FOLLOW US ON: follow us in feedly
GET THE NEWSLETTER
CONTACT US
Black & Blue: The infamous riot at a Black Sabbath & Blue Öyster Cult gig in Milwaukee, 1980
01.10.2018
09:38 am
Topics:
Tags:


A poster for the concert film ‘Black & Blue’ (note producer!) which captured performances from both Black Sabbath and Blue Öyster Cult at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Hempstead, New York on October 17th, 1980.
 

“We wanted to give a lot for you, but not our blood. If you don’t want to enjoy it, then tough shit!”

—A pissed-off Ronnie James Dio’s parting words to their Black Sabbath’s Milwaukee fans before a massive riot broke out at the MECCA on October 9th, 1980.


It should have been a gig for the ages—a co-headling show between two musical juggernauts, Black Sabbath and Blue Öyster Cult. BÖC and Sabbath had been touring pretty steadily together since July (along with a bunch of other bands like Molly Hatchet, Journey, and Cheap Trick) and by all accounts, the dream bill was something to behold. With Ronnie James Dio at the helm, Sabbath had just released Heaven and Hell to much acclaim from their fans and music critics. BÖC also had a new record to promote, their seventh, Cultösaurus Erectus. It is estimated that 1.5 million people were lucky enough to witness one of the many shows the two bands did together—though one stop on the tour at Milwaukee’s MECCA (the Milwaukee Exposition Convention Center Arena) on October 9th, 1980 didn’t go exactly as planned…

Accounts of how the gig devolved into a riot, vary. Some say Blue Öyster Cult played too long leading fans to get restless for Black Sabbath. Other reports say the hour wait between the two sets got under the audience’s skin making them edgy. Whatever it was or wasn’t, the 9,000 plus, near-capacity crowd in attendance at the MECCA was fired up when Black Sabbath took the stage a few ticks before 9:30. The band kicked off their set with “War Pigs” followed by “Neon Knights.” Then, as the lights were purposefully dimmed as Dio introduced their third song, “N.I.B.”, someone hummed a bottle at the stage which struck Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler in the head, knocking him unconscious. Here are Butler’s recollections of the fateful night:

“It’s all a big misunderstanding, really, The lights were down, first of all, so unless the fellow was some sort of incredible quarterback, I don’t know how he could have hit me on purpose. But I was knocked out, and the band was busy getting me off the stage and to a hospital. When the lights came back up, there was no band on stage. And of course, the crowd freaked out. Someone should have gone out and explained—the promoter or someone. I mean, the band was worrying about getting me to the hospital, you know? So the crowd freaked out because there was suddenly no band on stage, and things got worse from there.”

 

. A shot of Buck Dharma of BÖC on stage at the MECCA.
 
Things had yet to get completely out of hand but did shortly after Dio came out and told the rowdy crowd to suck it (Dio’s actual quote appears at the top of this post). Then, Black Sabbath’s tour manager, Andrew Truman took the still darkened stage (as noted in Billboard magazine, October 25th, 1980) as did Sabbath’s production manager, Huw Price. Both Price and Truman took turns admonishing the crowd, telling them the show would not go on saying the band wanted to play Milwaukee but “didn’t appreciate being hit by unidentified flying objects.” Price was allegedly the one who got the job to tell the crowd “just cool out,” as Sabbath wouldn’t be “coming back on stage as the bass player (Butler) is too hurt.” It was now around 11:15—nearly two hours after Sabbath’s unplanned two-song set and in response to Price’s speech, they started shouting in unison “We want Sabbath! We want Sabbath!” The lights went on, and the crowd turned its rage towards the MECCA itself.

