Saturday, May 20, 2006

GROWING UP IN MOTOWN IN THE 60'S (or why it sucks to be you)

I am generally one of those people who is of the same opinion as Carly Simon, that "these are the good old days". Having said that, however, I can't imagine a better or more exciting place to grow up than metro Detroit in the 60's. The huge number of talented bands. A club scene second to none, including San Francisco. The music festivals. The 68 Detroit Tigers. Cruisin' Woodward Ave. Belle Isle. CKLW and WKNR am radio.

Dbackdad and mister anchovy are responsible for this sudden case of waxing nostalgic. Mr. A with his post about an old Detroit Ballroom being renovated into condos, and DBD with his post about the top ten concerts you have ever seen. I had rattled off ten shows off the top of my head. Then Mr. A's post got me thinkin about all the great shows I'd seen and venues I'd been to as a teen. I saw an awful lot of great shows back then, and an enormous number of people who went on to great fame. The list of top rank Detroit area bands is huge and can be viewed here
. A short list includes:
AMBOY DUKES (Ted Nugent, Steve Farmer)
BROWNSVILLE STATION (smokin in the boys room back then)
COMMANDER CODY AND HIS LOST PLANET AIRMEN (ridin in that hot rod lincoln)
THE DEL-TINOS (front man Cub Koda later formed Brownsville Station)
FROST (Dick Wagner, later to be Alice Cooper's guitarist and colaborator, and is still very active as a studio musician, writer and producer. Currently writing songs with Alice Cooper for Alice's upcoming album)
FUNKADELIC/P-FUNK (yes, George Clinton was outrageous then, too)
GRAND FUNK RAILROAD (still an American band)
MC 5 (the forefathers of Punk)
MUSHROOM (Glen Frye, yes, the Eagles Glen Frye)
PLEASURE SEEKERS (Suzi Quatro, yes, the little blond singer/actress/bass player who still looks fabulous in leather pants)
POPCORN BLIZZARD (Meat Loaf, before Rocky Horror Picture Show and Paradise)
BOB SEGER AND THE LAST HEARD (later the Bob Seger System)
SKY (Doug Fieger, would later move to California and form THE KNACK)
STOOGES (Iggy Pop)
TEEGARDEN AND VAN WINKLE (more music than you could ever imagine from a Hammond B3 and a drum kit)
TERRY KNIGHT AND THE PACK (remember I WHO HAVE NOTHING? Also Grand Funk's manager. Murdered by his daughter's boyfriend in 2004)

I saw virtually every one of these bands at one time or another. Metro Detroit had literally dozens of venues, and these band would play them in two or threes every weekend. My favorites were Mothers in Romeo, and the Paladium in Birmingham.

Then there were the larger venues. San Fransisco had the Filmore and Filmore West, Chicago had the Aragon Ballroom. But Detroit had the Grande Riviera Ballroom, The Walled Lake Casino (till it burned on Christmas, 1966), The Eastown Ballroom and the Grand Ballroom at the Masonic Temple.

These larger venues would bring in big name acts who would play the same bill as the local bands. The MC 5 played the Grand Riviera so much people thought they were the house band. I saw them on bills with Joe Cocker, also with Cream. I saw Alice Cooper (Alice was to the Eastown as MC5 were to the Riviera) with Frost and James Gang (Joe Walsh pre Eagles). I saw Frijid Pink and Strawberry Alarm Clock at the Masonic's Ballroom (not to be confused with it's much larger theatre).

Then there were the outdoor music festivals, at least 40 between 1967 and 1972. Michigan must have led the world in rock festivals. I attended 3, including the one that is considered the best of all the festivals ever (including Woodstock), The Goose Lake Festival, Jackson MI, 1970. I really lucked out on this one. The only reason I went was because I'd met a group of kids canoeing on the Huron River the weekend before, and they had an extra ticket.

This was an awesome 3 days, and probably should have been on my list at Dbackdad's. And would have been had it not been for the fact that it was incredably crowded and at times, very uncomfortable.. They were only supposed to sell 70,000 tickets and sold 200,000. Two things that saved the weekend. The group I went with was smart enough to get there 5 days ahead of time and get a good camping spot, and I was smart enough to bring a camping toilet and solar shower. The bands were great! The only act that sucked was Chicago. I have seen them twice. At Goose Lake, and at Notre Dame in 1971. I came to the conclusion they are the most overrated band in history. I have seen nothing since to make me change my mind. The Goose Lake lineup:

Friday: John Drake's Shakedown, Mighty Quick, SRC, The New York Rock and Roll Ensemble, John Sebastian, Chicago, Small Faces w/Rod Stewert, Ten Years After.

