Posts Tagged ‘Damnation of Adam Blessing’

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‘Big Time’ Rock N Roll In A Small Town Pt. 2

August 6, 2012

Back in the 1960’s Wayne County, Ohio was your typical Midwestern rural/farming community. Amish buggies dotted the outlying areas (and even in the towns & cities.. And still do!). And you wouldn’t think a mellow-appearing rural-type county would have many, if any, rock & roll culture back then, but it did, especially the Wooster & Orrville communities.

Back in the 60’s Orrville hosted various sock hops and dances with local bands, and on occasion bigger named bands like Terry Knight & The Pack came to town, usually before or after an Upbeat TV Show taping in Cleveland. In 1979 Kim Simmonds’s Savoy Brown performed at Wayne County Speedway.

But Wooster, Ohio, the county seat of Wayne County, was at times a hotbed of live appearances during the 60’s and into the 1980’s. With plenty of local bands springing up in the wake of Beatlemania in the area, like JD and the Malibus, The Streys, Me & The Guys, The Repercussions, Spoonjobs, Olivers, Blue Steel, Blue Prynts as well as bands from neighboring counties like the Es-Shades from Ashland and Music Explosion from Mansfield.

                       The Spoonjobs, a band from Wooster, OH

Those bands, and others, brought the teenagers in to local venues, like school gyms, the Wooster Armory and the YMCA. But bigger named regional and national acts performed during the 60’s at both the YMCA and Wooster Armory. Bands like the Amboy Dukes with Ted Nugent, the James Gang with Joe Walsh, Glass Harp, The Outsiders, Terry Knight & The Pack, Damnation of Adam Blessing and the Bob Seger System, among others.

                                    Amboy Dukes w/ Ted Nugent

(Club 42, The Ranch (El Rancho Grande) in Wooster, The Dugout in Ashland, and the Mixer in Bucyrus were other venues that local & regional bands performed at.)

                                                        James Gang

Once the 70’s hit the powers that be at the College of Wooster loosened up and started bringing in national acts open to the public. I was able to catch a couple of these and the performances and venues on-campus like the Timken Gym & Lowry Center were outstanding. I can recall Vanilla Fudge playing there and a little later on Sly & The Family Stone, Spirit (saw that one!), Styx (saw that one, too) and Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express during the early years of the 70’s.

Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express

I remember wanting to see Emerson, Lake & Palmer (with opening act Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show) on April 9, 1972 but the Old Man dragged the family to Colorado just in time to miss it. However, as I later discovered the next several months or so of listening to more of their music, I never could get myself to get into ELP. Still can’t. Also passed on the Charlie Daniels Band.


One College of Wooster show I caught, at the last minute and thanks to my cousin Sue, was Ike & Tina Turner and the Ikettes on June 30, 1972. Between the band, Tina and the Ikettes, it made up for missing out on Sly & The Family Stone.


On May 13, 1974, the Beach Boys played and a friend talked me into going with dates. Went expecting to be bored, but it was a pretty good show and they were on.

My cousin got a handful of tickets for the November 3, 1974 Souther-Hillman-Furay concert. She wanted to see them because Richie Furay had just left Poco, a band we saw at the Akron Civic Theatre. Was surprised when on stage was former Derek & The Dominoes member Jim Gordon and Al Perkins and Paul Harris were in Stephan Stills’ Manassas. Livingston Taylor was the support act.

                                          Souther – Hillman – Furay

In February 1980 the Michael Stanley band, on top in northeast Ohio and surrounding regions, played at the College of Wooster’s Timken Gym to a jam packed crowd and a roof-raising performance. My kid sister, who was there, brought it up in conversation just a few days ago. The last show I attended
was David Johansen on April 22, 1983. Ronald Koal & The Trillionaires were the support act.

In the late 70’s the Wooster Theatre, originally known as the Lyric Theatre,  became the Schine’s Theater and renamed Wooster Theatre under the Shrine chain. After closing it sat dormant for a considerable length of time before local investors Henry & Chell Bishop purchased the property in 1976 put Henry Bishop in the Manager’s position.

Bishop managed to give it a facelift by renovating the restrooms, main offices, improved lighting, carpeting, painting and other improved amenities. Bishop, who also held down a full time job at White Jewelry, began showing films, offering $1 movie nights. The Bishop’s closed won the theatre in 1981 due to declining attenance but the following year leased it to Alice Schafrath who reinvented the theatre as the Theatrical Lounge and eventually brought in live entertainment, not the least of which were appearances by nationally known acts.

Theatrical Lounge

With a bar installed the Theatrical Lounge began offering a variety of entertainment, with local & regional bands like The Godz, White Horse, McGuffy Lane, Norman Nardini & The Tigers,  Link, Raising Cain, country performer Lacy J. Dalton, Diamondback,  the Chippendale’s and, of all things, Caesar The Bear, a wrestling bear that would take on all locals for a potential cash prize. One of the top names brought in was Nazareth. It eventually closed in 1988 and in 1999 the building was demolished.

You can read ‘Big Time’ Rock N Roll In A Small Town Pt.1 by clicking HERE.

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UPBEAT: TV THAT ROCKED

April 18, 2012

If you were a young person in the 1960’s and early 1970’s who loved rock ‘n roll and lived in northeast Ohio and if you were anywhere near a television on Saturday’s at 5:00 PM from 1964 – 1971 you were more than likely tuned into the Upbeat TV Show that aired weekly over Cleveland’s WEWS Channel 5. Upbeat was a weekly music program that featured the top national, international and regional bands of the day.

