“Mom, may I borrow $20? There is a concert I have to go see because everyone else is going!”
The building only holds around 9K but this night, 20 times that, it seemed, were there.
February 11th, 1984.
The greatest concert, or at least, the most talked about one ever, happened in Nashville.
It had the greatest guitar player of all time and in my mind, the greatest front man in rock history. Yes, longevity it is Mick Jagger, but this guy, this guy, was everything.
“What concert is it? You are only 15 and I want to make sure it will be OK.”
“Mom, it is the usual suspects but this concert I have to see!” I pleaded as if my life would end if I did not go to this show.
“OK, but I want you home at a decent hour. I mean it!”
“Love you mom!”
And thus, the greatest night of music was about to happen. And 36 years later, it still stands.
Van Halen. Municipal Auditorium. And everyone was there. It seemed that way. Everyone.
At the time, Van Halen was the biggest band in the entire world. Heck, the universe. We all had the albums. We all had the tapes. We knew every single song.
But, there was a problem. An opening act. An opening act that no one, not one single soul, wanted to see. And when I hear their song to this day, I just laugh. They weren’t bad, but when you want to see the best band in the world, you don’t have time for this.
The band? Autograph. Yes, the song, “Turn Up The Radio.” Not a bad song, but not on this evening.
And the boos came down as if heaven opened up and was dropping manna everywhere. I had never heard anyone get that kind of reception ever and to this day, nothing even comes close.
But one thing happened when the band was on stage that will be forever stamped on my mind. Stephen Moles, sitting not far from us in the upper deck, took a pizza box, tore off the top, and flung it towards the stage. Ever try flinging a pizza top anywhere? It usually goes about 10 feet and dies.
Not on this night. Stephen rared back and flung that top and away it went. It will remind of you Carlton’s shot to win the game on The Fresh Prince. Or Teen Wolf trying to win at the buzzer when the world basically stopped and everything was in slow motion. The top went up. It went low. It went back up. Then, when it looked as if it would miss the entire stage, it does a curve that would have made Sonny Gray jealous. It curved right into the lead singer and hit him. It was a toss that if you had 20,000 tries, you would only get it correct once. And he did.
The boos were bad enough but getting hit with the top of a pizza box, evidently was the final straw. The lead singer yelled at us and the band walked off the stage.
Thank you, Jesus. Now it was showtime!
And they proceeded to put on a show that was worth every single penny we all paid. All 100,000 people that were allegedly there. David sang. Eddie played. Michael jammed on the bass and Alex played the drums to perfection.
Heaven. At Municipal Auditorium. On a cold February night. That 36 years later still stands as the best night of music ever. No pictures. No distorted audio. Just a clear wonderful memory in my mind that will always be there.
Don’t let anyone tell you differently. It was simply the best concert to ever come to town.