Tag Archives: agora

New Wave of British Heavy Metal with chicks

girlsschool 4-18-82By the time 1982 rolled around the Agora was pretty much on its last legs as a major act venue in the city. Early MTV hit-makers and other up and coming rockers of the day didn’t really get many booking slots as promoters relied on regional talent to fill bills that used to be reserved for national acts in the preceding years.

Area heavy metal fans did get a treat though when Britain’s Girlschool showed up for a gig on April 18, 1982 at the Agora. While the Youngstown area did not attract such well-known New Wave of British Heavy Metal acts Iron Maiden or Motorhead, Girlschool was the genuine article and was well-respected in metal circles around the world. In 1982, the band was testing the waters in the states for the first time with the album Demolition which included tracks from the band’s first two UK albums.

WHAT THE SHOW SOUNDED LIKE: Here’s the band performing “Hit and Run” in 1982.

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Hey Babys

babys 12-8-1980

At 10:50 p.m. on Dec. 8, 1980 in New York City, John Lennon was shot by Mark David Chapman. As that tragedy unfolded, The Babys, a British rock group with a few minor hits to their name, were playing a gig at the Youngstown Agora. A comment on a Facebook page dedicated to photos of concerts at the Agora said the band only played an hour and left the stage after playing a cover of “Baby You Can Drive My Car”. ┬áThe next day at a show in Cincinnati, an overzealous fan pulled singer John Waite off the stage and injured his knee. The band played one more gig in Akron before breaking up for good after roughly a 6 year career.

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The failed metal experiment

The Starr Palace (formerly Youngstown Agora, Tomorrow Club) made one last stab at relevance in 1988 and it involved booking regional heavy metal acts. I found a few ads in The Jambar from early 1988 showcasing these rather cheap ticket shows. By early March the ads were gone from the YSU newspaper.

Wretch are a well-known Cleveland metal act who is still active today.

Some of Spoyld’s members went on to form Warrant.


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The Police work the Agora beat

Thanks in part to glorious exposure by MTV, The Police had no trouble playing whatever venue they wanted in the 1980s. The ’70s was a different matter altogether. Even though the band had reasonable success on the radio with the first two albums Outlandos d’Amour and Reggatta de Blanc, big gigs were still a ways off in the distance in the USA. When the band took the stage at the Youngstown Agora on November 11, 1979 they were in the midst of their second tour of the USA, supporting the Reggatta de Blanc album. Throughout 1979 and 1980 the band toured the world over several times with hardly any off time. That sort of grueling touring schedule would continue into the ’80s and lead to the band’s eventual breakup in the middle of the decade.

WHAT THE SHOW SOUNDED LIKE: There are any number of FM or soundboard recordings of shows during that tour.

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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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Thin Lizzy at the Agora

Throughout the ’70s, The Tomorrow Club/Agora venue was able to showcase many bands who were on their way to bigger things. By the time the ’80s hit, there were some bands being booked at the venue who were going on to lesser things. Such is the case of Thin Lizzy‘s visit to the Agora Theater on November 18, 1980.

In 1977, Thin Lizzy was a big enough name to be opening a show for Queen at the Richfield Coliseum. In fall of 1980, the band was supporting the Chinatown album which failed to crack the Billboard Top 100. Band leader Phil Lynott was busy swapping new members in and out at that point in the final stage of the band’s career. This would be the last U.S. tour for the original Thin Lizzy. Drugs would claim the life of Lynott in 1986.

WHAT THE SHOW LOOKED LIKE: Here is a few snaps of the show someone kindly uploaded to Facebook.

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The Killer is loose

Jerry Lee Lewis was fresh off of a 17-hour stay in a Memphis hospital for a bad reaction to “antibiotics he was taking for the flu” when he arrived for an April 6, 1980 gig at the Youngstown Agora. He was in the hospital on Friday and was in Youngstown for the show on Sunday. He would play another show in Akron on Monday.

I’d like to say I know for certain that this was the Killer’s first show in Youngstown, but I can’t. There’s a strong possibility he played Stambaugh Auditorium in the ’50s (just like every other big star of the era), but finding information on that has been problematic.

WHAT THE SHOW SOUNDED LIKE: Here’s a show from Lyon, France in 1980.

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Let There Be Rock

Although AC/DC formed in 1974, it took three years before the band got around to touring the United States. In the summer of 1977, the band hit the club and theater circuit here in support of the Let There Be Rock album. Let There Be Rock was the first of the band’s albums to be made available for purchase in the United States. Several Australian-only releases (High Voltage, TNT and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap) preceded this one, yet the band was not playing a lot of the songs that would later become concert staples (most notably “Dirty Deeds” and “TNT”) on this tour.

The stop in Youngstown on August, 21, 1977 at the Tomorrow Club was the 18th date on the summer tour. The CBGB’s house band from 1975 to ’77 Mink Deville was actually given top billing in the ads that ran in the Vindicator in the days before the show.

AC/DC, made up of Bon Scott, Angus Young, Malcolm Young Phil Rudd and Cliff Williams, probably played a very brief set which included the songs “Live Wire”, “She’s Got Balls”, “Problem Child”, “The Jack”, “High Voltage”, “Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Rocker”.

AC/DC would graduate to playing arenas the next year and would release three more albums with Bon Scott on vocals before his death on February 19, 1980.

WHAT THE SHOW SOUNDED LIKE: The very next day, WMMS recorded the concert at the Cleveland Agora. It was later released as the bootleg Burning Balls.

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