Sunday, August 15, 1976
Hawthorne Race Track
46 years, 7 months and 5 days ago
J R Hadden
Monday, November 1, 2021 9:47 PM
I was there. Twenty years old. Drove up from Decatur with two buddies. Sat in the infield and never left that spot. One weird thing I think I remember was the Goodyear Blimp floating above us. There was, also, a small plane dragging a banner. At one point (I swear) they almost collided. Anybody else remember that?
Monday, June 21, 2021 9:00 PM
What is the intro called from the lynyrd skynyrd show before they played workin for mca?
Wednesday, May 19, 2021 9:54 AM
Natural Gas opened. They were awesome!
Saturday, May 8, 2021 11:35 PM
What is the intro before they played workin for mca?.
Monday, January 18, 2021 1:00 PM
What I remember about the show was everybody shoehorned in the infield you could barely breathe. Basically standing room only on a hot August Chicago day. The Grandstands were off limits, barricaded by a wooden snow fence. Nobody allowed and the infield was packed. Some brave souls took it upon themselves to jump the fence and go into the grandstands and soon it was a stampede and that wooden fence was stomped into kindling. There were so many people who rushed the stands the cops didn't do anything. Spent the rest of the concert in cool shade in the grandstands with good view of the stage. Unfortunately in the rush to the stands my friend found a sandwich bag full of joints somebody dropped so I don't remember a whole lot after that, except it was a real good time.
Friday, October 2, 2020 6:02 AM
Took a bus to this concert from south side of Chicago (mt greenwood). I was all of 13 and came for skynyrd and of course my brothers friend Paul, who I had a crush on.. oh to be young again.. great day, great fun & awesome music... Love Ronnie Van Zant
Friday, June 12, 2020 7:22 AM
I was 17 and went with a friend. We had a hard time figuring out how to get thereÖ Ultimately I think we took a CTA shuttle bus to a parking lot and then walked about a mile. Just followed the crowd.
I was a huge Yes fan, but enjoyed the other acts as well. We got there too late to sit on the grass and wound up sitting in the grandstands. I was separated from my friend, so enjoyed the concert by myself. I ultimately found her and was shocked that she wanted to leave before Yes came on. What?
I had forgotten a lot of the details, but remember them now that I am reading through these comments.
Somehow we managed to get home, not sure how. All in all a great concert.
Wednesday, March 4, 2020 7:32 PM
Incredible concert. Will never forget it
Wednesday, February 26, 2020 9:40 PM
I was there as a 16 year old kid from Libertyville. Never forgot it!!!!!!
Friday, February 14, 2020 4:44 PM
My first outdoor concert and it was an incredible day of Sunshine, weed and kick ass music! I had just graduated from Hillcrest high school in june of 76 and started working at a factory in south holland. A guy I worked with was in a band and had an extra ticket for the show........ what an experience! Sun drenched sky, some people diving off a platform up pretty high into a small pool of water in between performances. Just a fantastic day that any 18 year old kid would kill for back then. A little more than a year later Skynyrds plane crashed in Louisiana and killed Ronnie Van Zant and 5 or six others. Life is crazy like that I guess. Glad I found this blog to share my story of that great day!
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 6:48 PM
This was my first live concert at age 16, and the start of my lifetime passion of music!
My brother dropped me off at Hawthorne race track and somehow I found my way back home after the show to Lake Forest by taking two trains(which included me getting off at a wrong stop). Some miracle I made it home as I donít remember to this day how I did it!
It was an amazing beautiful day!
I remember Ronnie Van Zant looking up at an enormous smokestack next to the track pouring out smoke in the blue sky and made a comment that someone should put a plug (or cork) in that thing!
Thank you all for an incredible experience and memory!
Michelle H. G.
Friday, September 20, 2019 4:28 PM
I was there! I was like 12! I have to find the photos and upload them.
