Tag Archives: 1982

Nine days in October

40 years ago this month, in October 1982, I witnessed four unforgettable events over a nine-day span. Now if I could only remember more of the details.

Ticket stubs, ALCS, World Series, Warren Zevon show, all from October 1982

Friday, Oct. 8 — American League Championship Series Game 3, California Angels vs. Milwaukee Brewers at Milwaukee County Stadium.

What I remember: Somehow I was offered one of the company tickets for this game. I went with some people from the Wisconsin State Journal, where I worked. My lingering memory is simply being wowed by sitting so close to the field, fourth row of the lower grandstand between home plate and first base.

What I don’t remember: Anything about the game. The Brewers won 5-3. The Brewers had lost the first two games of the best-of-five series in California, so every game in Milwaukee was do or die.

Saturday, Oct. 9 — ALCS Game 4, Angels vs. Brewers at County Stadium.

What I remember: These were our tickets in the left-center-field bleachers. I went with my girlfriend, who’d just had her wisdom teeth removed and understandably wasn’t feeling great. (She somehow still married me five years later.) The weather was terrible. It was 60 but drizzling. The game started an hour and 44 minutes late, then had rain delays of 12 and 19 minutes.

I’d ordered our tickets by mail after the Brewers qualified for the postseason in early September. I got two strips of bleacher tickets for all six possible home ALCS and World Series games. (This, I looked up: They cost $39 each plus $3 for postage and handling, for which I had to get an $81 money order and mail it from Madison to Milwaukee.) I’d never popped for something so expensive for any kind of event.

What I don’t remember: Anything about the game. The Brewers won 9-5.

I had to work the next day, so my friends from Green Bay took our Game 5 tickets. That was the day the Brewers won the AL pennant to advance to the World Series. From his vantage point in our seats in the left-center-field bleachers, my friend watched the postgame celebration on the field. He saw one gent dancing on the field. This gent was not wearing pants. “Now that,” my friend told me later, “is national exposure.”

Thursday, Oct. 14 — Warren Zevon show, Madison Civic Center.

What I remember: I was 25, and I hadn’t seen a lot of shows, so I thought the whole thing was tremendous. Zevon alternated between pounding the piano and playing it delicately, and between singing fiercely and elegantly. I vividly remember Zevon dedicating “The Envoy,” the title cut on the album of the same name, to Philip Habib, Reagan’s special envoy to the Middle East at the time. I bought two tickets for this show, hoping someone could go along. That didn’t happen, so I ate one. That’s why you see a full ticket above.

"The Envoy" LP cover, Warren Zevon, 1982

“The Envoy,” Warren Zevon, from “The Envoy,” 1982.

What I don’t remember: (All this, I looked up, too.) The show started 25 minutes late. For whatever reason, it took Zevon that long to get out to the stage. Once there, he played for an hour and 45 minutes. “Johnny Strikes Up The Band” was the opening number. “Werewolves of London” was one of the encore numbers, complete with a “werewolves of Madison” line. I can’t find a full setlist from the show, but here are some of the other songs he performed that night: “A Certain Girl,” “Join Me In L.A.,” “Roland, the Headless Thompson Gunner,” “Charlie’s Medicine,” “Jungle Work,” “Play It All Night Long,” “Lawyers, Guns and Money,” Accidentally Like A Martyr,” “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me,” “Cadillac Ranch,” “Excitable Boy,” “It Ain’t That Pretty At All” and “Carmelita.”

It might have gone something like this. Here’s Zevon from two weeks earlier, Oct. 1, 1982, at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, N.J.

Saturday, Oct. 16 — World Series Game 4, St. Louis Cardinals vs. the Brewers at County Stadium. The Cardinals had a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, so the Brewers needed to win.

What I remember: We were back in our seats in the left-center-field bleachers. This time, it was a beautiful day. It was all so dazzling, far more so than the ALCS the previous week. So much hype, so much hoopla, so much fun. Milwaukee hadn’t hosted a World Series since 1958, the year after I was born. It was the first time for a lot of us of a certain age. (As it’s turned out, it’s been the only time for a lot of us of a certain age.)

What I don’t remember: Anything about the game. The Brewers won 7-5.

Four unforgettable events over nine days.

All these years later, just a delightful blur.


Filed under October 2022, Sounds

The night Van Halen came to town

You know me here as mostly a music blogger.

More formally, at least when writing for our regional history magazine, I am described as “a Green Bay writer and researcher who specializes in history projects on social media” and one who “curates and contributes content for … history groups on Facebook and has done long-term Twitter (history) projects.”

Yep, that’s me, too. Earlier this month, I tweeted:

You will find nothing about this Van Halen show in the next day’s Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Nothing about how loud it was. Nothing about how hot it was. Nothing about how tightly packed it was. Nothing about David Lee Roth’s “leather pants with the ass cheeks cut out.”

For that and more, future music historians will have to mine Facebook for it. There, the story of Van Halen’s show in Green Bay on Wednesday night, Aug. 18, 1982, is told in some of the 80 comments left on my posts in two local history groups, posts that were much the same as the tweet above.

