Thursday, June 18, 2020

Illinois Welcomes The Kinks! June 20-23, 1965

The Kinks at Kintner Gym Decatur IL June 22, 1965
The Kinks (Mick Avory, Ray Davies, Dave Davies, Peter Quaife) at Kintner Gym, Decatur, Illinois June 22, 1965

The British Invasion was in full swing by June of 1965.  Led by the Beatles, English acts were dominating the U.S. pop charts. The Rolling Stones had begun their first tour of the States earlier in the year and the Kinks were the next in line.  This week, in fact, marks the 55th anniversary of the Kinks’ first American tour.  Somewhat surprisingly, over a quarter of the concerts the group gave on that tour took place in Illinois, mostly downstate.

By that time, the Kinks already had three top ten hits in the States and their tour should have been a smash success.  Instead it was marred by a series of small disasters and cancelled dates, exacerbated by poor management and in-fighting among the group.

Thus, their American tour of 1965 consisted of just fifteen concerts and four television appearances.  They missed major cities like Baltimore, Boston and Detroit and avoided the South completely.  Yet the band spent four days and nights zig-zagging across Illinois for shows in Peoria, Chicago, Decatur and Springfield.

One of these nights (Decatur) is all but forgotten by chroniclers of the band.  At the same time, a few of these dates would become legendary though not for anything that happened on the stage but instead for the characters the group encountered in downstate Illinois. This includes time spent with a notorious serial killer in Springfield as well as a brush with a “pistol-packing punk driver” in Peoria that Ray Davies would write and sing about for years afterwards.

By the end of the disastrous tour, the Kinks would be banned indefinitely from performing in the United States by the American Federation of Musicians union without explanation.  Ultimately, they would not be allowed to return for another four years making their brief tour in 1965 the only opportunity for American kids to see the group at the height of their early career.

Much has been written about the ill-fated tour, their ban from America and the effect it had on the group’s music. Below we will take a closer look at the four days and nights spent in Illinois.

Sunday June 20, 1965  5 & 9 pm - Exposition Gardens, Peoria

The Kinks headline the show that included several other acts: Paul Petersen (Jeff from the Donna Reed Show), the Hollywood Argyles (billed as Bobby and the Argyles) and the Rivieras.   Also at least one local group, Dave & the Detomics from Morrisonville, performed.   The show was promoted by WSIV radio out of Pekin.

Originally, much of the Midwest portion of the Kinks’ 1965 tour was to be co-headlined with the Moody Blues and included bigger cities such as Indianapolis and Louisville.   At the last minute the Moody Blues were unable to secure the proper working papers and had to cancel, leaving the Kinks to scramble and find new dates and venues.   As a result, the Kinks were a late addition on all of the downstate dates to an already touring package show.

In his book All Day and All Of The Night, Doug Hinman wrote this about the Peoria date, “After two relatively prestigious shows in sophisticated major east-coast cities, they now find themselves deep in the heart of America’s Midwest where attitudes toward long-haired British invaders are far less tolerant.  No one is happy with this 700-capacity booking.  It is not considered a suitable concert venue and the stage is makeshift at best.”  An article in the Decatur Herald a few days after the show mentions that a young fan pulled one of the Kinks off of the stage in Peoria.

The most memorable event of their time spent in Peoria however, at least for Kinks’ front man Ray Davies, had nothing to do with the concert itself.  Instead it was the group's chauffeur that left a lasting impression.  In his 1995 book, X-Ray: The Unauthorized Autobiography, Davies wrote about riding around in a big Ford Thunderbird with a driver that looked like he had stepped out of Jack Kerouac novel, a “punk from your typical b-movie.”  

According to Davies, the driver boasted about having slept with Ann-Margaret as well as having Elvis Presley’s phone number before pulling a gun out of the glove compartment.  Davies writes, “He waved the pistol around menacingly before putting it down on the seat beside him.  Then his mood shifted, he smiled a film-star’s toothy smile and said, ‘Welcome to Illinois, the home of middle America.’”  

