AUGUST OF 1968 – THE TOUR BEFORE ENGLAND
Vincent Treanor III
Road Manager for The Doors,
December 26 1967-January 19 1972
1968 MARCH – FIRST MAJOR TOUR, TERRY POHL
©2006 Vincent Treanor III
Everyone has read fairy tales about peasants and just ordinary people who have wishes that they cannot achieve. Suddenly, from a bottle or closet or from thin air this magical person appears and tells this poor, sad, unhappy person that their wish will be granted. People think this only happens in children’s books telling these happy stories for the entertainment and moral education of the kids who hear the stories and the Grandmothers who read to them. Well, Fairy Godfathers are real and two boys found out that it wasn’t only in magic stories, but real life.
It was in the last week of August, 1968. The eastern part of the USA was hot and dry. In many places there were posters telling about the arrival of a Rock Band Concert to be held in the Pavilion in Columbia City, Maryland. This was a new city, all planned by people more interested in money than understanding of roads, traffic patterns and damage to large areas of virgin woodland in the peaceful Maryland countryside. This city was all laid out with gracefully curving roads lined with houses. Periodically there were service stations. But the heart of the matter was a large park area the centerpiece of which was a pavilion. The Eastern seaboard of the United States, is subject to some really violent storms during August. The designers of the scar on the face of the land did have the common sense to make a cover over the pavilion but they left it open at the sides. That was so the music could get out an annoy the not too distant neighbors. It was typical of many outdoor music shells, having an enclosed stage with all the lighting facilities and other equipment that would be suitable for a Broadway production. The seats were simple bench style in four groups set on a slope rising from the stage to the rear of the Pavilion. There was even a convenient loading dock where a truck could back up to unload sets or scenery or, in this case, musical amps and the equipment associated therewith.
I had flown in from Los Angeles with all the equipment early the morning of 1968.08.30. Toni Parisi, organist for a local Rock group, the HERE WE ARE from Lawrence, Massachusetts, had driven a truck down to meet me at the airport in Baltimore and move the equipment to the truck. Then we drove to Columbia. So on a lovely hot afternoon, a truck rolled down the windingroads to the Pavilion and a couple of guys got out and began to unload equipment for the Doors concert to be held that night. It was about three in the afternoon. After two hours of hard, sweaty work, the task was done.
It was a standing rule that once the equipment was on stage there would be one person present at all times to protect it and also to keep other bands from changing anything to make room for their equipment. So Tony, drove the now empty truck to the local Burger stand and brought back some food. While they munched on the junk food, a sort of staple diet for those on the road with bands, the second billed group moved their equipment in and unloaded it. Of course, having neither the notoriety or budget of the Doors, it was all done by members of the group.
Since they were a sort of celebrity band in Columbia, they were used to having any band that played before them take their equipment off stage and make room for them. When they arrived and saw all the Doors equipment in place the leader of the band came over to Tony and I, rightly assuming we were with the Doors. He casually waved at the Doors equipment and told us to move it so they could set up and rehearse. I looked up at this kid and smiled. “No”.
The kid stared at me not knowing what to say. He said “We have to play first so you have to take your stuff off so we can set up. We have to rehearse.”
“If you have to rehearse at this time, you are not really ready to play so you shouldn’t be here at all.”
The Kid stood there. No one had ever said anything like that to him before. What could he say in the face of that kind of statement. He turned and look at the imposing wall of amplifiers, the drum platform, on which John’s Ludwig drums stood on their red shag carpet, and the organ tucked neatly at the stage right end of the amp line. He turned back and waved his arms in sort of helpless frustration, “Please, we have to set up.”
At this point, I had about finished eating. I stood up and walked across the stage and with a swing of my arm, described a line along the stage in front of the Doors equipment, “Set up here, in front. When you are finished you take your stuff off that side”, pointing to stage left, “and you can take it out while we are playing.”
