A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Concert Series: The Hello People

English: 1978 Todd Rundgren
 1978 Todd Rundgren (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

      During this year's Blogging from A to Z April Challenge Michele at Angel's Bark for the letter "C" wrote about concerts she had attended.   Her post brought to mind some of my own concert memories.  In my comment response to her post I suggested that I might use her idea as an occasional series topic.  This post will be the first of a sporadic series that will most likely correspond to Battle of the Bands posts that you will find on my blog Tossing It Out.   If you haven't visited to vote on my current Battle I hope you will drop by before Sunday evening September 21st at which time I will tally the votes to come up with the most favorite artist of the two I've presented.  The winner will be announced on my post of Monday the 22nd.

The Sounds of the Silent

        Many of us undoubtedly have fond memories of concerts we've attended.   Most of mine come from my college years and the decade or so that came after those years.   I had more time to spare, less obligations to care about, and more friends who were more than willing to join me in my concert experiences.   Actually there were more than a few concerts that I attended by myself since my eclectic music interests took me to events that no one else I knew was willing to join me.

        Another of the reasons that I attended so many concerts was that they were relatively cheap--anywhere from free to five or six dollars.   The big concerts with two to three big acts averaged about five dollars each.  I don't recall paying for parking for most of these, but if we did pay to park the fee was only a dollar or less.  A concert night was not a huge outlay of cash even considering I was only making $1.75 to $2.50 an hour at the job I worked during my off school hours.

        One of the more outstanding concerts (they were almost all outstanding for that matter) was in May of 1972 with the line-up of the headliner Alice Cooper, the band Free, and Todd Rundgren with The Hello People backing him up. Alice Cooper was the draw for most attendees--I was certainly an avid fan.   Free was a bonus.  Their song "All Right Now" had been all over the radio as a huge hit.  They rocked and would have been a great headline band.

          However, the pairing of Todd Rundgren with the Hello People was the act that interested me the most.   I'd already been a Rundgren fan for a few years and had a couple of his albums.   But the Hello People?  I owned their first two albums having found them in cut-outs and loved their music.   What a surprise to find two great acts unpretentiously paired as an opening act.   Being able to see Todd Rundgren in concert was definitely cool, but to see the Hello People coming to Knoxville, Tennessee was a totally unexpected treat.

         I will say here that Rundgren and the Hello People delivered a great concert far exceeding any expectations I had for them.   Honestly I didn't know what to expect, but the show they put on would have been enough for me.  I would have been happy to sit through a couple hours of their act with no other accompanying groups.

        After the coliseum lights darkened and a myriad of lighters flamed up to ignite the joints that were a staple of any rock concert back then, the stage lights came up to reveal a group of mimes.   The white-faced characters began a typical mime routine.  They were proficient in their mimery, but there was no clear indication as to why the mimes were there until they took to their instruments.   As they broke into a jazzy tune from their second album, the Hello People broke the silence barrier and began doing what they did best--playing music.

           Todd Rundgren soon joined them and the collaborative group skillfully addressed a series of some of Todd's best songs.  The Hello People were solid as a back-up band.    The set was too short for my tastes.  As I have already noted, I could have devoted the entire evening to nothing but these fantastic musicians.  But alas, the set ended all too quickly and proceeded to the next two acts.

          I wish there was a filmed record of the Todd with the Hello People.   There may very well be since I've run across at least one YouTube clip of them.   I'd like to see the entire set as I saw it on that May night in 1972.   Those concerts all went by so quickly that it's hard to remember a lot of the details.

Here's the YouTube clip that I've found:


         Those concert years were great times.   It was cheap entertainment compared to now when the cost of parking alone can often exceed an entire night out back in the 70's.  There were many great entertainment events that I witnessed during that time.   I'll try to recapture some of those memories in future posts on Wrote By Rote.

          What great concert memories do you have?   Were there any groups who surprised you with their presentations?    What do you like best about going to hear music artists perform live?



  1. I've never heard of the Hello People which surprises me b/c I am pretty well versed in music from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Most of my concert going is related to the Grateful Dead and/or Jerry Garcia Band. But I've seen other groups too - saw & met the Clash in 82 & Elvis Costello in 83. Been to a couple of all day music fests, including the free show in Golden Gate Park after concert promoter Bill Graham died. What a lineup that day!!! Santana, Journey, Joe Satriani, John Fogerty, the Dead, Aaron Neville, Joan Baez, CSNY...

