Friday, August 26, 2011

It Was The Summer of '69

     The year was 1969 and I was 14 years old that summer. My small hometown of Mattoon, Illinois was suddenly on the map as it was selected to host the 1969 Babe Ruth World Series for 14-15-year-olds at Grimes Field in Peterson Park. This event was a very big deal for our small town. Teams were coming in from all across the country, parades were held and princesses were selected to “look pretty on the floats”. As a 14-year-old girl, it was heaven. My own subdivision of 50 houses, hosted the team from Indianola, Iowa. As the only teenage girl in the neighborhood, I was asked to gather my girlfriends and throw a few parties to entertain the team.

     For me, it was the summer of my first “boyfriend” as I met and fell for the older brother of one of the team members. It was the summer of my first kiss…the same week, the same boy. It was the summer that I finally figured out that I might actually not always be seen as too tall and gangly or just as the best friend of the cutest girl in my class. It was easily the best summer I ever had as a kid and I still can’t help but smile when I think of the fun we had.

Wonder where they are now?

     The backdrop of that summer of course was music. What comes to mind first when I think of that summer is The Association singing Never My Love and Cherish and The Grass Roots-Midnight Confessions and I‘d Wait A Million Years. It was the days before MTV and video, we played our albums over and over until we wore them out. I still have every one of mine!

     Imagine how exciting it was last night to attend the Happy Together Tour that just happened to make a stop at our local theater. The Association, The Grass Roots, The Buckingham’s, The Turtles and Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders were all on stage singing songs from their combined multitude of hits.

     The Buckingham's founding members Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna opened the show. They may be a little older, but their voices are those we remember from Kind of a Drag, Susan, Don't You Care and Hey Baby.  

     Next up, The Grass Roots. Sadly, Rob Grill, the voice we all remember from the hits of The Grass Roots, died in July. He had been billed to be on this tour, but his health prevented him from participating this year. This formation of the band sounded really good and we enjoyed hearing the old songs, but something was missing because we knew there were no members from the original lineup.

     Next, The Association. With three original members performing I had high expectations for the group that I loved so much as a teenager. Opening the set with Windy and finishing with Cherish, the music took me back to my teen years and I couldn't believe I was finally hearing them in person. With that said, they were the one group who have really lost their vocal sound. The tight harmonies that made them famous are simply not there and at times, because I know these songs so well, it was almost painful to listen to.

     Mark Lindsay, the lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders (remember the pony tails) back in the day was next on stage. This guy is still very cool. At 69, he has more energy than a 25-year-old and his voice seems to have mellowed over the years. Singing Indian Reservation, Kicks, Hungry and Arizona, it was easy to forget that decades had passed. He could easily do a Vegas show and keep audiences entertained. He was the surprise of the night for me because while as a young teen I thought he was gorgeous, I didn't really think his career would last this long or he would be this good.

     The true stars of the show were The Turtles, Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (Flo and Eddie). They were the founding fathers of the group and at 64-years-old, they sound great! I would still buy this music. They mix a bit of silly humor in between You Baby, Happy Together and She'd Rather Be With Me. I really loved these guys!

     As the show came to an end (after more than 3 hours) all the performers took to the stage together and looked as if they were having a great time. This concert was well worth the ticket price and was almost a sell out crowd here in our little town. Most of us in the audience have our AARP cards, but for one summer night in August, we all forgot that for a little while!


Barbara F. said...

Sue, I thoroughly enjoyed this post and would have loved to be at that concert. We were the same age back then and I loved all these groups and all these songs. I remember Windy was #1 on the record charts for weeks. I also had my very first summer love that year! xo

Red Couch Recipes said...

I remember some of these, especially Cherish. I bet that was a fun evening. Joni

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Sounds like a fun evening and trip down memory lane.

LindyLouMac said...

Happy memories. :)

Angie said...

What a great walk down memory lane! Loved the story of your 14-year-old self :) Sounds like a great show, too!

BrightenedBoy said...

This was such a cool post! I can only imagine what it must have been like to be a teenager in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and your situation definitely sounds like it was a lot of fun.

It's hard to think of adults asking a group of adolescent girls to throw a party for the express purpose of entertaining adolescent boys. That must've been a blast.

I would love to hear even more about your memories.