In the hard economic times in Detroit I am an IT guy who was laid off in January 2009. With little hope and no prospects for employment in Detroit I came across an opportunity in Knoxville, TN. I submitted my resume, made the trips to Knoxville to go through the interview process, and eventually landed a job in Knoxville.
The Chickenfoot show August 8, 2009 at The Fillmore (a.k.a. The State Theater) holds mixed emotions for me. My wife and I scraped every penny together we could to get tickets to the show and have an evening to ourselves for a change. The show itself was phenomenal. The band sounded great, Chad was in his hometown, and even his Mom was in the house. Sammy & the band had fun, the crowd had fun, and despite the crowds in downtown Detroit that night for a Detroit Tigers game directly across the street from The Fillmore at Comerica Park, and a Jamie Foxx show right next door at The Fox Theater, I don’t think a single Redhead had any complaints.
While at the show, back at home everything I would need to live in Knoxville was packed and ready to go. I knew that less than eight hours after the show ended at The Fillmore I would be leaving my wife and family behind for an undetermined amount of time to go and start a new job eventually hoping to move the entire family to east Tennessee.
Now as I write this in early 2011, the family is back together under one roof, and has been since August 2010, in Knoxville. It was hard to leave the only city I have ever lived in. I have great memories of the city and the times I have had there both as a Redhead and as an average Joe.
My first Sammy show was during the Three Lock Box tour at Cobo Arena – a show that was broadcast live on local radio station 98.7 WLLZ Detroit’s Wheels. Witnessing for the first time the raw energy and emotion along with the passion that Sammy brought to the stage I knew I was seeing something special. I also knew I would never miss another Detroit area Sammy Hagar show.
That night in 1983 kicked off a streak of shows I am proud to say I attended. Sammy only played Cobo Arena one more time, in 1984, over the years. Frankly I believe because the arena was just too small to hold the size of crowd he would command in later years. The 1984 VoA tour stop at Cobo, much like the 2009 Chickenfoot show, also has ties to the Detroit Tigers. While Sammy was rocking the house, the Tigers were rocking the San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series just a few blocks away over at Tiger Stadium as well as up on a big projection screen right next door in Hart Plaza. I remember Sammy giving Tigers score updates throughout the night, something he would later repeat during the 2002 tour – May 31, 2002 to be exact – as the Detroit Red Wings were playing Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against the Colorado Avalanche. Both the night in 1984 and the one in 2002 were key nights in what led to a 1984 World Series championship for the Tigers and the 2002 Stanley Cup for the Red Wings forever tying those nights with Sammy to the championship memories.
There is also the fear that was felt in downtown Detroit going into the 1986 Van Halen show at Joe Louis Arena on the 5150 Tour. One week before the VH show, a concert goer was stabbed leaving the Joe after The Firm had just finished playing. While the heavy police presence outside of Joe Louis Arena took care of things out on the street, my mind is still swimming thinking about Eddie Van Halen and Jimmy Page playing seven nights apart in the same building. Let’s not forget the Redrocker. In those days he was still closing the show running around up in the lights and rafters. 50+ feet in the air and Sammy was running around and playing as if he were still on terra firma. I think this was the last time he closed a show in Detroit in the rafters.
Little things stand out about all of the shows over the years:
• 1988’s two days at the Pontiac Silverdome during the Monsters of Rock tour where the second night was closed out by Sammy carrying Detroit’s own Ted Nugent around on stage while playing Zepp’s ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’.
• The heavy rains during the day of the RHRN tour stop at Pine Knob turning the hill into a giant mudslide…and Sammy’s desire to join us sliding down the hill.
• The second night at Pine Knob during the Balance Tour when the black grand piano made its appearance on stage for Eddie to play ‘Not Enough’.
• May 31, 2002 at Pine Knob when Kid Rock & Ted Nugent introduced Sammy & the Wabo’s and Kid Rock closed the night on stage with them.
• The 2005 show at The Fox Theater when part of the on stage sound system fell on Michael Anthony during the “Los Tres Gusanos” portion of the show.
I could go on and on……
Bottom line. I am proud to be able to say that I had never missed a Detroit area Sammy Hagar show from 1983 – 2009. The Chickenfoot show August 8, 2009 ended the streak. I missed the August 31, 2010 show at The Palace of Auburn Hills. I couldn’t get away from my job in Knoxville.
I do have a glimmer of hope. Sammy has worked with east Tennessee’s Kenny Chesney in the past. He has also worked with Toby Keith. Knoxville also has a strong rock and now classic rock station 103.5 WIMZ that has been on the air since 1979. The Chickenfoot movie / DVD was screened here shortly before the DVD release date. Sammy’s music and friends with ties to east Tennessee make him no stranger here. Nothing would make me or other fellow Redheads in Knoxville happier than to have Sammy play here either with the Wabo’s at the Tennessee Theater, the Knoxville Civic Arena, UT’s Thompson-Boling Arena or as a part of a festival with Kenny, Toby, and whomever else they invite at UT’s Neyland Stadium.
Come on Sammy. Come play Knoxville. The Redheads are here. I’ve talked with several. We would all love to see you here. I would love to start a new streak of Knoxville based shows………….