I stood outside Wetherby Gymnasium feeling all grown up. I could smell the excitement, the freedom, an occassional whiff of Smashburgers from the Dairy Cheer across the street and dirty denim. There was also a strange smell, like burning rope, but not any kind of rope I had smelled burning before. There was also the smell of what I remember Crosley Field smelling like when someone spilled a beer.
I was fourteen and it was the spring of 1972. I was waiting to see Rare Earth in concert. This was to be my first true rock concert. I rode to Morehead with a friend who was a junior in high school and was way too cool to be spending time with me, a lowly freshman. We came to the campus of Morehead State University to meet my brother. He was a freshman at MSU and was living the dream, eating out three times a day, letting his hair grow out, going to rock concerts, and hanging out with college girls.
On this particular night, I was like my brother…living the dream or whatever you would call a 5 foot, 120 pound, near-sighted bantam standing amid a massive horde of college students. Oh, and I did not have a ticket. My brother, in his new college wisdom, told me I would not need one. He said when the doors open, the crowd moves so fast through the openings, the ticket takers don’t even try.
I felt the mass moving. I looked up and all I saw was afros and beards and pony tails moving slowly against a cloudy sky. Then a strange feeling came over me…I was floating. I looked down and saw my feet were not attached to the earth anymore. I was being carried by this throng toward the doors and all I could think about was staying upright. This was my first experience with festival seating for rock concerts.
My feet never hit the ground until we were past the doors and inside. At this point, it looked like a sprint for people with no sense of direction. We went everywhere. My little group settled in the seats on the side, awaiting one of the hottest rock bands of the day.
There was rain in the forecast, but I don’t think cataclysmic gulley-washer was ever mentioned…for it came one…a big one. Water filled the hallways of Wetherby Gymnasium so fast, I thought I was seeing animals coming in two by two. But it was just the football team.
Some of the more chemically engineered students were body surfing out in the halls and concession areas.
There was some concern as to whether the band would go on due to all the water in the building. Evidently the electrical engineering department was among those crossing over to chemical engineering that night because there was going to be rock and roll as soon as the water receded enough to find the outlets.
All the water in the building activated my little bladder, so I had to go find the restroom before the band took the stage. As I pushed through the men’s room door and headed past the urinals to the stall ( my bladder was not only small but also shy), I could see in my periphery there were other folks in the restroom. I recognized the faces of Rare Earth from their album covers. Their dressing room must have flooded because they were in the men’s room with all of their stuff. And now Rare Earth was listening to me pee.
As I washed my hands, I kept waiting for some big security hoss to pick me up and gently urge me to through the door. It never happened. And as I took my time soaking up the moment and gazing in the mirror of the newly inhabited Rare Earth dressing room, I could see the images of the band watching this little imp at the sink who dared to interrupt their pre-show meditations. Alas, no one said a word to me except the mass of black hair squatting against the wall. As I made my way out, I recognized the conga player, Edward “Guz” Guzman and we made eye contact. He said to me, and I’ll never forget, those important words, “What’s happenin’ man?” I surmised he did not want an answer.
I regaled my friend and brother with my latest escapade when I returned to my seat. Rare Earth came on stage shortly and did not disappoint the water-logged throng. Miraculously, no one was electrocuted…not by electricity anyway.
I took this photo of another concert I attended at Morehead State. This time as a photographer for the university when I was a student. The J. Geils Band came to Morehead and this shot of J. Geils is one of the better ones I snapped that night. It was also lead singer Peter Wolf’s birthday and he brought out a bottle of champagne and poured into the waiting cups of the crowd near the stage.
There was a different type of mass movement that night. The campus police moved to the stage but not because they were fans of the band. At the time Morehead was a dry town and they did not appreciate the way Mr. Wolfe was passing out birthday wishes.
I think the electrical engineers were called into duty that night, because someone pulled the plug quickly.
If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.