Saturday: New World Symphony, Brownsville Station, The Litter, Teegarden and Van Winkle, The Flying Burrito Bros. (probably the best act of the weekend), The Stooges (musta sucked, I don't remember them being there), Third Power, Mountain

Sunday: Suite Charity, Alice Cooper, Mitch Ryder, Bob Seger System (did a kick ass version of Heavy Music), Frost, The Flock, Savage Grace, James Gang, Jethro Tull. What a great way to end a festival! Ian Anderson and Tull just rocked!

The other festival I attended (besides the one already discussed at DBD's), was the first annual Detroit Rock and Roll Revival at the State Fairgrounds in Detroit. Great lineup. All the big local bands (except Seger and Mitch Ryder), plus Sun Ra, Dr. John, Chuck Berry, Johnny Winter, and James Gang! Would have been a fabulous two days had the sound been better. Always a problem at the fairgrounds.

Of course, music wasn't the only great thing about growing up in southeast Michigan. The township I grew up in had 400 lakes. Virtually every subdivision had it's own beach. Then there was Belle Isle. The island park in the middle of the Detroit River. Two Yacht clubs, a childrens zoo, 9 hole golf course, canoe rental, riding stable, aquarium, and Great Lakes Maritime Museum. A great place to watch the Gold Cup Unlimited Hydroplane race. Or watch the micro miniskirted secretaries from the downtown offices who would go to Belle Isle to eat their sack lunches. Makes my heart beat faster just thinking about them!

Then there was Bob-lo, the island amusement park you took a 30 min cruise to get to!

Not to mention drag racin' my souped up 1966 GMC pickup (with a 6 pack on a 352 ci big block V-6 and Corvette tranny and rear axle) on Woodward Ave. on a Saturday night.

And, of course, Kaline, McLean, roly poly Mickey Lolich, and the 68 Tigers!

Okay, so it does suck (just a bit) to be you!

MUSCIC TRIVIA : On Rolling Stones Top 100 Guitarists list, three bands had two guitarists who played together on the list. Name the bands and the musicians. (answer on next post). Hint: Yardbirds don't count. Clapton and Page both played for them, but not at the same time.

Do you want the ones listed together? Or the ones who have played together in the same band, but are on the list seperately?

Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. Both listed seperately, both formerly in The Honeydrippers.

Duane Allman and Eric Clapton, both members of Derek and the Dominoes.

Neil Young and Stephen Stills both members of Buffalo Springfield and CSNY

Thurston Moore and Robert Quine who are currently together in Dim Stars.

(Sorry, AMG research on that last one. Though after listening to Dim Stars I will definitely be buying their album.)

My biggest gripe with this list is where the hell are: Linsay Buckingham, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Ronnie Montrose, Sammy Hagar, Dweezil Zappa, Joe "Frikkin" Walsh?

For that matter, where's Don Felder, Ted Nugent, Alan Holdsworth, Neil Schon, John Panozzo & Tommy Shaw, Carl Perkins, Brian Setzer, Buck Owens, Yngwie Malmsteen, George Lynch, Brian Robertson & Scott Gorham (from Thin Lizzy), Roger McGuinn, Bo Didley, Jeff Lynne, Trevor Rabin, Tom Scholz & Barry Goudreau (from Boston), and what fishbrained rock reporter (and this is RS so I'll use the term verrrrry loosely) Left Pete Townsend off this list?
Oh yeah... Let's not forget Chet Atkins, Django Reinhart, Bob Dylan (Hey, Joni Mitchell made the list.)
Great post GWB. Your details and enthusiasm practically transport the reader to that era.
How did Sun Ra get on your list? I saw the Arkestra in 1983 in NY do a tribute to the Duke and Fletcher Henderson. The whole band came out in black with black fez's and shoulder pads, and if I remember correctly Sunny's goatee was pink. The show was so fabulous. I didn't know anything about these guys at the time - all I knew about Sun Ra was that he was from Saturn, where jazz was the native tongue, and he was here to enlighten us earthlings. I had never heard Space is the Place, next stop is Jupitor - all that space chant stuff. Now, I've listened to a lot of Sun Ra, and I'm so glad I happened to be in NY looking for a good band to see, and happened to decide to see the Arkestra!
Yup, you're right; sucks to be me, living in the sticks. Thanks for pointing this out. :(

My greatest regret is missing the Eagles farewell tour while we were living in the Twin Cities. At that time we were too broke to buy tickets.
I had no idea all that happened in Michigan and all those bands came from there!
What experiences those were - you were lucky as hell! Being a canoeing hippie pays off, ey? I would have loved to have seen the flying burrito bros and jethro tull. I bet there was no weed there either (wink wink).
Randy Rhodes deserves some mention for a guitarist don't ya think? And stevie ray vaughn.
Hmmm okay, Townsend did make the list.... but #50? I don't even like The Who, and I think that's blasphemy.

Page and Beck were never actually members of the Honeydrippers, only did some studio work for them.

Ditto Duane Allman with Derek and The Dominoes.

