Now Playing: Everybody (Part 2)

Embed from Getty Images

(Above: Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis, backstage in Madison, 1982.)

In a previous post, we started going through the concert listings for the Dane County Coliseum, the big arena in my town, Madison, Wisconsin. Because is a wiki, it’s only as good as the recollections of its users, so if there are errors of omission or commission in this list, don’t be surprised. We have already covered 1967 through 1977. On we go with 1978 and beyond.

1/24/78: Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker
1/29/78: Rush, Pat Travers, and Jay Ferguson
2/22/78: Dr. Hook and Sha Na Na
3/1/78: Foghat and Starz
—Starz: one of the ultimate opening acts of the late 70s. (See also: Mahogany Rush.)

4/20/78: John Denver
4/21/78: Bob Seger and the Sweet
—At this moment in history, with Seger a couple of weeks away from releasing Stranger in Town and the Sweet on the radio with “Love Is Like Oxygen,” this is a damn fine bill.

4/28 or 5/28/78 (multiple dates given): REO Speedwagon
7/8/78: Bruce Springsteen
7/23/78: Beach Boys
7/28/78: Alice Cooper
8/16/78: ELO
—This was the show with the spaceship; the opening act was Trickster, labelmates of ELO on Jet Records, who sucked mightily.

9/15/78: Cheap Trick and Eddie Money
10/15/78: Aerosmith
10/16/78: Neil Young
11/1/78: Bob Dylan
11/5/78: Moody Blues
11/28/78: Bruce Springsteen
—That’s two Springsteen shows in Madison in about four months. The economics of touring were vastly different then.

12/2/78: Ted Nugent
12/3/78: Grateful Dead
12/6/78: Queen
12/12/78: Bob Seger
12/17/78: Rush
—Sweet mama look at that lineup from Thanksgiving to Christmas 1978. Given what concert tickets cost then, you could have seen them all for what–$75?

1/26/79: Marshall Tucker and Firefall
2/4/79: Grateful Dead
2/14/79: Alice Cooper
3/20/79: Nazareth
3/something/79: Billy Joel
—Although it’s not shown at, I know we saw Billy Joel at the Coliseum at about this time.

4/11/79: Head East
4/27/79: Yes
4/20/79: Jethro Tull
5/8/79: AC/DC and UFO
5/30/79: UFO

6/9/79: Eric Clapton
7/25/79: Bee Gees and the Sweet Inspirations
—A friend of mine took his Bee Gees-obsessed younger sister to this show and said it was the loudest thing he’d ever experienced.

8/20/79: Van Halen
8/24/79: Styx and New England
9/16/79: the Kinks and John Cougar
9/26/79: Kiss and Judas Priest
9/30/79: REO Speedwagon
10/10/79: Blue Oyster Cult and Rainbow
10/18/79: Kansas
11/7/79: Molly Hatchet and the Outlaws
11/11/79: Bob Marley
—I was at this show, and I think I’ve said here before that of all the concerts I’ve ever been to, it’s the one I am the most glad to have seen.

12/5/79: Jefferson Starship
3/3/80: ZZ Top and Head East
—Also appearing: Starcastle, who were everywhere back in the day.

3/13/80: UFO
3/23/80: Utopia
4/20/80: Rush and .38 Special
4/27/80: Cheap Trick
5/11/80: Fleetwood Mac
6/5/80: John Denver
6/13/80: Ted Nugent, Scorpions, and Def Leppard
6/26/80: Jackson Browne
8/20/80: Joan Armatrading
9/4/80: Elton John
—At which Elton pitched an onstage fit over technical problems with his piano. While he was staying at Madison’s Edgewater Hotel, he took a turn at the piano bar.

9/14/80: AC/DC and Blackfoot
10/9/80: Charlie Daniels Band
11/13/80: Beach Boys and Off Broadway
2/2/81: Bruce Springsteen
—In 1981, I was a Springsteen fanatic, so it’s a mystery why I didn’t go to this show.

3/13/81: Eric Clapton
4/24/81: Rainbow and Pat Travers
7/12/81: Van Halen
7/24/81: Styx
8/5/81: ZZ Top
8/31/81: Little River Band
10/18/81: Bob Dylan
10/21/81: Def Leppard and Blackfoot
11/5/81: Blue Oyster Cult, Foghat, and Whitford St. Holmes
—The latter was Brad Whitford of Aerosmith and Derek St. Holmes from Ted Nugent’s band plus a couple of other dudes.

