Saturday, January 31, 2015

The British Invasion Revisited

A strange notion struck me the other day while I was writing up some research notes for my upcoming book on the British Beat Boom-British Invasion.  Modern versions of these classic bands have now been performing for 3 times as long as their original forms.  Think about it!  With the exception of the Rolling Stones, The Who, The Searchers and the Hollies (who have had hiatuses but never broken up), most other British beat groups ended their original runs of success by 1968 and broke up. 
The nostalgia craze in the mid-70s brought many of them back to life and they’ve been going out on tour ever since in fits and spurts.  For example:
Gerry Marsden went back on tour in 1973 and has remained there on and off ever since - original group 1959-1967  revived group 1973- present.
Freddie Garrity broke up the Dreamers in 1971 after being together since 1960.  He reformed the group in 1976 and continued to perform until 2000, when he retired due to ill health.
Herman’s Hermits, formed in 1962, lost Peter Noone to a solo career in 1971 and became Sour Mash in 1972.  They revived the band later that year and have continued to perform ‘til the present day headed by drummer Barry Witwam.  Peter Noone returned to perform his hits in the 1980s and continues to pull in big crowds.
Today’s blog is dedicated to the 1973 British Invasion tour promoted by Richard Nader. This tour was the first substantial nod to the budding nostalgia craze in America.  New York promoter Ron Delsener had the idea and contacted agent Danny Betesh about securing the talent.  Betesh had handled a number of acts back in the day, including Freddie and the Dreamers who he still handled.  Unfortunately Freddie had a summer season booked in Great Yarmouth so he was unavailable.  Dave Clark turned down an offer but Peter Noone was interested and pretty soon a package was put together.  It was at that point that Delsener had to bow out.  He was dealing with the summer-long Shaeffer Music Festival in Central Park and had no time to devote to the tour.  Oldies producer Richard Nader stepped into the breach and promoted the tour.
An amazing reunion resulted from this tour and Peter Noone reunited with the Hermits.
In addition to Herman’s Hermits and Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, other bands on this tour included Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers, and Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders.  Billed as “The British are Coming Again” the 21-date nationwide tour of the U.S. and Canada began on the East Coast and worked its way to the West before working their way back to the Midwest. 
In addition to the tour, Nader arranged a booking with TV producer Burt Sugarman to do a British themed Midnight Special.  The filming took place on July 15th after the LA and San Francisco shows were cancelled and included all of the acts on the tour in addition to the Hollies and the Bee Gees, show hosted the show.  It aired on August 10, 1973.
June 26, 1973
Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY
 A reported crowd of only 1,500 attend the show.
 June 27, 1973
Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY
 A whopping 13,000 attend this show.  Although only half the Garden’s capacity, it was a huge uptick from the previous night’s show.  Even Rolling Stone chose to review it and gave some positive notes.  Melody Maker sent Michael Watts to New York and his review gave Noone and Kramer positive reviews while questioning the efforts of Fontana and the Searchers, who performed a cover of Neil Young's Cowgirl in the Sand with a lengthy guitar solo.
June 28, 1973
Maple Leaf Garden, Toronto, Canada
June 29, 1973
Civic Center, Springfield, MA
June 30, 1973
Coliseum, Providence, RI
July 1, 1973
Cape Cod Coliseum, South Yarmouth, MA
July 3, 1973
Frank Renshaw of the Mindbenders
Steel Pier, Atlantic City, NJ
Jerry Lee Lewis performs the following day and most of the cast attend his show.
July 6, 1973
Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
July 7, 1973
Yale Bowl, New Haven, CT
July 9, 1973
Pine Knob Pavilion, MI
July 10, 1973
Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City, KS
July 11, 1973
Minneapolis, MN
July 12, 1973
Sioux Falls Coliseum, Sioux Falls, IA
July 13, 1973
Forum, Inglewood, CA
Cancelled due to low ticket sales
Lyn George of the Seekers lived in Los Angeles hosted a party for the tour and it nearly ends in tragedy when Pacemakers' drummer Brian Clarke nearly drowns in the pool.  When discovered, Clarke was lying on the floor of the pool.  Karl Green of the Hermits dove in to save him.
July 15, 1973
Cow Palace, San Francisco, CA
 Cancelled due to low ticket sales
July 16, 1973
Winnipeg Arena, Winnipeg, Canada
July 17, 1973
Civic Center, Bismark, ND
July 18, 1973
Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
July 19, 1973
Summerfest, Milwaukee, WI
July 20, 1973
Musicpark, Columbus, OH
July 21, 1973
Fairgrounds, Cedar Rapids, IA
July 22, 1973
St. Louis, MS
The tour was apparently extended by an additional date in the Hamptons at an unidentified resort.  Frank Allen's excellent book "The Searchers and Me" accounts a rather downbeat end to the tour.