(I wrote the post below yesterday afternoon, before I found out about the death of Teddy Pendergrass this morning. Pendergrass was the mighty voice of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ classic hits, powering “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” “Bad Luck,” and “Wake Up Everybody,” plus the one I’d take to the desert island, the unstoppable “The Love I Lost.” Against those magnificent Gamble-and-Huff arrangements, Pendergrass taught a white kid—and I’ll bet I’m not the only one—what testifyin’ is. We now return to our scheduled feature, already in progress.)
The all-day rock festival with multiple headliners has made a modest comeback in recent years, but they ain’t like they used to be. In the 1970s, it was quite common for several headlining-caliber bands to descend on a baseball stadium or some other outdoor venue on a summer Saturday for an all-day blast. A tiny bit of Googling reveals several examples:
July 12, 1975: Yes, J. Geils Band, Ace, and Johnny Winter, Buffalo, NY
August 23, 1975: Rod Stewart and Faces, Uriah Heep, Aerosmith, Blue Oyster Cult, and Mahogany Rush at Cleveland Stadium
July 4, 1976: Ted Nugent, Foghat, Rick Derringer, and Mahogany Rush at Rockford Speedway, Rockford, Illinois
June 5, 1977: Emerson Lake & Palmer, J. Geils Band, Foghat, and the Climax Blues Band at County Stadium, Milwaukee
July 16, 1978: Doobie Brothers, Atlanta Rhythm Section, and Van Halen at Credit Island, Davenport, Iowa
August 5, 1978: Aerosmith, Foreigner, AC/DC, Mahogany Rush, and Walter Egan at Comiskey Park, Chicago
August 19, 1978: Eagles, Steve Miller Band, and Pablo Cruise at Comiskey Park, Chicago
April 26, 1979: Rush, Foghat, Pat Travers, Billy Thorpe, Point Blank, Little River Band, and Joan Jett at the Cotton Bowl, Dallas
Mahogany Rush seems to have been the quintessential big-bill band of the 1970s. Did they ever play anywhere that had a roof?
Massive bills like these went out of style in the 1980s, and apart from mega-festivals like Bonnaroo or Coachella, it’s doubtful that we’ll ever see their like again. In the summer of 2010, however, we may be getting a taste. It was rumored for a while and has now been announced that the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac will hit the road together for a stadium tour this summer. (Granted, Fleetwood Mac isn’t Fleetwood Mac without Stevie and Christine, but this is still pretty big rock news.) The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac shared a bill once in their heyday: July 25, 1976, at Schaefer Stadium in suburban Boston, with both bands on the verge of historic recordings: Hotel California, which would be released late that year, and Rumours, released early in 1977. Cost of a ticket: $10, which is what a beer is likely to cost at any of their 2010 shows. (They also played on the same bill during their respective inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.) No dates have been announced, although the tour will supposedly begin in June.
Also planning a joint tour this year: Chicago and the Doobie Brothers, who went out together in 2008. Chicago has done several of these in recent years, touring with Huey Lewis & the News, America, and last year, Earth Wind & Fire. Dates have been announced, although it looks like the nearest show to Wisconsin is a two-night stand at Charter One Pavilion on Chicago’s lakefront.
Also planning a joint tour this year: James Taylor and Carole King. All in all, it’s looking like a pretty good year for live shows, particularly for those of us who remember when music came on 45s and concert refreshments were smuggled in wineskins. Please add some of your favorite multiple-headliner bills in the comments, whether you actually went or just wished you could.