Monthly Archives: May 2012

Beatlemania at the movies

Found this picture in the April 17, 1964 edition of the Vindicator. Even though A Hard Day’s Night was just in the process of being filmed in the spring of ’64, Beatlemania was in full swing all over the country, including Youngstown. Notice from the caption how the film was being promoted as an added movie short to the Flight from Ashiya feature. That would change in the summer as A Hard Day’s Night whipped up teenagers (mostly girls) into a frenzy that allowed for tickets of the film to be sold well in advance. The downtown Youngstown theater premier was August 26, 1964 at the Palace (it had appeared in area drive-ins before that date). Tickets were $1 in advance according to ads. Flight from Ashiya was also shown, but it’s anyone’s guess who actually bothered to watch it. For the Palace, its part in Beatlemania was a last hurrah of sorts. The theater closed in November 1964 and was later demolished.

Edit: Commenter Mike pointed out that the Beatles Come To Town was a short film. There was confusion on my part because I did not know the caption was indeed a film title. Also Flight from Ashiya is mentioned with Hard Days Night as a double feature in ads from the time. To set the record straight, here’s the ad for Beatles movie premier in Youngstown on April 29, 1964:

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The Champs of Tequila

Never mind the balladeer, teenie bopper crap at the beginning of this ad (this is a rock ‘n’ roll blog and there are some things I just won’t touch…sorry). Here’s an appearance by The Champs on February 27, 1960 at the Elms Ballroom. The Champs rose to fame on the wings of the B-side smash “Tequila” which reached No. 1 on the pop and R&B charts in 1958. It was their only hit, but it managed to become key components of soundtracks in movies such as Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and The Sandlot much later on.

WHAT THE PERFORMANCE SOUNDED LIKE: Here’s a clip of the band performing their hit sometime during that era:

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The Godfather of Soul wows ’em at Stambaugh

James Brown was nearing the height of his powers when he came to Youngstown for two shows on October 27, 1967 at Stambaugh Auditorium. Earlier in 1967, the 34-year-old Brown hit No. 7 on the Billboard chart with “Cold Sweat, Pt. 1”. He’d go on to record two more top 10 hits in 1968 with “I Got That Feelin'” and “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud, Pt. 1”.

While he was most known for dazzling audiences with his spectacular live shows, he was also smack-dab in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement during this tumultuous period in American history. In a little over five months removed from this Youngstown show, Brown would take the stage at the Boston Garden on the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in an attempt to calm racial tensions in Boston.

WHAT THE SHOW SOUNDED LIKE: The Live at the Apollo, Volume II album is a safe bet since it was recorded in the summer of 1967.

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A journey to the dark side with G.G. Allin

G.G. Allin and the Murder Junkies at the Penguin Pub video link

G.G. Allin might not have been anywhere close to the galaxy of being a strong tunesmith, but during the time he was on the planet he was the living embodiment of the dangerous side of rock ‘n’ roll. On May 12, 1993, Allin and his Murder Junkies played a gig at the Penguin Pub. The above linked video (NSFW audio) is believed to be from that show. It pretty much speaks for itself, but what’s not shown is how the gig ended in fights, trashing of equipment and smokebombs. Police had to come to break up that little party.

Allin, who lived on the edge for many years, died of an accidental heroin overdose at the age of 36 just a few weeks later.

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Bizarro world

Found this picture of Stiv Bators, Barry Gibb and Andy Gibb in the June 12, 1978 edition of the Vindicator. The Dead Boys and Youngstown’s own Stiv Bators became good friends with the Bee Gees while recording their We Have Come For Your Children album in early 1978 in Florida. Cheetah Chrome wrote extensively about it in his recently published autobiography if you’re interested in more tales of the bizarre.

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List of 1977 Tomorrow Club shows

As promised, here’s another annual list of shows at the Tomorrow Club. This one is from 1977. There’s a bunch of stuff from August missing, but other than that it’s pretty complete. Quality of acts really starts to pick up toward the end of the year with shows from bands such as Rush, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Meat Loaf and Cheap Trick.

List of 1977 Tomorrow Club Shows

P.S. These lists take a lot of time. I’m going to continue doing them, but it may take a few months before the next one (probably 1978) is finished.

