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My Last Rock Concert Promotion

February 14, 2008

Way back in the early to mid-1970’s local and regional bands were plentiful here in north central and northeast Ohio as were the venues for them to ply their trades. Having known about such successful and famed concert promoters like Bill (Fillmore) Graham and others the thought would come across my mind (and some of my buddies) that it would be a cool way to make money.

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Hell, the Belkin brothers with their Belkin Productions were getting rich in the Cleveland-Akron area.

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My first experience in ‘promoting’ a ‘concert’ was very, very basic. In the spring of 1977 as my kid brother and then-girlfriend were about to graduate I thought a celebration would be in order. Enlisting the help of my pal Rick G. we rented out the Sportsman Club that is located several miles outside of town, hired a local band (named ‘Soily’) and proceeded to sell tickets for the graduation ‘party’.

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It was a hit!

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The people turned out in big numbers and hell, we paid the band more than they ever received and we even had money left over after the rent was paid. Of course we took our profits from that night and sent someone on a beer run and spent the few hundred we made buying beer for everyone but hey, it was fun and it could work.

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We did a couple more ‘shows’ at the Sportsman Club until one night when the Sheriff’s Department showed up to tell us to turn it down. The one ‘mistake’ we made was having good friend Bug Jones, already fairly liquored up, work the door to take everyone’s $2.00 admission. When the deputies showed up Bug refused admission until they each paid $2.00 and needless to say, it took some real talking and sweating from me to get them to take off the cuffs and let Bug go.

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They did.

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After that on one or two occasions myself and others would rent a farmer’s field (or just show up unannounced) and bring in a couple bands and party all night for a small fee from everyone. We could always get the best bands from a two or three county area (there were a lot of bands back then) and have our own mini-Woodstock for a weekend.

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The last concert I was involved in took place at Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, OH. A couple years prior someone rented the track and held a concert and it flopped due to the concert promoters acting like the Gestapo and…gasp…not allowing anyone to bring in beer! People were pissed for a long time over that deal and maybe we should have re-thought the location but myself, my kid brother and a fellow named Doug M., from Wooster, calling our ‘company’ Stone Valley Productions, plowed ahead and hired a ‘big name’ band for the show, Savoy Brown.

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Now Savoy Brown was and is an awesome band.

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Fronted by the great Kim Simmonds the British band started in the mid-1960’s as an excellent blues-rock band and over the years various members went on to other things, including three of the four founding members of Foghat (yep, ‘ol Lonesome Dave, God rest his soul, was part of Savoy Brown). I had nearly all of their records and they had name recognition.

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The details are too fuzzy to remember but at the time for several months there was some type of legal wrangling going on with Simmonds and either management or his record company and when we were about to start advertising the concert we were informed that we had to use the name Kim Simmons Band instead of Savoy Brown, although we could use the term: Formerly Savoy Brown in the advertising.

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So we went ahead, did all the work, took care of a million logistics and finally had the concert on September 1, 1979 at Wayne County Speedway.

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We hauled in two semi-truck trailers for a stage, brought in Rodney Ray as security (he did a fine job!) and had us a concert with a big name star.

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We had a pretty decent crowd although we lost a few bucks due to two of our ticket takers stealing us blind (we still remember their names!) but what a weekend! I had never been so exhausted and wore out as the three days of non-stop work and no-sleep kicked my ass.

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But it was fun!

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And Kim Simmonds was one bad ass on that guitar. What a show! He was simply amazing and put on an hour and a half show that rocked the speedway and everyone there. He also had one hell of a crew of roadies and if I didn’t have kids and grandkids I’d write more about them but I don’t want to ‘admit’ anything.

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Simmonds was amazing. He could rock your ass off and lay down some of the thickest, coolest blues licks you could ever hope to hear. And what he did to that guitar with that bottle of beer….what a show!

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We brought in two of the better local bands to play support. One was called Broke and they were very professional. I don’t remember any members of Broke other than band leader Craig Walton who was one of the most gifted and talented guitarists to come out of Wayne County.

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The band Damage was a great hard rock band that I spent time with. They had a great following and all of the members knew their stuff.

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Damage consisted of guitarists Jerry Kirven and Mark Good, drummer Tom ‘Bones’ Morrison, bassist Michael Johnson and singer Rick Thistlethwaite. These guys were always damn good and Simmonds even expressed positive comments on them, especially the talent and potential of bass player Michael Johnson. (Simmonds commented that Johnson in particular could go to the ‘big time’.)

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I’ll never forget how exhausting that weekend was when I finally made it home to my apartment. After a shower and a cup of coffee I could barely move. But what a blast!

 

 

 

 

We thought about doing another concert and had even gotten a contract from the book agency that represented some new band called The Cars. Now there was an idea: have a concert with he Cars at the speedway! A natural. But life, wives, babies and everything else took precedence and that show never got passed the preliminary planning stages.

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A couple years ago I made contact with Kim Simmonds and it was pretty cool that he remembered that gig at the speedway.

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We even had T-Shirts made up and my brother still has one or two left. Unfortunately I never got any photos from that day and one girl who was taking photos, Pam W., I haven’t seen since then. Would be great if she still had those photos and I could find her!

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(You can find more about Kim Simmonds/Savoy Brown by visiting: http://www.savoybrown.com)

 

Below is a copy of the flyer/poster that we used. (I made up the poster/flyers by using those infernal rub-off lettering you could find in office supply stores. This was made one-letter-at-a-time! Remember, this was before the age of computers!)

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One comment

  1. […] My Last Rock Concert Promotion […]



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