• September 22, 2021
 El Barrio del Diablo: FastForward to the Music – My 2nd Rock Show

El Barrio del Diablo: FastForward to the Music – My 2nd Rock Show

December 1969: A couple months had gone by since the Steppenwolf concert and I wondered what band would be next to rock the county cow barn.

As I inked my drawings one evening with the local FM rock station on in the background, I flipped in delight when a radio spot announced the Iron Butterfly were scheduled to play the Coliseum.

ironbtflI was ecstatic. I’d been a fan for almost a year and owned their first three albums. BALL, their third LP, was played daily on my tired old turntable.

The previous year, “In a Gadda da Vida” was released to critical acclaim becoming a massive commercial hit for the band. The album produced an abridged single for AM radio play, clocking in at 2:52, while FM rock aficionados were treated to the entire seventeen minute psychedelic anthem.

The album was a study in itself. It sold 30 million records world wide, guitarist Eric Brann was a mere 17 years young when the LP was released, and the title song was recorded in one take. Very impressive by 1969’s standards.

On the day of the show I arrived around 4:30, and couldn’t stop looking at the marquee with the band’s name in big black letters. It was a wow moment for me – this event was my second rock show and I had a feeling I’d be witnessing music history along with several thousand other fans.

The huge delivery doors that faced Paisano Drive were still open and no one was around.

As I nonchalantly walked inside the Coliseum’s main floor I was immediately distracted and puzzled with the stage set up. It was centered on the east side of the venue atop the first few rows of bleachers, above the cement wall that separated the floor from the stands.

irnbtvBecause of this layout, the entire half of the seating on the east side was closed.

It looked odd, and it was unusual to see the staging so high up above where the audience would be – on the cement floor.

Gone was the intimate four foot stage that was predominantly used in so many of those late sixties–early seventy shows.

Eventually, my lingering was noticed and I had to leave and wait outside for the main doors to open.

Evening came and a large crowd had gathered in front of the main doors. Once we were let in, many fans walked down a big ramp that had been set up to allow access to the floor from the bleacher section.

I made my way to the tall stage as close as possible as hundreds of others had also joined in sitting festival style. At showtime, a local band called McKatush were first up – a garage type trio that covered popular hits like The Plastic Ono Band’s “Cold Turkey”.

They rocked it good, and what a gig it was for them to open for such a high profile and established rock band.

After intermission the lights dimmed and amid the cheers, I was puzzled to see a couple spotlights reveal several dignitaries alongside the members of the Iron Butterfly.

The band was being honored for their “In a Gadda da Vida” album’s mega sales and popularity in Mexico, and were presented with butterfly pendants that were placed around their paisley shirt collars.

The four guys stood sheepishly at the front of the stage as the presenters posed for a photo-op with the “band of the year.” The camera’s flash ended the impromptu Kodak moment and as some polite applause dissipated, the band quickly took their places ridding the the moment of the awkward formalities.

Eric Brann, Guitar • Ron Bushy, Drums • Lee Dorman, Bass • Doug Ingle, Organ & vocals

The opening guitar riffs to “You Cant Win” tore into the air.

It was loud and heavy, just as expected.

The band then cranked out “Flowers and Beads”, “Soul Experience”, “In the Time of our Lives”, without any banter in between the music.

As their set continued into the evening with their psychedelic colored compositions, the final entry was no surprise to everyone as the keyboard’s familiar intro notes to “In a Gadda da Vida” was met with thunderous applause.

In the middle of the long jam, during Ron Bushy’s trademark drum solo, guitarist Eric Brann stood close to the drum kit, bouncing in place as he hooted and hollered indian style.

The crowd loved the long anthem and rose to an ovation as the last note was played.

For the encore the band churned out the Iron Butterfly Theme; a slow, hypnotic instrumental from their first album, accented with Doug Ingle’s haunting background vocals within parts of the densely electrified music. I was in awe; the Butterfly enveloped the audience with a powerful and dream-like sound that closely paralleled their studio albums.

It was a show I have never forgotten.

I’ve heard first hand stories of what acid trips are like and in retrospect, The Iron Butterfly Theme’s layered effects and heavy production could be the epitome of tripping out on LSD.

Google the song and if you listen to all four minutes and thirty-five seconds, you’ll need to be snapped out of your trance when its over.

1969 gave way to the new year and after witnessing a couple of heavy rock acts just months apart, I wasn’t prepared for what was headed to EP.

Do you recall any rock shows from that era? Leave a comment! I’d like to hear from you.

Jose Oswaldo RicoJosé Oswaldo Rico, Guest Contributor

Previous  columns HERE

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  • I was at that concert, it was my first concert.

    • wow. this is what I’m talking about.
      thank you Dale, for stopping by.

  • Does anyone have pics of SRV when he came to the Ballloon Festival in 1989?

    • A photographer friend of mine caught him at a Belgium festival circa 1986, same year I saw him in Seattle, 6th row on the floor, and gave me a 5×7 of that show. ( the Soul to Soul tour )
      Its a great up close capture. I’ll try to feature it in another article.

  • 1968/69 was the year for some good rock music, Steppenwolf with his biker music Born To Be Wild as we would ride our bicycles down the road to North Loop Drive inn. And hide our bikes in the cotton fields and sneak into the drive inn from the back just to watch Hells Angels biker flicks. We were only young vatos in the hood, thinking like we were BAD BIKERS! Los Locos de Tigua is what we would call our bike gang but we grew out of that trend when we started driving cars instead of bicycles.
    But That Steppenwolf Rock Band with it’s Born To Be Wild song was and always will be a great nostalgia music of back in the day. We were to young to go to concerts but the older vatos would attend James Brown concerts at the Barn aka the County Coliseum.
    Also there was Carlos Santana with his, You Got To Change Your Evil Ways and Black Magic Woman, some kick butt rolas.Not to mention Iron Butterfly with In The God Of Da Vida.
    Good Stuff…

    • thank you Albert!
      good stuff man!
      thank you

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