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Friday, April 20, 2018

The Doors in Columbus, Ohio on May 9, 1970 -- I Was There!




On Saturday, May 9, 1970, my friend, Steve Wagner, and I attended a show by the Doors at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Columbus, Ohio. At the time Steve was 17 and I was 19 – two huge fans of the group – who traveled from Lucasville, Ohio to Columbus that day to see the show. We had good tickets on the floor and looked forward to seeing one of our favorite groups. Not unusual? Well, it seems as if almost no one else has details about the memorable show. It is a ghost that haunts our memories, a reality that is forgotten.

The very fact that a show occurred that day has been in question. On the site “The Doors Interactive Chronological History,” featuring a post by Ricki C. (Cacchione) of Columbus the following entry was made:

"...there seems to be some question as to whether there was a Doors show scheduled for Columbus in 1970 that was subsequently cancelled in the wake of the Miami fiasco/arrests. Again, I can pretty categorically state that I would have been aware of - and mightily hyped for - a Doors appearance my senior year of high school through my familial connections with Central Ticket Office. In addition to my dad working at the shows, Ben Cowall - the head of CTO - was my godfather. We were Italian. We were tight."

Part of my memory of the 1970 show echoed the recollection of Ricki C. and his detail about a prior concert at Veterans Memorial on Novermber 2, 1968. Ricki said of that date ...

“At that point the fire curtain - a weighted, heavily-padded piece of fabric designed to prevent a fire spreading from the stage to the auditorium - was dropped from the ceiling into the orchestra pit, cutting all of The Doors from the audience's view. But they still kept playing. Thirty seconds later all the red lights on the PA in the wings of the stage blinked out as power was cut to the speakers. But John Densmore just kept pounding away, completely out of sight behind the regular and fire curtains. About a minute later that tribal drumbeat ceased when, I would imagine, someone either took the sticks away from Densmore or toppled him off the drum riser.

“This entire time the audience was on its feet, shouting and going nuts at the performance. The termination of Densmore's beat brought a chorus of boos & derision from the crowd and when a burly cop groped his way out from under the fire curtain and announced to the assembled multitude, 'The show's over! It's over! You kids go home!'" 

 

There was a concert on May 9. It did take place -- not in its entirety, but in a very unique fashion. Here is what I mean …

Steve and I arrived at the venue and took our seats. There was a large police presence at the event, and we figured they were there because of the infamous Miami incident on March 2, 1969, during which a very drunk Jim Morrison became the object of six arrest warrants, including one for a felony charge of "Lewd and lascivious behavior in public by exposing his private parts and by simulating masturbation and oral copulation."

The band began to play, and with no apparent bad behavior, they mixed their hits, album cuts, and Morrison theatrics to the delight of the crowd. A half hour or so into the performance, a young man jumped onstage and draped a necklace around Morrison's neck (If my memory serves, it was a Native American, hand-made, hippie-kind-of-ornament). He did this and ran off the stage.

Before the guy could take his seat, the police apprehended him. They pulled his hands behind his back and pushed him toward the entry doors, presumably to kick him out. At that point, Morrison began making comments about the police. I can't really remember anything specific about what he said other than at the end of the rant, Morrison invited to audience to “Come on up!”

Of course, that was all Steve and I – two young fans presented with an opportunity of a lifetime – needed to hear. We leapt out of our seats and pulled ourselves up and onstage just a few feet from the band. Not only did Steve and I get onstage, but it seemed everyone was climbing aboard. I know we helped a few others, pulling them up on the wings of the stage. In rock ecstasy, we were onstage with the Doors. My 19-year-old brain was in-the-moment and delirious with delight.

The police reacted quickly to this mayhem. They had the P.A. announcer tell us to “Sit down” or they would “drop the fire curtain and end the show.” In my recollection, we all did so in a pretty orderly fashion. I know most did anyway, including Steve and me. We didn't want to be arrested for simply attending a concert and having a little fun. After all, we probably paid $5.00 or $6.00 apiece for our tickets. We had come to see the band and didn't want to leave until they finished their set.

I later read Ray Manzarek, the keyboard player, said that during the Miami concert of '69, a similar, near-tragedy had occurred after Morrison had incited the crowd and began their anthem “Light My Fire” … Manzarek recounted, "And they started coming down on a rickety little stage, and the entire stage collapsed." I heard that the Veterans Memorial stage may have been in danger of doing so, too.

Nevertheless, after a very short time, before the band could begin another number, the fire curtain came down. We were really bummed out that the concert had been cut short, but we knew we had just experienced a lifelong memory. In a grand finale, the Doors, behind the curtain and completely out of sight, played “Light My Fire” and the concert was over. We walked to our car and talked about the show on our hour-and-a-half trip back to the little town of Lucasville. We felt we had been a tiny part of rock history – two young dudes just hanging out with the Doors.

I am 67-years-old now, and I have looked for any and everything I could find about the Doors concert of May 9, 1970. It sadly seems my account is the only easily accessible remembrance of the event. Are there more? So many Doors sites are online – http://www.doorshistory.com/doors1970.html and https://www.thedoors.com/live to name just two. Ricki C. has a blog titled “Growing Old With Rock and Roll” at http://rickic614.blogspot.ca/%3C/a. Thus far, I have found no concert photos, footage, or amateur recordings of the concert. No, neither Steve or I took photos or bought a program. Our ticket stubs are gone also.

I would love to read other accounts of the concert and see any other evidence of the show. I look at some similarities between my memories and the memories of Ricki Cacchione, and I wonder if he isn't confusing some facts he remembers as those of November 2, 1968, with those of May 9, 1970. Perhaps he attended both and mixed the events in his mind. There is not doubt in my mind and in the mind of Steve Wagner that we were there on November 2 and we SAW the Doors and even STOOD on the same stage with them.

How wonderful it would be to have the ability to recall totally a memorable event. I have told many people about this concert and I regret my scant recollection of details. Perhaps someone else attended the show and will share their memories here. If you know of accounts of the concert, please e-mail me at frank.thompson51@yahoo.com. I would be thrilled to hear from you. I also wonder if John Densmore and Robby Krieger remember the show. Please share any of their recollections with me -- articles, books, etc. I hope to revive memories of this event that was so special to Steve and to me.


Columbus, 1968, Jim Morrison

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