I was a music impresario along with two friends, in the early 1970’s. It was at a time when the San Francisco scene was dominated by the Grateful Dead and the Airplane. We felt that hippies were ready for some country western.
The first group we brought was the Carter Family. Now known for June Carter who married Johnny Cash.
We filled a venue on the top floor of Ghirardelli Square. It was a 200 seat theatre and was filled to the ceiling.
Our first lesson was to control the doors. The Carters had given out so many passes to their friends that we didn’t make money.
My first lesson was, don’t bring a girl friend with me to these events. June Carter was flirting with me and I had to pass it up.
The second concert was at the Oakland Coliseum with room for 9,000. Nearly full. The singer was Charlie Pride and we sold out. After the concert, the gate revenue was distributed in a small room by the facilities manager, we had made plenty of money.
The third concert was Merle Haggard at the Oakland Coliseum. From the time we booked him until the concert, he came out with his record hit: Okie From Muskogee. The first line is “We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee, we don’t take our trips on LSD….”
It looked desperate trying to get hippies to come to a Merle Haggard concert. We promptly turned our promotion to Contra Costa County nearby. It is home to cops and firemen, who did come to the concert. We got about 5,000 people and didn’t lose money.
Merle was truly himself. At the end of the concert he invited the women in the audience to join him and his band at the Hilton near the airport.
We didn’t do any more concerts.
My partners were Ellliott Buchdrucker and Ed Statum.