Here’s a sampling …

My friend Mark: “7,044 crazy and screaming fans. Not only was the band extremely loud, but the crowd was also one of the loudest I’ve ever been a part of considering the venue. Saw them in Milwaukee the night before (it’s a long story), so my ears were shredded. It was a great score to get Van Halen in Green Bay.”

My friend Kim, a professional drummer: “My buddy and I stood outside for almost 6 hours so we could get as close to the front as possible. That was the LAST time I EVER did that ! It was absolute bedlam. One of those crowds that was so tightly packed, you could lift your feet off of the floor. And when that crowd began to sway in any given direction, you went with it or you went down. Now I know how those poor souls felt at the infamous Who show in Cincinnati a couple of years earlier. I lasted about 45 minutes and begged a security guy to get me the fuck out of there. Threw away my shirt, got a Pepsi and stood by the sound board. Regardless, I loved the show. They even played ‘I’m So Glad’ by Skip James/Cream. The soundtrack to the summer of ’82.”

Some others from the Facebook crowd:

“I was there and I’m thinking holy shit I’m seeing the biggest band on the planet. VH forever.”

“That’s what I thought, too. #1 band in the world when they were here.”

“In the top 3 concerts I have been (to). Blew the roof off the BCVMA!”

“I was front row, best concert I ever saw.”

“It was hot, I was down front. A lot of sweat.

“I was there! I don’t remember After the Fire at all. It was LOUD. My ears rang for three days.”

“I was there. I never noticed at the time, but was later told DLR was wearing leather pants with the ass cheeks cut out.”

“That was the most memorable part! And he jumped up and down on the speakers in them.”

“I was there. Ran all the way through the field from the Midway (a hotel next to the Arena) to back of arena to catch up with Dave Lee Roth.”

“I was backstage. They catered in (fried) chicken for them, and they ran it through the exhaust fans in the dressing room. LOL. But (what) really surprised me was David Lee Roth was riding a bike around the floor of the Arena with another guy, then they went out the garage door riding past everybody tailgating and playing Frisbee to go watch the Packers practice. It was funny cause nobody even gave him a second look. I’m laughing cause I’m like, that’s David Lee Roth and no one recognized him. He did have sunglasses on, but his hair, he had the hair.”

Vicky Van Matre, who heard and saw it all while working behind the scenes at Brown County Arena shows for 31 years, from 1970 to 2001, has the last word:

“It was a fantastic night!”

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Filed under August 2022, Sounds

Asbury Park, 854 miles that way

It’s all over Facebook and Twitter today. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” LP was released 40 years ago today, on Aug. 25, 1975.

Many of my friends are Springsteen fans, and I understand and appreciate their passion for The Boss. I just don’t share it, at least not with that intensity.

I vividly remember when Springsteen was the hottest thing in music, making the covers of Time and Newsweek in the same week. That came in late October 1975, a couple of months after “Born To Run” came out.

That was during the first semester of my freshman year of college, when I was stepping out into the world on my own for the first time. Into that new world came that new sound. I remember thinking: So this is what music is like now.

springsteen born to run lp

But at 18, I just wasn’t sophisticated enough to appreciate it all.

As you might imagine, Springsteen sounded like nothing else we’d heard in central Wisconsin. The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey, was 854 miles from where I lived. It might as well have been halfway around the world.

At the time, I still viewed music largely through the prism of the radio. In the Midwest, Springsteen’s R&B-influenced Jersey Shore rock seemingly wasn’t suited for anything but free-form FM radio, which by late 1975 was starting to fade from the scene. So we didn’t hear a lot of Springsteen, save for the occasional album cut.

Wanting to be sure I wasn’t remembering it wrong, I checked some of the Wisconsin radio charts from that time. There’s no sign of “Born To Run,” the album or the single.

It wasn’t until after those Time and Newsweek covers came out that Springsteen even registered on the charts at Chicago’s WLS, whose playlist often influenced what other Midwest stations played. Even then, “Born To Run” lasted only two weeks on the WLS album charts. At year’s end, “Born To Run” wasn’t among WLS’ Big 89 songs of 1975.

None of my friends were Springsteen fans. Until I met my friend Doug in 1978, that is. He tried to get me to dig Springsteen in the late ’70s. He tried hard. We met halfway, on another member of the extended Springsteen family. I’ve long enjoyed Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. But I’ve never seen Springsteen live, nor do I have any of his records, much to my son’s chagrin.

Over time, though, I started digging covers, first by others doing Springsteen songs, then by Springsteen doing others’ songs. Here are a couple of those.


“From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come),” Dave Edmunds, from “D.E. 7th,” 1982. It’s out of print but is available digitally. This song, an outtake from “The River” sessions, was given to Edmunds by Springsteen in 1981. Springsteen’s version wasn’t released until 2003.

Springsteen covered “War,” the Motown classic that’s one of my all-time favorites, during his Born in the U.S.A. Tour in 1985.


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Filed under August 2015, Sounds

Boom shaka laka laka by the lake

Depending on your passion, today was a day chock full of anticipation.

If you dig the Green Bay Packers, as many in these parts do, you likely enjoyed getting the first glimpse of the preseason schedule. Though preseason football is unwatchable, it means the season is that much closer.

