“The Michigan Monster”

img-thingCHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE

THE MICHIGAN MONSTER

The regular Sunday night concerts at Sherwood Forest were suspended at the end of April as we moved into a regular weekly Saturday night schedule at Mt. Holly. The first six weeks included performances by Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes, SRC, Bob Seger, Brownsville Station, Frijid Pink, The Ides of March and the Electric Prunes. Attendance was decent, but we were starting to regularly recycle a number of major Michigan artists in relatively limited time frames.

“Wild Wednesday” was scheduled for June 24th at Sherwood Forest. Although WTAC would be participating as it had the prior year with client booths and exhibits, ninety percent of the focus was on our first “Michigan Monster”. We were pulling out all the stops.

We would run twelve groups in twelve hours from Noon ’til Midnight with “Twin Concert Stages” and no recorded music. Admission would be five dollars. When one group finished, the next would immediately begin. It would be continuous, non-stop, live Rock ‘n Roll without pause or intermission. The first “Wild Wednesday/Michigan Monster” would feature Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, the MC5, The Rationals, Brownsville Station, Alice Cooper, Frijid Pink, Teegarden and Vanwinkle and three opening acts, including a group from Pontiac which John Irons had started managing called “Mr. Flood’s Party”.

Don Sherwood mowed acres of adjacent fields for parking. Security was to include all of Ed Boyce’s regulars and an extra two dozen off-duty Sheriff’s deputies, many on horseback. Additionally, my ” Roadies Squad” now numbered close to fifty. These were divided into five teams with various tasks assigned each unit. The “Roadies Squad” had added volunteers as it went along and had become more organized. We had Captains and Lieutenants and all wore “Sherwood Forest Rock ‘n Roll” T-Shirts. The roadies helped with equipment, assisted on security duty, guarded dressing room areas and were generally available for anything or everything which might require manpower and/or ingenuous resolution. A number of old Flint “biker” friends became “Concert-Associates”. The “Concert Associates” acted as unofficial and discreet enforcers of prevailing promoter policies. They were exceedingly effective and absolutely trustworthy. Word of their presence alone discouraged all manner of bad behavior except in the most rare instance.

The morning of June 24th was warm and sunny with a favorable weather forecast for the remainder of the day and evening. We had advertised “Wild Wednesday” in Detroit and throughout the rest of Michigan. We met at Sherwood Forest shortly before 8 a.m. and prepared to open the gates at 10.
As the first group started playing at High Noon, three thousand had been admitted to the park. The crowd doubled by 4 p.m.and doubled again during the next four hours. By eight-o-clock, a crowd of twenty thousand was assembled between the Sherwood Forest Lodge/Hall and the adjacent lake area. Everything had been going along without a hitch. Everything except the appearance by “Mr. Flood’s Party”.

Although John and I had worked out the playing schedule weeks before and his group had been set to appear at 2 p.m., “Mr. Flood” felt a later hour was desirable and had so informed John. John had agreed, but never told me. When twelve groups are being coordinated in close fashion, rigid time discipline is a must. All band members and managers had received copies of performance times along with their contracts. There would be no changes.
We had balanced the line-up with draw value, performance quality, style sequence and a certain amount of Rock ‘n Roll politics in mind.

“Mr. Flood” was not available at 2 p.m. I crossed them off the schedule and had the second and fourth bands fill the gap. When they appeared at 2:30 and informed me that “Johnny Irons said they could go on at 6 p.m.”, I suggested that they just sit back and enjoy the rest of the show and that they were not going to appear. They found Irons and brought him to the stage. John had been drinking.

John demanded that the group be scheduled. I took John aside. I told him what an asshole he was and that he was getting fucked-up. We had an absolute understanding that neither of us would drink a drop or take a puff of anything stronger than tobacco until the show had been concluded, the people sent home and the money counted and deposited. As dark fell, John was getting exceedingly drunk and very belligerent with a wide variety of people. Several managers insisted he be removed from the backstage area. He started a fight with Dave Leone from Diversified Management. He was quickly subdued. He reeled toward me and shouted that he was going out to his car and would return shortly to “set things fuckin’ straight, Jim”. John kept a handy, dandy .45 under his front-seat. This was decidedly not a matter for the police. My “Concert-Associates” were on hand for just such delicate moments.

John was firmly guided by four “Associates” to a basement area in the lodge, where he was given a full bottle of Jack Daniels and locked in a broom closet for the duration of the program. The “Associates” reported that he had pounded on the door for several minutes, then started singing and laughing for approximately thirty minutes. Loud snoring was then heard coming through the door. At least one “Associate” remained on guard-duty for the rest of the evening.

At one-fifteen in the morning, I awakened him to release. He had slept peacefully, but was suddenly experiencing a violent hangover and sweeping waves of nausea. He remembered nothing from the previous day except showing up for the concert. I presented him with a full accounting. He was sincerely penitent and meant it. He promised it would never happen again.
I told him that was fine with me and I would count on that. I told him that I believed everybody should get “one”, and he’d just gotten his. We concluded our business and headed home. The first “Michigan Monster” had been a complete success.

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