Well that seemed reasonable enough. there was plenty of space, they did not have a lot of equipment. What they did have was fair quality but barely big enough to fill that large outdoor pavilion. I walked back and sat down beside Tony. We watched as the boys unloaded their van and a station wagon and set the equipment up on the stage. They had a pathetic little PA system for the Singer and right away, I knew there would be trouble. They worked while Tony and I waited for the inevitable.
They began their rehearsal. After ten minutes or so, I knew they were in trouble. Their equipment simple was not enough for an open air pavilion. Finally I got up and walked over to the “Manager” of the group, some young fellow who was about 20 or so. Maybe a brother of one of the Band members. I walked slowly but with deliberation – almost like the guys at High Noon going for the shoot-out. I pointed to their PA equipment and said to the Manager, “Get that crap off the stage”.
The manager looked at me first with disbelief and then shock then maybe anger. “But we have to use it. That’s our equipment.”
“Get it off or I will throw it off, NOW! If you think I won’t, try me.”
“Guys, he wants us to take the PA off stage.” The group looked at each other and at me and at each other. No one moved. they didn’t know what to do except they were standing in the way of a force bigger than they could cope with. The questions started.
“What will be do?”
“How can we sing?”
They didn’t know what to do. After a bit more hesitation, they took off the guitars and with the drummer, moved all the PA off the stage. When they were done, I told them to set up two more mike stands. I had Tony get two extra mikes from the Doors box and get the proper cables, each of which was color coded, and hook them up. Then I plugged the cords into the our mixer,which was set on the bass amp just to John’s left. Then I told them to rehearse. They knew their equipment was certainly not the best. Suddenly this guy they wanted to kill was allowing them to use a PA belonging to the Doors. They didn’t know why they got this favor, But they surely didn’t argue. Basically it was not that I was really doing this just as a favor. A lot of kids had paid good money to hear the show. I really wanted them to have a good show. It these kids benefited, so much the better.
When they began to sing, I made a couple of quick adjustments, balanced them out against the amps and they were set. Of course when they began to sing they had to get used to the sudden clarity and power they had. It took a little time but they got it right.
They show went on and these kids did well for themselves. the crowd was happy that their local heroes had been on stage with the Doors. Of course their future as a very popular dance band was assured – at least for the rest of that year. Their set ended. They took their equipment off stage and got it stacked by the loading dock. Quickly, Tony and I took the extra mikes off the stands and packed them and the cords away. Ray’s organ was moved into position and checked and in less than 15 minutes, the stage was set for the Doors.
It was a relatively good show. The group was very excited about the upcoming tour in Europe. though Jim, as usual, did have some drinking before the show, it was not excessive. It was not one of the most brilliant shows, but it was a good one. Most important, the audience liked it. Maybe they liked it too much.
The Doors performance ended and they went off stage. People at the back of the Pavilion began to move out. Those along the sides could also exit directly out. In the front, it was another story. There were a few who wanted trophies. And they rushed the stage. It was fortunate that the lead group was still there. They did not miss the opportunity to hear the Doors play from positions on the stage. That was a position desired by many and granted to Very Few. As the kids in the audience began to scramble on stage a couple of them came forward to push the invaders off. Tony, Vince and the two other boys managed to prevent any serious trouble though one kid made a touchdown and grabbed the drumsticks John had left on the snare drum. He made it to the edge of the stage and jumped off before anyone could get to him. And about that time things began to settle down.
The heat, fatigue and sudden high tension activity got to me. I had asplitting headache. So painful that it was agony to bend over to pick up acord. But the equipment had to be packed and certainly Tony could not do itall alone. The work went on. In order not to tilt my head down I would squatdown without bending over to pick anything up. There were still people inthe pavilion the front half was fairly clear. I was disconnecting a mikecord when a kid came to the edge of the stage . As I put the end of thecord, each of which had a connector on it, together in preparation forfolding it up, this kid grabbed the end of the loop. It was a 30 foot cordso there was a 15 foot loop with me on one end and this foolish kid on theother. I did not tell him to let go. Instead I stepped forward, pulling thetwo ends of the cord through my hand. When I had about 4 feet of cordhanging out I swept my arm back and lashed this kid across his back. It musthave made a point because for some reason, the kid let go of the loop. Iimmediately snapped the cord away from the edge of the stage. Add anextremely painful headache to a riot and now this cord incident and I was ina Very Bad mood. I was really not interested in any more distractions.
