I know we’re now barreling toward 2011 at warp speed – and it may even be AFTER 2011 before this gets published, but I’ve been working on it since the first part of December. And every year when December rolls around, nostalgia for my favorite December in the history of all my Decembers gets the better of me.
For Christmas that year, I got a pretty impressive back-catalog of vinyl releases from my favorite bands. Posters of the same. Subscriptions to Hit Parader and Circus Magazines. Oh, and clothing in sizes 3 and 5. (These days, I would LOVE to fit back into a single digit jean size, let alone a 3 or 5!)
So, twenty-five years. That’s a lifetime, yet I remember this month from twenty-five years ago like it was yesterday. I was somewhat of a misfit (though a “sharp-dressed” misfit!) of a fifteen year old who lived and breathed for music. Hair metal was my “thing,” and at the time, Motley Crue was my favorite band. Visions of Nikki Sixx constantly swirled through my head. Yes, folks, my fangirling over badasses goes way back!
And ever since my junior high days, I envied the boys and girls who could go to shows. I always felt like life was passing me by because I couldn’t see my favorite bands, so I was determined that come high school, I was going to be “that girl.” The one who actually liked the bands those prissy girls didn’t like, but their boyfriends did (because, hey…I *did* love all those bands, and there were very few girls who liked hair bands and metal in my neck o’ the woods till about 1987). The one who went to all the best shows, and came back to school the next day donning the band’s tour shirt.
By this time in 1985, I was well on my way! (Not to mention, approximately two years ahead of the trend in my small, small town. Go, me!)
So starting the month off with a bang, my best friend Charlotte and I climbed into the covered bed of her parents’ Toyota truck – this was in the day before seat belts were the law – and headed to Memphis to see KISS. It was Sunday, December 1, at the Mid-South Coliseum. Asylum tour. Black and Blue opened.
I remember the anticipation….this was not our first metal show, but it was our first (and my only) time seeing the legendary KISS. I remember being huddled in blankets to fight off the night’s chill, giggling, gossiping, and singing along with the tunes coming from her boom box!
Her parents dropped us off and went to eat while we went into the coliseum with our floor-level general admission tickets. We quickly made our way to the front, and watched Black and Blue. I don’t remember a thing about their performance except a song called “School of Hard Knocks.”
Things started getting really wild once KISS, sans makeup (this was during the Asylum tour, remember?), took the stage. The lights dimmed and the crush of the crowd pushed us forward. It was hard enough just to breathe, and then I felt some skeezer’s hand on my booty! This has since become one of my favorite concert stories to pass along: I twisted around, saw the dude leering at me while continuing to try to fondle me. I got an arm free and proceeded to slap him across the face as hard as I could – just like I’d seen in the movies. This sort of did the trick, as he promptly removed his hand from my backside.
However, he doubled it up into a fist and swung! I could not move; all I could do was turn my head back around so that he would punch my skull instead of my face. Then, at the very last minute, the crowd shifted. And in the shift, he and/or I got moved and he landed a beautiful, closed-fist punch right to the throat of a beefy security guard. Said guard was about three times the size of Chester the Molester and easily snatched him out of the crowd, I assume, to toss him out of the show.
Sadly, I don’t remember much about the show other than that, and being extremely jealous of Charlotte because she and Gene Simmons stared at each other for most of the show! Well, and we did get most of their hits and some fire-breathing action, too.
In fact, I had actually heard this concert announcement back in August, and not on our rock station but the local Top 40 station when I tuned in to listen to the Top Nine at Nine. Within seconds of flipping the stereo on, I heard the first thirty seconds of “In The Beginning,” and once I realized what I was hearing, I let out a banshee-esque squeal that sent my mom running from the kitchen to my room in a panic! Nonetheless, my enthusiasm was met not by more excitement, but with eye-rolling and “Are you INSANE?!!?” Umm….what? Didn’t she know a concert announcement for the Crue was going to send her daughter into a mania of stratospheric proportions?
But I digress….
This show was Thursday, December 5, so that made two in the same week for Charlotte and I! I have no idea how we pulled this off, but it never happened again. The anticipation of the KISS show was nowhere near the palpable excitement I felt as the prospect of seeing my MOST. VERY. FAVORITE. BAND. EVER. for the first time drew closer!