Sunday, September 15, 2019 10:46 PM
I was there.I was 19. It was general admission. We were about 200 in line. When they opened the gates run or get trampled. We were next to Lynyrd Skynyrd's mixer stand. Freebird was like an earthquake. Peter Frampton came on after LS and the women liked his band. YES was awesome as always. They didn't want to come on after LS. Yes was very tight. Excellent time. Even the night before in the parking lot was one huge party.
Thursday, August 22, 2019 12:18 PM
I was there with a pregnant wife... sometimes I wish I could go back to those days...and stay there...
Sunday, August 18, 2019 7:38 PM
I was there with a group of friends. I was 17. One of my favorite memories. The thing I Remember most is we were huge Yes fans and assumed they would be playing last. And they did but, this is when Frampton was hitting the charts huge (he was great) but then after his set, half the crowd left and we were able to get up real close to the front. I remember thinking why the heck did half the crowd leave....YES was due up. To the previous poster about the high dive into the pool...I definitely remember that...
Lynyrd skinner w Ronnie vzant was bad ass awesome as they were in their prime up coming too. Iím 59 now and long for those days. Music is my muse.
Thursday, August 8, 2019 3:11 PM
Short version of that Nick Smith facebook post: A fire at a previous concert at Comiskey Park caused the promoter to move this one from the originally advertised Aug. 13 at Comiskey to the Hawthorne track, and the promoter changed the date to Aug. 15 to put it on a weekend.
Thursday, August 8, 2019 3:08 PM
There is a good facebook post by Nick Smith, dated Sept. 10, 2016, that describes how and why the date and location of this show were changed.
Wednesday, July 24, 2019 12:53 PM
All, i was there, 15 and my first outdoor multi-band concert. What a day! So much fun to read all your comments
Saturday, May 18, 2019 9:58 AM
One of the best show Iíve seen! Was a big Yes fan! Loved both Framptonís and Skynyrdís set!! Loved the days of multi band concerts at an affordable price! I think I remember between shows some guy doing a dive off a high platform into a little pool left of the stage! What a day!
Saturday, March 23, 2019 10:57 PM
I was there. In line while Gary Wright was playing Dream Weaver. They opened the rundown grandstand.. Trampled. 15 yrs old, hot day and Skynrd blew everybody away. Good time.
Saturday, December 8, 2018 11:52 AM
I remember this being my first concert as a kid growing up in Chicago. It's like it was just yesterday. What a concert! I do remember the YES revolving stage and Skynyrd's "Free Bird."
Friday, October 5, 2018 3:53 PM
I was there. We were high as hell.There was a guy passed out in front of us and his friends were putting cigs up his nose,ears, hanging out his mouth.Good Times. It was a great day. That shuttle sucked.I loved that one because everyone was happy, no fights.
So many people. I remember I think it was the Mayor came out and said how great it was to have that many people w no problems.
I can find few photos of that day. Too bad. One of the best I ever been to and I went to many.
Sunday, May 13, 2018 1:01 AM
Yeah, I was there. 15 years old. We took the CTA shuttle bus to and from a remote parking lot. Smoked dope with the bus drivers and the rest of the bus in both directions.
Got there early enough to sit in the infield. Spread a blanket, partied and had our ears pounded with FANTASTIC music. Well, Gary Wright was...Gary Wright, but all the rest was freaking awesome.
We started of kind of stretched out. By the time Frampton hit the stage we were elbow to elbow, knees to spine. And we didn't care. The crowd was a pharmaceutical cornucopia, share and share alike. I doubt there was a sober hippie in the house.
All for under $10. I think the tickets were about $8. One of the last general admission large venue concerts in the Chicago area. What a hoot.
Sharon L Blackford
Wednesday, March 14, 2018 4:27 PM
I was 19 years old and a Frampton and YES freak. I was right up front for Frampton and had the time of my life.. I had the record of course and he played all the hits. Yes was great even though Rick Wakeman wasnít the keyboard player at the time but they still pulled it off. Great memories.
