What was your first concert? Do you remember? Did it change your life?
Mine was the Rolling Stones. I do remember. And it did change my life. Big time.
June 22, 1975, at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. At 13 years old I was already a devout Stones fan and my dad, rest his soul, pulled strings to get great seats for the whole family. Closer to show date, my folks decided to let a pair of 30-ish cousins take us (me, my twin sister, my younger sister and a friend of mine) which worked out great.
Seeing the Rolling Stones in person was a surreal experience. I couldn’t believe it was *them* in the flesh. Rather, it felt like we were watching an animatronic Disneyland show; a simulation of the “greatest rock and roll band in the world.”
So much bigger than life did they seem to me in that primordial mist of time before MTV.
But it *was* them, on a giant, star-shaped stage lit by intense neon colors; magenta, purple, blue and blood-red crimson. The roar of all my favorite songs washed over me; waves of sweet sonic thunder led by a prancing dervish in pink-patterned Egyptian pajamas: Mick Jagger.
That first concert cemented a lifelong love affair with the band I’m listening to as I type this.
In the next few years after this I’d see Led Zeppelin, YES, Neil Young, Kiss, Aerosmith–virtually every major act of the era. And I’d always leave thinking the same thing: It was good. Maybe great.
But it was not the Rolling Stones.
I’ve since seen them many times. I’ve taken my son to see them (he saw them at about the same age I did for the first time). My wife and I have seen them. And while it’s always been memorable, there’s never been anything to challenge that first night, 35 years ago to this date.
I had intended to write an entirely different piece today.
Until I looked at the calendar.
Do you remember your first show? Or at least, the concert that made the biggest impact on you when you were young?
Post it in the comments section. At the end of the week I’ll randomly pull one and the winner will receive a signed, first edition of my new book, “Hello It’s Me — Dispatches from a Pop Culture Junkie,” which comes out July 1st.
I heard a lyric in an old Tommy Bolin song today that really nails these nostalgic pangs I sometimes get: “I’m just a fool for yesterdays,
I’ve seen too many things in so many ways.”
And on that note, good luck in the contest, and thanks for taking this little trip with me. I’ll post the winner end of day this Friday.
PS–at that first Stones show, this photo appeared on the cover of the NY Post newspaper. That’s me in the circle, joined forever, at least visually, with Mick Jagger on that monumental night.