The 1970’s were my heyday of attending rock concerts. I went to tons of them throughout that decade and one of my favorite venues was the Akron Civic Theatre on Main Street in Akron, Ohio. The Akron Civic Theatre was, and is, a historic landmark theatre (built in 1925) and during the 1960’s and 1970’s rock fans were treated to some pretty tasty concerts. Holding barely over 2,000 people (counting the balcony) the atmosphere was second to none (and the smell of ‘smoke’ was thick and permeated the historic grand old dame).
I started attending concerts at the Akron Civic Theatre around 1972 and over the years I saw such bands and performers at that intimate theatre like Suzi Quatro, Bruce Springsteen (a four hour show in ’75!), Glass Harp, Sammy Hagar, Starz, Artful Dodger, Foghat, Bad Company, Mahogany Rush, Triumph, Montrose, Todd Rundgren, BB King, Michael Stanley Band, Robin Trower, Sweet, Babys, Blue Oyster Cult and many others. I remember seeing Journey there three or four times, the first couple prior to Steve Perry joining.
One of the best shows I saw there was one of the first I attended, the December 19, 1972 Mott The Hoople concert with Fleetwood Mac opening. What an experience inside the Civic that night! I became a lifelong Mott The Hoople fan after that concert and immediately went out and bought all the albums I didn’t already have plus a couple imports.
In 1973 one of the highlights for me was seeing the J. Geils Band again after seeing them the previous year. They were even better and had the house rockin’! Lots of Orrville hometown people there that night.
One of my favorite concerts of all time at the Akron Civic Theatre was when KISS appeared there on April 8, 1975. Myself, Flash, Bug and Rick all went and this was the first time Bug and Rick saw the band. We sat in the third row, center stage and the whole evening was just heavy metal bliss. As you can see by the advertisement posted here the Heavy Metal Kidz opened the shows that tour (Flash and I and two dates saw them at The Palace in Cleveland a couple days later as shown in the ad) but at the Akron Civic Theatre that night Rush was added onto the bill.
Bug and Rick both commented after Rush’s performances that KISS had a challenge ahead of them trying to outdo Rush. Then KISS came on. KISS saw, they conquered and left the theatre victorious. Basically, after the show, Bug and Rick were, ‘Rush who?’. They became KISS Army members that night.
One cool thing about that night, which I only discovered a couple months ago, was that future KISS drummer Eric Singer (from Cleveland) was there that night as well and had front row seats! He was all of 17 years old. If he only knew what lay ahead for him! (Currently Eric Singer, still a part of KISS, is on tour with Alice Cooper). Who knows, the way those doobies were being passed up and down the isles maybe we shared a toke on one.
Another good one that year was on November 19, 1975 with the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. I saw them again in Cleveland but that night at Akron Harvey was insane. He lived up to his reputation, we’ll put it that way.
Another highlight at the Akron Civic was on December 10 when Artful Dodger headlined. The band was great, the whole night was perfect and a lot of it had to do with the company I was keeping that night. Nuff said!
I’ll never forget those nights at the Akron Civic Theatre. Some nights it seemed like every rocker from Orrville was there. Akron used to really rock in the 70’s and we’d go to the Civic and the theatre at the University of Akron for shows and would often make trips up to visit Arsenic & Old Lace, a killer record shop and head shop where we often bought concert tickets.
That KISS concert memory came back to me twenty years later when attending Daytona International Speedway for the first time for a NASCAR race. The sheer force of the cars coming off turn four and down the front straight as you stand along the fence, at 200 MPH plus, is incredible with the pounding and vibrations against your chest so very evident and exhilarating. It was the first time I felt such a powerful force of noise physically since that April 8, 1975 night at the Akron Civic Theatre when KISS’ sound system beat the hell out of us. I can vividly remember the shockwave pounding on my chest from that stack of Marshalls and all those pyro explosions.
Damn, I miss those days!