Chairs were thrown, smashed and hurled into a growing pile in the center of the floor. Fans ripped out the handrails in the balcony, and one guy tried to light a pile of wooden chairs on fire because of course, he had his handy BIC lighter with him. Pay phones (remember them?) were ripped from the walls, and random bare-knuckle brawls broke out in the crowd who were now tossing chairs at the stage and smashing windows. Once large numbers of Milwaukee’s finest moved in, all decked out in riot gear, they started indiscriminately beating the shit out of people with their billy clubs, something they would repeat a few months later on the face of Plasmatics vocalist Wendy O. Williams. The riot continued outside the MECCA where angry fans took their aggression out on police cars, private property and even the cops themselves. 160 people ended up spending the night in jail for various crimes including a large number of drug-related arrests. The next day, Milwaukee Police Chief Harold Breier announced there would be no further rock concerts at the MECCA as well as no more beer served at the concessions stands. What a buzz-kill. Thankfully, the restrictions didn’t last and in 1981 rock and roll (and BEER!) returned to the MECCA as did AC/DC and Van Halen.

I’ve posted audio of the show below where Butler gets his block rocked by a bottle as well as some visual artifacts of the riot and its aftermath.
 

Fans exiting a broken down door at the MECCA (Milwaukee Exposition Convention Center Arena) during riot that followed a Black Sabbath and Blue Öyster Cult’s show on October 9th, 1980. All photos from the show and the aftermath are via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
 

 

 

He seems nice.
 
Much more after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Cherrybomb
|
01.10.2018
09:38 am
|
Helen Wheels, NYC punk bodybuilder, Blue Öyster Cult songwriter and UFO abductee
12.29.2017
07:29 am
Topics:
Tags:


Helen Wheels by R. Crumb (via Wild Dog)

Helen Wheels (née Robbins) wrote the lyrics to “Tattoo Vampire,” the B-side of “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper.” The song memorializes the time Warhol superstar Eric Emerson pulled a knife on her and her boss and made them tattoo his unconscious girlfriend, as Wheels explained to writer Martin Popoff:

There was this guy, Eric Emerson from The Magic Tramps, an early glitter rock band from the New York Dolls era. He was also in some of the Warhol movies, and I acted as an assistant to a tattooist known as Ernesto Tattoo that had tattooed Eric and his girlfriend, who Eric had us tattoo at knifepoint later [laughs]. That was pretty crazy. We were all partying hearty into the night and Eric was reaching a new manic level of behavior, insisting with a big kitchen knife that now it was his girlfriend’s turn, even though she was unconscious and Ernie was all sails to the wind, high and drunk. Ernie protested that he couldn’t even draw a straight line, but before you know it Eric had him at knifepoint, rolling B’s lifeless body onto the table, stripping her clothes off and tattooing “ERIC” in six, seven-inch letters across her side, hips and tush. She lay there snoring like a beached whale, never waking as the huge tattoo proceeded in thick, wavy red letters. Ernie looked about to cry, knowing he could hardly keep it together. Eric’s glee mounted as the square inches of bloody red letters scarred across B’s backside. Then it was done, the knife put down, B’s butt bandaged up, and still snoring, she was rolled to another location.

Eric has long since died; rode his bicycle into a truck in New York traffic. But yeah, I wrote that song in the Cafe Figaro on Macdougal Street on a paper bag, and boy, it made me the most money of all my stuff.

 

 
Helen Wheels fell in with Blue Öyster Cult in 1967, when she was a student at SUNY Stony Brook and BÖC was still called Soft White Underbelly. Albert Bouchard says he first met her at a Ravi Shankar concert at the college.

