Just two weeks earlier, the band had threatened to cancel the remainder of the tour, after Slick was maced by police and Kantner slightly injured in a fight during an Akron, Ohio, concert. Someone in the band's crew allegedly called the police "pigs" from the stage, sparking the melee: the crewmember -- Jack Casady's brother Chick -- was dragged off the stage and arrested.
Tom Waits: 11-17-73, Folk Arts Rare Records
Folk Arts Rare Records was then located in Hillcrest at 3743 Fifth Avenue. "I still have a tape of the show," says owner Lou Curtiss. "He did our open-mike nights back when he was still at Hilltop High. In '73, he was a doorman at the Heritage, but when they closed, I started doing concerts at the store, and I asked him to do one of the first ones. We didn't have much space, so we were crammed to the rooftops. He was just starting to get real well known...Bob Webb, who owned the Heritage, played guitar, and Tom played guitar and piano." With only one album under his belt, Waits performed songs from his upcoming LP The Heart of Saturday Night, including "Shiver Me Timbers" and "San Diego Serenade."
Admission was "no more than $4," and Waits was paid from the proceeds of around 150 ticket sales. "He got most of the money," says Curtiss. "We weren't getting rich off these things." Waits lived locally from 1959 until 1971. Curtiss owns over 4000 reels of concert tapes, the majority recorded by himself. Having recently received $35,000 from the Grammy Foundation Grant Program to preserve some of his collection, this concert is in consideration for the planned digital archive, which will be available to researchers and interested public.
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention: 8-11-74, Golden Hall
When famous former neighbor Zappa returned to San Diego with his inventive Mothers, the audience was admitted while the band performed a sound check, apparently with faulty equipment. Zappa apologized for the poor sound during "Uncle Meat," "Pygmy Twylyte," "Cosmik Debris," and "Help, I'm a Rock" before concluding, "That seems to be as good as it gets." Opening act Tom Waits then took the stage with his piano. Waits performed "San Diego Serenade," along with a few other songs and an extended monologue -- boos were heard, and one audience member yelled, "Somebody shoot that fucker." Waits showed up onstage again during Zappa's set, telling his "12-inch man" joke while the Mothers played "Ol' 55."
The Mothers that night included drummer Chester Thompson, who'd later play with Genesis. Three of the songs performed were unreleased at the time: "Inca Roads," "T'Mershi Duween," and "Dupree's Paradise." After the show -- captured on the bootleg LP Golden Debris -- the duo visited Waits's old job site, Napoleone's Pizza in National City, where Zappa was so impressed by the jukebox selection that he mentioned it glowingly in a subsequent interview. He told Zappa fanzine City of Tiny Lights (published out of North County), "It's a good thing I didn't know about that pizza, or that jukebox, or I might have never left San Diego."
Led Zeppelin: 3-10-75, Sports Arena
On tour behind their Physical Graffiti album, the mighty Zep played a 14-song set at the Sports Arena, with no opening band. Doors for the sold-out concert opened at 3:00 p.m., and seating was unreserved, with no chairs on the floor. A ten-foot balloon imprinted with "1975 World Tour" was bounced around the audience, until the band finally took the stage at 9:00 p.m., an hour later than scheduled.
As captured on the bootleg album Symphony in a Thousand Parts, after the opening medley of "Rock and Roll" and "Sick Again," Robert Plant implored the unruly crowd to "shut right up" and "step back," as patrons pressed toward the stage. The drum solo in "Moby Dick" ran just under a half hour in length, and female attendees reportedly showered the stage with underwear during the opening strains of "Stairway to Heaven." The bootleg album does not include the final encore, "Heartbreaker." Two weeks after this show, Zeppelin became the first band in history with six albums on the charts simultaneously.
Paul McCartney and Wings: 6-16-76, Sports Arena
McCartney brought his Wings Over America tour to the Sports Arena just as Wings at the Speed of Sound was topping the U.S. charts. "They flew in on a private jet, [and] people literally wept when McCartney hit the stage," recalls local music historian and Shambles front man Bart Mendoza. "He played a hit-filled show, lasting just over two hours, and included a few Beatles tunes -- 'I've Just Seen a Face,' 'Lady Madonna,' etc. -- but stuck heavily to his solo tunes." Mendoza says that a high point came with "a pyrotechnic-laden 'Live and Let Die.' But the defining moment was likely those first two seconds as the crowd realized that, yes, he was about to play 'Yesterday.' It was pandemonium."
Several songs from this show appear on the bootleg album Oriental Nightfish, produced in 1977 by Reading Railroad Records (aka Hoffman Avenue Industries, Inc.). A double LP on colored vinyl, San Diego cuts include "Jet," "Magneto and Titanium Man," "My Love," "Soily," and "Beware My Love."
The Who: 10-7-76, Sports Arena
Beneath Keith Moon's drum kit that evening was a Persian rug that the day before had graced a reception area near his room in a Phoenix hotel. According to the biographical DVD The Most Dangerous Man Alive, Moon was "accused by another hotel guest of urinating on the expensive carpet...easily seen by anyone walking past the room." Moon told hotel management that the wet spot had been caused by a spilled drink. "When told the band would be billed for the full value [of the rug], Moon moved some furniture off the carpet, rolled it up, slung it over his shoulder, and took it immediately to the band's tour bus, using it that night and over the next few dates [including San Diego] to anchor his notoriously unstable drum kit."