Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Few Years Of Rock And Roll Shows In Nashville

This was originally posted at the White Animals message board. It should reach a wider audience here.

I had started back to college in 1988. Since I didn't have a car or live on campus, I used to hitch a ride into town with my father. This left lots of free time in the afternoon while I waited for the ride back out into the country where we lived. When I wasn't getting drunk at B&L Pizza, I spent my time in MTSU's library perusing old microfilm issues of the Tennessean just to see what music acts were listed in their Sunday Showcase section. Mainly I was looking for mentions of The White Animals.

I chose 1978 as my starting point because it seemed like a good place to start. The Sex Pistols had toured the year before. Punk was out of the bag. What follows is just a month by month list of acts that played Nashville or Murfreesboro that I thought either notable or just too big to be left out. There are the occasional personal references and some pop culture entries too. I hope you enjoy the history. Maybe you were even at some of the shows.

January 1978: Ted Nugent appears at Volunteer Jam IV

Herr Harry Phranks and Steins is in business at 1909 West End advertising dart throwing nights, ballgames on a 6x6 screen, and Luv's Disco on Saturday nights. The band Next of Kin performed on Fridays.

Saturday Night Fever was only in its third week of release. Star Wars was in its 29th.

The first Exit/In listing I find is for Barefoot Jerry.

The Bay City Rollers "The Way I Feel Tonight" is the #7 song for the week of January 8th, 1978.

Nazereth, Mahogany Rush, and Sammy Hagar play Nashville for 4 dollars.

Eddie Money and David Olney appear at the Exit/In.

There's a big ad for a Ramones show to be held at War Memorial for February 24th with the Runaways opening!! Tickets are $5.25 advance and $6.25 at the door. It's a Sound Seventy Production. I was 11 years old and oblivious living in Murfreesboro. I wouldn't find out about the Ramones until they appeared on the Sha Na Na show. I could be dejected about what I might have witnessed, except there was nothing to see. The concert was cancelled due to poor ticket sales. I wonder how many of the future members of Nashville's vibrant indie rock scene were preparing to attend that show.

Maybe nobody knew who the Ramones and Runaways were or maybe the ticket prices were just too high. Clapton was about to hit Nashville for $6.50.

February 1978: There's a blurb about Paul Cook and Steve Jones forming a new band.

March 1978: Atlanta Rhythm Section plays Vanderbilt. WRVU was not a new wave station in these days.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers "Breakdown" is featured in Showcase's song lyric section. Tom Petty is quoted in the accompanying interview, "Nobody likes disco, but for a few poofs in platform shoes".

Muddy Waters plays Exit/In as does Warren Zevon also.

Journey comes to town "loving', touchin', and squeezin" with Ronnie Montrose, and Van Halen opening at the War Memorial Auditorium.

David Bowie plays Municipal.

B.B. King performs at the Exit/In.

Vandy's Rites of Spring is just a "yawn" jazz festival.

April 1978: The Grateful Dead play for the first time ever in Nashville.

Exit/In notables: George Thorogood and Joe Ely both come through town.

May 1978: Cheech and Chong light up the Exit/In with some Labrador.

"Werewolves of London" broke into the top ten songs.

Tim Krekel makes an Exit/In appearance once all the smoke had cleared from Cheech and Chong's show.

June 1978: The first listing for a club named Springwater.

July 1978: A hot Nashville summer gets hotter when the "Boss" Bruce Springsteen shows up to play a little 3 hour gig.

Foreigner with Journey opening play Nash Vegas. Imm not a big Journey fan, but I've got to give them props for being on the road and playing shows.

August 1978: Kevin Gray's guitar lessons start paying off as he joins Rob Jackson at Herr Harry Phranks and Steins. I'm sure there might have shows before, but this was the first "listed" one I found. Kevin Gray would go on to form the White Animals.

Muddy Waters is at the Exit/In again.

September 1978: "Boogie Oogie Oogie" by Taste of Honey is the number one tune. Disco's death grip has really hit the country in earnest.

Pat McLaughlin plays Springwater.

George Thorogood roars back to town to play Vanderbilt's Sarrat Cinema.

October 1978: Little Feat does a show at Vanderbilt.

Boston touches down at Murphy Center in Murfreesboro.

An October Showcase runs a picture of Lita Ford captioned "punk rocker".

There's an ad for a November 9th Black Sabbath show with Van Halen opening. Ozzy is wearing a home made "Blizzard of Oz" shirt.

Queen tickets are $8. I bet that was some show.

Tickets for Bob Dylan's first Nashville appearance go on sale and they sell out in minutes. Tickets were ten bucks for a December 2nd concert. He ends up doing a 3 hour show with many anecdotes, two encores, and said he'd be back, that he hadn't been put out to pasture yet.

Kiss clothing line debuts in November. I bought some shorts.

An article about Deborah Harry appears where she says she's flattered to be thought of as a sex object. She says Blondie are a restrained version of the Ramones. Note: this is before "Heart of Glass" made them superstars.

December 1978: Vanderbilt must have loved George Thorogood because he's back again at Sarrat Cinema.

Dylan plays the aforementioned show.

Captain Beefheart rocks Exit/In.

The Grateful Dead come back to town.

Carl Perkins appears at Exit/In.

Rob Jackson and Kevin Gray are still playing Phranks and Steins.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail appears on public television Channel 8.

Chic's "LeFreak" comes out. I'm in the 6th grade.

January 1979: Suddenly now listed at Herr Harry's Thursday thru Saturday - The White Animals!!

Brownsville Station smokes up Exit/In.

Marshall Chapman plays the Exit/In with her opening act: The Ramones.

March 1979: Elvis Costello with the Rubinoos play at War Memorial on the Armed Funk tour March 12th. Tickets are $7.50.