Davies would continue to reference this brief encounter at various times throughout his career.  He sang about it in his one-man touring show and it gets mentioned again in his 2003 book Americana.

Monday June 21, 1965  7:30pm - Arie Crown Theater at McCormick Place, Chicago

Originally scheduled with the Moody Blues, the Kinks instead shared the stage with the Thunderbirds, the Blue Knights and the Ventrills.  It was Ray Davies’ 21st birthday.  Several attendees presented him with cakes before the show.  

Early in the Kinks’ performance the venue’s power was mysteriously cut and the show stopped temporarily though they were eventually able to continue.  An article in the Springfield newspaper a few days later mentions that the "British group barely escaped with their instruments when crowds charged the stage at their Chicago concert."  

Later, while still in Chicago, a fan (presumably) broke one of the windows on the group’s tour bus in an attempt to get to the group.  In Rob Jovanovic’s God Save The Kinks, Ray Davies is quoted as saying “When I turned 21, I spent it alone in a Sheraton hotel in Chicago.  I was too scared to go out because we had screaming fans outside and there were all these security men with guns.”

Tuesday June 22, 1965  8 pm - Kintner Gymnasium, Decatur

Dave Bethard of Dave & The Detomics with
Dave Davies in Decatur, Illinois.  More info:
“WDZ Summer Holiday USA” featured the Kinks, Paul Petersen, the Holloywood Argyles and the Rivieras.   Local groups that performed include Randy & the Ramblers from Springfield and Dave & the Detomics from Morrisonville.  The Holidays of Springfield were also mentioned as possibly performing.

On the 180 mile trip from Chicago to Decatur, the Kinks’ bus, presumably still with a broken window, met strong head winds and the driver was forced to travel at a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour.

Two young women, Norma Phegley and Mary Tempel, stayed up most of the night baking Ray Davies an elaborate birthday cake in the shape of a four-leaf clover which the girls then carried 25 blocks to the show with the hopes of presenting it to the band when they arrived.

Concertgoers were able to get advance tickets from the radio station WDZ but most lined up for hours at the door.  The local newspapers reported over 2,000 fans enjoyed the show.   The Decatur Herald mentions that the Kinks felt their reception had been "fantastic." The paper's review of the night's music was simply, "The Kinks' music was fast-paced with lyrics lost in the background of electric guitars while others on the bill sang more sedate selections."

Despite being one of the better documented shows on the tour by the local press, several biographies and chronologies of the band somehow missed this concert all together.  In fact, both Hinman and Jovanovic’s books make the false claim that the band had the day off in Chicago before heading to Springfield.

Wednesday, June 23, 1965  8pm - Illinois State Armory, Springfield

Ready for blast
The Kinks once again share the stage with Paul Petersen, the Hollywood Argyles and the Rivieras.  Local groups such as Dave & The Detomics, Randy & the Ramblers and the Holidays performed as well. 

Dick and Dee Dee were also on the bill but they did not play.   The concert was sponsored by the Springfield Jaycees with the proceeds going to their scholarship fund.

Contrary to some reports, the concert was not a last-minute booking.  Advertisements and other promotional articles appear a full week before the show in local newspapers and as a result the concert was well attended by more than 1,200 people.   

The State Journal-Register logged this review:
Galen Johnson, a guitar player with the Detomics, while reminiscing about the concerts on the website Garage Hangover reports that Ray Davies carved his name into the marble bathroom wall in the basement of the Armory which the Kinks used as a dressing room.  He adds that it remains there today.

As mentioned earlier the Springfield concert was sponsored by the local Jaycees which is where the story takes a bizarre turn.   The vice-president of the Jaycees at that time and the man that organized the concert was none other than John Wayne Gacy.  Gacy, who would later be known as the Killer Clown, was convicted and executed in 1994 for the murder of at least 33 boys and young men in the Chicago area in the 1970s.

In 1965 however Gacy was an upstanding citizen, married and living in Springfield where he worked as a shoe salesman.   In fact earlier that year the Jaycees named him "Man of the Year" for his work as a community organizer.  When Springfield's mayor requested the Jaycees come up with some summer entertainment for young people, Gacy organized the concert at the Armory.

