelson had no idea he was in the presence of greatness. He could have gathered Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Johnny Cash together for a night of partying, and Wanda would have drank and smoked them all under the table.

But Wanda’s not just another crazy partier. She’s also creative and smart. A radio station in Calgary held a contest to see which local company could think up the best beach-themed idea, even though it was the middle of winter, to win a 24-hour trip to Los Angeles for the whole staff. Her idea was for her and her co-workers at her office to wear bathing suits and bikinis and sit outside on lawn chairs and sunbathe and barbeque in below-zero temperatures. Naturally they won. How could they not have?

Meeting Willie Nelson was only a fluke. She and her girlfriend were in Reno a few years back and they somehow got talking to a guy who had been singing in a bar and was friends with Willie. The guy obviously took a shine to the girls and invited them to come along to meet this long-haired country gentleman who I think sometimes sings like he has a clamp on his groin.

After a brief visit, Wanda and her girlfriend got dizzy and said they had to go, and as a parting gift, Willie invited them to his show, with front row seats beside his wife, and gave them back-stage passes. When I asked her about this recently, her main recollection was that the man looked tired but was incredibly friendly and courteous, and oh yeah, his pot was primo.

I didn’t bother to ask if Willie kept a stash of Oreo cookies handy for the munchies. And I knew I didn’t have to ask if he had tried any funny stuff with my sister. Because even though she’s only 5’2″ and 120 pounds soaking wet, this feisty little fireball would have kicked the great man’s ass.