Bands I Didn’t Hear Live: The Big Mea Culpa

Posted: December 18th, 2023 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | No Comments »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I got stories. Lots of stories. Here are more.

Given my annoying propensity to play rock & roll oneupsmanship at every opportunity, I’m often asked a question.

Are there any bands from back in the day you didn’t see live?

Of course there are. As loathe as I am to admit it.

My résumé has holes, some of my own making.

The one that stands out above the rest actually isn’t a concert but a lecture.

One night when I was at U of L, during Little Richard’s first exile from performing, he was giving a lecture at school. I had heard him perform previously, but this was an opportunity to experience one of the Founding Fathers up close and personal.

For some reason, dunderheaded in retrospect, I blew it off. To discover later, there weren’t but about a dozen people there, that he was very engaging and he spoke mostly about his religion, handed out bibles, but answered questions.

So that’s a major hole in my curriculum vitae.

Then there’s the afternoon I was at a pal’s house, and the Doors were playing Freedom Hall that evening. He offered me a free ticket. I passed.

Not sure why. Morrison and his guys were never among my favorites, but they were, you know the Doors, and it was a time when I went to concerts even if I didn’t know the music. I have no explanation for my actions.

The other one that underscores I was never as hip as I thought I was is Thin Lizzy.
In the 70s, most of the shows would be three or four band lineups. Lots of bang for your buck. The Irish group, with which I was not familiar at the time, was on the undercard. Walking into Louisville Gardens there was a sign advising the band would not be performing, and if you wanted a refund go to the ticket office.

Stupid me, who only discovered later what a good outfit they were, thought to myself, “What’s the big deal? So what they won’t be playing.”


So, at the risk of sullying my self projected rep as “a guy who’s heard ‘em all,” here are others I missed.

The Biggie, which was not my fault. Bob Marley. After the ’75 Final Four in San Diego, an old college chum and I drove up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco. When we got there, one of the weekly alternative mags advised Marley was playing that night in North Beach, his first visit to the States I believe.

So, we scurried over to the club. Only to discover that Marley had visa problems or something, and his show was cancelled.

The positive: Emmylou Harris played instead. And I ran into my old pal Sparky, who had lived in Louisville for a few years. She was working in San Rafael for Commander Cody, an old pal of hers from their Ann Arbor days.

Plus these noteworthy neverseens:

Creedence, though I’ve heard John Fogerty several times later on. Led Zeppelin, though I did see the Page/ Plant tour at Rupp in the 90s, and Plant with Allison Kraus. R.E.M. at Louisville Gardens.

Kiss. Of my volition. Just never into them.

Queen. Don’t recall an opportunity. If they played Louisville, it passed me by.

Cream. Buffalo Springfield. Love. Moby Grape. Rhinoceros.

Oh yeah, Aerosmith. I dunno, sue me.

I’m so very sure there are others whose names will come to me after this posts.

But, oh so blessed dude that I am, I’ve experienced way way way more than my fair share of resonant musical moments through the decades.

— c d kaplan

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