Category Archives: 1970s

Scam bands revisited

animals 1-18-70

In 2014, I spotted the ad above and wrote an entry about the absurdity of it all. It turns out to be a very cool story involving a shady Michigan company, members of ZZ Top and the preying on of innocent rock fans who had no access to the level of information we do today.

Buzzfeed published the whole saga of this bizarre episode in rock history yesterday.  Here’s an excerpt detailing what happened to the fake Animals just about two months after the Youngstown gig:

Backlash from the bands whose identities it had effectively stolen ballooned to the point where Delta could no longer keep up its charade. The beginning of the end came when a fake version of the Animals created by Delta were confronted at a performance by the founder of the actual Animals, Eric Burdon. According to an article in the May 28, 1970, issue of Rolling Stone by Ben Fong-Torres, Burdon had shown up to the show with a baseball bat. Tom Hocott remembers getting a phone call from one of the fake Animals recounting this same story. “Eric Burdon and a bunch of bikers chased them around and threatened them,” he says. Burdon was contacted for this story; his wife Marianna responded with an email saying, “I asked Eric if he has any recollections of the incident you mentioned, but he doesn’t really.”

For more on this amazing tale, read Daniel Ralston’s excellent article:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/danielralston/the-true-story-of-the-fake-zombies-the-strangest-con-in-rock?utm_term=.yx7M29vKx#.hsM8eVjwY

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Freak out or fake out?

animals 1-18-70

On January, 18, 1970, the club The New World of the Freak Out (currently the site of the Utopia night club) claimed to have booked a show featuring one of the bigger bands of the 1960s in The Animals.

Only problem is the band broke up in 1969. Eric Burdon was well into his tenure with War at that point and the rest of the band was onto other things. So who knows if this was imposters or maybe some fringe members carrying on the name.

It would be absolutely absurd to think that the band that played arenas in the mid-60s played a Youngstown night club for $1.50 a ticket in 1970.

Edit: A commenter pointed out that the show was a scam and that the actual Animals did not play there.

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State Theatre Hall of Music presents…

joe walsh 7-22-1973

So it turns out there was life in the State Theater before the Tomorrow Club took over. Dubbed the State Theatre Hall of Music, the venue booked guitar legend Joe Walsh and Barnstorm on July 22, 1973. It seems to be the first rock music booking there, but I have no idea who else was booked or how the venue fared under that name.

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The curious case of Left End

Jane Scott chronicled Left End's exploits in the April 26, 1974 edition of the Plain Dealer.

Jane Scott chronicled Left End’s exploits in the April 26, 1974 edition of the Plain Dealer.

With the recent death of vocalist Dennis T. Menass (Dennis Sesonsky) the most popular Youngstown rock band in history for all intents and purposes came to an abrupt end. Unlike some other bands from the early to mid 70s rock scene who were attempted trendsetters of the day, there was no grand international revival by the way of album re-release, no superstar act like Metallica stepping in to do a cover or documentary film for the boys of Left End.

They arrived onto the national rock scene in April of 1974 with the release of the “Spoiled Rotten” LP for Polydor Records (the album premiered on Cleveland radio on April 13, 1974 and was available for sale shortly thereafter). There were big shows. There were antics. There were theatrics. The fans ate up whatever they were feeding (including frogs).

A fan who witnessed Left End play with the New York Dolls in June of 1974 in Cleveland shows off an interesting tribute to Dennis T. Menass in this Plain Dealer photo.

A fan who witnessed Left End play with the New York Dolls in June of 1974 in Cleveland shows off an interesting tribute to Dennis T. Menass in this Plain Dealer photo.

Of course, in the grand scheme of the way things usually go in Northeast Ohio, total victory was never achieved. The album got mixed reviews, a Polydor restructuring happened, vinyl production slowed and the music suits cowered in fear of what they (or most other people for that matter) could not grasp.

Left End were not unique in being kicked to the curb in what is perhaps the most misunderstood era of rock. Out in Los Angeles, about the same time as Left End was emerging in Ohio, the weirdness of sci-fi glam icons Zolar X gave people some pause as to whether they were the ones who influenced Kiss (They, of course, were largely forgotten until record reissues in the 2000s). The MC5, at the tail end of their darkest days in 1972, experimented with make-up and also thought they were the ones pushing the theatrical envelope. You had your Bowies. You had your glam Iggys. Alice Cooper was doing his thing too. Everything was sort of pointing in the direction of rock being more show oriented. Some bands were just luckier than others.

A Spoiled Rotten T-Shirt found its way into the 1976 Barbara Streisand film "A Star Is Born."

An “I’m Spoiled Rotten” T-Shirt found its way into the 1976 Barbara Streisand film “A Star Is Born.”

Rolling Stone's review of the album.

