Posts Tagged ‘Richfield Coliseum’

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Talk Radio King Was A Rocker

June 19, 2012

 Long time northeast Ohio radio icon Howie Chizek passed away Saturday June 16 in Florida from an apparent heart attack. Chizek, 65, was the long time WNIR radio superstar who had the country’s longest running talk show. He worked at WNIR for 38 years and for 17 years he served as the public announcer for the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Richfield Coliseum and served in that capacity for three years for the Cleveland Force soccer team. Chizek was in Florida taking 10 underprivileged youths along with several chaperones to Walt Disney World as part of his annual charity program.
 
Opinionated, bombastic, Howie Chizek broadcast on WNIR for five hours weekdays and three hours Saturdays covering the greater Akron area & region. Chizek’s show aired from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM.
 
Saturday night I was listening to Bob Earley’s show on WNIR when the news came in and Earley, perhaps to his dismay, had to break the news to the listeners. Since announcing Chizek’s passing the station has been flooded with calls from listeners who are clearly mourning Chizek’s passing. Earley, later joined by the station’s afternoon host Bob Golic, stayed on the air until nearly 2:00 AM. It was an emotional outpouring that still is commencing with all the station’s hosts and they have all handled it professionally and with dignity.


 I always listened to rock & roll on the radio, always. I had heard Chizek off and on over the years since the 70’s, but I didn’t become a regular listener until the Desert Storm War when I went searching for more information when that broke out and found Chizek’s show. Damned if it didn’t take a week or two to hook me. Been a listener ever since.
 
You can do a search on Howie Chizek and find out more biographical information and information on his long radio career (and many humanitarian efforts and causes he funded behind the scenes) or pick up any newspaper in northeast Ohio or tune into any television station.
 
But what I want to highlight is a little known fact of Chizek’s musical career. Over the years he mentioned his ability to play guitar but that’s as far as it went. But in the mid-1960’s, 1964 to be precise, Chizek, living in Cleveland Heights, started a band called The Runaways. They played the Cleveland and northeast Ohio area and in 1965 recorded a single.
 
Chizek played guitar and sang lead vocals and the band released I’m A Runaway/It Can’t Be Long (Cle Town C 101). The single was produced by Eric Stevens who got a grooving, mod-tinged, guitar oriented tune out of the band that became a hit in northeast Ohio. Chizek wrote both sides of the single.


 

I couldn’t find either side on the internet but hopefully WNIR will play it soon (Bob Earley mentioned morning host Stan Piatt may have it and play it. Hopefully someone will post it on You Tube. Or the WNIR website.
 
Over the years Chizek, a real ‘button-pusher’, would sometimes slam rock & roll, but those who were long time listeners knew Chizek was an entertainer first and foremost and was a master at getting an audience charged up. You never really knew where he stood on anything because you sometimes never knew if he was pulling your leg or not.
 
The band called it quits when Chizek enrolled in Communications College at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio. He graduated in 1970 and after graduation Chizek spent a short time at WBBW in Youngstown, Ohio before starting at WNIR on June 3, 1974.
 
Going to miss that daily dose of Howie and his ‘regulars’, like Mr. Stow & the ‘Boosch Ma’ and so many others but in particular ‘Couch Burner’, a regular caller that I looked forward to hearing chat with Howie every day. They had some real ‘battle of the wits’ over the years and those two produced some memorable radio entertainment. Sadly, it’s over. (Be nice if WNIR would offer Couch Burner an on-air gig.)

Howard Alan ‘Howie’ Chizek was born June 9, 1947 and until June 16, 2012 was one of northeast Ohio’s most generous philanthropists and the main man in talk radio, not just in Akron, but across the country.
 
He was one hell of a man.
 
For more on Howie Chizek or to tune into WNIR visit: www.wnir.com

(c)2012 Doc Lehman/Bangagong!

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An AMAZING Teacher Calls It A Day

June 1, 2010

Pat Warner & MARK FOWKES are both retiring this week after 36 years at OHS.

