March 26, 1971 (Friday)
Dobyns-Bennett High School auditorium
Kingsport, Tennessee, U.S.A.
I attended the Friday, March 26, 1971 Badfinger Concert at Dobyns-Bennett High School. I had not made plans to attend the concert as I was leaving town for the weekend but a friend that I worked with (Ron Kestner) saw me around 3 P.M. and said he was contacted by a friend of his who was gathering up equipment to loan Hog Heaven (rumored to have been Tommy James and the Shondells) who were playing that night and whose bus (the story goes) had either suffered a breakdown or was involved in a wreck earlier in the day and therefore they were short on equipment. My friend said we could both get in free if we delivered his new Ampeg bass amp to the concert location in time - too good to be true, but it got even better. Around 6 P.M., we both wheeled his new Ampeg amp into the Dobyns-Bennett dome and there on stage was the drummer for The Grass Roots setting up his drum kit. We were asked if we would like to sit in the first row; I accepted, but Ron declined and decided to stand with his friend. I sat in the first row about 7 seats to right of center stage - unbelievable.
The Grass Roots played, then Hog Heaven, both great bands and very well known. I was then and am now a Beatles fan and knew that Badfinger was an 'Apple Band' and they knew all The Beatles, so there was a great anticipation on my part. I was 21 then, am 57 now, but can remember this like it was last week. The Grass Roots played first, Hog Heaven second, and then the whole stage was cleared while two tall walls (maybe 10 feet by 10 feet) of speakers were constructed, one on each side of the stage along with Badfinger's other equipment. The lights were dimmed, then Badfinger came out - they were the headliners. I remember that they started out with Blodwyn and mainly did songs from "No Dice" (I went out and purchased the album a few days later). They did a fantastic job both musically and vocally. The dome was full and they received a lot of applause and shouts. I sat almost directly in front of Pete Ham. I did not realize at the time that the red Gibson SG he was playing was a gift from George Harrison. Every one of them was a great musician and vocalist. They were a tight band. I know they did a couple of encore songs but do not remember what they were. When the concert was over, I was not able to hear in my right ear (sitting a little to the right and in the first row near the giant walls of speakers they had) and thought for about 3 days that I might have permanent hearing loss. I would like to have the opportunity to do it again and would if possible.
When the concert was over, my friend Ron Kestner found me and asked if I would like to go backstage. We did, and by the time we got there, all the Badfinger members were busy changing clothes, needing to move on to the next date. They all spoke and asked if I would like a picture of the band. I said that I would get one for my sister (who has since misplaced it) and they all took time to sign it. I am glad that I was able to attend, especially under the circumstances and with the the seat location and the opportunity to go backstage and meet Badfinger.
Note: The concert did take place in the Dobyns-Bennett dome here in Kingsport and not the Civic Auditorium (would have been too small for the crowd), but as a side note, the Civic Auditorium is beside/near to the dome and it is rumored that when Elvis Presley played there in 1955 or 1956 (true - this did happen) that Colonel Parker was there and this is where he received the phone call about Elvis appearing on the Ed Sullivan show.
Doug Christian (March 16, 2007)
The March 26, 1971 concert in Kingsport, Tennessee was not
at the Civic Center. It was nearby, though, at Kingsport's Dobyns-Bennett High School,
which at the time was brand new and advertised as the largest high school in the
state. It had a huge, round auditorium where the Hollies, James Gang, Badfinger and
others played, probably because the Civic Center was old and in disrepair. Badfinger
indeed might have been booked for the Civic Center, but they played at the high school.
They were introduced by Kingsport's main disc jockey at the time, Dick Winstead of
WKIN, Kingsport. "And one of them looks like Paul McCartney," Winstead
told the crowd, which I'll bet Joey heard more often than he cared to in those days.
I stood behind and above the band on a walkway behind the stage and watched Mike
Gibbins' bass drum foot! pedal technique (I'm a drummer). They had an upright wooden
piano, and I've always wondered if it was the one heard on some of their records.
I think they played with Blue Oyster Cult (or The Grass Roots), whom I later met
backstage, but it's Badfinger whose music I enjoyed most and still remember.
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