From the Archives: Rockin’ the Blatt

My final Rosenblatt Stadium blog is also my favorite, as some of my most treasured memories of the stadium are from the many concerts I attended there as a young adult.

 

To recap, what we’ve covered so far in Rosenblatt’s history:

Municipal Stadium’s early years

Rosenblatt, 1964-1980

Rosenblatt, the later years

Rosenblatt and the College World Series

 

Any of you old enough to remember the early “American Bandstand” are probably familiar with this show: “Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars.” America’s oldest teenager brought his road show to Omaha in August of 1964. The 20-act show included Paul Petersen, who played Jeff Stone on “The Donna Reed Show” and recorded hit songs like “Lollipops and Roses”; singer-dancer Bobby Freeman, whose hits included “Do You Wanna Dance” and “C’mon and Swim”; and the fabulous Fabian (swoon here!), an actor and songster known for hits such as “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.”

I love the headline that ran with a review: “It Were a Scuzzy Evening With Dick C., Fabian, Etc.” A bit before my time; I had no idea that the word scuzzy meant something very good OR something very bad.

An anxious fan reaches for an autograph from Paul Petersen on Aug. 2, 1964, at Rosenblatt Stadium. THE WORLD-HERALD

 

Not all concerts were rock ‘n’ roll, and though I named this post “Rockin’ the Blatt,” I’ll drop in a couple other big names here and there.

Everyone has a favorite Johnny Cash song, and my favorite happens to be “Ring of Fire.” Though that’s more likely due to the comedy routine I heard as a child by the Smothers Brothers (another blast from the past!) where Tom sings about falling into a vat of chocolate instead of fire. The great Johnny Cash played at Rosenblatt in 1964.

Johnny Cash in concert at the City Auditorium on Feb. 27, 1967. THE WORLD-HERALD

 

In 1966 there was a little rock combo out there promoting songs like “Susie Q” and “Time is on My Side.” Perhaps you’ve of heard of them? Yes, the Rolling Stones played Omaha back then, though it was pretty difficult to confirm it was at Rosenblatt Stadium. All we ran in the paper was the concert announcement on July 1, then the bus schedule to Rosenblatt in the Teen Pulse for the night of the concert, July 15. So I’m guessing they weren’t quite as popular back then.

Did you know the Stones played at the City Auditorium in 1964 to a crowd of only 640 people? In 1983, World-Herald columnist Robert McMorris wrote of his experience before the ’64 concert: “I went to their dressing room in hopes of an interview, but just as I arrived I heard the thud of a body falling against the other side of the closed door. When I dared peek inside, I saw an Omaha police lieutenant wrestling a jug of whiskey away from one of the singers. (I can’t give you a name; at the time all Stones looked alike to me.) In those days, police took a rather proprietary attitude toward deportment on city property. The Stones said there would be no interviews.”

This undated promotional photo shows the Rolling Stones on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

 

Concert coverage was much better for the 1967 Herman’s Hermits show. “Herm” and his buddies headlined a concert opened by the Blues Magoos and The Who. The crowd went wild when the band sang its  favorite songs (“I’m ‘enery the eighth, I am, ‘enery the eighth I am, I am. I got married to the widow next door …”) and the reviewers raved about their clothing.

Herman's Hermits on stage at Rosenblatt Stadium. From left are Karl Green, Keith Hopwood, Barry Whitwam, Peter Noone and Derek Leckenby. PHIL JOHNSON/THE WORLD-HERALD

The Who in a 1975 promotional photo for the release of their album "The Who by Numbers."

The Who’s smash-up finale of “Our Generation” left Omaha’s teen community in a state of both shock and awe, depending who you talked to. Here is the concert review by one of our hip teen reporters who contributed to The World-Herald’s teen page.

From THE WORLD-HERALD Friday, July 11, 1967 paper.

From the July 11, 1967, edition of The World-Herald.

 

I wish I would have been old enough to go to this …

Advertisement in The World-Herald.

 

The Beach Boys concerts were always popular, and the band played at Rosenblatt several times. There was just something special about seeing them in that outdoor venue. And the crowds always had a blast.

Concertgoers form a human pyramid during intermission at the 1979 Beach Boys concert at Rosenblatt Stadium. JAMES R. BURNETT/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

In 1979, the Marshall Tucker Band headlined a Rosenblatt show with Santana opening. The stadium was packed. (I actually checked this photo to see if I was in it – a little more to the right and you would have seen a young me!) Maybe you’re in there?

Concertgoers at Rosenblatt Stadium to see the Marshall Tucker Band, Santana and Jonesin'. THE WORLD-HERALD

Also to the right were lighting scaffolds where an electrical fire started during the performance. The crowd in that area started to panic, but the music continued and the fire was safely put out.

 

I couldn’t find a photo of the bands performing, but below is a photo of Carlos Santana the year before. Did you know that he went by Devadip Carlos Santana? Devadip, meaning “the lamp, light and eye of God,” was given to him by his guru in 1973. By the way, Carlos is one of my all-time favorite musicians!

