Spirit: 3/31/1981

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Spirit was one of those bands that the first time I heard them, I was floored. I had a friend named Paul and he was excited one day because he had just bought the Best of Spirit. We listened to it and the next day I went to the record store and bought a copy of the album. It basically lived on my turntable for weeks afterwards.

The Agora Ballroom was a club in Hallandale, Florida, which is just north of Miami. The club later became the infamous Button South, but when I went to see Spirit there, it was still the Agora.

Although the band only featured two of the original members, Randy California and Ed Cassidy, they were amazing. Randy’s guitar work and vocals were stellar and the band ripped through almost everything I wanted to hear. The only song that they didn’t play which I would have loved to see them perform was “Mechanical World,” a very dark, apocalyptic anti-war song.

Spirit was one of those bands that never became as popular as they should have. I like to say that they are the best band you’ve never heard of, although you’ve probably heard their songs, like “I Got A Line On You,” “Nature’s Way,” and “Fresh Garbage.” Also, it has been asserted that Jimmy Page stole the main musical theme for “Stairway to Heaven” from Spirit’s “Taurus.” (There is a lawsuit against Page seeking to give credit to Randy California for the song.)

If you’re not familiar with Spirit’s music, I strongly encourage you to check them out. “Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus” is one of my all-time favorite albums. They were so ahead of their time and their music sounds as fresh and exciting today as it did when I first heard them back in the late 70’s.

You have the world at your fingertips
No one can make it better than you
You have the world at your fingertips
But see what you’ve done to the rain and the sun
So many changes have all just begun, to reap
I know you’re asleep
Wake up

(“Prelude” from Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus)

Pink Floyd: 11/1/1987

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Yes, I paid $20 to see Pink Floyd, row 38. How times have changed in regard to ticket prices.

When it was announced that Pink Floyd had reunited and would be playing at the Miami Orange Bowl, you can imagine that it was a big deal for concertgoers, even if it was Pink Floyd sans Roger Waters. My brother Mike and I made plans to get tickets and go to the show together. Now, this was back before there was the internet to buy tickets and such, so if you wanted to get tickets, you had to go wait in line outside the record store, which for us was Record Land near the 163rd Street Mall. My brother secured a spot a couple days before the tickets went on sale and we stayed there in shifts, watching as the line grew and grew.

It was the night before the tickets went on sale, and the crowd had swelled exponentially. The line snaked along the sidewalk and I could not see the end, but we were close to the front, so I was psyched, knowing we would get good seats. For the home stretch, it was my brother, his friend Roger, and myself, and we were having fun taking part in the revelry that night. But then it started to rain, that heavy subtropical Miami rain. A torrential downpour. But we were OK because we were under an overhang, so we watched people scrambling and running about in the storm. Now Roger, my brother’s friend, was quite the prankster. One might even say he was a smart-ass. So this poor girl was making a dash to her car and Roger yelled: “Hey! You dropped something!” She stopped in the midst of the deluge and started looking around on the ground. “Where?” she asked. “Right there!” More looking. “Where?” “Right there!” We could not help starting to laugh and she finally realized what was happening. She glared at Roger and said, “You think you’re really fuckin’ funny, huh?” Sadly to say, that only made us laugh more.

Anyway, the next morning we got our tickets. We were going to see the Floyd!

The day of the concert arrived and we went to the Orange Bowl early and got our seat. Unfortunately, we would be paying our karmic debt. It rained, and it rained. So we stood out there with the thousands of others and got drenched while the band played. Thankfully, it was not that cold, and the rain had the bonus of making the lasers all the more visually stunning, as the rain caused the lasers to glimmer like little diamonds that were floating like cosmic stardust within the waves of light. It definitely added to the surreal experience of seeing Pink Floyd.

The show opened with “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” which was great. The band played two sets, performing a nice balance of old classic tunes and new material from the “Momentary Lapse of Reason” album. They ended the show with “Run Like Hell.”

But the adventure did not end when the lights came up. We still had to drive home, and I was the one who had to drive, in the rain, and feeling dazed from the show. So we piled into the car and started out. It was dark, raining hard, and very few streetlights. I was driving carefully when all of a sudden I saw someone standing in the middle of the road, right in front of me! I hit the brakes and skidded to a stop, maybe a foot away from the police officer standing in the middle of the intersection trying to direct traffic. He stepped forward and slammed his fist on the hood of my car, screaming things at me that I could not understand. My heart raced as I sat there. Still, I could not help but wonder at the logic of this officer standing in the middle of the intersection, at night, in the rain, with no flashlight or reflective clothing. I waited, trying to calm my nerves, and then witnessed another vehicle driving on the cross street fly through the intersection and almost hit the cop. The officer literally had to dive out of the way of the vehicle. I really felt scared for the officer, but still wondered why he did not use his flashlight. Finally, he waved us through and I carefully navigated us home without any further incident.

While this was the first time I saw Pink Floyd, it would not be the last. I ended up seeing them two more times, and each time it was an experience. But those are other stubs and other stories, which I will share in the future.

Shine on!