  2. I agree Lee, concerts used to cater to the concert attendees, not the greedy ticket costs of today. I saw many groups in the US at college venues too (always cheaper) and in Atlanta, since my small town only hosted a few.

    Some of the musical memoirs of today whine about how the musicians never made any money because of cheaper ticket costs and scalping producers. Hubs and I compiled a list of who he had seen and who I had seen. It was phenonmenal. Last concert attended in 2008 Bob Dylan in row 5 (a Hot Seat costing 200 per ticket). Bob was worth it.


    >>... Free was a bonus. Their song "All Night Long" had been all over the radio as a huge hit.

    Did you mean 'ALL RIGHT NOW'?

    Paul Kossoff was a good guitarist with a pretty unique style. I liked a lot of his work back in the day.

    Later when The Babys began to score hits I recognized that the lead guitarist - Wally Stocker - had been influenced by Kossoff. And I think I liked Stocker even better because he was more economical with his solos, but retained that deep sound with the long notes of sustain.

    I've been to more concerts than I can remember. And then if you add in all the bands I saw playing clubs on Sunset Boulevard and The Troubadour it just becomes too much live music to even remember.

    My first concert was at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium: Styx opened for Journey. (At that time, hardly anyone knew Styx but they were my favorite band and I went to see them.)

    I think my second concert was (same venue) Mink DeVille opening for Styx, and then #3 was Journey opening for Styx. (Yep, Styx had overtaken Journey in popularity just a year or two after my first concert.)

    Then after that it all gets muddled in my mind because I saw so many "Classic Rock" bands back then. Eventually I came to like Thin Lizzy more than Styx and I saw TL in concert three times and thought they put on a really lively show. (Over the years I saw Journey 3 or 4 times, but NEVER ONCE did I go to the concert to see Journey. It was always to see the band opening for them or the band they were opening for.)

    Oh, gosh... saw Bob Seger, UFO, The Babys, The Cars (most boring concert of all time), etc.

    My favorite concert was the first time I saw Waylon Jennings. Standing room only in a very small joint (and, yes, I had to stand the whole time). He was almost close enough I could have spit on him. Incredible stage presence and charisma, and between some songs he would just tell stories about things that happened back when he was living with Johnny Cash and hanging out with Willie Nelso - howlingly hilarious stories. It was really two-shows-in-one because you were seeing the original "Country Outlaw" playing that hard-rockin' Country music he invented, and also a first-rate comedian.

    Probably my second and third favorite concerts were the second and third times I saw Waylon live (got to sit down those times). Again, howlingly funny stories between songs but he never told the same story twice. It's not like he had some set format that he used; he would just tell stories off-the-cuff, as they came to his mind while standing up there.

    Waylon was the best. Every other concert gets measured against the standard that he set.

    Back in the late 1970s/early '80s there was a band that played regularly at The Troubadour and my buddy Eric and I thought they were fantastic and a "can't miss" group. We were sure we were catching a band at the beginning of their career that was later going to be HUGE.

    It was a trio called 'UNCLE', and the guitarist was fast 'n' flashy and used all kinds of electronics to get unbelievable sounds. We went to The Troubadour every time we saw they were playing. Then they just... disappeared. Probably broke up due to personality conflicts or something.

    Can't believe that band never made it big.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  4. JoJo-- I think The Hello People may have been more regionally known in a small area of the eastern U.S. Their association with Rundgren got them more exposure, but they still never took off despite being an excellent band.

    DG-- Pre-download days most of the concert tours were to stimulate album sales. Now the concerts are what drives the market and people seem willingly to pay ridiculously high prices.


  5. StMC-- Thanks for the correction. I was trying to get this post done quickly at the last minute and didn't want to be up "all night long" composing it.

    You had an advantage of being in a metropolitan area that was a center of entertainment so concerts were all over the place for you. In Knoxville we had a regular stream of artists dropping by, but it wasn't a buffet table of entertainment to choose from. It was not unusual for some of my friends to head off to Atlanta, Nashville, or elsewhere to see a show that wasn't coming through K-town. I'll have more to say about that eventually in some future post.

    Never saw Waylon or Willie, but I did see Tompall Glaser in Gatlinburg, TN, but I can't say I remember much about that concert. I didn't know much about Tompall other than a great song (that I now can't remember what it was) that I heard on some radio broadcast coming from Lenoir City, TN back in 1968. I sure wish I knew what that song was because it was really good. He was still singing with his brothers at the time billed as Tompall Glaser and the Glaser Brothers. Kind of like Larry Gatlin used to do.

