In late 1967 I joined with some fellow students at Sacramento State College to form a “social club” at the school. It was a rag tag bunch of students. There were several football players, several music students, and three guys in bands. We called it “The Students for the Appreciation of Pop Music” and our sole purpose was to bring big time rock and roll to Sacramento.
Oh, Sacramento had its share of local rock and roll bands. But some of us had worked in a light show all summer at Kings Beach Bowl on the north shore of Lake Tahoe and the bands that played there were the part of the sixties rock explosion. There was The Grateful Dead, Buffalo Springfield, Moby Grape, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Quicksilver Messenger Service to name a few.
We saw the impact they had and we figured that if we could get a big facility in Sacramento like the Men’s Gymnasium on campus we could bring some of those acts to the school. Thus we had to form the “social club” to be eligible to use the gym. We had to get an academic sponsor, a professor, which we did… write up a charter, and elect officers. The professor helped us do that and we became a legal entity at the college and immediately got down to business.
At Tahoe we had done the light shows but hadn’t hired the bands. The owner of the Bowl had relied on our suggestions on who to hire and let us deal with the booking agents. So were ready to wheel and deal with our connections!
We had a meeting, decided how much money we had to start off with and began making calls. Our first call turned out to be a winner. Creative Artists Management in Los Angeles had “Big Brother and The Holding Company” with Janis Joplin open on a Thursday night and we booked them on the spot. It turned out to be a great show since they were rapidly becoming famous and they filled the gym. We banked some money in what we called our “next show” account.
I had a hunch it was going to be an exciting time when Chuck Barnett the agent at CMA called me the day before the Janis Joplin show and told me he just got an open date on Jimi Hendrix less than a month after the Joplin show and we could get him at a good price.
It would be good for us and Hendrix because they had a hole in their schedule and if we took them it would complete a tour. We went with our collective gut feeling and even though we hadn’t produced a show yet, we committed to hiring Jimi and sent the deposit money. Given the short notice Barnett assured me he’d have the signed contracts back to me within a day or so.
However, as the date grew near, we still didn’t have the signed contract and the radio stations and newspapers we were advertising with were warning us about a last minute cancellation which would have done us and our bank account in. Therefore, since Jimi was playing on Feb. 1st at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco with Albert King and John Mayall and The Blues Breakers, we’d just take a little trip to San Francisco and tell Bill Graham the promoter that we were promoters too so he’d let us in and we’d get Jimi to sign it in person!
Standing outside the Fillmore after Bill Graham had told us he “didn’t care if we needed to see Jimi or not” “get in line and buy a ticket, I’ve got problems of my own”, we were both excited to see Jimi, and apprehensive as to what was going to happen; so far we didn’t have a contract and Bill Graham the man who could have taken us directly to the dressing rooms had shot us down!
Nevertheless we bought tickets and entered the Fillmore. Once inside we headed right for the dressing room and told the security guard who we were and that we had to pick up the contract. Luckily he went for it and opened the door. Stepping inside my vision swept the smoky room which was full of people. Men and women in regular clothing, others in total hippie attire, several Fillmore staffers and what appeared to be several musicians.
It looked like what I had imagined, a true behind the scenes hangout. But, in one corner seated in an overstuffed arm chair was one Jimi Hendrix. He stood out like a sparkling jewel. His colorful clothes, radiating smile and the fair maiden sitting on the arm of his chair formed a perfect picture of a rock star before the show! Of course he knew nothing about any contract but had heard that they were going to Sacramento. “Hey when I get there we can hang out a bit!”
It was quite a night, Mayall and King were great but Jimi was on his meteoric rise and blew everyone away. We drove home later that February night marveling at what Jimi had done and stopped worrying about the contract! Hey, Jimi said when he got to Sacramento we’d hang out a bit so that was that!!!