32 years ago this week (11-3-80): The Police, XTC, Oingo Boingo at downtown's Civic Center
Thirty-two years ago this week -- 11-3-80 -- the Police, XTC, and Oingo Boingo performed at downtown's Civic Theater.
Opening act XTC was riding on the popularity of their Black Sea album. They had played in San Diego earlier in 1980, a one-off date at the North Park Lions club that has achieved somewhat mythic local status, having been booked by Renee Edgington. "She was the grownup and I was her fourteen year-old assistant," recalls David Klowden (Manual Scan, etc) at http://cheunderground.com/blog/?p=709. "Renee spent a lot of time in LA and knew a lot of people in the underground music and art scene & worked hard to book bands in SD. She was very good at it. Her biggest triumph was in booking XTC on their Drums & Wires tour. I remember that those guys were really surprised (not delighted) when they got a load of the NPLC!"
Two years after the show with the Police and Oingo Boingo, XTC would play only one date of an American tour, in San Diego, before canceling the rest of the tour due to Andy Partridge's stage fright, essentially retiring from concert appearances forever.
Oingo Boingo (with Danny Elfman) had only recently altered format, from a theatrical troupe called the Mystic Nights of the Oingo Boingo to a rock combo. They'd just signed with IRS Records (distributed by mainstream powerhouse A&M) and had only released one self-titled four-song EP under the shortened name at the time.
IRS was then a new label co-founded by Miles Copeland III, whose brother Stewart was, of course, a member of the Police, hence Boingo's inclusion on this tour. Performing with a three-man horn section, Oingo Boingo's half hour set included covers of "You Really Got Me" and "California Girls."
The Police's Zenyatta Mondatta (and its first single "Don't Stand So Close to Me") was in the U.S. top ten. The concert was sold out, with ticket sales reported at 14,585.
I had a pretty good seat, and the statute of limitations now allows me to admit that I broke that seat while dancing on it to "Walking on the Moon."
"I remember trying to dance and the Nazi bouncer told us to sit down," recalls Dean Curtis at http://cheunderground.com/blog/?p=709. "Then I went up to the balcony to get a different view and they wouldn’t let me back to the floor because I couldn’t find my ticket stub. I hate big venues like that."
Dan Whitworth (http://www.facebook.com/dan.whitworth.35) also remembers the stormtrooper vibe of security guards that night, which he experienced from a second row seat. "We got to witness Policemania in full swing: swooning teenaged girls throwing flowers at Sting and trying repeatedly to rush the stage, a human tide held back only by a row of yellow jacketed bouncers. The first thirty minutes or so was a pandemonium of sorts, but things soon settled down a bit, only to be interrupted from time to time by random assaults on the stage by small, uncoordinated groups of girls and the occasional solo enthusiast."
"The most memorable of these was when a girl seated in the front row tried to get close to Sting as he performed a bass solo. (Insert bass player joke here.) As she approached the edge of the stage, a thug in yellow placed himself in her path and shoved her back. When I say 'shoved', I mean he basically hit her in the sternum with the heel of his hand with such force that she staggered backward several feet and collapsed in her seat, the breath knocked out of her, while the rose she had meant to deliver to Sting fell to the floor."
Guitarist Andy Summers, taking a bit of a breather during Sting's bass solo, took note of this, walked over to the edge of the stage, made eye contact with the security guy, and beckoned him to come over with index finger crooked. "Once he [Summers] had the schmuck's attention, he put his index finger away, raised his middle one, and kept it in the thug's face for the duration of an intense lecture which, while inaudible under the sound of the band's amps, seemed to involve a lot of fricatives and several instances of the word 'wanker,' delivered most likely in a outraged West Midlands accent. Then the bass solo ended, Summers summarily dismissed the yellowjacket, stepped back, and resumed his guitar duties."
"And this," concludes Whitworth, "is why Andy Summers is my favorite member of the Police."
The Police were reportedly so exhausted by this show that they canceled their next two gigs to recuperate. A Las Vegas show was cancelled altogether, while the November 5 date at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium went ahead with only XTC and a local opening band on the bill.
After the San Diego concert, gate-crashers were found to have gained entry via an ingenious route. On the roof of the theater, a vent duct had been disassembled, and an unknown number of ticketless patrons apparently climbed into the hole to enter an elevator shaft, open a trap door, and drop in. The elevator faced an administrative area leading directly to the concert hall itself. The breach was discovered later, as the gate-crashers neglected to re-close the elevator ceiling's trap door or return to the roof to reattach the vent grate.
