Stories behind memorable albums of the 1970s as told by the artists

Month: September 2016

Elton John live: A unique perspective from behind the stage

The first time I saw Elton John perform live was in 1976 at the Chicago Amphitheater. It was my first concert.

We had secured tickets from a young fellow named George Jasinski, a Chicago native and a student at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, who was the teaching assistant for the first journalism class I took in high school. He would become a big influence on me becoming a journalist, despite the fact that he abandoned journalism altogether and decided to go to law school to become a lawyer, which he is to this day.

We called him “Mr. J.” and he was Chicago cool. One day after class he taught Mikki Milam and I how to do “The Hustle” dance. Her father, Jerry Milam, owned Golden Voice Recording Co. in South Pekin, Illinois, where the Head East album “Flat as a Pancake” was recorded in 1975. The making of … Read more

First Bruce Springsteen concert a perfect beginning . . . and maybe a perfect ending

Who knew that farmers could predict the future of rock and roll?

When I moved into the dorms my first year at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, the guys who lived next door were enlightened and entertaining characters. Al Steinbach, a New Yorker with a dry wit, was studying engineering there in the middle of the Heartland. I’m not sure why he went all that way to do that. His roommate, Duane Morrison, was a rural gent from Grinnell, Iowa, who was studying farm management. That made more sense to me, since the university is surrounded by roughly a bazillion cornfields and two bazillion cows.

What made these guys cool to a youngster experiencing being away from home for the first time was that they had a turntable, a vinyl collection and an open-door policy. Anyone could drop in and listen to records at almost any time.

Duane was … Read more

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