Both The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB’s: A Secret History of Jewish Punk and Richard Meltzer’s Autumn Rhythm stress how quiet and sweet young Helen Robbins was, but when she first appears in one of Meltzer’s stories in Blue Öyster Cult: Secrets Revealed!, she’s already something of a firebrand. Meltzer claims that, in ‘69, her paperboy-style mescaline dealing caused a member of the Underbelly to quit:

It’s funny, this guy Andy Winters was the first one to quit the band. One of the reasons he quit the band was that Helen was selling drugs. It was a band that did so little drugs in the early stages. Maybe they would smoke pot once in a while and maybe each member of the band took acid once. In any case, all of a sudden in the fall or winter of ‘69, suddenly Helen was selling mescaline; without telling anybody, she’d started this business. And she worked part-time at a liquor store. She’d tell these kids, ‘If you like gin, I know something that will really get you high.’ So like, 11 p.m., knock on the door, in a suburban neighborhood, a bunch of rich people, like a very upscale suburban neighborhood, and two strangers knock on the door, ‘Where’s the mescaline?’ [...] And you know, Helen, this is a bad idea, selling drugs to strangers in this neighborhood, come on. She wouldn’t give it up. So Andy quit. It was like, fuck this. You’d hear a siren in the distance, and it was like, this is it, they’re going to lock us up and throw away the key.

(In the same book, Bouchard denies it was “a dealing situation,” and says he mostly recalls taking the drugs Helen stole from her job at a pharmacy, not selling them.)
 

 
Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators gave her the name Helen Wheels in the mid-Seventies, when she was the band’s costumer; Dictator Scott Kempner later played in Helen Wheels Band. She kept pet snakes and claimed UFOs “regularly” abducted her during her teens and 20s. In an interview with ROCKRGRL published the year before her death, Wheels said she no longer knocked over people’s drinks and stuck knives in their tables at shows because exercise and “writing about body building, UFOs, motorcycles and magic” helped with her anger.

Continues after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Oliver Hall
|
12.29.2017
07:29 am
|
‘This Ain’t the Summer of Love,’ the proto-punk screamer covered by BÖC and Current 93
04.28.2017
09:20 am
Topics:
Tags:


The sleeve of the Imperial Dogs’ lone single
 
Don’t let the unemployment office tell you rock merch is a waste of money. If I hadn’t purchased my hook of Kronos T-shirt at a Blue Öyster Cult gig, I never would have met Don Waller, the LA rock writer and singer in the Imperial Dogs. Waller, who died last November at 65, approached me on the patio of the Echoplex during a Mudhoney and White Flag show a few years ago—also the last time I spoke to the late, great Bill Bartell, a fellow BÖC fanatic—and identified himself as the author of “This Ain’t the Summer of Love.” He was a lovely guy, something to bear in mind when you get to the bottom of this post and Don is in front of a reversed swastika flag, addressing a seventies Long Beach audience as “trash” and “fucking scum.”

Fifty years after the fact, this is a song whose time has come. Has it ever felt less like the Summer of Love?
 

 
The Imperial Dogs’ 1974 version of “Summer of Love” is quite different from Blue Öyster Cult’s 1976 recording, on which Waller shares writing credits with BÖC drummer Albert Bouchard and producer Murray Krugman. According to Bouchard’s account in Blue Öyster Cult: Secrets Revealed! the reasons for BÖC’s changes to the song are not particularly heartwarming:

Basically, I gotta be honest, I really didn’t have much to do with that song. I wrote the melody. A guy named Don Waller wrote some of the lyrics. He had actually just sent the lyrics to Murray Krugman and Murray said, ‘Well, this sucks, but it’s a great idea.’ He had the first line about the garden of Eden. I don’t think he even had the part about no angels above. And Murray said this is a great idea and he came to me and said we should use this, and we should use the chord progression of this song by this Irish group that nobody had ever heard of. It was this Irish Republican Army group and they were very radical. You know, in the beginning days of punk, and it had some line like ‘You be pulling your grenade pin, I’ll be pulling mine’ and it was a real tough kind of thing. I took that and filled out the chords to make it a whole song. Murray really wrote all the lyrics, and I mean, he had a lot to do with that song. But it wasn’t his riff, and it wasn’t mine either. Legally you can take a riff from somebody as long as when it goes to the chord change, you don’t go to the same chord change.