But distractions did come. It was in the form of three boys who had sortof hung back from the crowd. They walked down the center aisle and came tothe front of the stage. One of them brazenly asked if they could havedrumsticks. Actually it was a very brave thing to do. they had just seen theCord Grabber get whipped with a mike cord. They must have known they were risking the same treatment. Of course by that time the cord was in a neatbundle.
At first I just ignored them without even looking up. Again, another ofthe boys made an appeal, “Please, Just one?”
“I suggest you get out of here before you get what the last one got.” Ofcourse they knew very well what that was.
“We found a Wallet on the floor”, one of them said as he held the walletup. There is nothing like a distraction to fend off trouble.
“Let me see.” I took it and looked at it. It had one or two dollars init and a student ID card, driver’s license and some papers. Not a lot ofvalue but inconvenience with the lost license. “OK, we’ll give it to theoffice. they can get it later”. No announcement could be made since the PAwas now nearly all dismantled.
Again, an appeal was made for drumsticks. I had to bend over to pick upanother cord and that is probably what turned the situation for these boys.“OK, One stick each. You see this equipment?”, they all nodded. “You seethat truck?” They nodded again as they scanned the amps and equipment boxes,“you get that packed and into the truck and you get the sticks.”
The three boys jumped up and stage and, under the watchful eye of Tonyand I, packed the amps into the travel cases, put the drums away and ingeneral, got things done in fine shape. The equipment was packed into thetruck, ready to go to the next performance in New Jersey. The door of thetruck was closed and locked. Then I stood up and look at the three boysstanding in an expectant row looking back.
“Where are our sticks?”
That question burst like a bombshell. With all the pain and activity, Ihad forgotten to take the sticks, which were kept for just this purpose,from the drum case. I had to think fast – anything to avoid unpacking theequipment to get to the trap case, buried under some other boxes. “I’ll tellyou what. How about Pot Luck?”
“What is Pot Luck?”
“It is what I want to give you.”
There was a moment of silence as they looked at each other. One of theboys was firm, “I want the Drum stick.”
The other two were more trusting, to their good fortune. We’ll take potluck one of them said.
“OK.” The lock was opened, the door raised and several boxes came out toget to the trap case. I took out one stick and handed it to the boy whowanted it. Everything was put back and once again, the door was secured.
“What do we get?”
“You get to go on the Doors Tour.”
Those words fell like lightening. The two boys, both very close friends,looked at each other and did something of a little dance, smiling andlaughing. It was not a really great display of surprise or emotion. Onemight say, under the circumstances, it was somewhat restrained. Of coursethe third boy knew he had made a mistake.
“I don’t want the stick.” he loudly exclaimed. The other two knew theirfriend was in trouble. The sounds of excitement stopped. They all turned tolook at me, awaiting the decision. But the decision was already made by theboy.
“You made your choice. You had the chance to take what I would offer andtrust it would be good. You took the stick and that is your reward just aswe agreed.”
That was a lesson for them all. When you make a deal you make a deal,there is no going back. The two friends were a little sorry for theirfriend. But he had made his choice. They won and he lost.
They asked what was to happen. I told them that if their parent said it wasOK, they could go with Tony and I on the trip for the next two shows. Wewould bring them back to New York and give them money for Bus tickets backhome. They could hardly believe what had happened to them. The began tobelieve in Fairies that day. Maybe even Santa Claus.
Their friend left very sad indeed. The stage was checked to make surethere was nothing left out. Tony took the wallet to the guard. They piledinto the truck and took off.
