The Year Was 1977

    Issue 161

    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.

    13 comments on “The Year Was 1977”

    1. Rich: You had a such a fantastic year attending concerts in 1977! That was one of my favorite years as well. I’m a bit younger than you and my first concert was Dark Side of the Moon, 1973 Pittsburgh when I was only 15. Mind blown for sure! Anyway I became a lifelong prog rock fan because of that experience. I’ve seen Genesis a total of 38 times beginning in 76 Trick tour. Two friends and I followed them around like deadheads, living in a white Ford Econoline van from Feb 28th Buffalo all the way through March 10th in Pittsburgh-7 shows in 11 days-one of the best times of my life. The 77 tour you call Seconds Out was actually promoted as the Wind and Wuthering tour- Seconds Out came out of shows at Palais des Sports in Paris between 11–14 June 1977, except for Cinema Show from the Trick tour with Bill Bruford. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through your article-so many shows I wish I was there with you-thanks!

      1. Thanks, Scotty. You saw Genesis more times than I did, that’s amazing. You’re correct about the 1977 tour – I called it that because “Seconds Out” was recorded then. I was standing outside Winterland when the photo of the touring crew from the album was taken. If you haven’t read them, you might enjoy my articles in Issues 125 & 127 about interviewing Genesis.

    2. Awesome list. So jealous! Most of my concerts took place in the 1980s, but my very first was Queen in 1977 at Madison Square Garden when I was in 6th grade. It was an experience my mother and I will never forget.

    3. great article, rich! not surprising, that you kept a calendar as this was your world. in the late ’60s and early ’70s i had all the SF/Bay Area concerts at my doorstep, taking advantage of many, yet looking back, realizing i could have taken in soo much more. my first concert was the jefferson airplane at the fillmore. one of my all-time in-person favorites was quicksilver messenger service.

      1. Thanks, Janet. A lot of the SF rock bands had their heyday before I was a regular concert goer. I only got to the Fillmore West a couple of times, never the original Fillmore or the Avalon Ballroom. I do wish I’d seen some of the shows.

    4. My personal best in attending rock shows was 42 in 1978(I think). In my Virginia locale I had the Hampton Coliseum, a beautiful alien spacecraft looking beast, the also ultra cool-looking nearby Norfolk Scope, and Norfolk’s Chrysler Hall for my concert venues. The Coliseum and Scope both held 10,000 or so concert goers and the intimate Hall held around 2,000 and was where I saw my first Bob Dylan concert.I was a freelance music critic straight out of high school and my highlight was getting press passes and an awesome publicity package from the Eagles for their “Hotel California” tour stop at the Scope.The guy at the ticket window was so sure I was an under-aged imposter!

        1. I am excited you asked! Well it started with Ted Nugent, then there was Cheap Trick, Blue Oyster Cult, Rush, Van Halen, Black Sabbath and Bob Seger(same show), Kiss, ZZ Top, Lynrd Skynrd, Charlie Daniels Band, Aerosmith,Cheap Trick, Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer,Blackfoot(underappreciated Native American rockers),Foghat, Bad Company, Joan Armatrading, John Fogerty,Fleetwood Mac,Nazerath,Kansas,Montrose,Robin Trower,Jethro Tull,Jimmy Buffet(opened for the Eagles),Atlanta Rhythm Section(they fought onstage),that’s off the top of my head.I have a scrapbook of all the ticket stubs.I later saw two Stevie Nicks tours,Aerosmith and Kiss again,Joan Jett three times,Argo Guthrie,Heart,Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan twice,AC/DC, Alice Cooper, Eddie Money, the Bodeans,etc., etc. I also took my mother twice to see Engibert Humperdinck it was fun to watch her swoon over the handsome crooner in a tux with an orchestra. We both enjoyed our live music.A girlfriend at the University of Pittsburgh got us tickets to Paul McCartney.Oh, in 1978, none of those tickets cost over $10.00. ROCK ON, brother!

      1. Thanks for reading my stuff. I was never a big fan of the Dead. In fact, I had a standing challenge to my friends who were Deadheads – I would go when someone provided the tickets, the transportation, and the drugs! One friend finally took me up on it in the mid-1980s, but that night I was a little under the weather and had to eschew the mind-altering substances. I did enjoy the show, though, and I was impressed with the mellow vibe of cooperation exhibited by the crowd, something I had not experienced at other rock shows.

    5. 1977 would have been the year for you to see the GD; that year is widely acknowledged as the period when their music had the widest appeal for “non-fans”.

    6. Rich, I was at some of those shows in 1977 my senior year at Los Gatos High. Greg Khin and Earthquake (really good Berkeley band) on 7/3 at the Keystone, also saw them open for Sabbath at Winterland, Floyd on Animals tour in May, Tom Petty with Greg Kihn at the Keystone! Lucky me!!

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