Music to Our Ears

Readers respond with memories of their concert experiences at UM


Categories: Alumni , Campus , History , Arts

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Timeline of posters for some concerts at UM

First of all, thank you for all of the letters.

The Artifacts story in the Winter 2015 issue, “For Those About to Rock,” really struck a chord with Montanan readers. It featured the old concert posters that plaster the walls of the UM Productions office in the University Center and the memories associated with them. The posters span the past half-century of concerts at UM and run the gamut of music genres.

We asked our readers to share their concert memories, and we had a tremendous response. Below are the letters we received. Feel free to add your own memories in the Comments section, or e-mail them to

After reading all of the letters and e-mails, one thing is for sure: UM rocks.


John Heaney, Montanan editor-in-chief

Still Like That Old-Time Rock ’n‘ Roll

I saw your article in the Winter 2015 issue of the Montanan, and I am hoping to add two images of posters from personal collections.

One is a poster from 1969 of Canned Heat featuring support from The Initial Shock, which was a band from Missoula at the time. The other is reported to be from the first rock show on campus, which took place in 1966. The show featured Paul Revere and the Raiders on Friday and The Kingsmen on Saturday. The Friday gig also featured two Missoula bands: Mojo’s Mark IV and The Vulcans, who would later join forces in 1967 to become The Initial Shock.

Dave Martens ’14

Dreamy Mancini

When I was a sixteen-year-old junior at Great Falls Central High School, Henry Mancini’s music embodied everything I thought was glamorous, smart, erotic, and promising about adulthood. So in 1963, when I heard that Mancini and his orchestra were slated as UM’s Homecoming entertainment, it became clear to me what I needed to do: join my school’s speech team.

Stay with me, here.

Missoula was hosting a speech meet that same Homecoming weekend, and hitching a 170-mile ride on the team bus as a newly minted drama contender was my only shot, so I took it.

My “Dramatic Interpretation” stunk—I was teeth-gnashingly awful—and I didn’t make the finals. But I did get to see Henry Mancini!

Saturday night I sat, dazzled, as the tall, graceful gentleman dipped, curved, and lifted his orchestra through Moon River, Bachelor in Paradise, Elephant Walk, and more.
Then they played I’m in Dreamsville. And I moved there, to Dreamsville, where I still reside.

Paddy O’Connell MacDonald, M.A. ’81

Your First Concert Was?

Oh my goodness! It’s so exciting to even try to answer that question. The year was 1969 I think, winter and spring quarters maybe. The first was Ike and Tina Turner, and the second was Canned Heat. Both concerts were incredible, over-the-top great.

They were big names playing on our own campus. I will never ever forget those two concerts and how they brought so many UM students together. Athletes and Greeks, forestry and science majors, non-conformists and conservatives, ROTC and art and drama majors, anti-war activists, teachers, professors, and so many others.

As that song goes, “Those were the days, my friends. We thought they’d never end.”

Patti Zieske Liebig ’70
Great Falls

Curtain Call

I can’t tell you how surprised and happy I was to see the 1985 B.B. King poster you have on your website and in the hard copy for this story. I was actually employed by UM that semester to work backstage, hang lights, and help set up, etc. It just so happened that was the same semester B.B. King visited UM.

Knowing how happy I was that B.B. King was there, my boss assigned me the privilege of opening the curtain for the show. I was beaming—very excited and eager to do it. After all, how many people can say they opened the curtains for B.B. King?
With the curtain closed, the intro music started. I held the rope tightly to pull the curtain open with my sweaty hands. I wanted to do well—a smooth opening. Finally, I was given my cue.

I reached up high to get a full pull, and with all my might, I pulled the rope down and the curtain flew open. My second pull was just as strong, and the curtain was opening quickly. About the third or fourth pull I noticed that the curtain had curled inward toward the band and the back of the stage.

The drummer’s riser was closest to my side of the stage. As the now-curled curtain sped toward its complete opening, I noticed that the drummer’s cymbal was about to be cupped and surrounded by the speeding curtain. Had I continued to pull, it would have pulled the cymbal down to the floor.

I stopped the curtain as quickly as I could. The drummer had partially risen out of his chair to grab the cymbal before it fell. Luckily the sudden stop of the curtain was enough to allow its momentum to somehow pull the curtain away in a wave of velvet. The cymbal only teetered—it never fell.

