WLLZ disc jockey Bob Bauer at This Country's Rockin

This was an interesting day... I spent time interviewing Detroit DJ Bob Bauer today... We discovered that we were both at "This Country's Rockin" 23 act concert at the Pontiac Silverdome..May 22, 1989.

Bob was a host and I was a show promoter watching from the audience...This concert had 23 legendary bands...but to me the audience was dead...I couldn't believe how few people actually showed up for this fabulous show..

I watched the gates all day and finally I couldn't take the stress anymore and I found the promoter and asked him why he wasn't upset with the poor attendance. He laughed abd told me they had sold the cable tv rights and they made a profit in advance!! So Bob and I talked about this show today...

With a cast and crew of some 500, a production tab of $2 million and tickets that sold as poorly as caviar at a K mart, the 23-act country-rock crossover hoedown in Detroit's Silverdome could have been a megawatt disaster. Instead, it turned into a 13-hour marathon of pickin' and riffin' that was as much celebrity bash as staged spectacle.

Dwight Yoakam

The fans, who numbered a peak 18,000 in late afternoon but even then rattled around in the 50,000-seat arena, had paid prices ranging from $22.50 (in advance) to an empty Coca-Cola can (at the gate) to see Gregg Allman, Ted Nugent and the Marshall Tucker Band on the same bill with the Stray Cats, Dwight Yoakam, Sawyer Brown and Ronnie Hawkins.

(L-R) Rock singer Ray Davies Carl Perkins & Ronnie Hawkins

But crowd size was irrelevant. The point of the This Country's Rockin' concert was to produce a 10-hour tape that will air on cable television July 4. The bill was designed, said promoter Jim Fitzgerald, "to break down the barricades and show how rock, country and blues have all been influenced by each other, and that good music is good music."

Ted Nugent

Emcee Ted Nugent teasingly threatened to make "everybody chewing tobacco swallow it at the door," but decided that "most country artists are just frustrated rockers anyhow." David Crosby and Stephen Stills performed separately but spoke briefly. The Band's Levon Helm, Garth Hudson and Rick Danko caught up with country rocker Ronnie Hawkins, whom they backed up in the early '60s.

Former Oak Ridge Boy William Lee Golden toted along sons Chris and Rusty, who perform as the country-rock group the Goldens. Country singer T. Graham Brown rented a Lear jet so he could keep a later gig in Austin, Texas. Gregg Allman, too, found it important enough to fly in for the afternoon.

And rockabilly granddad Carl Perkins, 57, accepted credit for inventing the genre when he wrote "Blue Suede Shoes" in 1956. "Somebody said, 'Carl, you really opened up that rock and roll door,' and I said, 'Yeah, and I stood in it and got run over by every damn one of y'all.'"

But Perkins saw the beauty of the musical merger as he took the stage at 3 A.M. for a hardy holdout crowd of 3,000. "It's like iced tea," he said. "You got tea to make it hot, ice to make it cold, sugar to make it sweet and lemon to make it sour, but it all comes out tastin pretty good."


steve olsavsky said...

This was one of the most amazing concerts I have ever attended. I was among the few who paid for their tickets and stayed for the whole show. The only portion I have seen since is The Marshall Tucker Band, which was released on VHS sometime in the 1990's. I remember Dwight Yoakum coming onstage in anger at having to play after 1 a.m. The sheer number of great acts is the most I have ever seen at a show and I'm sure it will never be eclipsed. I too was amazed at how few people attended a show with so many stars. I just wish I cold find it all on DVD.

Unknown said...

Hello, I created a YOUTUBE channel as a forum to post my hundreds of VHS tapes that I am slowly pouring through as time allows. I found a recording from PBS of This Country's Rockin'. It is not complete, but has a few songs from the Greg Allman Band, and The Band. Quality is not the greatest, it's an old tape. But they are up right now on my Youtube


Retro Kimmer said...

THANK YOU...just subscribed to your channel and look forward to seeing more! ♥K

Unknown said...

I was a promo model back stage. Great show and amazing talent. Precursor to the large concerts we see today.

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