I was recently informed that Mark Fowkes is retiring at the conclusion of this school year. I think it will be a sad day for Orrville High School when Mark Fowkes departs as the school district will be losing a fine teacher.

I just want to take this opportunity to acknowledge him being such a terrific teacher to me when I was in high school. Even though he came during my junior year I took several of his (English) classes and can honestly say I learned a tremendous amount. In fact, I remember taking one of his classes (Science Fiction) twice! Although I received no credit for it the second time I still signed up for the enjoyment and debate.

How he put up with all of us longhair, hippie, freak types is beyond me. They surely didn’t pay him enough!

And that was the kicker with Mark Fowkes.  Whether you had long hair (guilty) or short hair, black or white, hippie, jock or redneck, he treated everyone the same, with respect, understanding and lots and lots of patience!

The biggest thing though as I look back was his demeanor. He was always so encouraging, positive and forthright with all of us. As I look back and I had two teachers who made a significant impact on me, one in grade school (Jill Hyde at Apple Creek) and one in high school. Mark Fowkes was the one in high school. I will never forget how encouraging he was to me in my writing and whatever creative binge I happened to be on at the time.

He was only a couple years older than my pals and myself and we all liked him, he was never patronizing. I remember right before school let out in 1975 when myself and a couple others tried, in vain, to talk him into going to see the Rolling Stones at Cleveland Stadium with us. He declined, I like to think reluctantly, and all these years later as I think back it was probably one of the wisest career moves he could have made!  I don’t mean not seeing the Stones, I mean seeing the Stones with us!

I also vaguely recall his reaction (amazement) when my buddy Flash and myself purchased three entire rows of the Richfield Coliseum for the ’76 KISS concert (their Destroyer tour). I think I offered him a ticket and stated that he should feel lucky because the tickets we gave away for free were to ‘foxes’ (that’s 70’s-speak for attractive young ladies) and we were charging the ‘dudes’. He declined again, the reason lost to time and fading memories, but again, retrospectively, a likely wise career move on his part.

Another memory that has never left me was when I submitted a required poem in one of my creative writing classes. The teacher, who didn’t care for me likely because I had longhair and was a smartass, thought I plagiarized it because it was….’good’ (Believe me, I ain’t no poet!). Good ‘ol Mark Fowkes went to bat for me and told her straight out that it was all my work because I had worked on it in his classes and I had him read it several times before I submitted it. The Courier published it!

Even though I never made it to college due primarily to an early marriage and children I was able to pursue a career in writing, public relations, marketing and promotions in motorsports that ultimately saw me inducted into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame in 2006 along with numerous other awards and honors, including Media Member of the Year for five consectutive years by Racing America. I also had the opportunity to write for over a dozen national motorsports publications, write and produce a television show for three years, write, produce and co-host three radio programs with one being “national” and the chance to work with producers for over a year and then appear on a CNN special television program.

I also spent a few years as a features writer and columnist for the old Courier Crescent newspaper (in addition to freelancing to many other mainstream newspapers).

I owe all of this to Mark Fowkes and his encouragement 36 years ago. He was a motivator and always, always, always encouraging! I can sincerely say that my working life would have taken another direction without Mark Fowkes’ influence and encouragement. I have no complaints!

I had been published pre-Fowkes, but as I waffled about whether or not to try and get published in larger publications, he was the kick in the ass I needed at the time. He prodded, cajoled, encouraged and pushed.  Heeding his advice to go for it, in ’75 I became a features writer and columnist for The Journal, a Canadian tabloid devoted to popular culture. It was on after that.

Never one to have much confidence in myself, it was his encouragement and counsel that made me pursue my first love of writing; first in graphics oriented publications and then rock ‘n roll publications in addition to motorsports, which I pursued relentlessly upon getting married and starting a family.

Now ‘retired’, I am currently working on two books. The first has already been accepted. And I truly owe it to the inspiration and encouragement and infusion of confidence of Mark Fowkes all those years ago.

