Larry Vallon Farewell Tour

I’m so depressed.

The emcee was Bob Eubanks. I asked him about promoting the Beatles. He was just a booker, for a club in North Hollywood that’s long since been gone. But the big promoter didn’t want the gig. So, Bob mortgaged his house for $25,000 and got them. He made $4500 at the Hollywood Bowl that first year. He told me he was the only person still alive who promoted all three years of shows.

That’s kind of my point. Not so much who is alive, but what has been gone. They say it’s the same as it always was, but it’s not.

John Frankenheimer stood up and told the story of meeting Larry at the Troubadour and taking him back to his house to play him a new track. While he was listening, Larry went up to the vinyl and started pulling out records, throwing them on the floor, saying YOU’VE GOT TO HEAR THIS! And they spent all night playing each other records. That’s the way it used to be, that’s not the way it is now.

And someone else stood up. Coulda been Steve Jensen, maybe it was Tom Ross. Not important, but they said they used to argue backstage over who the best vocalist was. Larry believed it was Burton Cummings. Whenever this person saw Larry backstage, he’d mention another vocalist, and Larry would say NOPE!

We had our opinions. We were deep into the canon. It’s all that mattered to us.

Jeff Greenberg told me about the death of Steve Wolf. No one has seen Jim Rissmiller in years. Most everybody was over sixty, a bunch over seventy, they remembered, and despite movies and books you’ll never understand how it was unless you were there and lived through it.

They made records before, and they’ve made records after. But during that window, especially from ’64 to ’80, music drove the culture, it was everything.

On the big screen were pictures of backstage passes. Shows at the Santa Monica Civic, which no longer hosts gigs. All those lineups at the Forum, in San Diego. It was a closed culture which excluded oldsters. You listened to the radio, you learned about the shows and in most cases no promotion was needed, the shows sold out without hype, because that’s just how into it the fans were, they needed to be there, not for the selfies, not for the social media, but the music.

Sure, you can call me an oldster, even a has-been. On the other hand, I lived through the greatest era of recorded and live music, one that may never ever return.

It was all we had. There were bands, not deejays. Every local bar had one. You dreamed of getting a deal. The highest achievement was to hear your song on the radio. And to meet the band? You died and went to heaven.

Cameron Crowe told the story of going to interview Wild Turkey at the San Diego Sports Arena, a venue Pete Townshend called a “trash can.”

Lester Bangs told him to just ask for Terry Ellis backstage.

But that didn’t work. The security guard told Cameron he was not on the list and should go hang with the girls.

But nearly an hour later, after trying and trying to get in, Larry appeared and gave Cameron his first backstage pass, and told him to look like he belonged.

Cameron interviewed not only Wild Turkey, but Yes too, but not the headliner, Black Sabbath. And when Larry asked him how it was going and Cameron said he’d been able to interview everybody but Sabbath, Larry told him to go right in and question Ozzy, and Cameron did.

That’s Larry, the nicest guy in rock and roll. At the end of his career, after fifty years.

It ends for all of us eventually.

But we didn’t think it would end for us.

My old school buddies, they’re all calling it a day, but not me, not so many in this business, we soldier on, still searching for that hit we once got.

I talked with Susan Rosenbluth about going on the road with BTS. The fans know the dances as well as the songs, it’s a secret society, kind of like music way back when.

But can anybody be as big as the Beatles once again? Can anybody make the entire universe take a left turn?


But Cameron’s talking and my brain is going through the files, wasn’t Wild Turkey made up of Jethro Tull refugees?

I know all this stuff. There’s loads of us who do. Kinda like you knew what processor was in your computer at the turn of the century. But unlike machines, music has soul.

And everybody there got it.

Tom Ross told me about selling his vinyl. That one record, if he still had the poster, it was worth $20,000.

You see people want this stuff.

They don’t want CDs, they’re useless. I paid for them, I built a collection, I don’t want to trash ’em, I don’t want to sell them for ten cents on the dollar, but will I ever play them?

Kinda like my Nakamichi 582. I worked for months to afford it. It’s still on the rack. But I haven’t turned it on in years, I bet the belts are stretched out or cracked. But what it represents…PRISTINE SOUND!

We needed to get closer. Music wasn’t background, it was foreground. Every day would be a listening party. Your friends would stop by and…

That’s why I’m so depressed. It’s sad Larry’s leaving, but he’s getting out in time, for whatever he got into it for is now gone.

I’m not saying I don’t hear good records. But music is back to being a business, when for a while there it was life itself. Tickets were cheap, but you couldn’t get them, but if you scored, you were inside, you were privileged, it was the only way to hear the band, there were no videos, rarely films, scratch a boomer and they’ll tell you about their favorite shows and wax rhapsodic.

I couldn’t play the radio on the way home. I left the Roxy and my spirits sank. I’m typing to you on my computer, but in the old days, I would have broken out a record, placed it on the turntable, put on the headphones, dropped the needle and turned out the lights. It would just be me in that bubble, with the music.

It was all we needed.

Comments are closed