It started as a casual conversation about local rock concerts and ended up as the book 9 Years Of Rock: The Story Of The Concerts At The Erie County Fieldhouse.
From 1974 to 1983, a nondescript multipurpose arena in Erie, PA, dubbed the Erie County Fieldhouse, hosted many of classic rock's royalty before they were superstars -- bands such as AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Boston, Van Halen, BTO, Santana, Doobie Brothers, Styx, Foreigner, Blue Oyster Cult, Nazareth, KISS, Alice Cooper, and Judas Priest. The facility's unique location -- about two hours from Buffalo, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh -- afforded many acts the opportunity to play one additional show while traveling between the larger markets. Since the facility had inexpensive fees and was accessible almost immediately off of Interstate 90, it was a no-brainer for managers to agree to these shows, especially considering the money they could make from one of these concerts could often pay many of the expenses for a tour.
Author Dan Schell chronicles the interesting backstory of how the building came to be built as well as a year-by-year description of each of the rock concerts that occurred. Interspersed among the entertaining personal anecdotes of the promoters, employees, and concertgoers Schell interviewed are over 200 images of everything from actual performances to concert posters and advertisements.
Check Amazon.com or you can call one of the following locations that sell the book in Erie, PA:
They were an opening act with REO Speedwagon and Robin Trower when each came to the Fieldhouse, but it seemed like the Michael Stanley Band (MSB) played a lot more in Erie during the 70s and 80s.
Born on March 25, 1948, in Cleveland, Ohio, Michael Stanley Gee a Rocky River High School student, typical of most teen boys in a 'garage band': "It was just something that was fun to do," Michael Stanley recalled, in a 1981 'TEEN Magazine interview, "It was a good way to pick up some quick money and meet some girls." In 1965, the proverbial 'first' band was one called the 'Scepters'. Things became serious, when Michael joined the 'Tree Stumps', and a single was released, "Listen To Love". By 1969, Michael a student at Hiram College, working on his Bachelor of Arts degree, the Tree Stumps had become 'Silk', a locally-popular folk group produced an LP, "Smooth As Raw Silk"... After college, Michael Stanley Gee continued pursuing music while moving up in the ranks of his 'day job' at Disc Records. NY producer, Bill Szymczyk,in the audience that night. Michael had continued working his 'day job' Disc Records,by then become Regional Manager, in 12 states.
And luckily, Michael Stanley and the Resonators can still be seen in this region. They play April 4 - April 12, 2014 at the Tangier in Akron, OH.
Here's one of my favorites, "My Town."
As I was looking through the list of performers who played during the month of March at the Erie County Fieldhouse, I noticed that the second time Franki Valli and the Four Season came was March 4, 1976. But during the writing of my book, I never thought to look up anything about the opening act, Stewie Stone. Since Valli wasn't the typical "rock" act that came to the Fieldhouse, I figured this guy Stone was a similar singer playing the same kinds of music Valli did.
Boy was I wrong.
In fact Stone isn't a musician, he's a comedian, more specifically, he's a Jewish comedian. I note his ethicity because he pokes fun at his lineage in a lot in his humor. He's an old-school (think the Catskills) comedian who is close friends with Valli and opened for the singer for more than 35 years. Here's a clip from him performing on a channel I never knew existed, the Jewish TV network:
Stone is also featured in the movie "When Jews Were Funny."
Meanwhile, Stone's buddy Franki Valli continues to tour at age 79 (He'll turn 80 in May). Click here for a list of upcoming Franki Valli shows.
I admit it -- I don't know much about Country music. So when I started researching Charlie Rich, who played the Erie County Fieldhouse on this date, March 3, in 1977, I was intrigued to find out he was such a bad ass!
Sure, the guy they called "The Silver Fox" had really made a name for himself in the 1960s and early 1970s with nine No. 1 country singles, especially his biggest song, 1973's "The Most Beautiful Girl." But he's also remembered for one shocking incident that changed his career forever.
During the early 1970s, many Country pursits were upset that some singer/songwriter musicians such as Olivia Newton John and John Denver were being considered 'Country" artists. I suspect the same sentiment occured about a decade or so ago when Country acts began to infuse more rock-n-roll into their sound.
At the 1975 Country Music Awards, Rich was tasked with presenting the Entertainer of the Year award. But when he opened the envelope and saw John Denver's name, he pulled a lighter from his pocket and lit the card on fire! (I couldn't find any video of this online.) I'd say that's more bad ass than what Kanye West did in 2009 to Taylor Swift during the VMAs.
Unfortunately, unlike West who has since bounced back from his incident, Rich never reallly did. So when he came to the Fieldhouse his career was already on the decline. By 1981 he had pretty much retired. Although he had a comeback with his 1992 album, Pictures and Paintings, he unexpectedly died in 1995 from a blood clot in his lungs.
I always remember this Charlie Rich song from the Every Which Way But Loose Soundtrack when Clyde the orangutan goes to the zoo to mate.