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.