It had been assumed that Gacy had little or no contact with the Kinks but all of that changed with a bombshell interview that Kinks' bassist Peter Quaife gave to Johnny Black and Mojo magazine in Septermber 2000.  

In the interview Quaife says, "the local promoter that was looking after us turned out to be a real greaseball.  He was polite enough, but a greaseball nonetheless.  After the gig, he invites us back to his house.  Says he's got some people coming round and he's got some booze, so we say, ok."  

"We get there, and the place has an awful, sickly smell about it.  But he's our promoter, so we stay there, drinking, 'til about 3 am.  When we decide to go he gets upset, says can't a couple of us stay?  By now we were beginning to get a bit antsy about this guy, so we took off to the hotel and that was the last we saw of him."  Later in the interview Quaife adds, "We could have ended up as mementoes bricked up in his walls."

Despite the level of detail that Quiafe provides there is good reason to question his recollection of events.   First and foremost, it is likely that the Kinks left Springfield by bus fairly quickly after the show because they had a concert in Denver the next night.   The 900 mile trip would have left the band little time to hang out at Gacy's house.

Giving Quaife the benefit of the doubt, it is possible that the Kinks arrived in Springfield the night before, after the Decatur show, and met up with Gacy then.  Still, there is no evidence that was the case and it seems unlikely.  Also, it is important to remember that Gacy was married and living a fairly normal life at the time so some of Quaife's details simply don't add up.

Unfortunately, Quaife died on June 23, 2010 (the anniversary of the Springfield show and Gacy encounter) so we may never know.  Ray Davies, in his book Americana, neither confirms nor denies the incident saying, "at Peter Quaife's instigation, we almost went to the house of infamous clown-serial killer Wayne Gacy."

Though the Kinks left Illinois after just four days, trouble seemed to follow them for the rest of the tour.  Elsewhere in his book, Davies writes, "The 1965 tour was filled with bad energy."  Later adding, "America just didn't understand the Kinks the first time around.  We got the impression that we unknowingly offended and upset a lot of people.  I'm not sure with whom or with what but there was something strange going down on that tour."

The Kinks would not return to Illinois until Halloween night 1969 when they played a show with the Who at the Kinetic Playground in Chicago.  After the show, Kinks' guitarist Dave Davies seriously injured his hand when he and Keith Moon, the drummer for the Who, attempted to throw a television out of the penthouse window at the Holiday Inn.     

By early 1970, the Kinks were set to return to downstate Illinois as they were one of the first headlining acts to be named on the bill of the Kickapoo Creek outdoor rock concert set to happen on Memorial Day weekend near Heyworth, Illinois.  Perhaps memories of  their 1965 encounters convinced them against it because they were soon removed from the lineup.   Instead the group played two nights in Chicago that weekend.

Were you there?  Did you see the Kinks in Illinois in 1965?  If so, I'd love to hear about it.  Leave a comment below or contact me directly at:

Monday, May 25, 2020

Incident At Kickapoo Creek Rock Festival (Heyworth, Illinois) - 50th Anniversary

The Incident at Kickapoo Creek outdoor rock festival was planned for Memorial Day weekend (May 30-31, 1970) however people started arriving as early as Thursday May 28th.  By Sunday an estimated 40,000-60,000 people had converged on L. David Lewis' farm outside of Heyworth, Illinois in rural McLean County for a celebration of music, sun, drugs and mud.

The first band performed at midnight, early Friday morning.   Over the course of the next three days between 30-40 bands played.  The Spotify playlist above is just a small sample of the bands that were there though it includes one recording made at the outdoor concert:  Canned Heat's "Reefer Blues."