Tuesday, January 23, 2018 6:18 PM
This was my first concert. I was 14 years old and my brother bought me a ticket for my birthday, which was exactly one week later. I remember it being a beautiful day with lots of great music. The years have faded a lot of the memories of the day and the concert, but Iíll never forget spending an awesome day with my big brother. Thanks Bill !!! 😊
Thursday, December 28, 2017 11:59 AM
I was 15 years old and this was my first concert. Gary Wright (meh), Skynyrd (fuckin awesome), Frampton (at the peak of "Comes Alive"). Who doesn't have that record? And then YES. This is where I became a fan. I didn't know half the songs but I didn't need to either. What I can remember of this show and experience, I will never forget. I still have my lime green YES shirt with all the band members pictures (including Patrick Moraz). Maybe I'll post that picture some day. Found this post looking for old concert posters for Todd, YES, etc.
Peace to all who attended. This show changed my young life...for the better!
Sunday, October 15, 2017 11:45 AM
I was 15 years old. My mom was a Registered Nurse. She was working as an emergency room charge nurse. She and 4 other nurses and doctors from her hospital were recruited to work as part of a medical team at local mega outdoor concerts. This was my Mom's 3rd and last one. I wanted to go to see Peter Frampton, so I begged to go. When we arrived at 9a we settled in with the med staff. I got my own all access backstage pass on a lanyard (I lost it before we left..damn!). I wandered around by myself all day. The concert started around noon. The music was great! I wandered into the offices at the track...lots of cool stuff in the execs offices. No cell phones so I had to check in at the med area every couple of hrs. We left around 8pm. Med staff was paid in cash. My Mom swore off doing another concert because of the number of kids they treated due to drugs. She said she had to call so many parents and they sent many kids to the hospital via ambulance, including a pregnant girl.
Thursday, July 13, 2017 9:18 AM
I am so happy that I found this blog! I was 16 when this show happened and I could not believe that my Mother let me use her car so me and a few friends could drive to Cicero from Aurora to see an outdoor event of this size! I can't remember if we had tickets before or we purchased them at the gate but we arrived just in time to see Gary Wright who was good. I was mainly interested in Peter Frampton who put on a great performance! When Lynyrd Skynyrd came on it was amazing to see the how crowd became electric! They were awesome! When Yes came on we stayed for a few songs and unfortunately we wanted to beat the crowd so we decided to leave early. Looking back I wish we had stayed but I remember this day like it was a month ago except for a few minor details. I left this concert with a positive attitude about people and large events of this size as I did not see anything that happened out of the ordinary that day. Everybody was so nice! What a great day!
diana gibb hannon
Saturday, July 8, 2017 12:55 PM
I was there , my frosh summer. Fantastic show and ambiance .
Saturday, January 7, 2017 9:07 AM
William - did you get any shots of Skynyrd on stage - I'd love to see them
Wednesday, January 4, 2017 2:50 PM
I was there, I still have photos I took (on slides) from the concert. I went with friends, but somehow lost them, and watched the show by myself. I think I reunited with them at the end, as I wound up getting home somehow. I also remember Frampton and Skynerd being the highlights. Also Gary Wright opened, he was playing his song "Dream Weaver" I remember the Goodyear blimp, I have a photo of it hovering. And I remember the person diving into a small bucket/container of water. I agree the crowd was thinning out by the time Yes came on, seemed like a lot of folks had had enough by that point.
Sunday, October 30, 2016 1:00 PM
Hawthorne Afternoon Of Ambience
By Lynn Van Matre
Chicago Tribune, Aug 16 1976
THE GOODYEAR BLIMP hovered overhead, two people took turns high diving into a vat of water, a Circuit Court judge waxed positively enthusiastic about the right of youth to be served with rock and roll. And 67,000 rock fans were fervently urged to sing "Happy Birthday" to a lawyer who had helped overturn an attempt to ban Sunday's noon-to-dusk rock marathon at Hawthorne Park racetrack.
