The Shrine Auditorium: "Sex; Drugs and Rock & Roll" (1968-69)
For some reason I had forgotten this particular year (I must have been stoned; do you think?) something I find hard to believe insomuch as this was the year (1968) that I met my ex-wife at Fox’s Landing on the Colorado River in Parker, Arizona and worked for “Pinnacle Productions” who promoted a bi-monthly dance/concert in the Shrine Auditorium’s1 Exposition Hall which was adjacent to the actual auditorium’s sit down facility. In fact the sit down auditorium was where we “tested the waters” for any future endeavors of this type. The first concert was a “biggie” as we hosted the now late great, Jimi Hendrix; the Blue Cheer (my shirt-tail cousin, “Barber Jim”2 lived in a tenement building on the corner of Haight and Ashbury with the upstairs flat being occupied by the speedos:3 the “Blue Cheer”)4 and lastly, the Electric Flag (Buddy Miles & Paul Butterfield, R.I.P., brothers) and we filled the entire auditorium! After all was said and done the concert netted over twenty-five thousand dollars, which at the time was a considerable amount of money!
With the waters now having been tested we began a regiment of bi-monthly dance/concerts in the auditorium’s exposition hall adding the option of dancing that usually goes hand in hand with good music. We also had a “light show” produced by the “Single Wing Turquoise Bird.”5 During the course of the next year I was in their employ mostly as a PR man and their “galloping gopher.” I would take advance sale tickets to a host of distributors about the Los Angeles area , i.e. “Either/Either” bookstore in Hermosa Beach and a list to long to post or remember for that matter. I also kept the downstairs dressing room as there were two dressing rooms one below the floor level and the other on the upper floor where the headliners and one other of the three groups appearing would utilize and housing the third group in a much smaller facility near the balcony above, where I would keep vast amounts of soft drinks and beer on ice in three large wash tubs (two below and one upstairs) and when Janis was performing with “Big Brother and the Holding Company” I would also buy two pints of “Southern Comfort” for Ms Joplin. It seems she had a love for this beverage and other substances, which in the end unfortunately and tragically took her young life at only twenty-seven years of age a la Jimi Hendix and James Douglas Morrison (front man for the Doors)! What’s up with being 27 and overdosing?
I had met the two principles at Pinnacle Productions: Sep and Marc, through a mutual friend, John Wolford, who I had worked with at Advanced Plumbing in Downey some five years prior. Funny how things in life’s puzzle somehow find a way of putting themselves together. Anyway, back on track and as the story unfolds. There were so many concerts with so many personalities that I will tell to the best of my recollections most of them. One such occasion occurred in the downstairs dressing room, which was an oblong room and was three times the length as it was wide. On far end there was a curtain with maybe ten or so foot of room behind it. While I was smoking a bowl of Hashish with “Big Brother’s” road manager when suddenly the curtain opens and in walks Janis was had just finished the first of two sets and was dripping from head to toe with perspiration. Upon her arrival behind the curtain she immediately removed her sweat-drenched dress thus exposing her rather small, but perky breasts! And when the road manager (name unknown) asked her if she would like a “hit of hash” she replied in her somewhat deep guttural voice, “I hate that f*cking shit!”
On a side note earlier in the evening while I was taking admission tickets at the front door along with a young lady with whom I had been socializing with for a short period of time and who was also collecting tickets with Yours Truly. When in walks Janis and since I recognized her I didn’t stop nor ask her for a ticket, however, my counterpart did not know who she was and after asking her for a ticket, Janis retorted with, “Hey, I am the f*cking entertainment” and in her own arrogant way continued to bogie right on into the facility! She must have been having a “bad hair” day? Do you think?
Another quick story on my ticket taking at the front entrance to the Shrine Exposition Hall came when a couple of hippies decided that not only was there “free love” to be had, so should the admission to the concert, as they tried to crash the gate, however, for some stupid reason I gave pursuit and tackled the one I had chased and in the process nearly decking one Chuck Berry who was the headlining the show that particular night. With the “gate crasher” put out to pursue his “free love” I checked to see if Mr. Berry was injured in this unfortunate mishap to which he replied in the negative. At this time I could not help but notice the half-pint of “Old Crow”6 protruding from his hip pocket as he walked off. “Old Crow?” I don’t even know if they still make it? This excerpt was taken from the last chapter in my book, i.e., Chapter 20: The Shrine Auditorium: Sex; drugs and "Rock & Roll."