After going through the pangs of making sure that The Byrds were going to arrive on time and perform (chapter 1), i never envisioned the things that were to come.
the Director of Social Affairs at Memphis State University (now University of Memphis) had warned me what to expect but there were some things that apparently, he did not experience that i did.
he said they showed up 45 minutes late for an 8pm show, played 5 or 6 songs and left with no encores. he was generally pissed.
The Byrd’s equipment semi and their advance team arrived about 6pm which was way late in my mind. the band arrived about an hour later. Their setup was pretty simple and the sound system was pretty straight forward, no special equipment requests.
the band was a different story. i went in the dressing room to greet them and make sure that we did not have a repeat of the previous night late start and limited song list. i immediately saw that they were using drugs and doing whatever they wanted. i told the road manager that we were on campus and alcohol and drugs were not allowed. there was security. the manager informed me that he did not like me and that they may not play at all. of course, this turned into an exchange of threats of litigation and physical violence from me, which he did not seem to care about. i don’t think he perceived a real threat.
the byrd’s manager then demanded payment of the back half of their contract before they went on stage. thinking that i did not have any option and that it was a check which payment could be stopped, i presented the check for $2,500 to him. we had already paid them $2,500 with the signing of the contract through the william morris agency.
the tour manager looked at the check and handed it back to me and said, “cash only”. i looked at him in astonishment. he looked back with a blank look and said, “cash or they don’t go on.
we had booked them in conjunction with visits to Memphis State, then Ole Miss and following at Mississippi State. i am not really sure of that. it may have been the University of Alabama. ticket sales had been good and we were glad to have the Tad Pad https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tad_Smith_Coliseum for the show. because we were in the Tad Pad, ticket sales were still open the day of the concert and we were promoting the show through the student union pa system.
at about 3 pm the day of the concert and while i was at the student union building playing promotions for the concert, i called my counter part at Memphis State University hoping to get an update on what to expect in terms of arrival and setup. at this point i had not heard one word from the Byrds and their advance team.
the news was not good. they had showed up late and only played about 5 songs and exited with “no encores”. Panic set in. Memphis was 2 hours away and we had zilch from them. my msu counterpart knew they were staying at the Holiday Inn on Union, so i called.
the front desk told me they had been at the pool all day partying.
whoever answered the phone in their room was not helpful either. in fact, he immediately told me he did not like me and they may notshow up at all because i told him oxford was two hours away. they needed to get on the way!
In the fall of 1965, I was the chairman of the Associated Student Body’s (ASB) Social Affairs Committee of the University of Mississippi. As such i was responsible for booking concerts and bands for University concerts and dances. I got off to a very rocky start. Some of it was my being a rookie. I booked The Seekers, http://www.theseekers.com.au/ as part of an American tour for the fall of 1965 which never made. They were riding high with several current hits and were my road to a good start for the 65-66 season.
Of course, being as inexperienced as i was, I let a William Morris agent, who i had a lot of confidence in, talk me into an even more adventurous move. he was going to make it up to me because the Seekers tour never made. He offered The Highwaymen as a fall substitute and a group that no one had ever heard of for a two-hour show for $2,500 for a May 1966 concert. i agreed to it and signed the contract.
by the end of 1965, the wm agent was calling saying what a mistake he had made offering a 2-hour show that this group’s first album was being released in early 1966 and they were going to be huge. their first release “Go Where You Want To Go” was big but never got into the top 10.