The End of an Era
I drove past the San Diego Stadium/The Murph/The Q/whatever-the-hell-it-was-called-most-recently for the first time since the demolition started. There was only one chunk of stadium left. Feeling a bit sad, I couldn’t help but reflect on all the sporting events I’ve seen there, and of course, the great concerts. Four of my most memorable concerts took place at that venue.
The Rolling Stones/George Thorogood & the Destroyers/The J. Geils Band
October 7, 1981
At the time, these were three of my favorite bands, so I would have paid to see any one of them. Seeing all three of them in one show was a BFD for me and my buddy Karl. It mattered not that the concert was on a Wednesday and I had to go to work at my insurance company job the next day. Karl and I got … um … very perceptually distorted. A couple of memories stand out.
This was a time when a) I smoked cigarettes and b) one could smoke in public. So I ended up trading this guy a couple of my Marlboros for literally the shirt off his back. It was from an equipment rental place on University Avenue. Thereafter, I always had to explain to people why I called it my Rolling Stones shirt.
Karl and I sat in front of a very pretty girl who appeared to be alone. Her seat was such that we could only see her foot without being obvious. And a lovely foot it was – so lovely that we nicknamed her The Foot. Remember, we were pretty wasted.
Cheap Trick/Joan Jett & the Blackhearts/Chuck Berry/Susan Lynch
May 8, 1982 (The KGB Sky Show)
Back in the day when KGB was an actual rock station (not a classic rock station), they put on an annual fireworks show every year at the stadium. Sometimes it was after a soccer game. Sometimes it was after an Aztec game. But one year (1982), they decided to do it in conjunction with a blowout concert. So of course, my buddy Karl and I planned a blowout tailgate party to go with it, which took place in Section H3 of the parking lot.
My most memorable moment took place during Cheap Trick’s set. The field was open – no seating – so I was able to get right up to the stage. All of a sudden, this big biker dude standing to my left reached into his denim jacket, pulled out a giant snake, and started waving it around.
I didn’t learn the most amazing part of that episode until years later. I was talking with my good buddy Rick, who I didn’t meet until 2007, about that show. He said he was there and he too got right up to the stage – by following close behind a big biker dude in a denim jacket. And he was amazed when the biker dude pulled out a snake. Turns out Rick and I were standing about five feet from each other.
April 14, 1994
I remember the day, but not necessarily the date. It was a sunny Saturday, maybe in January or February, and I had just parked at the Blockbuster Video on the corner of 2nd and Main in El Cajon. As I got out of my car, I looked up in the sky and saw this wildly painted blimp cruising around. When it turned, I got a good look at the writing on the side.
Holy crap! Pink Floyd! Obviously coming to San Diego.
Of course, there were no cell phones back then, so I couldn’t snap a pic or call Karl right from the parking lot. I had to wait to get home and call on a good old POTS line. But call I did.
Karl volunteered to get the tickets and, man, did he deliver. We were at the right end of the third row. However, each row in front of us was successively shorter, so there wasn’t anyone right in front of us. They were essentially front-row seats.
Pink Floyd is Pink Floyd, with or without Roger Waters. It goes without saying that this was the most amazing concert I’d seen to that point in my life. In fact, the only concert that topped it was on December 13, 2010, when my son Derek and I saw Roger Waters perform The Wall at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
September 22, 2017
This was U2’s Joshua Tree anniversary tour. My wife Shelley and I originally had tickets to see this show for my birthday (June 25) in Boston, but my knee was so effed up, I didn’t think I could survive the trip. Lucky for us, they added another leg that included San Diego.
My knee replacement was finally coming up in October, so I got a handicapped seat at this show. It was at the left end of a row and there was no left arm on my seat, leaving plenty of room for my janky leg. We were in the back row of our section. Behind me at about head level was a walkway, on the other side of which the next section started.
The usher at the end of our row was a young, well-mannered kid, with whom Shelley and I became friendly. At one point, Shelley went to buy us U2 shirts. While she was gone, somebody on the walkway behind me approached my usher and struck up a conversation. It seemed like idle chitchat, so I didn’t even bother to turn around.
A few minutes after the other guy left, a couple people from the first row in the section behind me came over to ask the usher what it was like talking to Bono. The usher didn’t even realize who it was until these folks told him.
This was actually the second time I was within a couple of feet of Bono and managed to not utter a single word. If I ever get within 10 yards of him again, I will tackle him.
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Anyhow, farewell, stadium. I’ll miss you.