Desert Trip 2016

Desert Trip 2016

Desert Trip? You know, the one with Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones on night one, Neil Young and Paul McCartney (playing 35 songs) on night two, and The Who and then Roger Waters finishing things up the final night.

We almost didn’t make it to the concert. Four of us tried to get tickets in the spring when tickets first went on sale. Even with all of us dialing constantly, we didn’t get through. Some after-market tickets were in the thousands. So we thought that was that.

Flash forward to a week before the October concert (2nd Weekend). Got a call from my buddy Randy and he said he could get tickets for all three nights for about $200. I said I’d call him the next day and asked him what he was smoking. I didn’t think that was possible. I checked on the internet and, sure enough, due to various reasons there was a glut of last-minute, low-priced tickets available. I called him back first thing in the morning and got two tickets. Our friends, who we had just dined with the night before, jumped on board and bought tickets too.

So there we were with our friends a week later at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Ca., the scene of Coachella Stagecoach Music Festivals, and in 2016, Desert Trip (see photo). There were about 75,000 paying customers each weekend. The estimated gross was at least $130 million, according to Billboard, which made it the highest-grossing festival ever. Even with all the people the experience was terrific. Clearly the promoters were way up the learning curve in terms of providing a great concert, festival-seating experience. The monitors were huge. You could see the wrinkles on the faces of most of the performers from wherever you were sitting. And the sounds was fantastic.

Dylan started things off on Friday night. He had just been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He played a lot of the old songs, although often with different arrangements. When The Rollings Stones came on stage and hit the opening riff of “Start Me Up,” the place exploded! I’d seen the Stones twice before: in the late 60s and in the 70s. This performance was by far the best Stones concert of the three. Mick was moving and dancing for two hours almost nonstop. And he was charming and even a little self-deprecating: “I hear this is being called the ‘Catch ’em Before They Croak’ tour.” My wife had never seen them live and she was extremely impressed. When Keith broke into what is probably the most famous opening guitar riff in rock history (for “Satisfaction”) if there had been a roof on the place, it would have blown clean away.

The second night was more of the same with hits and long jams from Neil Young and an incredible 36-song set from Paul McCartney covering Beatles songs, Wings songs and several more recent songs. He was animated, in great voice and his band was energetic and phenomenal.

The third night featured The Who. During the song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” there one of Daltrey’s–and rock music’s–most famous screams. At one point near the end of the song, the music drops to almost nothing, just an organ playing a repetitive riff. Then the drums come in. And then… The scream! When the band got to that point, the music came down and we all waited. Could he still do it? Could he still hit that vocal and emotional peak? We continued to wait. And then… Wow! He could still deliver. Roger Waters finished off the set that included several “Pink Floyd” favorites.

Whether or not Desert Trip was the greatest concert event of all time is debatable. What is not debatable, however, is that it was, and will probably remain a unique music experience. Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time List ranks The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley and The Rolling Stones as the top four. That means that during Desert Trip three of the top four were represented: The Beatles (in the form of Paul McCartney,Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones,

It is unlikely that such an event will ever happen again. I was there. And I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Led Zeppelin Barefoot Fantasy

Led Zeppelin Barefoot Fantasy

Robert Plant sees me in line and picks me out from a crowd of concertgoers waiting in a long line to get into the theatre. I’m thinking, “Why me?” He calls me over to him and takes my hand and leads me back to sit on the couch (in a room behind the stage) where he will be relaxing before the concert. Here he takes a warm wash cloth, he washes my feet and with lotion caresses and massages them while being totally focused and present with my feet…oh, so dreamy… I look up. “What?” The noise of thousands of young people in a very long line woke me from my dream and the realization that I was the only one with no shoes on hit me. I tried not to be noticed but there was nothing I could do about it.

It was May 17, 1969 and my friends and I had hitchhiked from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, to Athens, Ohio, to the O.U. Convocation Center to see Led Zeppelin, a relatively new rock and roll band from England, who were opening for Jose Feliciano.

We got to someone’s house, friends of friends, because you know, that when you are a hippie, everyone is a friend. There were bodies all over the living room, sandals and shoes, jackets everywhere. Drugs were available, mostly marijuana, and so we chilled there, crashed for a while before the concert. Only one thing, in the melee of bodies and clothing and drugs, I could not find my sandals. I left barefoot. I was 19 and going to a public event, hoping that no one would notice or deny me entrance to the concert.

I am not a stranger to being barefoot. Ever since I was young, I loved to walk, or run, around barefoot—my choice. Not just around the house but also out in the yard and down the street when playing with my friends. My mother called me “Zingara!” which means Gypsy. And even though she said it derogatorily, I always smiled and like it when she did that. Little did I know that as an adult, if you can call a 19 year old an adult, I would be out in public, at a concert with thousands of people, barefoot! The concert was amazing, of course, and I consider myself lucky to have seen them early in their career. This is a link to a review of the concert:

My memory is a bit sketchy about certain events in my past, including this concert, especially in the late 1960s to the early 1970s for reasons that…well, suffice it to say, I was a hippie! By the way, the next day, thank goodness, I did find my sandals before we hitchhiked back to Bowling Green.

I still like to walk around barefoot and even now when I am teaching my Yoga or Pilates class and we are doing a straddle stretch in front of the mirror, the bottoms of my feet are brown. But now, and with no embarrassment I will tell the class, “Well, once again, I haven’t washed my feet,” and laugh it off remembering the day I went to a Led Zeppelin concert barefoot.

The Who and…

The Who and…

In June of 1970 I was working for a company that distributed hippie paraphernalia. One of our clients gave us (myself and my two partners) tickets for The Who concert in Cleveland, Ohio. 7th row CENTER seats!

The concert opens with The James Gang, fronted by a then relatively unknown guitar player named Joe Walsh. Yeah, that Joe Walsh: the future Eagles lead guitar player. Walsh’s band came on and absolutely killed it. I can’t help but think that he was trying to impress Pete backstage.

Then some guy came out and sat on a stool and announced, “I’m gonna play a few songs from my new album, ‘Sweet Baby James.'” First time I ever heard “Fire and Rain.” And “Country Road.”

Then The Who came out. Lead singer Roger Daltrey announced that they weren’t going to play the Tommy Opera. That they’d already played a “final performance” of the famous rock opera. Obviously, we were disappointed, but then they started playing the hits like “Can’t Explain,” and we settled in.

After about five songs Townshend turned his back to the audience and approached his amplifier as though he were tuning his guitar… And started into “Overture” (the beginning of the Tommy Opera). The place went nuts.

When they got to the finale (“See Me, Feel Me”) the curtains opened and three arc spotlights shot out into the audience and nearly blew us off our chairs.