The first stop was to the boy’s house. It was necessary for them to getpermission to go. Of course there was a chance the parents would not allowthem to go running of with strangers from a group notorious for drug use.they directed us to one of the houses. These boys had been friends foryears, often having sleep-overs and even sharing vacations with each othersfamilies. It was assumed that permission from one would be permission fromall. Once of the Boys names was Randy. It is a shame and with sadness that Icannot remember the other.
We came to Randy’s house. He jumped from the truck and ran up the walkand dashed through the open front door. It was only a matter of three orfour minutes that he came running out and hopped back into the truck.
“It is OK with your Parents for you to go?”
“Yes – they said OK.”
Now if we had though about it, it would seem unlikely that a youngfellow, only about 16 at that time, would come running in the house, tellhis parents he was off with two strangers to go on a tour with a rock bandand have thing settled so quickly without the parents even seeing the peoplewho just might lead their precious children down the path of drugs, sex andviolence. But, it was 1968 and at time it was still safe for kids tohitch-hike and the general attitude was Peace-Love-Dope. I am not sure ofthe priorities, but that was the slogan of that time. In any case, withoutfurther thought, we left on the great adventure. We did not know what layimmediately ahead.
We were supposed to be booked into a hotel in Baltimore. But, as usual,Bill had provided little more than a name and phone number without address,reservation numbers or other information. On the way into the city we passeda Greyhound bus terminal. Randy went inside to ask where the Hotel was. Heshortly came running out and said the security guard had thrown him outwithout having a chance to find out where the hotel was. I decided to go inmyself, being older, it was unlikely that I would have trouble. Little did Iknow.
I walked up to the ticket counter and asked a lady there were the hotelmight be. She said that she did not know. I thanked her and backed away fromthe counter right into the face of two black security guards. They told meto get out. I told them I just wanted to get directions to the Hotel.Again, I was told to get out. Instead of doing the logical thing, I turnedand stepped into a phone booth and called the hotel to get the location.This I did get. I also told them to inform Bill Siddons who I was and that Iwas going to be arrested. He better get me some help. I told them it wasurgent and if they could not reach Siddons to tell either Robbie Kreiger orRay Manzareck but to it fast. I told them where I was.
Outside the younger of these to blacks had barricaded the door so Icould not get out until he wanted me to. Of course he could hear me tellingthe Hotel I was to be arrested. Sure enough, when I hung up and stepped out,he grabbed me and held me until the Baltimore police arrived. As I went outthe door, I called to the guys in the truck and told them I was arrested andgoing to a station. One of the cops told them were it was. Tony came apart.He got so nervous he could not drive. Randy took over and this kid, only 16and without a license, drove the truck to the police station where theywaited for me in the lobby. It took an hour or so but I bailed myself outfor “Disturbing the Peace” and we finally got to the hotel.
We got only a few hours of sleep but that was a help. In the morning Ihad to appear in court. The black who started this process told the judgethat I had asked the lady at the counter where the hotel was. When she saidshe did not know I yelled “Fuck You” at her. He observed the whole thing andthen arrested me. The judge fell for it and asked me my side of the story. Itold him that I had asked the lady where the hotel was. When she said shedid not know I went to the phone booth to call. The hotel should have arecord of the call to prove it. I did not yell at anyone, and this guard hadarrested me for not leaving before I made the call in a public phone in apublic bus terminal. I was guilty and fined $50.00. I paid it, Appealed thedecision, and we went on to bigger things.
It is of note that later, back in Los Angeles, when the incident cameout, there was a meeting in the Office. The boys wanted to know what and howthis event had occurred. When I came to the hotel call, Bill laughed andsaid ‘ I got the message but I knew you could take care of it so I didn’tbother.” John was a little shocked – “What if he was in jail and wecouldn’t get the equipment?” Bill was not so smart with an answer to thatone. He was roundly scolded by Both Robbie and Ray for being so careless andpossibly allowing a situation to occur which would have caused them to missa performance. I never did know whether they were more worried about me injail or not having the equipment. I didn’t press the issue.