After three months of not-so-patiently waiting for this blessed event, the day finally arrived. It was partly cloudy, and I had been checked out of school early so I could finish my homework and study for the next day’s tests get a jump on getting ready. My parents dropped Charlotte and I, with our big hair, chunky earrings, lace tights, and belted sweater dresses, off at the Mid-South Coliseum with about 45 minutes to go till showtime.
We excitedly went to our seats, which were nowhere as good as the “seats” for the KISS show, and were promptly disappointed. I had no idea when looking at the seating chart and buying our tickets that I actually got us into the second tier of risers, which was SEPARATED from the five-feet-away first tier via security guards and a rail. It was a great place to see the show, but we were crushed that we couldn’t get any closer unless we jumped the rail, and we were both too afraid of getting caught and thrown out to attempt that!
We passed the time people-watching, seeing what kinds of guys and girls were wearing the coveted All-Access passes, and talking with some girls who reeked of fake Giorgio because THEY had been flirting with some roadies and got their little hands on a pair of said passes.
We quickly forgot about our unfortunate seating situation once the lights dimmed and Autograph took the stage. At this time, they were opening for the Crue in support of their just-released second album, That’s The Stuff. I don’t remember too much from their set, except that the set was mostly from Sign In Please since the music everyone was mostly familiar with was from that album. Still, we got the ever-popular “Turn Up The Radio,” the lesser-known but better (IMO) “Send Her To Me,” and the brand-new “Blondes In Black Cars.”
Between their set and Motley’s, it was back to more people-watching. One of the songs played during the intermission struck me as a glaring oddity: between Ratt, Priest, Ozzy, and Maiden there was……get ready…..Mr. Mister! So to this day, “Kyrie” reminds me of so much awesomeness. Not only does it take me immediately back to that night, but in later years the lyrics continued to speak to me on different levels at different turning points in life.
Oops, there I go digressing again!
FINALLY, one of the local DJs appeared onstage to introduce the band. And here it was…. one of those moments I felt like I’d been waiting all my life for. And I guess at fifteen, waiting for nearly two years on my favorite band did seem like forever.
The evil and ominous “In The Beginning,” which sends shivers down my spine to this day, was a perfect start to their show, where we got a solid two hours of blistering, loud glam-metal and all the band’s hits up to that point, including (if memory serves me correctly, as I’ve seen the band several times since this tour) “Looks That Kill,” “Knock ‘Em Dead,” “Too Young To Fall In Love,” their awesome cover of the Brownsville Station’s “Smokin’ In The Boys Room,” and rousing renditions of both The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” and Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” (before it was recorded for their 1987 release, Girls, Girls, Girls). We got an introduction to the band with solos from each. Seeing Tommy Lee do his ground-breaking drum solo to a medley of classic rock tunes (most notably, Zeppelin’s “The Ocean”) while his drum riser rotated to 90 degrees is something everyone who loves this kind of music should have had a chance to see.
And poor Tommy, he went sprawling during “Home Sweet Home” while running from the piano back up to his drum set! But once the drums kicked in? He literally sent the place crashing down! As in, a huge piece of the Coliseum’s ceiling tile fell down.
Apparently, tons o’ bad stuff went down at the show – brawling, underage drinking, numerous drug and solicititation-related arrests. My hateful geometry teacher even asked me the next day if I’d been busted for anything. I know that being as openly crazy about bands, concerts, and music as I was, I should have expected some folks to have a less-than-great opinion of me. But that? That was totally unnecessary, and I loathe that teacher to this day. My smartassery just wouldn’t let that slide, so I just quickly said “Nope. Maybe next time!”
But nastiness from adults who should know better aside, I could not have asked for a better concert experience. The band both literally and figuratively brought the house down. A great time was had by all, and my ONLY complaint of the night – besides the fact that I didn’t get to meet Nikki Sixx so he could fall instantly in love with me! – was that the band didn’t play my favorite song off Theatre of Pain, “Raise Your Hands To Rock.”
If you read this far, thanks for reliving one of my favorite teenage memories with me! Feel free to share your own in the comments. As always, there’s a playlist! One Autograph tune and Crue songs from the show. PLUS the one I wanted to hear that they didn’t play….
Autograph – Turn Up The Radio
Motley Crue – In The Beginning, Shout At The Devil, Looks That Kill, Too Young To Fall In Love, Smokin’ In The Boys Room, Home Sweet Home, Raise Your Hands To Rock.