The illicit access was soon curtailed by pouring cement over the roof's vent bolts.
XTC setlist: "Battery Brides (intro)" - "Outside World" - "Life Begins at the Hop" - "Helicopter" - "Love at First Sight" - "Respectable Street" - "No Language in Our Lungs" - "Meccanik Dancing (Oh We Go!)" - "Statue of Liberty"
The Police setlist: "Be My Girl" - "Bring On the Night" - "Can't Stand Losing You" - "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" - "Deathwish" - "Don't Stand So Close to Me" - "Driven to Tears" - "Fall Out" - "Man in the Suitcase" - "Message in a Bottle" - "Next to You" - "Reggatta de Blanc" - "Roxanne" - "Shadows in the Rain" - "So Lonely" - "The Bed's Too Big Without You" - "Truth Hits Everybody" - "Voices Inside My Head" - "Walking on the Moon" - "When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around"
ALSO THIS WEEK IN SAN DIEGO ROCK HISTORY:
11-1-64 – the Rolling Stones made their first San Diego appearance, playing an evening show at Balboa Park Bowl, having appeared that afternoon at Long Beach’s Civic Auditorium, aka Long Beach Arena. Tickets cost $3.50, with the show starting at 5:00 p.m. Various local acts opened, including Joel Scott Hill and the Invaders, Rosie and the Originals, and famed local garage band the Misfits.
The show's promoter Danny Millsap, who ran a local record store, told the Reader in an April 1998 article that he paid the Stones $400. “I remember paying Rosie and the Originals $500,” he recalled of booking the popular local group known for their hit song “Angel Baby” (later recorded by John Lennon).
Only around 300 people were in the San Diego audience that Sunday, despite the Stones having drawn around 13,000 earlier that day in Long Beach., and 5,000 the night before at San Bernardino’s Swing Auditorium. On Friday, they had headlined the famed TAMI show at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, alongside James Brown, Chuck Berry, and the Beach Boys.
Reportedly, the gates were essentially abandoned and anyone in Balboa Park who happened to wander by was welcome to walk inside and checkout the show.
“We figured what the Hell,” says Millsap. “We had made everything we were going to. Might as well let everyone enjoy themselves…I think I lost about 500 bucks on that show. It was no big deal. The kids had a good time.”
Danny Millsap’s son David, a high school junior at the time, recalls “Because the crowd was so small, you could actually hear what the Stones were playing…they sounded better that night than any time I’ve heard them since.”
Local opening act The Misfits featured future Moby Grape singer/bassist Bob Mosley. “We played a lot of places around town,” he recalled in a 2005 interview, “but [the Stones show] was the biggest thing we’d done.”
At the time, the Misfits were signed to Imperial Records, whose roster included Ricky Nelson and Fats Domino. Their single “This Little Piggy,” released just before the Stones show, was appearing in Top 30 surveys for radio station KDEO - which hosted the Stones concert - as well as at KCBQ and KGB.
A backstage photo of the Stones mingling with various locals is reproduced above, featuring (top row from left) Ron Armstrong, Bill Wyman, Keith Richards, Earl Steely, Mick Jagger, Joey Page, Charlie Watts and Bob Mosley; (bottom row from left) Joel Scott Hill (later of Canned Heat), an unidentified photographer, Harold Kirby (bassist with Hill's band), and Eddy Dunn.
Misfits members depicted are drummer Ron Armstrong, rhythm guitarist Earl Steely, bassist Bob Mosley, and lead guitarist Eddy Dunn. Armstrong would later join Jamul. Page was an area singer seen frequently on the Shindig TV show - the photo was taken by Misfits manager (and swimming pool salesman) Bob Herrington.
Another opening act, Joel Scott Hill and the Invaders, featured drummer Willie Kellog, who recalled that day and meeting the Stones backstage for an April 1998 Reader article. “They were just these frail looking little guys with gray skin. They don’t get much sun over there in England, you know…they weren’t talking to anyone. Mick Jagger was sitting in a corner by himself…he was p-ssed off about money or something. He was afraid they weren’t going to get paid. They didn’t sell many tickets.”
Among the songs played by the Stones that day: “Not Fade Away,” “It’s All Over [Now],” “Round and Round,” “Time Is on My Side,” “If You Need Me,” and “I’m a King Bee.”