Well, we drove to the next show which was in a big theater in AsburyPark on August 31. As we were moving in, someone was playing a big WurlitzerTheater Organ. Naturally, I stopped everything for that. When the music wasover, we got things moved in and set up. Randy and his friend pitched in andhelped move things around and even, with some coaching, connected the ampsto power and set up mike stands. With four of us, things went fast. Asusual, one of the guys ran out for food and brought back bags bulging withburgers, cokes and fries. We had our pre-performance feast. Immediatelyafter we all slept right on the stage. There had been too much excitementand too little sleep the night before.
I was rudely awakened by someone shouting, “Is there someone here fromthe Doors?” it was a state trooper. I got up from the stage wondering whatcould go wrong now. I went to the phone and answered. “Are you form theDoors band?”, a voice said.
“Yes, I am the Road Manager.”
“This is Mr……. Do you have my son with you?”
“Yes”, I was a bit surprised by this question. “Didn’t he tell you he was coming with us on the tour?”
“My wife and I were out of the house last night. He came in and told hisyounger brother some fantastic story about going on a trip with the Doors.We called his friends house when he didn’t come home this morning. We didn’tbelieve it. Are they both with you?”
“Yes they are. They told me that they had asked you if they could go andyou had said yes. Otherwise they never could have come. We are playing aperformance here tonight and then we go to Saratoga Springs then back to NewYork. We are leaving for England.”.
“What will happen to them?”
:”We’ll get them to New York and put them on a bus back home.”
“Who will pay for that, I don’t think they have money?”
“We’ll take care of it.”
“How about their food, where will they sleep?”
“We’ll take care of them, no problem about that.”
Then came the inevitable, “What about drugs? Are those kids going to bearound drugs?”
“I assure you that no one on my staff uses drugs. If I so much as thinkthey have used drugs or they look at a can of beer, I will kick their assback to Columbia.”
There was a long pause. What could he really do. I suppose we were indanger of being arrested for kidnapping, but then, it was 1968 and theseboys, as it turned out, were a very adventurous pair. This was not the firsttime they had taken an unauthorized vacation. “OK, As long as they behavethemselves and they aren’t any bother they can stay. Thank you.”
And that was that. It is a sad commentary to say that 40 years laterthis could never had happened in such a casual manner. The parents wouldhave every agency in existence out looking for those kids, convinced thatthey had been kidnapped for ransom by drug soaked terrorists. We would haveall been arrested and who knows how big the story would be. But it was 1968and people trusted each other, Kids spent summers hitch-hiking across thecountry, following the spirit of adventure or rock groups or whatever elsemoved them to adventure. Grass was commonplace, Acid was the great adventureand sex was free, easy and indiscriminate.
The second group came in and, as always, set up in front. One look attheir equipment and we decided once again to let them use our PA.
The show, fueled by excitement and Jim’s moderate drinking, was anothersuccess. There were no riots, no excitement. Just another good show. Again,it might not have been one of the best but compared to the performancesafter Amsterdam, it was magnificent.
It is interesting to note that these two kids, now allowed to be onstage with the group, never once tried to talk to any of the guys, neverasked for an autograph or any souvenir. They had a place in thoseperformances that no money could buy, no one, without my permission, couldbe on that stage. If they tried, and did not heed my soft spoken suggestionthat they leave, they very soon wished that they had taken the hint thefirst time. When it was all over, the crowds still loud with excitement andthe experience went out peacefully. As the hall emptied and the main lightswent out, we worked on stage to pack the amps and equipment, each thing inplace, and make our way home. And where was that? Another motel and awelcome night of sleep.
The next day came bright, warm and sunny. Full of anticipation, weheaded north. across the George Washington Bridge, which is an awesomesight, and up the New York throughway to Saratoga Springs. This is HorseRacing country with many farms where horses were bred, raised and trained.