For more music recorded live at the festival including Canned Heat, B.B. King, Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Ted Nugent, listen to our show from last year (More details):

The Bands

Headlining / National Acts

Friday May 29th / Saturday May 30th
  • Smith
  • New Colony Six
Pat McBride, Ronnie Rice, Bruce Gordon, Chuck 
Jobes, Billy Herman and Gerry Van Kollenburg
Saturday May 30th (evening) / Sunday May 31st (early morning)
  • The Amboy Dukes (Ted Nugent)
  • Paul Butterfield Blues Band
  • B.B. King
Sunday May 31st
  • Frijid Pink
  • Country Joe and the Fish
  • Canned Heat
Originally on the bill but did not perform:
  • The Kinks - One of the earliest advertisements for the festival that ran in the Daily Illini included the Kinks on the bill.   Their name was gone however from all the promotional materials that followed.   The Kinks performed in Chicago at the Aragon Ballroom on May 29th and 30th instead.
  • Delaney & Bonnie & Friends - appear to have been scheduled right up until the start of the festival.  It is unclear why they cancelled or were not able to play.

Supporting / Regional Acts

The majority of the supporting acts were local groups represented by Blytham Ltd., a Champaign-Urbana talent agency run by Robert Nutt and Irving Azoff.   Below is a list of bands that played at Kickapoo Creek or were scheduled to play.
  • Aorta - from Rockford / Chicago, Illinois.  The band was listed on early advertisements for the concert but was dropped from ads as the event got close.  No evidence that they were there.
  • Arrow Memphis - from Collinsville, Illinois.
  • Backstreet - (aka Backstreet Majority) from central Illinois.
  • The Basic Need - from central Illinois (possibly Clinton).
  • Bloomsbury People - from Waukesha, Wisconsin.   
  • Blue - from St. Louis, Missouri.   Michael MacDonald was a member of this group (see also The Guild).  Other members included Russ Bono, Pat Malloy and Bob Bortz.
  • Bluesweed - (aka Blues Weed) from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.   According to an interview with band members Perry Hamilton and James Kingelhoffer, the group was at the festival and scheduled to play but a downpour of rain right before going on postponed their stage time and they were ultimately bumped.
  • Bucktooth - ?
  • The Challengers - by one newspaper report this group performed on Friday.
  • Devil's Kitchen Bandfrom Carbondale, Illinois however the group relocated to San Francisco from 1968-1970 and was the "house band" at the Family Dog Ballroom.   Having returned to Illinois around the time of Kickapoo, the group got added to the bill at the last minute when their managers (John Loyd and Harvey Morrison) were asked to help run the festival's sound.  Devil's Kitchen performed in the afternoon on Friday or Saturday.  Band members included Bob Laughton, Brett Champlin, Randy Bradle, and Robbie Stokes.  This was their last concert.
  • East Street - ?
  • The Esquires - originally from northern Illinois though based in Champaign-Urbana at this time.  By one newspaper report this group was the very first to perform with a start time of midnight, early Friday morning.
  • Fat Water - from Chicago / Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.  Band members included:  Vicky Hubly, Bill "Boris" Schneider, G.E. Stinson, Don Cody and Peter Milio.
  • Feather Train - (aka Feathertrain) from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.  Members of the group at this time would have been Bruce Hall, Frank Pytko, Dana Walden, Larry Mitchell, Gary Richrath, and Freddy Fletcher.
  • The Finchley Boys - from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.  Members of the group included George Faber, Garrett Oostdyk, J. Michael Powers and Larry Tabeling.  According to guitarist Garrett Oostdyk the band's stage time was moved up to noon on Sunday to help "wake up the crowd."
  • Dan Fogelberg  - from Peoria, Illinois and reportedly played at Kickapoo though not listed on any promotional posters or advertisements.  In 1970, Fogelberg was still a student at the University of Illinois and performed primarily in coffee houses around Champaign-Urbana.  He was however represented by Blytham Ltd. so it is possible he was at Kickapoo.  Here is what Dan sounded like in 1970:  
  • For Days & A Night - from Chicago though they played around central Illinois frequently.
  • Fuse - from Rockford, Illinois.  Band members included Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), Joe Sundberg, Craig Myers,  Chip Greenman and Tom Peterson (Cheap Trick).  According to drummer Chip Greenman, Fuse was the opening act launching the festival.  This however conflicts other such claims.  In the photo below you can see Fuse's van backed up to the Kickapoo stage.
  • Genesis - from either Milwaukee, Columbus or Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  NOT the English rock group featuring Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel as has been reported in the past.   Also NOT the American psychedelic group from Los Angeles that released an LP in 1968.
  • Gidians Bible - from Bloomington-Normal, Illinois.
  • The Guildfrom Mascoutah, Illinois. Michael MacDonald was a member of this group around this time (see also Blue).
  • Hot Set Up - ?
  • Joe Kelley Blues Band - from Chicago, Illinois.
  • Light Brigade - from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
  • The Litter - from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • Monterey Hand - from Chicago featuring guitarist James "JY" Young (Styx).  Photo from Kickapoo below appears to show Rick Young, Marco Mundo and JY.
  • Moses - from Charleston / Matoon, Illinois.  Band members pictured below:  Steve Dalton, Marc Nale, Eddie Pearcy, Gary Tate (rear) and Jim Hite.
  • Nickel Bag - from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.
  • Night People - from the Quad Cities, IL / IA.
  • One-Eyed Jacks - from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.   Band members at the time included Mike Murphy, Tom Kelly and Doug Livingston.  One newspaper report published on Saturday May 30th states the group opened the show at 5 pm on Friday.  However many accounts have them playing on Saturday evening.  Possible that they played twice over the weekend.
  • Chuck & Mary Perrin - from Pekin, Illinois.  The first to perform on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Phoenix - from Granite City / Collinsville, Illinois.
  • REO Speedwagon - from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.  Members at the time would have been Terry Lutrell, Steve Scorfina, Greg Philbin, Alan Gratzer and Neil Doughty.
  • Siegel-Schwall Band - from Chicago, Illinois.   
  • Seven - ?
  • Spare Chaynge -  from St. Joseph, Illinois (Champaign County).  
  • Tayles - from Madison, Wisconsin.  
  • The Truth - from the St. Louis area.
  • Uncle Meatfrom Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. According to guitarist Kent Paris, the group was one of the first bands to play (likely on Friday).  In photo below: Kent Paris (rhythm guitar/ vocals), Jim Leonard (road manager), Michael McKeehan (bass/vocals), Chris Martin (lead vocalist), Alan Bates (drums) and Martin Cupp (lead guitar).
  • Zebra - ?