11/12/81: Genesis
12/3/81: Grateful Dead
12/13/81: Triumph
1/11/82: Rod Stewart
1/23/82: Ozzy Osbourne
2/18/82: Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins
—Not shown at, but the picture at the top of this post proves it happened.

2/27/82: Marshall Tucker
3/11 or 3/12/82: Black Sabbath and Wrabit
Wrabit was a Canadian band in the mold of Styx, with its logo supposedly designed by Warner Brothers cartoon auteur Chuck Jones.

4/20/82: Loverboy
6/17/82: John Denver
8/11/82: Van Halen and After the Fire
9/13/82: REO Speedwagon and Survivor
10/10/82: Rush and Rory Gallagher
11/10/82: Crosby Stills & Nash
11/18/82: Pat Benatar

And that’s where I’m gonna leave it. Those amongst the readership with memories of any of these shows—or any not listed here—please chime in.

11 thoughts on “Now Playing: Everybody (Part 2)

  1. Van Halen and … After the Fire? The guys who did “Der Kommissar” or whatever that was called?

    Also: Five points for a Whitford St. Holmes sighting.

  2. I am FB friends (and a real-life acquaintance) with the lead singer of After The Fire, who moved to my suburban SC town a few years ago to lead music in an Episcopal-related church. He also sold me a really nice amp simulator. Weird personal trivia of the day.

  3. porky

    There was a band called Roadmaster that seemed to be the opening act at every show I went to ’79-’80. Some members later joined Mellencamp’s band. I saw that Kinks/Mellencamp tour and mostly remember it for being packed in so tight and (after quaffing a bunch of beer) nearly wetting myself because I couldn’t make a path to the bathroom. Memories!!

    Starz actually evolved from The Looking Glass of “Brandy” fame. Their “Cherry Baby” is pretty good and they were also known for “Cool One” with its reference to the “popcorn box trick.”

  4. The only time I have seen Bob Seger in concert was on April 21, 1978 at the Dane County Coliseum. Like the “Live Bullet” album, he opened with “Nutbush City Limits.” He really brought a lot of energy to the show, fueled by Alto Reed playing his saxophone atop the speakers while they did “Let it Rock.” Sweet put on a good show, too, jamming out on about an 8-minute version of “Love is Like Oxygen.”

    On August 16, 1978, I saw ELO with the spaceship…and as you have said before, they were outrageously loud. I didn’t even know they were doing “Turn To Stone” until they began singing the chorus. As you also stated, Trickster, was BAD!.

    I saw Kansas on October 18, 1980 with a couple of guys from our college radio station who also liked Kansas. We were right up front and Steve Walsh really got the crowd amped up. He was a lot like Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon…bouncing all over the stage with a lot of energy. The opening act was a group called Sweetbottom. They weren’t half-bad. My trip to Madison that night also introduced me to Rocky Rococco’s Pizza for the very first time.

    I think Journey played somewhere in the area in the summer of 1980 and a gorgeous young part-time jock at the radio station where I was doing my internship wanted to go. I was 21 and she was 16 or 17. Knowing that I liked Journey, too, she wanted me to take her to the concert. It was tempting, but my logical side won out and I thought the better of it.

  5. I started working in Madison the week of that John Denver concert in June 1982. I lived there for 8 years, but I never saw a show at the Coliseum.

  6. Great to hear that about Marley. I hear this from a lot of people who weren’t even that into reggae, that they caught him at such and such a show and it was like no other concert experience. Great writings…Mike

  7. Dave Watts

    Betty Wright of “Clean Up Woman” fame opened for Marley. And I thought Southside Johnny opened for Seger at that 1978 show?

    1. I was at the Marley show, and I remember that Betty Wright didn’t go down particularly well. A guy in front of us stood up at one point and yelled, “Cut out this disco shit and let’s hear some reggae!”

      And as for Southside Johnny opening for Bob Seger: I don’t know, but hot damn I wish I’d been there if he did because that’s an epic ass-kicking bill.

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