Seeing the farms, with the green paddocks enclosed by the three-rail woodfences, the barns and the horses, recalled the history and memories of myown home, Hobby Horse Farm. Here, in 1939, My parents had come to the ruralarea of Andover, Massachusetts and purchased 69 acres of land in the middleof which stood a farmhouse built in 1809 by the Flint family, Son-in-law ofone of the Osgood Family, for whom Osgood Street was named, and who had beena signer of the Declaration of Independence. They purpose of this grandplace was to raise horses, thus the name Hobby Horse Farm. It was famous,even being written up in the various news papers that dealt with the racingcommunity. But these sights were not the only things of memory. I was totake a step back in Family History that day.
We arrived at the Holiday near the Venue. When I checked in the elderlyman at the counter looked at the name and looked at me. “Are you anyrelation of Vincent Treanor, the reporter for the New York Sun?”, he asked
I was really surprised at this question from a total stranger, “Yes, Iam his Grandson.”
“I knew your Grandfather.”
We put our things in the rooms. We then went to the venue and got setup. We had our usual junk food dinners. The two kids made things morelively. For them this was a great adventure. Not that they wereirresponsible or running around. They stayed on stage with us and workedhard to get everything ready. It was just their youth and the incrediblesituation they found themselves in. We learned that they often went onadventures, sometimes without telling their parents who had gotten somewhatused to their wild spirits. They were quite a pair.
We went through another good show. It was uneventful as far as any realexcitement goes. But it was, as usual in that time, excitement in and ofitself. We finished up and with the boys, now more sure of what they weredoing, put everything away, ready to go, in record time. We had to becareful with this packing because the next day we were to leave for England.Every box for each amplifier and all the equipment we carried had to belabeled, numbered and have the weight stenciled on it. All of this had beendone in Los Angeles before we left. But there was also a requirement thatevery item in each box be listed on a document called a Carnet. we had to besure that everything was in the right place.
We finished, packed the truck and drove back to the Motel. When everyonewas settled into the rooms I went back to the desk and talked to that man.Even after he got through his work we went to the restaurant and, over asandwich or two, had a long talk about my Grandfather, race tracks, boxingand all the life and times of the early part of the 20th century. It waslike opening a door on the past. My father was not an open person. and eventoday, I know very little about my family history.
The next day was Monday, Labor day. We headed out early for New YorkCity and LaGuardia Airport from which we were to depart. All went well untilsuddenly we hit a lot of traffic piling up. It was a traffic jamb thatlasted for more that 50 miles. It took us nearly six hours to get into thecity. We dropped the boys off at the Greyhound terminal, gave them somemoney for tickets to return home and headed for the airport.
Even at that time I was crazy with worry. Because of the traffic jamb wewere late. By the time I got to the airport it was nearly 30 minutes afterthe scheduled departure time. I was sure that the plane had left and I wasstranded in New York with all the equipment. I had no idea of what to do. Ihad all the equipment, my passport (New for this trip) and my ticket. Tonyand I pulled up to the terminal and unloaded. I paid the cappies a bonus toget things on the plane without all the excess baggage charges and went in.We were flying Air India so I went to the desk to find out what could bedone. As I approached, I saw the sign DELAYED.
Boy, I can tell you never was I so happy at a delayed flight. Sureenough, when I went into the lounge, Bill, Ray, Robbie, Jim were all therewaiting. They had also been in the traffic jamb. In fact, they had leftlater than we did and were behind us on the highway. However, they had theluxury of turning back and hiring a helicopter to get them into the cityright to the airport. We waited for 3 more hours before the plane finallytook off. All I could do was thank Air India for being so inefficient.
Randy and his friend got home safely. Their parents were justifiablyupset. They were grounded for a week or so but with indomnable spirits likethat, it could not last long. You can image the stories they could telltheir friends when they went back to school the following week. They musthave been celebrities. I was my first meeting with those two boys. For manytours after that, they were on the stage with me whenever we went East.
And there it is. This is a good place to end this story
I have a book with all the names in it – it is, of course, in LA. I wouldreally like to hear from them rather than these Wanna-Be guys coming out ofthe wood work.How I hated groupies. Soulless, empty, blood-sucking people who had no selfrespect, no ambition, nothing but drugs and sex and how many times they hadslept with whom.