Updated: Mar 9
I was 14 when I did it the first time. Myself, and a couple of friends got on the bus in the town I grew up in, Harrington Park, NJ, traveled to the George Washington Bridge Bus/Subway station, took the train to the 34th Street Station under Madison Square Garden, then BACK into NJ on the PATH Train to Journal Square in Jersey City, and finally another bus to Roosevelt Stadium. Not the easiest of navigations, but I was going to my first Rock concert, headlined by The Allman Brothers Band. I'm sure parents of today would recoil in horror at the thought of their 14 year old boy running around on the subways of New York City, but in fact, my Mom and Dad had schooled me on how to get around NYC, and trusted me to do the right thing and stay safe. I kinda lived up to their faith in me.
(Photo Courtesy of Pinterest)
We arrived at the venue, a beat up old minor-league baseball stadium that was being used while Madison Square Garden was being refurbished during the Summer months. I picked up an Allman Brother "Eat a Peach" T-Shirt for $2.50, and found a spot on the infield grass/dirt wit my buds, and began to immerse myself in my Rock n' Roll surroundings. And...I took a hit of "blotter acid. This was gonna be good!
It took FOREVER for The Allmans to come on stage. This is the 70's after all, and God only knows what they were getting up to pre-show. They opened with "Wasted Words" from "Brothers & Sisters" and played "One Way Out," "Statesboro Blues," "Midnight Rider" and all the song I came to hear. I remember how amazing Gregg Allman's golden hair looked under the stage lights. Like a real "Rock God," just the personification of cool. I checked the time as Dickey Betts wailed through "Jessica," and noticed it was past 11pm, and we were in danger of missing our connections to get us back home to Harrington Park. Reluctantly, we got our shit together, me still tripping heavily, and made our way through the crowd. We joined a ton of other concert goers packed into a bus headed for Journal Square, but once we got there, we found out we couldn't get a connection back into NYC at that hour, so we were stuck. Four teenagers from the suburbs, two of us tripping balls, stuck in an all night Donut Shop, with no way to get home. So I did the only thing I could do, dropped a dime in the pay phone, and called my Dad to come rescue us. Luckily, he didn't ream me on the phone, and he arrived in the family Rambler about an hour later (and yes, I was STILL tripping)
I got a pretty good chewing out, but I think he was relieved I was OK more than anything else. Of course, I WASN'T OK, but I had become pretty adept at hiding my partying from my parents since entering High School. We pulled into our driveway on Martha Road after dropping off the other guys, and I showered and went up to my room to "sleep" off my first Rock n Roll concert. The next day I got a firm, but fair dressing down about being more responsible about making my bus connections.
Fast-Foward about 40 years, and I have the opportunity to talk to Gregg Allman on the radio. We chat a little about his upcoming local concert and new album, and then I decide to clue him in on my eventful first concert, and let him know that because he was late going on, I got into a bunch of trouble with my parents. He howled with laughter and apologized for getting me in trouble with Mom and Dad. We shared a mutual laugh over youthful indiscretions, and times gone by. It was one of the highlights of my radio career...and I miss Gregg to this day