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Pagans, Dead Boys and Madonna (yes, that one)

Back when the Dead Boys were in their snotty prime, the band would often take a break from things in New York City and head west to play some shows back home in Ohio. Usually those stops would include the Cleveland Agora and the Tomorrow Club. On January 8, 1978 the Dead Boys helped setup an “All-Star” Punk-A-Thon at the Tomorrow Club featuring Cleveland’s yet-to-be legendary Pagans as well as Detroit’s Pigs and Traitors. The show was probably thrown together to capitalize on the media hype surrounding the Sex Pistols U.S. tour which was going on at that time. In fact, the Sex Pistols were supposed to play the Cleveland Agora on Jan. 1, but visa issues delayed their entry into the United States and the band had to settle for a bizarre tour of the Deep South.

Mike Hudson, lead singer of the Pagans and also a notable journalist, jotted down his memories of that Youngstown gig in his excellent 2008 autobiography Diary of a Punk. According to him one Madonna Louise Ciccone was also hanging around that night.

The Tomorrow Club was a huge old theater, run down but still elegant. The bill consisted of the Dead Boys, us and two Detroit bands, the Pigs and the Traitors. Madonna, then just some mousy looking girl from Michigan, was there as the girlfriend of one of the guys in the Detroit bands. Felix Pappalardi was getting ready to produce the Dead Boys second LP, and was hanging around the dressing rooms making a nuisance of himself. It was obvious he just didn’t get it. Mick was just amazed. Here he had just joined the band two days earlier and now he found himself playing a joint that would easily hold 1,000 people.

One of the tech guys from the club came backstage and told me he wanted to meet our soundman and lighting technician. I told him we didn’t have any and he was incredulous. Seeing the look on his face, the Dead Boys drummer Johnny Blitz laughed.

“You wanted punk rock,” he told the guy.

We only played about 15 minutes, seven or eight really fast numbers. Mick was the ideal lead guitarist for us. He’s the same height as Tim — around 6′ 3″ — so having them on either side of me really made for a cool appearance. I used to call them my bookends. Also, while not yet the great musician he would develop into, he could play the bar chords and short solos our relatively unsophisticated songs demanded. The other thing about the show was our interaction with our audience. Al McGinty, who’d come along for the ride, was down front, up to his usual hijinks, and a mini-riot erupted. Chairs were thrown at and by us, resulting in damage that would cut significantly into our $150 guarantee.

As usual, the Dead Boys were fantastic that night. I’ve said before that Stiv Bators was the greatest rock’n’roll frontman I’ve ever seen, and he was also a really sweet guy. After the show he introduced me to his elderly parents, who lived in Youngstown. His real name was Steve, but they were from the old country and pronounced it the way he spelled it.

And another note on the Traitors…Don Was, who would go on to become a famous producer of albums by acts such as the Rolling Stones, Elton John and Bob Dylan, was the lead singer in that band.

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Maps of the stars

I’ve added a page dedicated to mapping where venues mentioned (or will be mentioned) in this blog. You can see the list on that page or you can just follow the link below.

Youngstown rock ‘n’ roll venues

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James Brown fuels the Flames at the Elms

When James Brown and his Famous Flames stopped by the Elms Ballroom for a February 4, 1961 show, “The Godfather of Soul” wasn’t exactly a cultural phenomenon throughout the United States quite yet. The hits attached to advertisement above were several years old at this point, but “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business” wasn’t that far off from the mainstream recognition that would come in the middle of the decade.

I’m fairly certain this was not Brown’s first appearance in Youngstown. He was on the road since 1955, so it’s a high probability he played the Elms or other venues catering to blacks before the 1961 date. I do, however, know the last time he played here. That came on August 30, 2002 for a morning performance at Powers Auditorium as part of the Tom Joyner radio show.

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Ray Charles at the Elms Ballroom

Black rock ‘n’ roll and R&B stars of the 1950s had quite a few gigs booked at the Elms Ballroom during that era. Ray Charles was among them as he did a five hour stint at the venue on November 3, 1956. This is the first show of his in the city I’ve come across, but I would venture to guess he played others before this since he was quite popular on the R&B circuit in the mid ’50s.

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