The Longest Day • The Stones, Hell’s Angels & some band called Prince • 1981 (Part 1)
We heard The Stones were Coming..The concert was still months away, at the L.A Coliseum which holds in excess of 100,000 people. Of Course We Had to Go. This would be the Biggest Concert I had been to Yet. My partner Geo & I had our 1st, well actually, 2nd Studio together in a Huntington Beach Industrial Park. Geo was a year younger than I, we were both the Art Stars in High School. Geo was Mexican. His family was from Mainland Mexico City and somehow he had inherited from his ancestors an Incredible Talent. The guy could illustrate in a total ancient Mayan way. Think of the glyphs inside the Pyramids at Chichen-itza, or if he wanted, straight from the hip-Diego Rivera, 1930’s Style. He was really good, always a better Illustrator than I. To this day probably the Purest Art Talent I have known ever. Anyhow, we were Partners in a Studio together, which was a bit of a Hangout for the Boys. My Buddy Jackie Davis had come by with Johnny Shortsleeve to help us Inaugurate the Studio. We had a Sparkletts water cooler in the corner. The Boys showed up with a Sparkletts bottle, a glass one filled with Cuervo Gold Tequila, & swapped it onto the cooler, replacing the water. Johnny had recently Crashed his Camaro on a 405 offramp & rolled it, ended in a ditch, all Iceplant with his left arm pinned under the car all nite ’til they found him in the morning and pulled him out. He Was Medicating. Great. Thanks Boys.
This was the End of an Era of the Stadium Concert. Going to these was a Total Expedition. A Commitment. Nowadays the shows last for maybe an hour, 90 minutes? ‘Let’s get a Starbucks before so we don’t Fall Asleep, K’? Weak. Back then you would prep for days to Gear Up for Concerts like the California Jam. The 1st one was held at the Ontario Motor Speedway, California’s answer to the Indianapolis 500-style of Racetrack. Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Black Oak Arkansas, ELP, Earth, Wind & Fire & Assorted Other Bands, ALL IN ONE DAY. Read the Fine Print..ticket price $14. It was Hot, Dusty & Mega-Packed with People from all over California, Arizona & God Only Knows where else. Awesome. You would Get a Whole Summer Tan in One Day. We went to these things all the time. Anaheim Stadium, Big Giant Venues-Stadium Style. Closest thing now is The Coachella Music Festival. But I have yet to see the likes of bands like Deep Purple & Black Sabbath & Black Oak Arkansas show up there all in one day, or even 2. VIP Tent? Forget it, All for One & One for All. Incredible Rock Madness. Dirt, Dust, Drugs. It pretty much was Arkansas. Now the Stones were Coming. We were Huge Stones Fans. I Still Am…Wikipedia says this about the Tour stopping in L.A we were Gearing Up For Next –
The Rolling Stones‘ American Tour 1981 was a concert tour of stadiums and arenas in the United States to promote the album Tattoo You. It was the largest grossing tour of 1981 with $50 million in ticket sales. Roughly three million concert goers attended the concerts, setting various ticket sales records.[
Geo & I both had Vintage 60’s era VW Vans. His was a Thrasher & he got in a wreck & did a full California-style Masterpiece re-do on it. I had paid too much for mine, a ’65, something like $1900. That was a lot then. Tinted side windows, bed in back, jamming stereo. I drove it to New Mexico & blew up the engine on the way back. I Painted it a Solid German Blue in our shop, no 2-tone. I put in a Brand-New 1800cc Screamer in there. Instant Porsche Cayenne in a Breadbox. Much cooler than the big-ass American Vans the Rednecks drove. But I gotta admit, I had had a Redneck Van myself. I had bought it new for $6000 from the Chevy Dealer, a Black one. Bad Move. Crappiest vehicle I ever owned, and to this day, the only New Car I ever bought. Hated it. What a Lemon. I was buried in payments on that Thing for awhile. So now it was The Reagonomics Era, and Gas had become pricey, so we got some Cool VW Vans & Styled Them Out. The ‘Cal-Look’. They are actually called the VW Kombi.
We rolled down Beach Blvd. to the combination Head Shop/Ticket Agency & Checked Out the Stones’ advance sale Ticket Prices. They had these hand-typed lists on Ditto paper that said Who, When, Where & How Much concert tickets were coming. The Stones were maxing out at like $45 bucks each ! NO way Dude. That was Out of Hand. No Internet. No craigslist. Scalpers around & about we knew… No Dice. Tickets Maxed Out. We thought We Weren’t Going.