I just want to acknowledge the amazing impact and influence Mark Fowkes had on me that has carried through into my ‘old age’. He was always friendly, compassionate, sincere, encouraging and never patronizing to any of us. And I doubt he had a group of students who were as …’rambunctious’… as my pals and I were (it was the 70’s, after all)! I thank him for having patience with us!  Actually, God bless him for having patience with us!

He was not only one of the best damn teachers I ever had, he was also at the time a friend and a mentor. And I am willing to bet there are more of us out there that has similar stories.

Orrville High School is taking a hit, a loss, with his retirement and I regret my five grandsons won’t have the opportunity to learn from him. He is, and was, truly a gifted teacher.

Doc Lehman

Class of 1976

The famed Orrville bridge in ’76 that OHS senior paint each year. It didn’t stay this pristine for long – the graffiti bandits (guilty!) soon attacked!

More Orrville, Ohio and Orrville High School related posts on this website can be found here:

Power To The People, Baby! 

Where’s That Confounded Bridge?

‘Big Time’ Rock N Roll In A Small Town

Big Business Godzillas Local Landmark Theatre

Biology & Rock ‘N Roll ‘Literature’

I Liked Paul Lynde Before I ‘Met’ Him

My Last Rock Concert Promotion

My Mom Was On The Mike Douglas Show

With A Name Like Smucker’s The Beatles Have To Be Good!

DAMAGE: Ohio 70′s Bands

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Mick Ronson Remembered

October 20, 2008
Mick Ronson - One of the greats!

Mick Ronson – One of the greats!

A recent conversation with a friend about Mick Ronson brought to my pal the startling realization that Mick Ronson has been gone for 15 years now which is hard to believe. Ronson was a gifted guitarist, arranger, songwriter and producer who made his mark in rock ‘n roll and to this day has a strong following. Ronson lost his battle with liver cancer on April 30, 1993 at age 47 but his accomplishments won’t soon be forgotten.

I first became aware of Ronson during his stint with David Bowie in the early 70’s as Ronson led the Spiders From Mars and helped Bowie construct more than a handful of now classic songs and albums, particularly The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars. The first time I saw Ronson perform live was with Bowie and the Spiders on September 22, 1972 at the Music Hall in Cleveland, OH.

After Ariel Bender had left Mott The Hoople in 1974 Ronson joined the band in September of that year. I was ecstatic! One of my favorite guitar players was joining one of my all time favorite bands. I couldn’t wait for Mott The Hoople to tour the USA so I could catch Ronson with the band but alas, they never made a USA tour as Ian Hunter fell ill and soon after left the band with Ronson in tow.

When Ian Hunter started his solo career Ronson was on board and eventually the Hunter-Ronson Band started gigging throughout the USA and I was fortunate to catch several of their shows, the first on April 26, 1975 at the Music Hall in Cleveland, OH with the band Bonaroo as support.

A really cool gig I was fortunate to see up close was on June 18, 1979 at the Cleveland Agora with the Iron City Houserockers opening. Another reason I remember this gig is two days later my daughter was born two months early (and she spent consider time in an incubator at Akron Children’s Hospital)! Hunter and Ronson and company were just totally on fire that night and an appearance with the band by Ellen Foley capped a great night.

The Hunter-Ronson Band came back to the Cleveland area three months later headlining the Richfield Coliseum with the David Johansen Group. Hunter’s You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic was red hot in northeast Ohio and the band, once again, was on fire. Great show.

The last time I saw the Hunter-Ronson Band in its original incarnation was the following year when they returned to the Richfield Coliseum on June 7, 1980. The show was advertised with Hunter-Ronson headlining but when we showed up for the concert the promoters put Heart as the headliner. Mistake. While Heart did a great job, it was a bit of a let down and anti-climatic after Hunter-Ronson and associates had the huge crowd rocking the rafters. Intense performance by the band and Heart had to be dismayed following Hunter-Ronson that night.