 
Keep reading after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Oliver Hall
|
04.28.2017
09:20 am
|
Terrible, awful, no good, really bad heavy metal album covers from all over the world


The cover of the 1998 album by Blue Öyster Cult, ‘Heaven Forbid.’
 
I know that any and every kinda blog post about album covers has been done before, including, of course, ones that choose to focus on the world of heavy metal album art. But here’s the thing—the genre really brings it when it comes to awful execution to say nothing of the bizarre concepts that somehow got to adorn the various covers you’re about to see, such as scantily clad girls with big hair, muscle-bound men with swords and/or angry animals. And I’m merely scratching the surface of what can be seen on the cover of a heavy metal album because, as I’ve come to find out, pretty much anything from vampires to fucking ostriches shooting laser beams out of their eyes goes

While there are a plethora of obscure metal bands featured in this post from Spain to Germany, there are also a number of high-profile bands that put out records with shitty covers like the Scorpions, Blue Öyster Cult, Iron Maiden, and Pantera. As a matter of fact, there are no less than three perfectly awful Pantera album covers in this post that I’m sure alledgedly aspiring bootboy Phil Anselmo will somehow blame on too much “white wine.” (I think he means “white whine”?) Racists are so hilarious when they’re drunk, aren’t they?

Some of the images in this post are perplexingly NSFW.
 

The cover of the 2013 album by Adema, ‘Topple the Giants.’
 

Fastway ‘Bad Bad Girls’ 1990.
 
More entirely questionable metal mayhem, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Cherrybomb
|
03.09.2017
08:28 am
|
When Mike Watt covered Blue Öyster Cult with Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl—a DM premiere
11.03.2016
08:59 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
21 years ago, after a decade and a half as the bassist in legendary underground trios the Minutemen and fIREHOSE, Mike Watt released his first album under his own name, and it was a very big deal. Ball-Hog or Tugboat? saw Watt without a band for the first time ever, and so to compensate, Watt made the album with basically everyone. Almost 50 musicians guested on the LP, including members of Sonic Youth, the Meat Puppets, Jane’s Addiction, Pearl Jam, Nirvana… Like I said, it was a very big deal.

With an all-star roster of players and a major label releasing it, the album got hyped to the moon and back, and the tour that followed attracted similar attention, as Watt’s backing band was made up of Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Nirvana’s Dave Grohl and Pat Smear, less than a year after that band’s premature end in the wake of singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain’s suicide. And as if having backing musicians from two of the biggest bands in the world weren’t enough, those musicians’ new bands were Watt’s opening acts. Vedder was giving a guitar assist to the superb band Hovercraft, who were led by Beth Liebling, Vedder’s wife at the time. The other opener was a brand new concern featuring Grohl, Smear, and members of Sunny Day Real Estate, who went on to do quite well despite adopting the preposterous name “Foo Fighters.”

While video of the tour can be found if you dig long enough, there was, inexplicably, no live album ever made of that touring lineup. That’s about to be rectified at long last with the release of Ring Spiel Tour ‘95. The album is a document of the tour’s stop at the Metro in Chicago, and is scheduled for release on November 11.

One of the album’s tracks is a song that Watt has been playing since his childhood—“The Red and the Black” by Blue Öyster Cult. The lineup is Watt on bass and vocals, Vedder and Grohl on guitar, and SunnyDay/Foo’s William Goldsmith on drums. It’s DM’s pleasure to preview that cut for you today, and we got an earful from Watt about Ball-Hog or Tugboat?, the Ring Spiel tour, and “The Red and the Black.”

The whole idea of Ball Hog or Tugboat was OK, I was gonna make this record using my own name so you know who to blame. The idea was “what does the bass player do?” Is it like right field in little league? There’s something about the bass—are you trying to be fake lead guitar or are you the tugboat?