Rolling Stone’s review of the album.

Something like Left End will never be repeated however. The era of a band being able to work most, if not all, nights of the week and make a decent living off of it is long over. If a band now logs more than a hundred shows in its career here, they’re considered a veteran of the scene. Left End did thousands of shows. They could play a small bar in a Youngstown suburb one night and a theater in Cleveland the next. That is how a band becomes consistent and it is how a band leads the way to becoming legendary.

I really don’t know what Left End’s lasting legacy will be. The music the band recorded runs the gamut of sounding like the tough “thug rock” that critics liked to attack and the fans loved to something more funky and firmly and forever planted in 1974 (this is not necessarily a good thing).

They were essentially a Youngstown kind of band though. They made no apologies about playing for the shot and beer crowd and were working class through and through. And despite being called all sorts of unfair names by the national media, they are good-hearted people.

The band will get what I assume is its final send-off on Nov. 30 at the Youngstown Music Awards in Austintown.

There are some recent interviews from Dennis and drummer Patsy Palumbo on the excellent JimmyFro Show podcast which give a greater insight into what Left End was. I suggest you listen to those.

 

Dead Boys, speaker salesmen

A 1977 performance by the Dead Boys at CBGBs is being used as the cornerstone of a new commercial spot for Sonos wireless speakers. It’s a short clip of “Sonic Reducer” taken from footage filmed for CBS’s 60 Minutes in the hey-day of punk. The show was later released on DVD as Live at CBGB’s 1977.

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Lou Reed (1942-2013)

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Lou Reed, the famous New York artist/musician/poet, died on Oct. 27 at the age of 71. To my knowledge, his only performance in Youngstown came on April 27, 1978 at the Tomorrow Club.  The show came in between the release of the studio album Street Hassle in February and the live recording Live: Take No Prisoners in May.

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Because the night belongs to us

patti smith 2-15-78Patti Smith was one of the foundations of the New York City underground rock scene at the time of her Feb. 15, 1978 appearance at the Tomorrow Club. Commercial success was limited at this point, but that changed in a few weeks time when she released the album Easter. The Bruce Springsteen-Patti Smith penned “Because the Night” shot up the charts when it was released in the spring eventually allowing Smith to slow her hectic touring schedule in the 1980s.

WHAT THE SHOW SOUNDED LIKE: Here’s Smith performing her biggest hit on TV later in 1978.

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Talking Heads close out the Tomorrow Club era

talking heads 12-17-78

A few days before the Tomorrow Club shut down and turned into the Youngstown Agora, the New York City new wave group Talking Heads played there on Dec. 17, 1978. Likely driven to play Youngstown because of their Sire Records label-mates the Ramones and Dead Boys, the future Rock and Roll Hall of Famers slowly establishing themselves as a major critical darling with the release of albums in 1977 and 1978.

WHAT THE SHOW LOOKED LIKE: Here’s video footage of the band playing in Nov. 1978 on the same tour as the Youngstown gig.

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Heart attack

Heart, one of the more popular hard rock outfits of the ’70s, hit the stage on July 25, 1976 at the Tomorrow Club at about the time they were starting to blow up on the charts with hit singles “Magic Man” and “Crazy on You” off the Dreamboat Annie debut album. Ann and Nancy Wilson saw greater success the following year with the release of Little Queen which included the band’s biggest hit “Barracuda”.

WHAT THE SHOW SOUNDED LIKE: Here’s the band performing “Magic Man” on TV in 1976:

 

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Southside Johnny recorded live at Tomorrow Club

In case anyone who wasn’t around at the time wanted to get an idea of what the acoustics sounded like at the Tomorrow Club, I found a Southside Johnny and Asbury Jukes live recording from what I believe to be Sept. 18, 1977. Now, of course, this could be wrong as the show is labeled as December 1977. The historical compilation of shows I have only shows the band playing on Sept. 18, 1977 however. There’s a good chance this show could be later on down the line at the club, but for right now I’m leaning toward the Sept. 18 date (which just happens to be one day before the infamous Black Monday).

(I did have a link to download the show here, but the cyberlockers aren’t reliable anymore. So you’re out of luck for the time being.)

Setlist

Disc 1

1. This Time It’s For Real
2. Got To Get You Off My Mind
3. Without Love
4. Fannie Mae
5. I Can Tell
6. Love On The Wrong Side Of Town
7. Banter
8. She Got Me Where She Wants Me
9. Little By Little
10. Intro Mr. Popeye
11. It Ain’t The Meat [It’s The Motion]

Disc 2

1. I Choose To Sing The Blues
2. The Fever
3. I Don’t Want To Go Home
4. Havin’ A Party
5. You Don’t Know Like I Know
6. Intro to…
7. Stagger Lee

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