“It was the first show of its kind that really wasn’t a dance party,” said David Spero to WEWS not long ago. David Spero is the son of Herman Spero, producer of the WEWS program The Old Dutch Polka Review, which would later be known as Polka Varieties. “Instead of having, like American Bandstand, where they’d have Frankie Avalon come on and sing two songs, all the rest was kids dancing to the records, he said ‘Let’s have 10 acts.'”


 Upbeat was a trendsetter having appeared long before Hullabaloo, Shindig, Where The Action Is and later, In Concert, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and the Midnight Special. It debuted on August 29, 1964 as The Big 5 Show, named so because it aired on Channel 5 at 5:00 PM on Saturdays. It was hosted by a variety of Cleveland area disc jockeys until Spero decided a permanent host was needed. Spero saw a young Don Webster hosting a Canadian dance party show and hired him to take over the soon-to-be-renamed Upbeat show.
 
After being hired by WEWS one of Webster’s first duties was to interview The Beatles during their Cleveland appearance.

                                       Don Webster & The Beatles – 1964
 
Soon after Upbeat’s popularity grew so large that Spero and WEWS began syndicating the show around the country, eventually appearing in 105 television markets.
 
Bands/performers would be brought in on a Friday and Spero, Webster and their staff would try to get them a booking at a local High School or club so they’d get some extra pay out of it.

The McCoys (Rick Derringer – left) w/ Don Webster

“We would tape it on Saturday afternoon, rehearsal started at nine, took a break at noon, came back at 1:30 and shot the show and hopefully it was done by five o’clock when you had to see it,” Spero explained. The videotape of one-hour “Upbeat” episode would be copied nine times and then sent to a station in each of the top ten markets (such as New York, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas) broadcast and then that station would sent to a station in the next lower market size, shipped or “bicycled” from market to market.

It didn’t take long for acts who appeared on Upbeat to eventually be seen nationally after a month or so of the tapes making the rounds.

Eric Burden & The Animals appeared

Over the years a virtual who’s who of national, international and regional bands performed numerous times on Upbeat, a few examples included Marvin Gaye & Tammie Terrel, Music Explosion, Velvet Underground, McCoys, Yardbirds, Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, B.B. King, John Kay, Steppenwolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, Monkees, Sonny Geraci and The Outsiders, Canned Heat, Paul Revere & The Riders, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tommy James, Sly and The Family Stone, Terry Knight and the Pack,  Johnny Nash, Billy Joe Royal, Stevie Wonder, Gene Krupa, Steam, Box Tops, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Eric Burdon, Lou Christie, The 5th Dimension, Gene Pitney, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Otis Redding, Bar-Kays, the Strawberry Alarm Clock, Fanny, Scott MacKenzie, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Circus, The Toys, American Breed, Steve Colt, The Chylds, The Fifth Estate, The Sonics, Doughboys, Pleasure Seekers, Tiffany Shade, London & The Bridges, The Debutantes, Cyrus Erie, Kickin’ Mustangs, John Sebastian and The Lovin’ Spoonful, Bob Seger, GTO’s, The Shangra-La’s, Spanky and Our Gang, Peter and Gordon, Simon and Garfunkel, Chubby Checker, Grasshoppers, Gary Puckett and Union Gap, Pete Best, Left Banke, Raven, James Gang, Eric Carmen, Choir, Damnation of Adam Blessing.

The legendary BB King

One memorable guest who appeared performed for the last time. On December 9, 1967, after appearing on the Upbeat show and doing a gig in Canton, OH, Otis Redding subsequently died in an airplane crash on the way to his next gig in Madison, WI. “The end of the show was him (Redding), with the Bar-Kays and Mitch Ryder singing ‘Knock On Wood’,” Spero said.
 
Over the years Upbeat featured several ‘house bands’ to back up solo performers. Upbeat house bands were Dave C and the Sharptones, The Grasshoppers (of which the late Ben Orr of the Cars was a member), Rapid Transit and the People’s Choice (Puzzle People).

The Cowsills

Another selling and focal point to the Upbeat show were the ‘Upbeat Dancers’ who performed during various guests’ performances. Maurice “Hank” Nystrom, who went on to national acclaim, was Upbeat’s choreographer (1968 – 1971) when the show was televised to 105 cities nationwide.

Over the years Upbeat Dancers included Jean Hagedorn. Linda Mulcahey, Arline Burks, Jacquelyn Carson, John Magill, Mary Lynn Curnayn, Arlee Gibson, Constance Gibson, Michael Ray, Linda Mulcahy, Kim Havrilla, Arline Burks, Mary Lynn Curnayn, Jacquelyn “Jackie” Carson, Peggy Miller, and Diane Rini, among others.


 After Upbeat ended in 1971 Webster remained at WEWS until his retirement in 1999. He did weather, hosted the Ohio Lottery show, Academic Challenge, The Gene Carroll Show, Bowling for Dollars and anchored Live On Five. Webster is now enjoying his retirement in South Carolina.

Mitch Ryder, Webster, Otis Redding

Ironically, Upbeat founder Herman Spero, who died in 1979 at the age young of 55, proposed to cable networks the idea of a music TV channel just before his death. HBO turned him down. Within a couple years MTV was born.

UPBEAT honored by Hall of Fame

Alex Chilton & The Boxtops appeared several times

The UPBEAT DANCERS

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