All these guys on the record, I didn’t practice with them, really. The metaphor was kinda the wrestling ring—that’s why the live record is called Ring Spiel. The only guy I really practiced with was Nels Cline. I just had cats come in. My theory was if the bass player knew the song, anybody could come play drums, or sing, or play guitar, you know what I mean? If the bass line drops out the whole tune falls apart, it’s that fundamental. But it can lead to a lot of openness in collaboration because it has limitations the leave a lot of room for other cats, and once you get them on board with their parts then you can feel it. The whole thing is you set things in motion. I get my part together, but I don’t realize the song, I want it kinda unfinished so the collaborators come in. That’s what I was testing out 21 years ago making Ball Hog or Tugboat.

“The Red and the Black” is very intense, very emotional to me. Basically it’s the older Blue Oyster Cult song “I’m On The Lamb But I Ain’t No Sheep” from the first album, but just the last riff, and some A&R guy told them just to do that lick for a whole song! It’s about a guy running from the Canadian Mounties, their uniforms are red and black. So me and d. boon knew it from Tyranny and Mutation, that second album, we played it as boys, 13 years old. We learned to play on that song, it was our primer. Almost every band I did played it. I got to play it with Bloom and Buck Dharma a couple years ago!

 
Continues after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Ron Kretsch
|
11.03.2016
08:59 am
|
Kick out the jams: Blue Öyster Cult covers the MC5, Doors, Yardbirds & The Animals
09.30.2016
10:33 am
Topics:
Tags:


More guitars than most rock bands had back in 1970, the mighty Blue Öyster Cult.
 
Like the young Patti Smith, I am a huge fan of one of the greatest bands ever to slither out of Long Island, the Blue Öyster Cult. Since getting their start in the late 60s, BÖC has put out over 20 albums including three live records on which the band test drives tracks from the MC5, The Yardbirds, The Animals and the sleazy, acid-coated jam by The Doors “Roadhouse Blues” with Robby Krieger on guitar. Damn.

So full disclosure—I had never heard BÖC’s version of the adrenalin charged 1969 MC5 track “Kick out the Jams” before. Recorded in Atlanta’s historic Fox Theater in 1978, its a very strange oversight that I can’t really comprehend as not only is the MC5 rocker one of my go-to songs when I’m running but so are other covers of the track by Bellingham, Washington band Mono Men and Monster Magnet. So the fact that my rock-seeking radar somehow missed this gem from BÖC’s 1978 live album Some Enchanted Evening (which also features the band’s cover of 1965’s “We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place” by The Animals) is really beyond me.

The rest of the covers appear on On Your Feet Or On Your Knees (“I Ain’t Got You” by The Yardbirds and “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf), and Extraterrestrial Live on which BÖC’s cover of “Roadhouse Blues” appears—and the story of how that came to be goes like this. According to vocalist Eric Bloom, BÖC was playing a gig at the Starwood in LA when Krieger showed up and asked to “sit in” with the band. But instead of having Krieger play along to one of their own tunes, BÖC ran with The Doors 1970 classic.

More Blue Öyster Cult after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Cherrybomb
|
09.30.2016
10:33 am
|
Patti Smith’s ‘Career of Evil’ with Blue Öyster Cult
08.21.2014
10:57 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
In the 70s and 80s, Blue Öyster Cult had their pick of interesting lyricists. Their friend Richard Meltzer, one of the first rock critics, contributed a number of songs, among them “Harvester of Eyes,” “Stairway to the Stars” and “Burnin’ for You.” Like Hawkwind, BÖC collaborated with sci-fi author Michael Moorcock, who wrote the words to “Veteran of the Psychic Wars,” “The Great Sun Jester” and “Black Blade.” And how better to while away a lazy afternoon than by puzzling over the gnomic lyrics of manager Sandy Pearlman, author of such intelligence-resisting classics as “7 Screaming Diz-busters” and “Dominance and Submission”? But the only Commandeur dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres to have written for the metal gods is Patti Smith, who was romantically involved with BÖC keyboardist Allen Lanier in the mid-70s.

