Backstage in South Florida: Bob Dylan, Roger Daltrey and Keith Moon Concert Calamaties

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman shares stories of memorable rock 'n' roll encounters that took place in our local environs. This week: Bob Dylan stumbles, Roger Daltrey fumbles, Keith Moon crumbles... but the band(s) play on!

Some of the most memorable concerts I've attended are those

in which the performers reveal themselves to be real human beings -- when

carefully planned performances go astray and the artist reveals he or

she is as flawed as the rest of us mere mortals. Some may say that's

sadistic. I say that it's refreshing. It levels the playing field and

breaks down the barriers, both real and imagined, that exists between

us and our idols.

Sometimes, it's just a minor glitch, like

the one that transpired during a double bill featuring Bob Dylan and the

Dead at BankAtlantic Center a few years back. As always, Dylan didn't

bother to acknowledge the audience at all, maintaining his holier than

thou aura of aloofness throughout the concert. But when he joined the

Dead after their individual sets and nearly tripped over an errant

cable, it showed he was less than god-like after all.

Likewise, Elvis

Costello, normally the king of cool, also lost his footing when he

headlined at the old Sunrise Musical Theater back in the mid '90s. As

Elvis himself once decried, indeed, "Accidents Will Happen." No less

than Paul McCartney, a man whose rarified status presumes he hovers

several feet off the ground, narrowly avoided serious injury when he

fell into the piano pit on the second night of his opening stand at

Miami's American Airlines Arena. Don't get me wrong. I didn't wish any of them any injury and I gasped

along with the rest of the crowd when their mishaps took place. The

point is that even the most choreographed presentation is still subject

to human error.

Then again, Macca never fails to prove

he's all too human. During his 2002 appearance at

BankAtlantic Center, he got all teary when his crew waved placards

bearing hearts during an especially poignant rendition of "Long and

Winding Road." It was actually quite touching. Sir Paul isn't the only performer I've seen get choked up onstage. When

Tori Amos played the Jackie Gleason Theater several years ago, prior to

its rechristening as the Fillmore, she was suddenly and inexplicably

overcome by emotion and became so distraught, she had to leave the

stage. I have no idea what caused her to flee, but when she reappeared

a short time later, she had a tall, lavishly attired woman seated next

to her as she sang, as if Tori had talked a pal into coming out and

lending moral support. It all seemed rather odd, to say the least. But

then again, Amos is a model for the sensitive singer/songwriter type.

Perhaps a bit too sensitive methinks.

Speaking of which, I recall a Crosby/Nash concert in the mid '70s at

the old Miami Jai Alai Fronton, once one of South Florida's most

popular venues. With a band that included drummer Russ Kunkel and Danny

Kortchmar, two of the musicians providing support for the recent James

Taylor/Carole King reunion tour, the pair were promoting their "solo"

disc Wind on the Water while reasserting their independence following a

temporary lull in CSNY activities. After the duo brought out special

guest, Carole King, they became enraged when the crowd refused to quiet

down in deference to their attempt to affect a mellow mood. Crosby was

especially adamant and threatened to stop the show, which naturally

egged the audience on even more. It became mighty uncomfortable for all

concerned, with the musicians chastising the audience and the crowd

either ignoring their entreaties or rudely responding with boos.

Compare that with a CSN show several years later at the Knight Center

in Downtown Miami when the Cros was so stoned he could barely stand,

much less sing. This was at the height of his substance abuse problems

and he had become a pretty sad spectacle. I later heard that there was

a massive altercation backstage between the band mates, all pertaining

to Crosby and Stills' prevalent drug use. "Wooden Ships" was in the

repertoire, but Sinking Ships seemed to be the prevalent theme.

The Who's Roger Daltrey also let loose during his solo stint at the

Hard Rock only a few months back. It appeared he was having a rather

barbed private dialogue with some spectators in the front rows when he

let loose with some expletives that he chose to freely share with the

rest of the crowd. He should have spared his voice. Sadly, he was

having trouble hitting the high notes -- or for that matter, any notes

at all. It was so bad in fact that he actually had to start over

several times, and on one song, he finally gave up, letting Simon

Townshend, Pete's baby brother, take over the vocal chores.

Then again, the Who have always been notorious for doing the unexpected

on stage. The best concert I ever witnessed, bar none, was the Who at

Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in Flushing, New York, the same night as

George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh. Pete Townshend and Keith Moon

jousted back and forth all night, until finally Townshend brought out a

bucket of water and poured it over his hapless drummer's head. Talk

about some spontaneity! I found out later I could have had tickets for

Harrison's extravaganza, but I have no regrets that I saw the Who

instead. In fact, I saw them several times over the years. After

attending their concert at the old Miami Baseball Stadium on August 11,

1971, I learned of another unanticipated occurrence. Two days after

their performance, Moon collapsed after trashing his room at the Miami

Beach Fountainebleau and was hospitalized for nearly a week at

Hollywood Memorial Hospital. It was his second incident that year,

following a blackout during a show in March. Sadly, it foretold the

inevitable. Two years later, the drummer was dead.

These are just some of the unusual incidents I recall from my many

years of attending concerts. However, they pail compare to an incident

I observed backstage at a Beach Boys concert in the early '80s. But

that's a story in itself and best left until next time. You'll have to

wait a week, but it's worth it because it's a tattered tale indeed.

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Lee Zimmerman