I bought everything on vinyl that featured Ronson back in the day, including his solo LPs Slaughter On 10th Avenue and Play Don’t Worry. He continued working with a number of bands and performers but to me, his best collaborations were with Ian Hunter on his studio LPs and his, to me, classic live LP, Welcome To The Club.

For those unfamiliar with Ronson spend some time on the Mick Ronson website and find out how much of an impact he had on rock ‘n roll. His resume is one of the most varied and impressive of any rock ‘n roll guitarist. And be sure and check out Ronson’s daughter Lisa’ s band, The Secret Society (Lisa Likes Rock ‘N Roll, ya know!).

Yes, he was THAT good!

 

Ian Hunter & Mick Ronson - They had some great shows.

Ian Hunter & Mick Ronson – They had some great shows.

 

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(Richfield) Coliseum Rock(ed)!

August 17, 2008
The Richfield Coliseum 1974 - 1994 20 years of the greatest rock 'n roll.

The Richfield Coliseum 1974 – 1994 20 years of the greatest rock ‘n roll!

 Back in the early 70’s for the most part all of us concert-goers went to see the big name acts at relatively smaller venues, like the Akron Civic Theatre, Cleveland Public Hall, Music Hall, Canton Civic Center and others. With the advent of arena rock concerts nationwide northeast Ohio got their own when in 1974 the Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, OH, halfway between Akron & Cleveland and the brainchild of businessman and NBA franchise owner Nick Mileti, opened for business and served as home for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, WHA’s Cleveland Crusaders, NHL’s Cleveland Barons, MISL’s Cleveland Force, MISL & NPSL’s Cleveland Crunch, the IHL’s Cleveland Lumberjacks, and the AFL’s Cleveland Thunderbolts.
 
Music, particularly rock ‘n roll, figured prominently into the mix thanks to an arrangement with Ohio super-promoters Belkin Productions. The first musical performance to open the Richfield Coliseum was Frank Sinatra. The first rock concert was held soon after with Elton John headlining on November 4, 1974. From there on out during the next two decades it was a non-stop carousel of nearly ever and any band that had a tour bus coming to play the ‘big house’ (seating 22,000).
 
It was a big, big place but, and others may disagree, for the most part the acoustics weren’t that bad (except anytime Aerosmith played). And me and my pals, and dates, and whoever else, were there for the best bands. For instance: KISS, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, The Who, J. Geils Band, Queen, Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, Ian Hunter & Mick Ronson, Rod Stewart, Thin Lizzy, Tubes, Van Halen, Black Sabbath, Foghat, Starz, Sammy Hagar, Boston, Ted Nugent, Babys, Rick Derringer, Angel, Peter Frampton, Black Oak Arkansas, Journey, Michael Stanley Band, Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, Mother’s Finest, Heart, REO Speedwagon, ZZ Top, Cheap Trick, and the list goes on and on.
 
Most of my experiences were all positive. The police and security were pretty cool as long as you weren’t obvious or just a dumbass. There were plenty of restrooms with the mandatory pools of piss-on-the-floor of course and lots of eye candy and easy access to seats.
 
And you also had the opportunity over the years to see certain favorite bands multiple times.
 
Some of my memories of the Richfield Coliseum:
 
A big brouhaha immediately after the 1974 Elton John concert erupted when Richfield Zoning Commissioner Richard Crofoot went ballistic after seeing someone light up a joint during Sir Elton’s performance. He attempted to pass legislation to ban rock concerts at the Coliseum. He failed. It made all the local newspapers and regional and national rock publications.

My cousin Sue had two extra tickets to the Eagles in 1975 so I snatched them up for myself and a date. We ended up sitting next to my cousin and her date, a young fellow who eventually became a Mayor, State Representative and State Senator here in Ohio. (Dan Fogelberg, who recently passed, was opening act).