Carlos Santana at a 1978 concert at the City Auditorium. TOM PLAMBECK/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

The 80s were great for concerts at Rosenblatt. In July 1980, Heart played there along with Blackfoot, the Joe Perry Project and Head East.

A 1980 promotional photo of Heart. Ann and Nancy Wilson are the heart of Heart.

 

Our photographers didn’t get a photo of the bands performing, but they did get this one:

This contraption, which resembles the Goodyear Blimp, is actually a balloon that will soar over Rosenblatt Stadium tonight during the rock concert by the group Heart. The men assembling the balloon at the stadium are, from left, Horizon Balloon employees Gordon Painter, Dan Hays (president of Horizon) and Mike Baumer. The 30-foot-long structure has 442 lights with a red fluorescent background. SEBI BRECI/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

And, here’s a promo shot of Head East. How many times did you see this band play in Omaha?

1987 promotional photo.

 

“Oh black water, keep on rolling, Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shinin’ on me …”

Remember that tune? That song was one of many greats sang at “Rock Omaha 80,” a music event that took place on Sept. 7, 1980. The 5 1/2 hour show featured the Doobie Brothers as headliners (during the Michael McDonald years), Pat Benatar, Sammy Hagar and the Dirt Band.

The Doobie Brothers at Rosenblatt Stadium. RUDY SMITH/THE WORLD-HERALD

Pat Benatar in Omaha in 1983. ROBERT TAYLOR/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

The Dirt Band (they once were the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) opened the concert, playing favorites such as “Mr. Bojangles” and “The Battle of New Orleans.”

Sammy Hagar, upon hearing what other bands were playing, boasted “Shouldn’t be no problem stealing this show.” Ironically, Hagar’s band was the only act not to receive an encore.

1980 promotional photo of Hagar.

 

On Dec. 8, 1980, tragedy shook the music world when Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon. A memorial service to the singer was held at Rosenblatt on Dec. 14.

Mary Kay Pokorney, 22, at the service holding a photo of Lennon. ROBERT TAYLOR/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

The Beach Boys came through again in 1981. They occasionally played after a Royals game, riding out on the back of a semitrailer. Their crowds sure made a mess!

Mark Wiling, left, and Mark Tillwick clean up the field at Rosenblatt Stadium the morning after a Beach Boys concert. RICHARD JANDA/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

A much-awaited concert came to the Blatt in August of 1982 when the Police played there.

The crowd at the Police concert. ROBERT PASKACH/THE WORLD-HERALD

A reader-submitted photo of the Police on stage and a concert ticket stub.

 

Willie Nelson’s concert in September of 1982 was unseasonably chilly, but fans loved it anyway.

Dan and Pat Frost and their sons Justin, 8, left, and Joseph, 10, used warm clothing and blankets to fight off the chill. ROBERT TAYLOR/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

And here’s the Red Headed Stranger himself!

Willie Nelson performing at Rosenblatt Stadium in 1982. ROBERT TAYLOR/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

Parrotheads love a Jimmy Buffett concert under the stars, and Buffett gave them a night to remember in August of 1983.

Jimmy Buffett, center, plays guitar between two members of the Coral Reefer Band - Timothy B. Schmit (formerly with the Eagles and Poco) and Greg "Fingers" Taylor - at Rosenblatt Stadium. RICH JANDA/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

In 1983 I went to the BEST CONCERT EVER at the Blatt! The Fixx opened for the Beach Boys, who were supposed to be the headliner. Due to a tight schedule, the Boys switched the performance order so they could get on the road, making them the second band. That left my all-time favorite band in the headline slot. I had heard this band at indoor concerts, but their music needed the open air – it was too big to hear inside. There were fireworks afterward, and I was lucky enough to have backstage passes. It was a “Once upon a time in your wildest dreams moment” for me. The band? …

1983 promotional photo of the Moody Blues.

 

America played at the stadium after an Omaha Royals-Oklahoma City 89ers baseball game in 1985. That was around the time their commercial success was waning, though they still tour today.

America guitarist Michael Woods at Rosenblatt Stadium. CHRIS YOUNG/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

“Tiger Beat” readers of the 1960s were sure to squeal at the site of these next guys, and I bet there were many bubble-gummers all grown up by 1987 when the Monkees (minus Michael Nesmith) came to Rosenblatt.

1986 promotional photo

 

The Beach Boys made their first appearance at the stadium in 1964, and they played there many more times. Were you wondering when I was going to get around to posting a photo of them? (In case you didn’t notice, the banner photo for this post on the front of the Viewfiner blog is from the 1981 concert). Here’s a great photo of the Boys rocking out and the crowd enjoying some “Good Vibrations” in 1987.

The Beach Boys in concert at Rosenblatt Stadium. RUDY SMITH/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

And again in 1988:

The Beach Boys in concert at Rosenblatt Stadium. RICHARD JANDA/THE WORLD-HERALD

There were may other concerts at the stadium through the years; this is but a few. I hope these brought back some fond memories. Are looking for those 8-tracks yet? Round round get around I get around!