You got half the answer I was looking for (Stills, Young, Buffalo Springfield and C,S,N,Y), you also trumped me on one I didn't know about!

The other band I was looking for was MC5 with Fred (Sonic) Smith and Wayne Kramer.

I, too think the list was a total crock. Joan Jett and Angus Young make the list, but Chet Atkins doesn't?
Hendrix #1? Great innovater, and terrific at electric guitar, but couldn't hold a candle to Clapton or Knoffler on accoustic guitar. And the gripes go on and on. I could mention Nuge, Dr. Gary Davis, Phil Keagy, George Thorgood, and any number of others more capable than some of the relative stiffs on the list. Quite frankly, I think I would have gone with Chrissy Hynde ahead of Joan Jett.

dbdad - transporting people to another era makes me feel so OLD!

Mr. A - Sun Ra actually not on the list, just the R&R R poster. And he was great at the Rock and Roll Revival. But I thought the best act that day was Dr. John.

tshsmom - yeah, but at least you had all that cold weather for snowshoeing, ice fishing and hockey! And aren't too far from tourist meccas like Dryden and Winnapeg!

And don't feel bad about missing the show because of lack of funds.. I've already missed several this year for the same reason. And if nothing else, the Eagles have proven that if you wait long enough, they WILL comeback.

Jules - Yes, ther was a bit of smoke hanging in the air. Although our prefered drugs were Sangria Punch, and Blackberry Brandy To make Sangria Punch: Using a meat cleaver, chop up a couple of pineapples, a bag of oranges, a half dozen each lemons and limes, and a couple o bunches of concord grapes. Dump this mess into a large metal washtub. Pour about 10 gallons of Madria Madria Sangria and 5 gallons of Squirt over the mess. Let sit half a day. Pour in a 10lb bag of ice. Stir.

A true Hippy knows that the only proper way to serve Sangria Punch is to dip a Mason jar directly into the punch and hand it to your guest.
Winnipeg?! Tourist mecca? EWWW!
Dryden's OK, but I prefer Kenora and Morson....better campgrounds. ;)

Blackberry brandy in Sangria? Why didn't I think of that?!
LMAO, I've had Sangria in a wine glass, with the little orange's NOT the same! My crowd used paper cups.
Dryden is the only place I have ever been where in the middle of August, the lot lizzards at the truckstop were wearing down coats.
Yeah, we've been known to wear down this time of year too. Not this year though, 90-95F ALL weekend!!! I HATE HEAT!!
great canoeing weather!
True...but lousy weather for yard work. :(
I know this is a cheesy addition that should have been on the list, but Tom Kiefer from Cinderella is highly underrated as a guitar player. He can play slide as well as any other blues player.
I'm going to Lollapalooza this year, and I'm hoping in 26 years I can look back and see that these were acts that really made a name for themselves, that are really good, and it was amazing that I got to see them in a 3-day span.
Wow - I don't think I've even seen ten concerts. Certainly not any of the caliber you listed in this entry. I'm trying to think of what was so great about the Pacific Northwest in the 80's and I'm drawing a blank. :-P
Notta - you were just 20 years too late. If Detroit put electricity and working class hard work into rock, the Pacific Northwest put in showmanship. There were literally thousands of great garage bands there in the 60's., Most doing ourtrageous stage acts.

There would have been no KISS, Steve Miller, or David Bowie had not The Wailers, The Kingsmen, Don and the Goodtimes, Merilee (Rush) and the Turnabouts, and especially, Paul Revere and the Raiders led the way. It is truly a shame the Raiders are not in the hall of fame. 40 million records sold. the first rock band to be featured on a daily tv show. Their showmanship, and songs that hold up amazingly well (especially the early stuff).
Born at the wong time and in the wrong place. All I ever got was dragged to 48 hour country music festivals in the hills of West Virginia. My musical education is sorely lacking. Thanks for the primer.
I was 16 when I went to the Goose Lake festival in 1971. It really was awesome. It is amazing to me how virtually no record exists of it anywhere on the internet, other than three poster scans that are being sold on e-bay. Anyone out there have any photos, or know of any websites with photos?
I ahven't benn able to find any anywhre either.

Wonder if teh Detroit news or Free Press have any in theri archives?

also was at Goose Lake above is archive of images said to include Goose Lake.
Please sign the "Save Grande Ballroom" petition
my dad was the singer bass player for new world symphony, and he sat in on other bands that day too at goose lake, he was also a motown staff musician and had his band warlock, signed with the music merchant label. Jack Burningtree known by many detroit rockers of that era.
I've cross-linked this post in the "Other Links of Interest" section at Floydian Slips (, where you'll find other posts about Detroit rock and venues of the same era, as well as other posts of interest to music lovers. P.S. - I was on the film crew at Goose Lake and my Grande postcard for BB King has been exhibited at the R & R Hall of Fame!
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