As for the Stones’ set, Kellog says “We were laughin’ at those guys. Jagger was doin’ all this jerky sh-t, singin’ the blues with that heavy English accent. That band was hitting a lot of clams, man. There was just a lot of wangin’ and dangin’ going on up there.”
The day after the San Diego show, the Rolling Stones recorded at RCA Studios in Hollywood for the first time. They taped the songs "Pain in My Heart," "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," "Hitch Hike," "Heart of Stone," and "Down Home Girl."
Joel Scott Hill and the Invaders later became the house band at a popular Hollywood club called the Action. Guitarist Hill (later to replace Al Wilson in Canned Heat) also fronted the Joel Scott Hill Trio, a local 1960s ensemble featuring Hill with bassist Bob Mosley (the Misfits, Moby Grape), and drummer Johny Barbata (who would end up in the Turtles and Jefferson Airplane/Starship).
As for the Misfits, in December 1964, after a gig at the Red Coat Inn (5933 University), the band travelled up near San Francisco to record some studio demos with Sylvester Stewart (Sly Stone), but little came of the sessions. The band split in 1965 after guitarist Earl Steely married and refused to tour. Bob Mosley stayed in San Francisco and joined Moby Grape.
However, Mosley hit on hard times after Moby Grape dissolved amidst years of lawsuits. “I was living in the bushes alongside a San Diego freeway in 1996,” he recalled in 2005, “when a friend picked me up and told me Judge Garcia in San Francisco had agreed to give the Moby Grape name back to the band, instead of the corporate suits.” The partially reformed Grape occasionally performs and records today.
Another act who opened for the Stones that day, National City-based Rosie & the Originals, hit #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 In mid-December 1960 with their song “Angel Baby," remaining on the charts for 12 weeks. Singer Rosie Hamlin wrote the lyrics while a 14-year-old student at Mission Bay High School. Hamlin was 15 when the band self-recorded the song at a San Marcos facility.
“It was actually an old airplane hangar,” recalls Hamlin on her website. “The owner had airplane parts all over the place…he had a corner set up with recording equipment.
“We took one of our 45s to Kresge’s department store in San Diego,” Hamlin recalls. “They had listening booths in their music section where you could preview records…we asked the manager to play our record, and see if he could sell it in his store.”
A rep from Highland Records was in the store that day and the label soon signed the group and released the single. However, Highland insisted that bandmember David Ponci get songwriting credit, since he was the oldest member. “I do not own the rights to the song,” says Hamlin, “but I did obtain the copyright in 1961. Now, I do get the B.M.I. [payouts] and part of the publishing.”
This concession took over 20 years of lawsuits to obtain. “[I] got burned, like so many of our peers in those days,” says Hamlin.
John Lennon cited Hamlin as one of his favorite singers in a 1969 Life magazine interview. He recorded “Angel Baby” in 1973 for an aborted album of classic cover tunes, although the track didn’t appear until his 1986 album Menlove Avenue (it also appeared on a posthumous Lennon box set).
Today, Hamlin lives in New Mexico. She's no longer making public appearances due to her ongoing battle with fibromyalgia.
The Reader's 4-2-98 issue includes a feature about the Stones' first San Diego date: http://edtweb23dev366.edthosting.com/dblake/trippinwithwillie/pdfs/wk_article.pdf
A terrific photo of the Stones onstage, shot by Jan Tonnesen, can be viewed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/63092108...
ALSO SEE: http://www.myspace.com/ronarmstrongmusic
IF YOU LIKED THIS BLOG, YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
THE DAY JIMI HENDRIX CAME TO TOWN - 5-24-69: From my extensive interviews with Hendrix bassist Noel Redding, here's the inside scoop on a legendary (and highly bootlegeed) local concert... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/03/the-day-jimi-hendrix-came-to-town
THE DAY THE MONKEES TURNED DEL MAR INTO CLARKSVILLE: 9-11-66 - Del Mar was renamed “Clarksville” for the day, as part of a promotion for the Monkees TV show, which would debut the following night. The Sunday event marked the first time the foursome ever performed music in public.... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/16/day-the-monkees-turned-del-mar-into-clarksville
THE DAY ELVIS MADE HISTORY IN SAN DIEGO: Research into Elvis Presley’s first-ever California concerts, over the first week of April 1956, has yielded new material about the San Diego dates, including unpublished photos of the rock icon backstage at the long-gone San Diego Arena at Eighth and Harbor... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...
THE DAY NIRVANA PLAYED OFF THE RECORD: 10-24-91 - Detailed inside story of the day Nirvana played the tiny Off the Record store… http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...