    Sometimes I do wonder about great groups that emerged on the music scene and then just faded away with barely a trace. Some got assimilated into other groups or their groups just changed their names. Now and then I'll do a Google search for some artist I recall, sometimes finding good info while other times finding little or no info.

    Now I'm wondering what ever happened to the members of the Hello People. Maybe Todd knows. Maybe Larry can ask him next time they're hanging out together.


  6. That Todd Rundgren feller sounds pretty interesting....I may have to check him out one of these days...I seem to recall that he is playing Arizona later this fall.

    I've been to a lot of concerts over the years....heck, this year, if you count each performance on each of the cruises, I've probably been to more concerts than many people go to in their lives (I think it will end up being 75, with roughly 50 on the cruises alone).

    It's hard to pick the best-so many are memorable. I am finding that the ones I am seeing lately have been more memorable because of their intimacy.

    Back in the 70's, it was all about the spectacle, and that continues with the acts popular among today's youth.

    I saw David Bromberg last night-in the Musical Instrument Museum hall (seats 300, awesome acoustics), and we sang happy birthday to him for his 69th.

    For the encore, they came out and played at the front of the stage without microphones or amps-that was pretty cool.


  7. Lee-

    Are you sure what you owned were their first two albums (I thought you mentioned owning Bricks, which was actually album number six). They had eight.

    They supported TR on his 1978 club tour, and a live album documents that tour (Back To The Bars)-and I think a song or two with them is on one of the TR video compilations, but to my knowledge a video record of that early tour does not exist.

  8. Larry-- The spectacle of a big concert can be pretty exciting, but an intimate setting is in most cases much more pleasant. It's like the difference between seeing someone on TV and actually meeting them face to face and exchanging some kind of conversation. But the big stage events had their merit as well. The show that Alice Cooper put on the night I saw him needed a big venue to put it across. Same with Kiss.

    I think I'd mentioned in my BOTB post that I'd never heard any cuts from "Bricks" until I found the clip that I used. I don't own that album though I wish I did have a copy. The albums that I have are definitely the first two. I had those before I saw them in concert and never saw any of the other albums they put out after that.

    I recall that another friend of mine also had a copy of "Fusion" and it was a popular spin at his garage hangout for a while.

    I'd like to see the video you're talking about from 1978. Mostly though I'd like to see a video of the exact concert I saw all the way from TR/HP, Free, and Alice Cooper. Though I remember it being pretty darn great, that concert like all the others I've seen flew by with so many lost details. It's hard to remember those details especially after those ceremonial joints started getting passed around.


  9. Growing up in Chicago I definitely had an advantage, because everybody played the windy city at some point in time. I later moved to Colorado and although I lived in a small mountain town, it was withing 100 miles of Denver and one of the greatest concert venues I've ever been to 'Red Rocks'.

    I've been fortunate enough to see some of the big acts. Dylan, The Rolling Stones, CSN & Y, Willie & Waylon, and a raft of other Country acts. Not to mention some of the bands that started out little more than 'garage bands' in Chicago at the various clubs.

    Again, for me the admission was always pretty cheap, but then that's the advantage of being the girl, and for the most part being taken on dates.

    Best concert I ever saw was Chris LeDoux (I bet you don't even know who that is) at the Lincoln County fair in Afton, WY. It was of course, outdoors, with a full moon rising behind the stage and some real cowboy music. I saw Chris again in Vegas, one year when we went to the National Finals Rodeo - this time in a little club in an off the strip casino - another great show. Willie, Waylong & Jessie Colter at the CO State Fair was another pretty wild one, and I recently saw The Eagles in Stateline, NV another spectacular venue at Harvey's Casino (outdoors).

    There is definitely nothing like live music.

  10. Oh, I almost forgot (and this is for JoJo) I saw The Dead at Red Rocks in Co. Red Rocks is an outdoor venue built into the mountainside (kind of a natural amphitheatre). The seating faces east and you actually rise above the stage. The concert, some chemical enhancement, and a light show out over the plains, provided by God; made that one pretty great show and I DO remember it.

  11. LEE ~
    Funny you mentioned Tompall Glaser because I have him listed for a future 'BOTB' post (if 'BOTB' lasts long enough).