If you dig music and beer, as many in these parts do, you likely enjoyed getting the first glimpse at the headliners for all the side stages at Summerfest. That’s the huge festival on the lakefront in Milwaukee.

In each case, you learn what you’ll be seeing, but not when.

There’s a fair amount of wishful thinking that goes into perusing that Summerfest list. Of the 63 side stage acts — Summerfest casts a wide net — only three or four look interesting.

I’d drive a couple of hours and put up with thousands of people to see Buddy Guy and Lewis Black, and to see whatever constitutes the Spinners and Morris Day and the Time these days.

Some of the acts I’ve seen: Billy Idol, Dr. John and Pat Benatar (all of whom I’d see again) and Alice Cooper, Styx and the Eagles (all of whom I’d pass on, unless Alice was playing his straight-up rock show minus the Halloween theatrics).

I’m most stoked for our son Evan. Three of his fave bands — Bad Religion, Social Distortion and Dropkick Murphys — are among the side stage headliners. It’s fun to see him digging it, but Pops must observe from a respectable distance these days. I get that. Maybe his experience will be like mine once was.

Thirty years ago, we saw Tina Turner on a side stage at Summerfest. She was just 43, but was considered an oldies act. She had split from Ike Turner, had no record contract and was touring with two backup singers.

Yet on that night, on that side stage in the middle of the Summerfest grounds, it was wild. To call her show sizzling or scorching or incendiary doesn’t do it justice. It was insane. You couldn’t believe what you were seeing and hearing.


“Ball of Confusion,” Tina Turner, 1982. It’s a single culled from “B.E.F.: Music of Quality and Distinction, Volume 1,” a British comp on which Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh of Heaven 17 did duets with a variety of partners. The LP is out of print but the single is available digitally.

Maybe we heard this. Hard to say. That long-ago night is a blur.

This Temptations cover became a top-5 hit in Norway in 1982. That got Turner a record deal in the UK. She and the gents from Heaven 17 then covered Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” a top-10 hit in the UK in 1983. That got her a record deal in the States. “Private Dancer” followed in 1984, and the rest is history.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.


Filed under April 2013, Sounds

Gone in threes, yet here forever

They have gone in threes again this week.

There was Dick Clark. As he did when Don Cornelius passed earlier this year, my friend JB said everything I wanted to say about Dick Clark in his post over at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’. When I heard the news of Clark’s passing and thought of his legacy, I immediately thought Cornelius was more influential.

Duane Dudek of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also had a fine piece on Clark, drawn largely from a new book that’s deeply skeptical of Clark’s role in how “American Bandstand” came to be integrated. The headline says it all: “Dick Clark’s TV legacy, including on race, is complicated.”

There was Levon Helm. He holds a singular place in the history of this blog. His PR people are the only ones to ask that a song be taken down in the five years we’ve been doing this. The tune we shared came off a free sampler his record label handed out at Record Store Day three years ago. Go figure.

There was Greg Ham. He was one of the Men At Work, the guy who played flute and sax and keyboards in a group that for a time in the early ’80s was one of the most popular bands in the world. Greg Ham, just 58, was found dead at his home in Melbourne, Australia, on Thursday.

After word spread of Ham’s death, his fans turned to Colin Hay. When you think of Men At Work, he’s the guy who comes to mind, and rightly so. He wrote most of their songs, sang lead on most of them and still performs charmingly reworked versions of them in his solo act.

Men At Work fans crashed Hay’s website while trying to read his statement about his friend’s death.

Greg Ham and Colin Hay were friends for 40 years, having met while seniors in high school. “We shared countless, unbelievably memorable times together,” Hay said. “We played in a band and conquered the world together. I love him very much. He’s a beautiful man.”

Less beautiful was that Ham felt his legacy marred by a copyright lawsuit. An Australian court ruled in 2009 that his memorable flute riff on “Down Under” was cribbed from “Kookaburra,” an Australian nursery rhyme written in the 1930s. Doubt anyone outside Australia hears it that way. You know the riff.

Men At Work put out only three albums. I had the first two — “Business As Usual” and “Cargo” in the early ’80s, then sold them at the end of that decade. Time, it seemed had passed them by.

Then, nine years ago, I discovered “Man @ Work,” a record on which Colin Hay covered some of those old Men At Work songs Hearing them again, it was clear how good those songs were, and are.

You also know Ham’s sax solo on “Who Can It Be Now.” It was, Hay said yesterday, “the rehearsal take. We kept it, that was the one. He’s here forever.”

Greg Ham is here forever, too.

“Be Good Johnny” and “Down By The Sea,” Men At Work, from “Business As Usual,” 1982. It’s out of print but is available digitally. The used vinyl is fairly common. I bought this record and “Cargo” last year for $1 each.

Ham and Hay composed the music for “Be Good Johnny,” and that’s Ham as the adult speaking to the kid.

“Down By The Sea,” composed by Ham, Hay, guitarist Ron Strykert and drummer Jerry Speiser, is the last cut on the album. It’s laid back, but still a bit of showcase for each of them.


Filed under April 2012, Sounds