KISS mania had taken hold at high schools all across Ohio and everyone had KISS Alive and Destroyer. We hardcore KISS fans had everything they had done of course. For the March 9, 1976 KISS/Artful Dodger appearance at the Richfield Coliseum Flash and I went to the Ticketmaster location at the Belden Village Mall and bought three complete rows of seats. One row was around six rows below the other two rows. So we went to Orrville and sold most of them (at cost) to our pals (so we could control who we sat with). I had people in school (my senior year) who never spoke to me coming up asking if I had any tickets left and pleading for one. The power! A few tickets we gave away to some very charming young ladies and we kept two each. (I’d tell you the ‘details’ of that night but I have five grandchildren who may read this someday.)

Led Zeppelin on January 24, 1975 that saw a mini-riot erupt and thousands and thousands of dollars worth of broken window glass by a group outside who were unable to get tickets. That made the papers.

The Who on December 9, 1975. Nuff’ said.

I think I saw Aerosmith there at least four times at the Coliseum and only once was the sound working right and you could actually hear the band. Guess they were just jinxed there.
 
After a Ted Nugent/J.Geils Band show Bug, Mott & myself shaking hands with Peter Wolfe. As we came out of the Coliseum we walked by a couple limos and in the back of the first one with the window down was Peter Wolfe sitting between two lovely ladies with a drink in hand. We stopped, told him, “You guys kicked ass!” His response? “I know!” He slapped us each a high five and off we went.

I remember the Foghat/Starz show on February 20, 1978 because my pal Rog caught a flying drumstick from Foghat drummer Roger Earl. The two bands always kicked ass live.
 
I remember not expecting much out of Rod Stewart on November 4, 1977 because he didn’t have Faces with him (they were killer in ’75 at the Stadium). Wrong. Stewart kicked ass that night, had everyone out of their seats and had the audience n the palm of his hand.

Led Zeppelin on April 27 and April 28, 1977. Tickets were available via mail order only with a minimum number of tickets per order. So Flash and I got our money orders prepared and each ordered the maximum number allowed for both nights. We went to the Richfield Post Office and at midnight of the date orders could be postmarked we dropped our order in the mail (along with probably 100 others lined up). We got lucky and each got four tickets for both nights. First night was with dates, second night with buddies. The April 27 performance is a huge bootleg bestseller on the black market. Full details on this night can be found here: https://doclehman.wordpress.com/2008/03/09/

New Year’s Eve 1977 was celebrated at the Richfield Coliseum seeing Todd Rundgren’s Utopia and Derringer. A friendly law enforcement officer stopped us on the way home and inquired about our health and sent us on our way after promises of getting to Orrville ASAP and staying there. Derringer owned the night.
 
I remember taking three or four people for their first Angel concert on March 8, 1978 and them being blown away by Angel’s stage show.

I remember the January 8, 1978 KISS concert at the Richfield Coliseum because it took 20-25 minutes to get there and after the show we went to the car to be greeted by a mountain of snow. We had two blizzards that year (the second one, even bigger, in March) and the night of KISS was the first one. It took nearly three hours to get home, dodging sliding cars going backwards down Route 21 past us as I kept the hammer down on the Cutlass trying to get up those big hills with what seemed like five feet of snow and more coming down. We made it back to Orrville and were snowed in for three days.

I remember seeing Alice Cooper again later that year in ’78 because that was the first concert my older sister Cheryl had ever been to (we broke her in with that one!). That was May 5 and Jay Ferguson opened. A good time was had by all, as is the case anytime you see Alice Cooper.

Boston and Sammy Hagar on my birthday in 1978. Boston was good but Sammy laid the smackdown.

In 1978 went to see Black Sabbath and Van Halen. Had heard maybe one or two Van Halen songs on the radio at that point and none of us that went gave them much thought. We were there for Sabbath. Result: Van Halen whipped Black Sabbath performance-wise and musically like a bastard redheaded stepchild.

New Year’s Eve 1978 at the Richfield Coliseum: Bruce Springsteen. Nuff’ said.
 