Dukes of Hazzard premieres on CBS. The advert in Showcase proclaims it's the "real Georgia".

Rush plays Municipal Auditorium with Molly Hatchet opening.

When Steve Forbert plays Exit/In, he's billed as "this year's Bob Dylan".

Cheap Trick keeps the great concerts at War Memorial chugging along.

April 1979: Herr Harry Phrank and Steins becomes plain Phrank and Steins.

"Heart of Glass" appears in the top ten. I am completely smitten by Debbie Harry and I vow to get her "One Way Or Another".

May 1979: The Village People with Gloria Gaynor appear at Municipal Auditorium.

Supertramp plays Municipal.

The plans for a Woodstock II are announced. Tickets would be $37.50 and only available in the US.

The Smokehouse is listed for the first time in Showcase. It would become Cantrell's.

Chic gets their freak on at the Opryland Gaslight Theatre.

Mitch Ryder plays Exit/In.

Rick Nelson has a garden party at the Tennessee Theater

The Jacksons shake their bodies down to the ground at Municipal.

Albert King brings the blues to Exit/In.

In what looks like the busiest May in Nashville concert history up to that time, AC/DC with Bon Scott play the Tennessee Theater on May 22nd.

Disco is at its peak. "In The Navy" tops the charts. Nashville has 7 discos listed in the Showcase guide. Murfreesboro had a disco. Even Smyrna gets one called Robs and Tobs. "Makin' It" hits the top ten. When will this madness end? I predict it will end in August of 1979, because I have a knack for these things.

Cowboy George and the Beer Drinking Rodeo are the house band at the Smokehouse.

June 1979: Hank Jr. plays Exit/In.

The Cars bring their new wave to Nashville.

July 1979: There's a Showcase article on the Boomtown Rats.

Bad Company sells out a show in Nashville.

The Kinks (who would later get the prestige of closing a show opened by the mighty White Animals) billed as the "original heavy metal band" do a show at War Memorial.

The Bay City Rollers bring their sonic assault to town.

Kiss does a show. I was in 7th grade and Kiss was still my favorite band. I didn't get to see them live until the first reunion with makeup tour a few years ago. They were incredible and I felt like a kid again.

Journey's hard tour work has paid off. They come to town and sell out. A few years later during the Frontiers era, a show at Murphy Center sold out so fast that another show was added which also sold out. I was a junior in high school during this period and I never saw so many souvenir concert jerseys at one time before or since.

The White Animals leave Phranks and Steins to become the house band at the Smokehouse. I wonder what happened to Cowboy George.

August 1979: Nashville gets launched into the punk rock era on August 2nd when a band named after an insane asylum plays Phranks and Steins. Yep, the immortal Cloverbottom are unleashed.

The birth of the skinny tie band signals the death throes of disco when "My Sharona" comes out of nowhere to go to #2 in the country. It's almost impossible to describe what this song would do to me when it hit the airwaves. The volume dial would go off the hook and I would enter into some dance like state that involved loud singing and bopping around. I can't begin to imagine what my poor mother was thinking when it would come on in the car. I never wore seat belts then and our car would be bouncing and shaking as I tried to dance inside it. That incredible guitar riff laid waste to almost everything I had heard before (except for Kiss).

Greg Kihn plays Exit/In.

September 1979: The White Animals open for Marshall Chapman on Vandy's lawn.

October 1979: The Fabulous T-Birds, Paul Butterfield, and Muddy Waters play a "free" show at Memorial Gym!!

BB King and Bobby Blue Bland play the Tennessee Theater.

Tim Curry comes to Underwood Auditorium.

Robert Palmer does too.

The Eagles play Murphy Center in Mufreesboro. There would be lots of Long Run t-shirts worn the day after the show.

Rock 106 presents the Police with Eddie and The Hot Rods opening on October 15th!!

"Ride The New Wave" at the Exit/In with the Hots and Cloverbottom on October 27th.

Albert Collins plays the Exit/In.

Skatetown USA premieres.

November 1979: The Jacksons come back to Nashville.

ZZ Top wearing cheap sunglasses passes through the 'ville.

KDF presents David Johansen at the Exit/In.

The Ramones come back to headline at the Exit/In. I may be wrong, but I believe the Ramones won't appear again in Nashville until 1989.

The Cramps bring their brand of bad music to the bad people of Nashville at the Exit/In. Was November cool or what?

December 1979: Cloverbottom plays at Flanigans. A picture of Cloverbottom is used and captioned "prom picture".

Roller Boogie comes out. Although disco never died, it was definitely well out of date by now and starting to really smell.

The number one record in the country at the end of 1979 was the danceable, but most assuredly new wave "Pop Musik" by M.


Also along the great continuum: I also did some more culling of data during my first year back in college. There's not as much info as before, but it might be of some interest to some.

1981: Showcase mentions Joe Loftis and the Pinks. Joe was the original drummer of The White Animals.

November 1981: Dylan is back to play Municipal. Tickets were $11 reserved and $9.50 general admission.

Jack Emerson, a Vanderbilt student, and co-owner of the Praxis label produces an EP titled Never In Nashville featuring Factual, No Art, USR, and Cloverbottom. It's to be given away at shows. The first proper Praxis release is OFB's "Pink Cadillac".

REM plays Cantrells. Jason and the Nashville Scorchers open the gig.

U2 plays Vanderbilt's Underwood Auditorium and REM opens for $5.

1982: REM plays the KO Jams nightclub in Murfreesboro. KO Jams was located at 1511 East Main Street.

And that's it. By my second semester back at MTSU, I had a car so I quit spending my afternoons in the library.

2 comments:

AT said...

Oh man, that was great! Thanks for digging all that old stuff up.

Anonymous said...

Makes me wish were 8 to 10 years older so we could have seen some of those shows.
Gonz