Dealing with the Byrds Chapter 2

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.

i knew there was one chance of getting that check cashed and that was Kiamie’s bowling alley. i jumped in my car and raced out to kiamie’s. mae helen was at the cash register in the restaurant and I presented the check to her. she immediately said “let me get Mr. Kiamie.” as Mr kiamie walked up mae helen presented him the check. Mr kiamie looked at the check and said “how do you want it son?” I replied “$100s will be fine “

I raced back to the Tad Pad and presented the money to the road manager, who only laughed as though he really did not expect me to get it done.

the Byrds went on timely but only played six songs, all hits, and left the stage never to return for an encore. needless to say, the audience booed for a suitable time after they figured out that the concert was over. there were better days ahead with the mama’s and papa’s on tap in early May.

sweating The Byrds to the venue. (chapter 1)

The Byrds were riding high in the Spring of 1966 based on folk/rock hits, such as: Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn, Turn, Turn. i was looking forward to them being a part of our 1965-1966 school year concert program schedule. i should have been more aware of their move into psychedelic rock.

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 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 not show up at all because i told him oxford was two hours away. they needed to get on the way!

full scale panic attack!

the mamas and papas

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, 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.

Ole Miss Associated Student Body concerts series in the school year 1965-66

Fall of 1965

The Highwaymen

The Righteous Brothers

Spring of 1966

Johnny Mathis

The Byrds

The Mamas and the Papas