Ian Hunter & Mick Ronson on September 22, 1979. One of my favorite concerts at the Coliseum. Too many reasons to list. But what a night!

Ian Hunter & the late, great Mick Ronson

Ian Hunter & the late, great Mick Ronson

There’s more, lots more (Tubes, Babys), but you get the idea. I’d like to hear from others about their experiences at the Richfield Coliseum.


 I know I saw well over 100 bands there during the 70’s and very early 80’s. A couple performances I missed that I always regretted were not seeing George Harrison (’74) and Paul McCartney (’76) on their respective tours because tickets were mail order and my orders didn’t get picked. I also went as far as making plans to buy tickets to see Elvis in 1977. One of my cousins saw him at the Coliseum in ’75 and convinced me I had to see him at least once. But right before the Cleveland tickets went on sale he died.
 
Lots of good memories there and lots of good bands came through many times. I think I saw KISS there four or five times, Aerosmith the same, Alice Cooper four times, Fleetwood Mac four times, the list goes on….
 
With the opening of Gund Arena in Cleveland the Richfield Coliseum was doomed. It shut down in 1994 and in 1999 was demolished and the property returned to woodland and under stewardship of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  You can find more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richfield_Coliseum  


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Led Zep’s ’77 Tour

March 9, 2008

 

 

This past Christmas my younger brother was given the complete Led Zeppelin remastered box set edition of their catalogue from his stepson (and he listened to the CDs on his way to and from Daytona when he went down for Speedweeks last month) and after hearing him talk about the mighty Zeppelin we recounted the much anticipated 1977 Led Zep tour.
***
When word was announced they would tour everyone in northeast Ohio and beyond were fired up immediately. Scheduled for the Coliseum in Richfield, OH for two nights, the promoters threw a monkey wrench into the ticket buying process. They decreed that to have a chance to purchase tickets it had to be done by mail order using money orders and the orders had to be postmarked on a selected date in order to have a chance to buy tickets. I think they limited each order to only four (4) tickets per order.
***
So the night before tickets were to be accepted Flash and I had purchased several money orders and used our names and addresses as well as various brothers and sisters and drove up to Richfield the night before so we could drop our orders off at the Richfield post office right at midnight. We weren’t the only ones to think of that as there appeared to be a caravan snaking through the small town of Richfield to the post office.
***
A couple weeks later we were thrilled when we each received tickets for both nights! We sold the remaining tickets and each kept two for both nights. The first night was April 27, 1977 and we took dates. The second night, April 28, 1977, we went solo with a couple of buddies to raise hell and have fun. We did. Amazing shows! We were extremely happy we were able to see them on two consecutive nights let alone one and I’m glad we did because that was the last chance we had to see Led Zeppelin as it turned out.
***
We had procured tickets for the August 9, 1977 show at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh but that was eventually cancelled when Robert Plant’s son passed away at the end of July. When they announced the next tour in 1980 I dutifully ordered tickets but before they could be processed word came out that drummer John Bonham had died. That was the end of Led Zeppelin as we knew them.
***
But the Richfield Coliseum shows were outstanding. ‘An Evening With Led Zeppelin’ is seared into my memory banks and I’m glad I had the chance to catch them on that tour. I bought the T-Shirts (one white, one black, both now long gone) as did my brother. He still has his. A number of years ago some company reissued those ’77 t-shirts and while at an area mall once I noticed a young man wearing one who wasn’t even born when that tour happened. As I passed him in a record store I mentioned ‘Nice shirt! I bought mine at a Led Zep concert in ‘77’. He stopped in his tracks and proceeded to grill me for 15 minutes on the band and the Richfield appearances.
***
As you may know Led Zep reformed for several concerts in England recently with Jason Bonham on drums. They may or may not do a USA tour (a local radio station reported last week that Robert Plant was against it) so we’ll see. But if they do, this old man just may make the effort to check them out again.
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If I can get tickets!

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