The concert was wonderful. I remember early on, someone pleaded from the audience for B.B. to play The Thrill is Gone.
B.B. replied, “Now you’re not the kind of guy that has his ice cream before his dinner, are you?”

I still use that expression today.

Tony Cotignola ’86
Charlotte, N.C.

Keep Your Hands to Yourself

Nice article on the posters.

I remember in the early eighties George Thorogood was hot and came to Missoula and performed in the UC Ballroom for about 2,000 lucky students.

There were chairs set up to sit in, but after about two songs the chairs were in a heap at the back of the place and everyone was on their feet. For a young, impressionable, small-town kid it seemed like they came out for three encores. Who knows? Maybe they did. 

That concert bought me another semester at UM—a good thing, of course—as the three finals I had the next day didn’t go too well.

Rico Carosone ’85
Idaho Falls, Idaho

Keep Rocking, UM

Thanks for the great feature on concerts at the University of Montana.

My first concert at UM is from a decidedly Kalispell-centric point of view. I grew up in Kalispell, graduating from Flathead High School in 1981, and have been an absolute rock fanatic all my life, even as a little kid. In 1978 there was a lot of good music coming out, but Ted Nugent—Terrible Ted, The 10 Fingers of Doom, The Motor City Madman—could be heard playing everywhere in the Flathead Valley. You couldn’t go to a house party or kegger without hearing something from Double Live Gonzo. It was great!

When the May 12, 1978, Ted Nugent show was announced, everyone I knew was going. I carpooled with a bunch of friends and got to Missoula several hours before the show and continued our pre-show festivities in the Fieldhouse parking lot. We got in line and went in when the doors opened and got our spot on the floor, about ten rows back and stage left, as I remember. The opening act was Sammy Hagar, and all I knew about him was that he had sung for Montrose, so I had low expectations.

Sammy opened absolutely on fire, ripping through his set with non-stop energy and drive. Since this was my first exposure to a full-blown concert setup, I was stunned at how good it sounded. I’ll never forget Sammy doing Bad Motor Scooter with the dueling guitar battles, and all I could do was drink it in during the songs and scream like a maniac between songs.

Then Ted came out and brought an equally energetic but slightly more dangerous vibe. Where Sammy was all Southern California hard rock with a touch of glam, Ted Nugent was the demented woodsman there to make you pay! Ted was playing his big hollow-body guitar, and the sounds that came out of it at times did not seem of this world. The entire rear of the stage was stacks of Marshall amps all cranked to full volume. Ted spat, scowled, and even chuckled as he assaulted the audience with blistering loud riffs for his entire set. I wanted that show to last forever but will admit that when the music finally stopped, I needed a break. My ears rang for the rest of the night and part of the next day, but I didn’t care—I was a total concert freak by then and attended many more shows at UM before moving away.

Thanks for sharing this, UM! I would like nothing more than to get my hands on some more ASUM concert posters. Maybe doing some prints and selling them to support ASUM could be an option. I’ve attached a couple pictures, one of my Stevie Ray Vaughan ASUM poster, which has been on my den wall for years, and one of my concert ticket stubs—I attended three of the concerts displayed in the picture in the article!

Thanks, and keep rocking!

Tim Allen ’92
Lake Stevens, Wash.

Beautiful Day

I loved the article about first concerts attended at the U of M.

My first concert attended in the Fieldhouse was the “It's A Beautiful Day” band.

A group of us drove over from Butte (Not sure of exact date—it was possibly fall of ’71, or spring of ’72.  No doubt it is on record there).

They were an incredible short lived band with a genius violin player named David LaFlame.

The irony of this is that the night of my graduation ceremony in Spring of 1981, he played solo at the Top Hat in downtown Missoula.  That was also an amazing experience, too.

What an awesome beginning and ending to my undergraduate memories!

Shirley Johnson ’81, M.A. ’94

Concerts B.K. (Before Kids)

We believe we have seen the two concert posters at your headquarters for two concerts we saw in the UC ballroom B.K. (before kids) in the 70s. Bonnie Raitt with Tom Waits and Taj Mahal with Ramblin' Jack Elliot—Once in a Blue Moon—We were sitting cross-legged on the floor smoking and enjoyed the great music.

