Well: Lincoln was not a place one would get all excited about. But Lincoln was a place that got excited about the Doors. The Hall was big enough, typical of the many places we played, more or less. We pulled up to the hall to unload and get the equipment moved in. As always I was on the lookout for those few guys who had that look - I can't tell you what look it was. But sort of enthusiasm, mixed with interest and curiosity and sort of a trustworthy countenance. Not tall or short, slim or buff . That did count since equipment moving needed a bit of muscle. There were 3 guys who stood out from the gathering crowd. Those were the three that were chosen.
I always felt like the fairy godfather. My finger was the magic wand. All I had to do was point it and that guy got in. Of course, considering everything else, if they worked hard and didn't try to bother the doors they were added to a list of those who had the title "Band Boys".
These three gluttons for punishment carried the equipment inside and set the amps in place and we were off. Wiring was the big thing and I took care of that myself - until the boys were very familiar with how it was done. Even so, I still checked everything to make sure A went to A and C was not going to F. Tradition had it that one of the guys got $20.00 and off he went to the local burger joint and bought everyone some grumbles. We sat around the stage and enjoyed the moment and relaxed about as much as one could expect. Then one or more groups would arrive and start setting up. Their natural inclination was to move our stuff out of the way but that dream was short lived.
My job was to be certain that everything would go well without confusion, equipment troubles and certainly watch for the results of riot - usually attacks on the equipment was one side effect. It was my policy that once the equipment was in the building we never left the stage. There were reasons for this. Theft was a big one. But since we were the headline group we set up and never moved the equipment after everything was ready. That way everything was tested. There was no danger of having a power cord or signal cord break or short as a result of plugging and unplugging or jerking a cord.
Other groups lined up in front. When their set was over they removed their equipment. All we had to do was move Ray's organ into position and it was ready for the performance. Things got a little tight when there was a walk in band. They had to set in front of the lead group. That didn't often leave them much room to maneuver. But that system did provide a smooth transition form one group to another with minimum time lost between sets. The crowd did not get restless - which inevitably lead to trouble. The benefit for the groups derived from their ability to walk on stage and perform without a lot of worry about what was plugged into where. Just remove the equipment FAST. and the next group was ready.
The show was good. The kids were enthusiastic and more than willing to applaud, yell and scream to show their appreciation of the show the Doors put on. This went well. Jim was in his "Good Times" then. He sang with a sort of passion and emotion. He had also gotten over his sort of stage fright and as able to relate to the audience. That made a big difference. He was also more relaxed and did not rely so much on Alcohol to cause mischief.
This show was not a Fillmore East. Don't gather that impression. It was just a good, solid show that gave some nice music to the Audiences. As always the show was impromptu. The guys never prepared a set. They sort of discussed it quietly on stage. Once in a while Robbie would wander over and ask my suggestion. Not always taken but maybe it provided inspiration for what they did play. They were relaxed and they played well, smooth with a lot of fun feeling. They knew they were in new territory, few groups played in this venue. This was a promotional tour preparing for the new album.
The show was a success. Things went well, the equipment all worked - well that is nothing to brag about. It always worked after I took over. The sound was good and the kids had a good time. No riots so the establishment was not hostile to a return visit. But we never did return. I don't have an reason for that. We very rarely played outside of major cities. That was a shame, really. There were a lot of people in the heartland that would have been very happy to attend a Doors concert. In fact, a lot of them traveled many miles from Central US to shows in Detroit, Chicago, Denver and such.
I suppose it was financial. The bigger the hall the more seats and the better the payment for services rendered. It makes economic sense really. After all is said and done, this is a business and the Boys had to make money to be able to be a band in the first place. Very few people have any idea of the cost of running a group. Even when the Amps and guitars are provided for promotional purposes, you have to remember that the band had to make a name for itself before people felt it worthwhile to invest thousands of dollars in gratis equipment.
No matter where we played the cost of each performance was an average. Transport, hotels, food and replacements for drum heads, strings and drum sticks all were about the same for each performance. Yes, there were variations in cost of plane tickets but against the whole, the variations were small.
The show ended eventually. The group left the stage, Kids came to stage front asking for drumsticks, mikes, mike cords, even amplifiers. All requests were, for the most part, politely but firmly refused. If the initial persuasive suggestion that they get out of there did not have a discouraging effect, the next step was stomping on their fingers, a whack with a folded mike cord or, as a last resort - that is before they got up on stage - a kick in the face. Once in a while someone got away with it. Of course the price for something like that was helping hands with packing up.
That was a grinding dirty job. The floor might be wet, of course it was dirty. The cords would get wet and then pick up the dirt on the floor and that turned into a disgusting mix of mud. We had to wipe them before we wrapped them up. Each set of cords had a special box. Each mike went into an individual little box and then was stacked into a larger box with the mike cords. The amps all had travel cases and each had to be put into it to protect it from the rigors of the airline baggage handlers. They were all labeled with FRAGILE stickers. That meant that they were thrown on something else instead of directly on the floor. Ah, the friendly skies.
The hall is empty, we are just a few guys on the stage and now there is a stack of boxes to be returned to the truck, ready to go on to other adventures. One way or another the gang would tell us of the resteraunt that was open and we would head there for a last meal. The band boys never got paid for their services. It was enough that they had seats no one else could get - On stage with the Doors. That magic wand is powerful enough to grant unthinkable wishes. Of course we fed them and, if they had traveled a distance, we gave them money for a bus ticket home.
I have often wondered over the years passed what those kids told their friends on Monday morning. The spent the entire concert on stage with the Doors and the other groups. Some of these were famous in their own right. I wonder if anyone really believed that unlikely story. Those "kids" are all fat, bald and fifty now. But they have memories that no one will ever take away. In all the time with the Group and all the Band Boys I met, there were only two that failed in their promise. Both were banished forever. There were no second chances.
Today, Lincoln, Nebraska sits quietly on the plains. There are a few who can remember that night. And three who became members of a very exclusive club.