The Outlaws and Wet Willie: 5/26/1978

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This is quite an old ticket stub, and it was torn in a way that I could not make out the date. So I did a quick Google search for The Outlaws at the Suffolk Forum, and discovered that this was actually a concert that was made into an album! Here’s a link to Amazon where you can purchase the album online or just read some reviews.

Anyway, let me share what I remember about this concert.

This was a pretty wild concert. New Yorkers who were into the Southern rock scene were rowdy, to put it mildly. I went with my friend Ola and two of Ola’s friends, Frank and Rick. Wet Willie opened the show, and I was not that impressed. In fact, the only thing I remember about them is the crowd, which was throwing a lot of projectiles around the venue. I was happy to be higher up in the stands away from the insanity of the open floor.

The Outlaws came out and I remember really liking the show, but the only detail that stands out clearly in my memory is the encore, which was “Green Grass and High Tides.” I can still picture the crowd going nuts as the band ripped through a three-guitar solo that seemed to go on forever. The review of the album states that this was an epic 26-minute version of the song. Yeah, 26 minutes of screaming Southern rock guitar solo was something that makes a lasting impression. But what I remember most about this concert is what happened afterwards.

We did not have a ride home, since we were all too young to drive. So in our infinite teenage wisdom decided we would hitchhike home. After some discussion, we figured we would have more luck getting rides if we split into two groups of two. So Ola and I were a pair and Frank and Rick were a pair. The others were a few blocks down the road, which meant Ola and I had first dibs on cars coming past. After a little while, a car pulled to the side, about 20 feet past where we were standing. The door opened and we cautiously approached, but stopped as we saw a cowboy boot emerge from the passenger side. A drunken maniac leaped from the car and charged at us, screaming curses and threats about how he was going to kick the shit out of us. We ran towards the woods and the dude tried to kick us but fell on his ass. We made it to the safety of the woods and looked back as he staggered to the car, cursing, and got back in. The car pulled back onto the road and we watched the taillights moving away, and then pulling off again further down the road, where we assumed Frank and Rick were. We hoped they had enough common sense to stay safe. We found out later, that was not the case.

The next time I saw Frank, his eye was swollen shut and his face was badly bruised. The story we heard was that the car pulled over and the door opened, but no one came out this time. Rick, being cautious, hung back a little, but Frank went right up to the car, leaned over, and cheerfully said “Hey guys! How far are you going?” At which point cowboy boots kicked him in the face as he was bent over. He got kicked a few more times before they left him there, satisfied that they got to whoop some ass after the show.

I learned an important lesson that day: Don’t hitchhike home from a Southern rock concert, for any reason! Sleep in the woods if you must. You extend your thumb at your own risk.

REO Speedwagon, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, and The Godz: 6/10/1978

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This is one of my earliest ticket stubs, possibly my oldest. I was very young when I went to this show and it was pretty crazy.

My mom drove my friends and me to the Suffolk Forum in Commack, Long Island, NY. We got there early and waited in line since it was general admission. I was with two of my friends: Tommy and Schnook. We went in and found seats in the stands for the first act, The Godz.

The Godz may be the archetype for bad 70’s hard rock. Years later, when I saw the film “This is Spinal Tap,” the mock metal band featured in the film reminded me of The Godz. They were so bad and so cheesy that they were actually good, if that makes any sense. I still have a vinyl copy of The Godz’s album, if you can believe that.

Next up was Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. This was actually the band I was interested in seeing and the reason I went to this concert. At a young age, I was a big Deep Purple fan, so seeing the legendary guitarist’s new band was huge for me. At this time, Ronnie James Dio was the lead singer for Rainbow. Dio later went on to sing with Black Sabbath and after that he had a successful solo career.

My friends and I decided to go down onto the floor for Rainbow. It was insane, but we managed to get fairly close to the stage. Toward the middle of the set, Ritchie Blackmore took hold of the body of his Stratocaster and started smashing the neck of the guitar against the edge of the amplifier stacks. Soon pieces of guitar neck were sailing out into the crowd. Then, a piece flew toward us. I watched as the piece of guitar travelled through the air in slow motion and landed right in Schnook’s outstretched hand. He looked at me with a huge smile on his face, which lasted just a moment. Immediately, a fist came out of nowhere and punched Schnook in the face, and his rock and roll prize was snatched from his hand. We went back to the stands and Tommy and I watched as Schnook’s eye blackened and swelled shut. He told me that he actually saw stars when the guy punched him. I felt bad for him.

REO Speedwagon played next. I can’t tell you much about them other than they were OK. But I kept wondering why Ritchie Blackmore was opening for this band, which I had never heard of before. Of course, a few years later, REO would become super popular.

I learned an important lesson that day—concert’s were dangerous and if something sails into the audience from the stage, best to move out of the way.

Rock on!