June 21

Summer 1978, I was on a camping trip with the family. A friend of the family had a son about my age, slightly older, who lived in the big city… Spokane, Washington.
We palled around some that summer when he let slip the fact that, in a few weeks time, he would be going to see a concert at Spokane’s premier outdoor venue, Joe Albi Stadium. The line-up for the 20,000+ seat venue? Evelyn “Champagne” King, Bob Welch, The Little River Band and Heart!
King, Welch and The Little River Band all had hits on the radio… but Heart was a monster of a band… the biggest thing in the Northwest and touring to support their third album – Little Queen.
I got it off of the Columbia Record and Tape Club, or, one of my friends did. The cover photo showed two knockout young women in renaissance dress… this soft image belied the opening guitar riff of the record’s first track, Barracuda:
I had to go! I begged my parents to please let their 12 year old son go to an all day rock concert with his 13 year old buddy in the middle of the region’s largest community.
They said yes!
We enlisted my buddy’s older brother as a chauffeur/chaperone and headed to the event. Summer days are long in the Pacific Northwest so most of the show was in the blazing daylight. Evelyn “Champagne” King opened the show. She had a mega hit record at the time, Shame:
What struck me most about her performance was how young she was… only a few years older than me, up on stage and singing her heart out, she was quite an inspiration.
Up next was Bob Welch. The former Fleetwood Mac guitarist (although I had never heard of Fleetwood Mac at that time) had two hits on the radio at that time, a FM retread Sentimental Lady and a disco rocker Ebony Eyes:
The Little River Band was on the hit parade with their song Reminiscing:
With the sun waning and the stage lights up the tension in the audience began to swell. We all were anticipating our hometown heroes, Heart.Their set opened with the Nancy Wilson acoustic guitar riff from Crazy On You… I still remember that long blonde hair draped down over the frets of her ovation guitar… the picture of a rock goddess. I couldn’t believe I was at my first rock concert! It was the loudest, brightest and most beautiful thing I had ever experienced.

Heart ripped through their hours long set playing everything off of Little Queen, Magazine and Dreamboat Annie interspersed with Led Zeppelin and Badfinger covers. The crowd was on its feet the whole time, dancing and swaying and screaming to the fast songs and holding lighters aloft for the slower.

Our chauffeur, hoping to beat the crowd out of the parking lot, gathered us up to the back of the venue for the encore.

When a band would play a song I knew or liked I would make my way as close as I could get to the stage and snap a photo with my 110 Kodak camera. “How will you know what song they’re singing from the photo?” my friend asked… good question. I hope I come across those photos someday so I can try.

2 thoughts on “June 21

  1. Duuuude! Thanks for this! I was 9 and was denied permission to go, sooo sad about that at the time. I did get permission to stay at my friend’s house however, wink wink! We of course rode our bikes down to Joe Albi and of course looked for a way in, unfortunately to no avail. We did enjoy at least being there and hearing it!! Such a great memory, I’m very glad to have read your experience here – thanks again!


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