Thursday, December 1, 2011

Caravan of Stars 1959

While the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars tours were not the first rock n' roll package tours, they are certainly the most iconic. Known for their low pay, tight tour schedules and modest accomodations (usually a Continental Trailways bus), the Caravans served as the jumping off point for many rock 'n roll performers in the late 50's and early 60's.  Here's a typical Caravan of Stars bus interior.

Today's post looks at the first full scale Caravan in 1959.  Dick Clark has proposed a tour in 1958 but things didn't work out.  He next tried a few shows in the late summer and hit a goldmine, which led to a full slate to shows in the fall.

8/30/1959 Hollywood Bowl,  Hollywood, CA
Talent: Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Anita Bryant, Dody Stevens, Skip & Flip, Strangers, Duane Eddy, Freddie Cannon, Jan and Dean, Bobby Rydell, Jack Scott, Ray Sharpe, Jerry Wallace, the Young Lions

   Clark's Caravan sold out the Bowl with over 5,000 being turned away.  Variety reported that police set up loudspeakers six blocks away to tell people the show was sold out. It set an all-time attendance record.

9/4-7/1959 Fairgrounds Coliseum, Michigan State Fair, Detroit, MI
Talent: Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Laverne Baker, Coasters, Freddie Cannon, Duane Eddy, Bobby Rydell, Anita Bryant, Jan and Dean, Jack Scott, Ray Sharpe, Skip & Flip, Rusty York, Santo & Johnny, Dick Carouso

Another huge success as the show set another attendance record by over 15,000 over the previous record in the fair's 110-year history.

With such overwhelming success, Clark engaged GAC to book a tour headlined by Paul Anka and also starring Lloyd Price, Annette Funicello, Duane Eddy, Jimmy Clanton, Laverne Baker, Coasters, Drifters, Skyliners, Bobby Rydell, and Phil Phillps. Arthur Dover was hired as the MC for shows where Clark did not appear. Irving Feld was the tour's promoter.

 No sooner did GAC book a full tour from September 18 through November 8 with the Caravan's debut in Baltimore than problems arose.  The Boston Garden, site of the Caravan's second show was being used for a hockey game earlier in the afternoon and GAC decided that they didn't want to go through with the show under those circumstances.  Instead, Tim Gale of GAC booked a replacement show in Scranton, PA.  Boston was a lucrative stop for any rock 'n roll show in the 1950s so the loss was not looked upon as a good omen.

9/18/1959 Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, MD

9/19/1959 Boston Garden, Boston, MA
9/19/1959 Scranton, PA

9/20/1959  Forum, Montreal, Canada

9/21/1959  Maple Leaf Garden, Toronto, Canada

9/23/1959 Westchester County Center, White Plains, NY

9/28/1959 Reynolds Coliseum, Raleigh, NC

9/29/1959 Memorial Auditorium, Greenville, SC

9/30/1959 Coliseum, Charlotte, NC

10/1/1959 Township Auditorium,  Columbia, SC

10/2/1959 Municipal Auditorium, Charleston, WVA

Two performances

10/3/59 State Fairgrounds, Louisville, KY
10/4/1959  Nashville, TN

10/5/1959 Cincinnati, OH  

10/6/1959 Memorial Auditorium, Canton, OH

10/7/1959 Lorain, OH

10/8/1959 Veteran’s Building, Columbus, OH

Two shows performed at this venue.

10/9/1959 Sports Arena, Toledo, OH 

10/10/1959  Civic Auditorium, Grand Rapids, MI 

10/14/1959 Hobart Arena,Troy, OH 

10/16/1959 Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MO
Two performances

10/17/1959   Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City, MO

The Caravan gains its first negative notoriety when midway through the show, fights break out amongst the 12,000 plus audience and police moved in to break up the melee.  In all, 49 men were arrested ranging in age from 17 to 50 for disturbing the peace and public drunkeness.  Although Dick Clark was not at the show, his association with the show drew lots of press and he held a news conference in New York to defend the Caravan.  He denied that the performers were responsible for what happened and said, "What happened was certainly unfortunate, but it only reflects the attitude of a few of the thousands of people there."

10/20/1959  Memorial Auditorium, Dallas, TX 

10/21/1959  Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, TX 

10/22/1959  Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, TX

The cast hosted an on-stage birthday celebration for Annette Funicello.  Although San Antonio had an additional 25 officers on hand, there was no trouble.

10/24/1959 Municipal Auditorium, Oklahoma City, OK

Two performances

10/25/1959 Auditorium, Wichita, KS

10/27/1959 Auditorium Arena, Omaha, NE

10/28/1959  Auditorium, Minneapolis, MN

Police Chief Milton Winslow cancelled this show in the aftermath of the KC arrests.  Minneapolis had encountered four violent rock 'n roll shows in the past year.  "I am certain violence will occur again," he told the Associated Press.

10/29/59  Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium, Des Moines, IA 

10/31/59 Arena, Milwaukee, WI

I still have a few shows to locate since the tour was reportedly booked until November 8, but this gives you a flavor.  If you have any additions or corrections, please let me know.