***

For more on the history of Rosenblatt Stadium — with a heavy dose of baseball — check out our book “Rosenblatt Stadium: Omaha’s Diamond on the Hill.”

Jolene McHugh

About Jolene McHugh

I was a graphic artist prior to coming to the Omaha World-Herald in 2007, and now I’m a photo imaging specialist, which means I prepare photos to print properly in the newspaper. I also have the incredibly fun task of restoring old photographs from our massive library. My favorite part of my job is getting lost in the history and stories behind the photographs. Many of the archive photos have little or no information attached, so I need to properly date and identify the people and places in them. Researching the stories is a bit like being on a historical scavenger hunt. The largest challenge I face is restoring photos we run in our books. Our newest book, “At War, At Home: The Cold War” is filled with hundreds of old photographs, and most of them small and in poor condition. I live in Omaha with my husband, one of my daughters and three very furry Maine Coon cats.
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Comments

  1. John Montag says:

    I was at that Marshall Tucker Band/Santana concert back in 1979–I remember the crowd, but I didn’t have a good view of just how crowded it was. I think I was in or near the view of the camera, pretty close to the stage.

    I’ve only been to a few Rosenblatt concerts over the years, and I had no idea it hosted the likes of the Rolling Stones or Johnny Cash or The Who (really? The Who?). it really wasn’t the best venue, unless you were in the outfield, near the stage. I think the last concert I saw there was a few years back, when Smashmouth opened the CWS.

    1. Jolene McHugh Jolene McHugh says:

      Last one I saw there was LIVE, also opening for CWS. Somehow I always managed to get near the stage!

  2. Torsten Adair says:

    In a Playboy interview sometime in the 1990s, Mick Jagger or Keith Richards mentioned the incident at the Civic Auditorium regarding the booze.

  3. Michael Messerly Jr says:

    When I was a kid seeing a concert or event at Rosenblatt was amazing! I remember seeing a monster truck rally when the Royals were out of town. I saw John Denver, Chubby Checker, The Beach Boys, Monkey’s. Then the CWS realized they should have bands play inside. Saw Smashmouth, Live etc. But my favorite concert was seeing my dad play at homeplate before the annual 4th of July game. My dad played drums at Bill Bailey’s. Rosenblatt maybe gone but it will not be forgotten, thanks for sharing the memories!

  4. Dianna Eveland says:

    GREAT memories!!! Thanks Jolene.
    I agree about Santana being a favorite group, along with the Beach Boys.

  5. Bill Williams says:

    Jolene,
    Great photos, saw the Beach Boys several times at the stadium. Remember John Denver performing also.
    You did an excellent job restoring the photos for the OWH WWII book.

    1. Jolene McHugh Jolene McHugh says:

      Thanks!

  6. Tom Johnson says:

    Jolene,
    Thanks for conjuring up some great memories. I went to every Beach Boy Concert at the Blatt from the 60s to one in the 80s. They were indeed fun. And I worked on the shows for the returning Persian Gulf soldiers with John Denver. Thanks again for the memories.

  7. Norm Sharp says:

    I doubt that the Rolling Stones played Roaenblatt in 1966. They played City Auditorium in the summer of 1966-I was there. It was a packed house.
    I think a group called the Guillotines opened.

    1. Jolene McHugh Jolene McHugh says:

      I couldn’t find any record of them playing the Auditorium. I did find a concert announcement and a bus schedule to the stadium about the concert, so that’s what I went on and why I explained that in the blog. I doubt if they allowed any interviews after their previous trip ended up in an arrest. And, I doubt if the World-Herald covered them too much back then either.
      THANKS for clearing up that confusion!

      1. Laura ( Ferzely ) Rudol says:

        Thank you for doing this, my brother e-mailed me and told me to come to this site sure glad I did. On your first picture of Dick Clark & The caravan of Stars , I’m the girl next to the one hanging over the side. I to this day still have picture from World Herald . I was 13 then & now going on 61 in December. I lived only 2blocks away from this great place. I lived 3 houses from where interstate from Iowa comes to 13th . The interstate wasn’t there when I was growing up . It was a dump !!! or old brick yard . We would play in there . When I tell people what that was before interstate took it over they don’t believe me. You need to find pictures on this. Thanks again ( Laura )

  8. Laura says:

    My brother e-mailed me and told me to check out Omaha.com and go to Rosenblatt Concert’s I did and I’ll be darn on this site the picture of Paul Peterson @ Dick Clarks Caravan of Stars …. That’a me on the left side of picture the one where the girl is hanging over I’m right next to her. Thats a longggggggggggg time ago I’ll be 61 in December . That day was hot but well worth it. I still have the World Herald pic of me still to this day and show people thats ME :-) Great times at the Blatt only lived a few blocks away , house sat 3 houses from intertate ramp coming from Iowa . And back then that interstate was a Dump!!!! old brick yard believe it or not it was. Thanks for sharing this on here.

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