In her memoir Just Kids, Smith mentions Richard Meltzer as one of the rock journalists she “held in esteem” in the 70s. A few pages later, writing about her first performance with guitarist Lenny Kaye, she suggests the writer was more Kaye’s friend than hers, listing Meltzer as one of “Lenny’s people [who] came to cheer him on.” For what it’s worth, Meltzer’s version of events, as told in Blue Oyster Cult: Secrets Revealed!, is quite different from Smith’s, and characteristically scabrous:

“OK, basically, I was the one who brought her to the band,” recounts Meltzer. “She was my friend. In the summer of 1970, my dentist was around the corner from the bookstore where she worked, Scribner’s Books on 5th Avenue in the 40s. And I stopped in there and we became great friends. And somewhere down the line I brought her to the band. And Pearlman wanted to fuck her and that was his interest. And I don’t know if he did or didn’t, but once it was clear that she was with Allen, it got to be that there was a lot of tension between Pearlman and Allen. And Allen and Patti were very anti-Semitic folks, without any irony whatsoever. You know, fuck the Jews, all that kind of stuff. And so there was a lot of anti-Pearlman wrath from both of them. I lived with this woman Ronnie and we would hang out with Allen and Patti a lot, through the mid ‘70s. And essentially what made the relationship viable was that we didn’t mind their anti-Semitism. But the point is that Allen thought the faux-Nazi stuff was a joke. I mean, everybody took it as a joke. Except, as I remember, Eric [Bloom] thought there was something cool about it, that the Third Reich had its shit together. You know, the Jew in the woodpile was the one that took it the most seriously.”

Well that’s interesting, isn’t it?
 

 
If I’m not mistaken, Smith’s voice first appeared on Ray Manzarek’s The Whole Thing Started with Rock & Roll Now It’s out of Control (1974), which is hard going even (especially?) for a Doors fan. However, the first Patti Smith lyric committed to vinyl was 1973’s “Baby Ice Dog,” sequenced as the first song on the second side of BÖC’s masterpiece Tyranny and Mutation. Set on a frozen Mongolian steppe, the song tells the familiar tale of man’s betrayal by dog, dog’s fatal plunge through ice, and man’s fantasy about “unnatural acts” involving ladies who’d “like to make it with my big black dog.”
 

“Baby Ice Dog” from Blue Öyster Cult’s Tyranny and Mutation
 
With its unrepentant declaration of adherence to the left-hand path, Smith’s next BÖC lyric, “Career of Evil,” makes the first lines of “Gloria” seem like not such a big deal. For starters, she wants to seduce your wife and daughter, rob you, hold you for ransom, and charge you for unnecessary brain surgery. When it was released as the single from BÖC’s third album Secret Treaties, the line “I’d like to do it to your daughter on a dirt road” was amended to “I’d like to do it like you oughta on a dirt road.” Meltzer calls the song “the first forcible fusion of rock and Rimbaud.”
 

“Career of Evil” from Blue Öyster Cult’s Secret Treaties
 
The platinum-selling Agents of Fortune—the one from 1976 with “Don’t Fear the Reaper”—includes two songs with lyrics by Smith. The chorus of “The Revenge of Vera Gemini,” a duet between Patti and BÖC’s lead singer Eric Bloom, refers to Smith’s debut album Horses, released the previous year:

Oh no more horses, horses
We’re gonna swim like a fish
Into the hole in which you planned to ditch me
My lovely Vera Marie

 

“The Revenge of Vera Gemini” from Blue Öyster Cult’s Agents of Fortune
 
The last Smith lyric BÖC recorded was 1983’s “Shooting Shark,” released during her retirement from music. In the video for the song, guitarist and singer Buck Dharma takes part in an unspeakable ritual, chases a spectral woman with an equally spectral gun, and sees a lot of things that are just plain mysterious.
 

The music video for “Shooting Shark” from Blue Öyster Cult’s The Revölution by Night

Posted by Oliver Hall
|
08.21.2014
10:57 am
|