New Wave & Punk Shows were Happening, and we saw bands like X at the Whisky, Slam Dance-Mosh Pit History in the Making..By Now we only listened to tiny KROQ from Pasadena on the radio. Rodney on the Rocks. The Legendary Rodney Bingenheimer had debuted New Wave Bands like Devo & Talking Heads, Blondie, Black Flag & The Buzzcocks in L.A. We could barely get the station in, it was so small, no ‘bandwidth’ so to speak. We knew we were gonna have to be Punk-Rockers soon, but for now we were still Rockers, hanging on the Last Vestiges of a Dying (for the moment) Genre. We hadn’t sold out to be ‘Punk Rockers’ yet. A lot of them really were just that. Punks.
The New-Wave & Punk Bands never played the Big Venues. We went to the Cuckoo’s Nest in Costa Mesa, and they were Cool but almost Too Cool. The New-Wave & Punk Era did influence my Graphics Sense a lot though, Anti-Style. We loved that, to this day if I can lay out type Crooked & Dirty, I will. However for the Moment were up for one more Major Rock Expedition..load up the Vans & Go. We knew the days were numbered for those Big Blow-Out Stadium Shows. We were already Nostalgic about it. Veterans.
We loved the Stones because they were So Good, they Made Fun of all the other emerging genres of Music as they came along, like 70’s Country Rock & Disco. Then they came out with tracks that were better than all the bands taking those genres seriously. Songs like Dead Flowers & Country Honk made fun of Country while being Great Country Songs. The Stones had the Hottest Girls, the most Ultra-Jet-Set Lifestyle, The Most Money & the Most Legendary Notoriety. Andy Warhol did their album covers. The Hells Angels did their security in Cailfornia. We Had to Make That Show Hell or High Water. A Bright, Sunny October morning, I’m pacing around the Shop like a Tiger. No Tickets. Geo & I are looking at each other & fuming. Then the Boys Show Up, with this look on their faces like we’re Going on our Last Mission to Bomb the Nazis, We May Not Return. “Get in the Van, Boys”, I say. “We’re going to the Stones”. We loaded up & left, no prep, no tickets. We did grab our 2 Walkie-Talkies we used around the shop. One of us had got them for Xmas when we were were kids & now they were a novelty to use in the Shop, like an intercom system…”Jorge, it’s that girl you met at Sav-On, on the phone, are you here ?, Over”. Geo did pretty well with the Muchachas. We brought the Walkie-Talkies.
I’ve got Jackie D., (My To-This-Day-Since-Then Main Man), Johnny Shortsleeve, a bit torn-up from his Camaro Roll-over, some other guy who I’ve lost track of, in the back of my van. We’ve stopped for beers & they are drinking & smoking H-B style Mexican weed back there, undercover of dark tinted windows. Geo is a Torrid Bud Smoker as well, however I never really have been. He is riding Shotgun & yours truly Mr. Motocross Champion driving. I roll up the road & it’s Weekday (A Holiday for Us), Traffic & I hit the offramp. There, on the side is the Most Glorious Sight. 2 dudes holding HIGH FOR ALL TO SEE… STONES TICKETS !! I pull over right on the side, van side doors bust open with 3 maniacs each with a fistful of cash. We end up getting 5 tickets for face value, which is $16. Unbelievable. I can still see those guys out my windshield clear as day, like 2 Disciples from Heaven. So we roll to the Coliseum, or rather about 4 blocks from it. The whole zone, where Staples Center is now, Solid Brothas from the ‘Hood selling any scrap of concrete for parking, like $5. We Saddle Up & at the very last minute, somebody – probably Medicated Johnny says, “Fred, have a hit”. It’s Acid. Great. This is a new addition to my Repertoire. So I eat half, Grab my Walkie -Talkie & Start Walking. Us & 100,000 other Crazed Stones Fans…
Five years later we’re in on the field. It’s early. The Lineup is Some Band we never Heard of, Called Prince. George Thorogood (Not a fan at all). The J.Geils Band, who I don’t love either. However lead singer Peter Wolf is married to actress Faye Dunaway. Her I’m a Big Fan Of, maybe I’ll get to see her. A Main Stones-only stage at one end about 200 miles in front of us… and we’re right behind a pack of real-deal Hell’s Angels at a smaller stage. Opening Act Prince comes out first, never heard of him. Wearing an open trench-coat, blazing October heat. Thigh-highs & I think garter belts underneath with 6″ Black Platform boots. Prince is all dancing & prancing around trying to do his thing. Prince’s guitar player is Pretty Androgynous Looking as well. The Angels are having none of it. Within 2 songs they are hurling half-full Coors beer bottles at Prancing Prince, and hitting him. Prince looks a fright & terribly crestfallen soaked with Coors Beer & he is Gone. See you later Prince, Whoever You Are. Stay Tuned for Part 2…..