The Year Was 1977

The Year Was 1977

Written by Rich Isaacs

In 1976, I began using an engagement calendar as a sort of shorthand diary to keep track of the things I’d done and people I’d met and been with – no intimate emotional entries, just the facts. It’s amazing to look back and revisit all of the events that I had attended – especially concerts, and boy, do I wish I’d started years before!

My first rock concert was on May 25, 1968 (Cream at the San Jose Civic Auditorium, with Orphan Egg as the opening act). Exactly one year later, I attended the finale of the Northern California Folk-Rock Festival, a three-day extravaganza at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds featuring a lot more rock than folk. Jimi Hendrix was the headliner that day, with Poco, Lee Michaels (a personal favorite at the time), Sandy Bull, Noel Redding’s Fat Mattress, and local band People as supporting acts. After that, I saw many shows at medium-to-large venues like the Fillmore West, Winterland, the Cow Palace, the Oakland Coliseum, and the San Francisco Civic Auditorium. I also caught a lot of performances at smaller San Francisco clubs like the Boarding House, the Old Waldorf, the Great American Music Hall, and even the Playboy Club (I was there when UFO blew the house fuse three times before things finally started going smoothly.)

Concerts I was lucky enough to attend in the early 1970s included Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Yes, Genesis, Kansas, Frank Zappa, Deep Purple, ELO, King Crimson, Joe Walsh, Focus, Procol Harum, Black Sabbath, Journey, Montrose, UFO (the latter three on the same bill at Winterland!) and many others.

1977 was probably the year in which I saw the most shows (more than 50). I was working in San Francisco at Aquarius Records (an independent store that became “punk rock central”), and the concert opportunities were numerous. Most of them took place in the smaller venues.


The author's calendar for September, 1977.

The author’s calendar for September, 1977.


Here’s a chronological list of the shows I attended:


1/19 San Francisco Symphony
1/22 Kansas (at Winterland)


2/5 Split Enz (at the Boarding House) – I got to interview them afterward
2/7 Premier (a local band at the Mabuhay Gardens)
2/19 Tom Petty w/Greg Kihn (Keystone Berkeley)
2/22 The Ramones w/The Nuns (Mabuhay Gardens)
2/24 SF Symphony (doing Beethoven’s Ninth)



3/9 Premier (Mabuhay)
3/12 John Cale w/Greg Kihn (Boarding House) and Hush w/Ambrosia (in Santa Clara)
3/17 Philip Glass (Veteran’s Auditorium)
3/23 Cheap Trick (Old Waldorf) – their first time in the Bay Area
3/25 and 26 Genesis (Winterland) – Seconds Out tour – interview the next day
3/31 The Dictators (Mabuhay) – there was a band party on April 4


4/7 Peter Gabriel (Winterland) – phone interview on April 12)
4/8 Kid Courage (vocalist Eric Martin later joined Mr. Big) w/Top Cat (Mabuhay)
4/21 Firesign Theatre w/Balcone’s Fault (Great American Music Hall)
4/24 Rick & Ruby w/Leila & the Snakes (Mabuhay) – local groups
4/25 Tangerine Dream (Berkeley Community Theater)
4/27 Charles Biscuit Band (Mabuhay) – my roommate was the bass player


Tangerine Dream, Stratospear, album cover.

Tangerine Dream, Stratosfear, album cover.



5/10 Pink Floyd (Oakland Coliseum) – Animals tour
5/14 Kid Courage (Mabuhay)
5/15 Steve Gibbons Band (Old Waldorf)



6/18 Mickey Thomas (Old Waldorf) – singer for Elvin Bishop and Jefferson Starship
6/28 Berlin Brats (Mabuhay)
6/30 Charles Biscuit Band (The Omnibus)


7/3 Greg Kihn w/Earthquake (Keystone Berkeley)
7/16 Premier w/Killerwatt and Rick & Ruby (Mabuhay) – all local bands
7/25 Roky Erickson Band (Mabuhay)
7/28 The Avengers w/The Screamers (Mabuhay) – local bands


Roky Erickson, French EP from 1977.

Roky Erickson, French EP from 1977.



8/2 Devo w/The Dix (Mabuhay) – I had permission to record off the soundboard
8/6 Emerson, Lake & Palmer (Oakland Coliseum)
8/12 Kid Courage (Mabuhay)
8/17 PFM (Boarding House) – Italian progressive rock band



9/2 AC/DC w/Kid Courage (Old Waldorf) – small club w/amps lining both sides of the stage
9/4 Scarlet Rivera (Boarding House) – she played violin on Dylan’s Desire album
9/9 Dwight Twilley (Old Waldorf)
9/11 Devo (Mabuhay) – recording again
9/21 Yes (Oakland Coliseum)
9/24 Greg Kihn (Keystone Berkeley)
9/26 Stomu Yamash’ta’s Go (Great American Music Hall)


(no shows – I was on vacation and working a lot)


11/1 Dead Boys (Old Waldorf)
11/4 Nektar w/Lake and City Boy (Berkeley Community Theatre) – I interviewed City Boy
11/8 Horslips (Old Waldorf)
11/11 Greg Kihn (Sproul Plaza – UC Berkeley)
11/16 Elvis Costello (Old Waldorf) – first tour
11/21 Jan Hammer (Great American Music Hall)
11/28 Brand X (Old Waldorf)



12/3 Jean-Luc Ponty (Paramount Theater – Oakland)
12/8 The Motors (Old Waldorf)
12/10 Jack Bruce Band (Old Waldorf)


I can remember well many of these shows, but others – let’s just say I did inhale. It was 1977, after all.

Header image: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 1977.

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