Urban Legends & Local Myths

Creedence Clearwater Revival or at least John Fogerty attended Kickapoo which inspired him to write "Just got home from Illinois..." - the opening line to their 1970 song "Lookin' Out My Back Door."  

This story or a version of it is still told around the Bloomington-Normal area to this day.  Unfortunately, it is NOT true and has been disproved many times.  From the Pantagraph's Flick Facts published April 24, 2016:

Question: True or false? In the Creedence Clearwater Revival song, "Lookin' Out My Back Door," John Fogerty opens with the line, "Just got back from Illinois ... oh boy!" a magic moment for the Bloomington area, written by Fogerty in 1970 after the band's performance at the Kickapoo Creek Festival in rural Heyworth.

Answer: That's the widely told story. But it's false, says Rick Halberg, a former radio personality at WBNQ and WWCT (today an employee at Country Financial) and a "walking encyclopedia" of rock 'n roll knowledge. Explains Rick, "When I was assisting (B-N filmmaker) Craig Raycraft with the original 'Incident at Kickapoo Creek’ movie, we talked to Fogerty's people about the story. John relayed to us — through his manager — that he had not attended the festival but was resting at home in California after finishing up a European tour. The reason he mentioned Illinois in the opening line of the song? Because it rhymed with `Oh boy!’ "

Another rumor that circulated around the time of Kickapoo Creek was that the Beatles were going to get back together and play at the festival.  Perhaps laughable now but I suspect this bit of wishful thinking was common among festival-goers in 1970... and many years after.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

John Prine - NFOTM Concert, Illinois State University, March 12, 1971

Promo copy of Prine's first album given to NFOTM by the man himself
Pantagraph March 11, 1971
In March of 1971, 24-year-old John Prine performed one of his first concerts outside of the Chicago area.  Traveling 130 miles south on a Friday night to the campus of Illinois State University in Normal, Prine went on stage at 8 pm and played two sets at the Red Door in the (Old) Union building.