Gloria and John Langstaff

Satchmo Performs

Love the article of concerts that people attended at the U.  Wyley and I had the pleasure of going to hear and see Louis Armstrong.  It had to be either 1962 or 1963.  It was held in the Fieldhouse.  He was a fabulous entertainer.  We do not have a poster.  Maybe they didn't make them that long ago. 

Gail and Wyley Good

Stolen Outfits

Paul Revere and the Raiders appeared in present day Adams Center to a packed house of fully smoked and stoked Missoulians in the late ’60s.

Excellent show. Old favorites like Kicks, Cherokee People (which was controversial), Steppin Out, Hungry, etc. They keept the crowd rockin’.  I don’t Don't remember the admission, but I was a part-time janitor. Sad ending though: After the performance, the band’s fabulous Revolutionary War-era outfits were stolen, by some out-of-stater no doubt. I don't think they were ever recovered.

Mark Stergios

A Whole New Dimension

Loved the article about the concerts at the Fieldhouse! As a freshman at UM, my first one was the Doobie Brothers, and that poster hung in my dorm room until I moved out of Corbin Hall in the spring. The color in the artwork is what first grabbed me, but the music was what sent me! From that day forward, the music took on a whole new dimension when I could watch the musicians perform live! And though I've seen probably a hundred concerts or more over the decades since college, those classic tunes played by those great artists will always be a standout! 

Darlene Michaelis

Open Ears and Open Mind

I remember many concerts I went to at U M back in 1971 through 1975. I am not sure of which one was the very first, but I believe it was in the Ballroom at the UC. I loved those concerts.The venue was small, you were near the band, and the crowds were enthusiastic. The first one may have been Chuck Berry. I recall seeing John Lee Hooker, whom I had never heard of before. He opened my ears and mind to something very new to me. Paul Butterfield was another great concert there.

At the Fieldhouse I remember seeing Johnny Cash, Chicago,  and Sly & the Family Stone, to name a couple. It has been years since I have been to a concert at the U. I wish I had some of those posters. 

Paul J. Dostal

Grateful Dead’s Wall of Sound

Wow, that takes me back! I think the first concert this freshman felt able to afford was the Bluegrass Breakfast Special in 1974, with John Hartford, Vassar Clements, Doug Kershaw, New Grass Revival, and others, plus for five bucks, I was able to eat breakfast.  

Carl Rostad shared the second floor of Aber Hall with us, and since his brother worked in ASUM Programming, a number of guys were able to attend concerts as event security.  Some concerts at the Fieldhouse could be heard from Aber Hall, as I recall straining to hear the Doobie Brothers, with REO Speedwagon as their opener.  The following year, I bought tickets for my brother and his girlfriend, both seniors at Hamilton High School, to the Ray Charles concert. 

Last year, I managed to obtain a copy of Dave's Picks: Grateful Dead Volume 9, which was perhaps the Dead’s best live concert recording.  May 14, 1974, featured the second appearance of the "Wall of Sound" in the Adams Fieldhouse, after the first concert with each individual performer having their own sound system. 

I don't remember that concert, likely because I was concentrating on final exams, especially for K. Ross Toole's Montana history course—the class that everyone said, "You've got to take this class. He's going to retire soon!"

As soon as school was out in mid-June, I left for work as a busboy and cook's assistant at Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park.  

Thanks. I can remember the posters on the wall forty years ago, before the more recent additions.   

Charlie Branch '78
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 

On a Mission…Mountain Wood Band

While attending MSU-Bozeman, I was able to see the first Mission Mountain Wood Band as they fronted for Rare Earth in 1972. After transferring to UM, I saw them play at the Top Hat more than once. The Wolf Point Jaycees brought Mission Mountain in for the Wolf Point Stampede in 1977.  We brought them in again in 1978. Mission Mountain also played a Prairie Boogie at Medicine Lake before they disbanded.

Clint Whitmer ’76

Sacthmo Seconds

John Heaney’s article about UM concerts took me waaay back to 1962. Between working in San Francisco and an abbreviated stab at a master’s degree in radio-TV journalism, I passed five months thumbing my way around Europe. Limited as my meager resources were, I managed a ticket to see and hear Louis Armstrong in Nice on the French Riviera. Flash-forward four months and 5,200 miles later, I'm back in Missoula—and Voila!—he's playing the Fieldhouse. That was my first belated UM concert, but second with the great Satchmo, who clearly hadn't lost a lick.

Doug Hacker  ’59

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