    Also, I used one of his songs in the old blogfest '10 FAVORITE LOVE SONGS & 10 FAVORITE BREAKUP SONGS', which I know you saw years ago because I found a comment from you there:


    I neglected to mention BLUE OYSTER CULT, whom I saw at least two or maybe three times back in the day - in the day when they still used lasers in their act. They definitely put on a "show" that remains amongst my most memorable concerts.

    And I still like some of their songs, particularly from the albums 'SPECTRES' and 'MIRRORS'.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  12. Lee-

    It is funny how things have changed with music. Stephen T. and I have conversed many a time, and he's commented to me more than once that he'd rather have an album that he could play repeatedly rather than go to an expensive concert that he'll forget rather quickly.

    And while I remember moments of many concerts I have attended, I have forgotten many others entirely. While I love live performance, I like having the album as a "record" of the artist's creative process.

    Yet by and large, people no longer buy albums (in any format-download sales are falling as well), yet are willing to pay large sums for concerts.

    One Direction just had a sell-out show in AZ, with a bunch of screaming high school kids at more than $100 a pop.

    I guess parents are footing the bill-I struggled to come up with the $5.50 to see Bruce Springsteen back in 1975.

    Concerts are big business, but I wonder how many young people are excluded from them due to the high ticket prices.

    I guess people are paying the prices...and that's a free market in action.


  13. Dear Lee, sad, but true, I've never been to a concert. I've been to musicals--like "The Man of La Mancha" when it came to Dayton and "Les Miserables" in St. Paul--but I've never been to a live concert. It is sad isn't it? Maybe a lack of imagination. I don't know. Peace.

  14. FAE-- I've heard of Chris Ledoux--I remember when he died--but I'm not familiar with his music. I've been to the Red Rocks area, but never saw a concert there live. However, I did see the HBO presentation of U2 live at Red Rocks. It was pretty spectacular. It was early on in their career. They put on one heck of a show in adverse weather. Really amazing. And you did get a sense of the beauty of the location.

    StMC-- I may eventually have my own recollection of when I went to see Blue Oyster Cult. It was a great concert, but the circumstances were rather strange. Eventually...

    Larry-- I have the same philosophy about expensive concerts. Back in the day concert admission was less than the cost of an album. Now you could buy a bunch of albums for the cost of one ticket and enjoy them much longer. Seems like a no-brainer to me. Seeing artists live is a communal experience that is exciting. These days for me it's more like a hassle. Same with going to see a movie in a theater. For far less I can just get it from Netflix or whatever and sit in the comfort of my own living room. I'm showing my age.

    Dee-- Musicals are nice seen live. A lot also depends on your taste in music. These days I'd like to go to some classical concerts, but most of the ones I'd like to see are way beyond my budget.


  15. My first concert experience was when DH was in college that the school sponsored and it was free or very cheap, I don't remember which back in the late 70s. We went to see ARS. The stage was too far away, the balcony was filled with cigarette smoke, and the music too loud. Although it was fun I didn't have any interest to go to another concert the rest of my life until the mid-80s. The Monkees were on tour with a few other bands from the 60s era. Maybe you remember that. Anywho, despite many of same unpleasant elements as the first, I enjoyed this concert. It was great fun! Maybe it's because I had a crush on Davy Jones when I was kid or it was such a blast from the past. I don't know, but I'm glad that I went. These days you won't find me at a concert because of the annoyances I mentioned, but more than anything the cost to go is more than I want to spend. :D

  16. Great post Lee! I never heard of the Hello People! I saw Todd Rundgren with Utopia back in the 70s, at a mall of all places! I saw him recently at a great live venue called La Zona Rosa here in Austin. Had front row seats and got to shake his hand during his song "Hello, It's Me." Great show. So tell us about Alice Cooper!! He has some crazy stage theatrics. Looking forward to reading your concert series. Isn't it crazy how cheap concerts were back then? My first concert was Bad Company and Kansas with a ticket price of $6! And you're right: now the cost of parking is more than a full night of entertainment back in the 70s. Oh how I miss those days! Thanks for linking to my C is for Concerts post!!

  17. Cathy-- I'm guessing that the "cigarette smoke" to which you are referring is from those wacky weed cigarettes. If you're not smoking then I can see how the smell and breathing experience could be unpleasant.

    Michele-- Honestly, I don't remember much of Alice Cooper since so much happened before their part of the show and their show was so filled with special effects. I recall it being fun and entertaining, but the sensory assault of the whole concert experience was a bit much.



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