The concert was sponsored by the New Friends of Old Time Music, a student organization that promoted folk, blues and bluegrass concerts on campus for more than 15 years. (See NFOTM for more on the organization.)  Like all of the NFOTM shows at the time, the John Prine concert was free.

John performed over 20 songs that evening, accompanied only by his guitar.  His first album would not be released for another eight months (though Prine did provide an early promo copy of the LP for NFOTM - shown above).  While most of the songs he played that night were on his debut album, several would not be released for years to come.  Almost certainly everyone in attendance that night was hearing Prine and all of these songs for the very first time.  Below is the full set list:
  • Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore
  • Angel From Montgomery
  • Aw Heck
  • Hello In There
  • Paradise
  • Illegal Smile
  • Great Society Conflict Veteran's Blues (aka Sam Stone)
  • Donald and Lydia
  • Way Down
  • Spanish Pipedream
  • Quiet Man
ISU senior Janel Hiland performed between sets 
  • Flashback Blues
  • Sour Grapes
  • Blue Umbrella
  • The Frying Pan
  • Souvenirs
  • The Great Compromise
  • Spanish Pipedream
  • Six O'Clock News
  • Clocks and Spoons
  • Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore
  • Hey Good Lookin' / Jambalaya
Thanks to Bill Kemp and the McLean County Museum of History, Greg Koos, Chris Koos, Keith Zaleski, Bruce Bergethon, Laine Morreau, Milner Library and Illinois State University.


Sunday, April 5, 2020

Show #46 - Apr. 5, 2020

A Psychedelic 20 Pack of Sound: 1965 -1968

The Del-RaysLollipop LadyArch1968Mascoutah
The One-Eyed JacksSomewhere They Can't Find MeLakeside1966Champaign-Urbana
The Sound of FuryI Don't Need YouSummit1968LaSalle-Peru
The Unknown?All Over The World (La La La)Cinema1967Belleville
The ShagsIt Ain't EasyGolden Voice1967Peoria
The Sounds Of UsWhat Would You SaySummit1968Ottawa
The Seeds of ReasonI'm Your True LoveLakeside1966Rockford
The Golden HazeHave You Ever Loved SomebodyCobblestone1968LaSalle-Peru
Five Of A KindeI Could Love YouGarric1967Quad Cities
The JacemenDon't Take It Out On MeLarson1967Rockford
The Raindear ArmyAviatorLedger1967Springfield
The Nite-OwlsHassleRembrandt1966Carbondale
The Coming GenerationDown To The CitySummit1968Dwight
The KomonsWhyFeature1966Rockford
The Rising TidesThe Girl's Made GoodSummit1968LaSalle-Peru
Kracker-Barrel KomplexMy WorldPage1968LaSalle-Peru
The Eighth DayTen BelowSummit1968Toluca
The Back PagesGood Things In LifeGolden Voice1967Peoria ?
The MavericksIf You Had Just Been GoodSummit1968Ottawa
The NomaddsI'm In TransitRadex1965Freeport



Friday, March 27, 2020

Show #45 - Mar. 28, 2020

Stay At Home Edition

The Sound of FuryI Can't See YouSummit1968LaSalle-Peru
Chuck PerrinWhat Am I Doing Here?-no label -1973Pekin
Bonnie LouSeven Lonely DaysKing1953Towanda / Carlock
Birdlegs & PaulineSpringCuca1963Rockford
Dean CarterFeverMilky Way1965Danville
Angelo's AngelsSpring CleaningErmine1964Tonica
Jim Estes & The Blue EchoesRainmakerGolden Voice1970Pekin
Dallas McGeeYou Ain't Going Nowhere- no label -197?Bloomington-Normal
Chuck WheelerFeelin' Kinda LonesomeMarlo1961East St. Louis
Wild Child Gipson w/ Freddie Tieken & The RockersSitting Here CryingHit1958Peoria / Quincy
Wayne Carter & Organ TwistersLet's Run Away From The WorldMootrey's1973Decatur