So it went Sunday at Hawthorne, and if it all sounds slightly surreal, consider this even weirder fact: Someone - in this case, Windy City Productions - finally brought off one of these affairs nearly perfectly.
The weather (comfortably coolish) helped, of course; the show moved along with scarcely a hitch, and the sound system was one of the best outdoor setups I've ever encountered. Imagine, you could actually hear the words of the songs instead of just the usual dose of feedback and mush.
Granted, to most of the mellowed-out legions lounging on the track grounds or perched in the grandstand, performers Yes, Peter Frampton, Gary Wright, and Lynyrd Skynyrd appeared as mere dots on a far distant stage (provided you were one of the lucky one who could espy them at all) but thus it goes at such monstrously large musical orgies. Slightly easier to see were a couple of high divers. including "the lovely Ruth" something-or-other, who toppled great distances into a teeny vat of water between sets.
I DONT'T KNOW exactly why they did it -- extra entertainment. one presumes. There was also a highly entertaining bit of hokiness when the judge who refused to ban the concert (on the usual grounds, reefer mad youth running amok and such) appeared on the stage to compliment the crowd on their behavior, assure them they had the right to a "day in the sun," and a lot of other nifty stuff, all of which came "from the bottom" of his heart. Following that, there was the tuneful tribute to the birthday barrister.
''This whole thing is like a family outing," cheerfully commented the kid next to me, which pretty well summed up the ambience or the affair. Musically, the offerings were fairly well balanced, with an enjoyable, innovative set by Gary Wright and his band followed by the southern-fried country∑boogie rock sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the boys who're so big on firearms and fire≠water.
Headliner for the concert was the British band Yes but both Skynyrd and power-rock guitarist Peter Frampton had them beat as far as sheer energy went. Besides, by the time they came on, half the crowd was beginning to surge out in hopes or beating the rest of the horde to the shuttle buses back to where they'd left their car. Enough is enough, even when it comes to what Sunday at Hawthorne amounted to - a very good thing.
Saturday, October 29, 2016 1:14 PM
This concert was on Sunday, August 15, 1976, and NOT August 14, 1976.
Here's an article from The Chicago Tribune reviewing the Sunday (not Saturday) show to corroborate this:
Friday, September 16, 2016 11:39 PM
I was THERE! YES and Skynard stole the show!
I was a 17 year old sailor in Operations Specialist A School Great Lakes!
I still listen to Yes and of course FREEBIRD!
My callsign? T-Bird! My funeral will have Freebird play along with Starship Trooper.
Thursday, July 28, 2016 9:04 AM
Funny thing is, I was at this concert and I believe that picture with the woman on her boyfriend's shoulders is ME. I love it.
It WAS a gorgeous day and the concert was amazing. I still tell people about this show, they are so jealous. I remember Peter Frampton frenzy, I remember Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird and as the sun set, YES came out and blew us all away.
Saturday, October 24, 2015 8:11 AM
The day of this show the air and sky was clearer than any I can ever remember in Chicago. This show was unique in so many ways, from the Mayor of Cicero and a Judge who allowed the show to go on, (there had been legal issues) being on stage, to the side acts that performed during the band changeovers.This show is one of my best memories; from 11 friends stuffed into an old Checker cab my friend Dean owned to get us there, the music , to the sunburn. Fantastic Day.
And now that Chris Squire has passed and I reflect on all the YES shows over the years, this show has taken on more meaning.
Monday, October 19, 2015 6:58 PM
I lived just down the way from Hawthorne Race Track in Cicero and went to the concert...very hot day and Skynerd stole the day...although Yes was outstanding and Gates of Delirium was awesome. Frampton sucked...Rough Diamond played too (David Byron and Clem Clemson in that band) played but were largely ignored. I had the 1974 red Maverick with a white top 6 cylinder...whew what memories.
Thursday, July 23, 2015 4:00 PM
I had 8 people in my '74' Nova. One person to my left and I was driving. I remember the trash barrels at the entrance were half full with pot, hash & much more as all were frisked on the way in. I believe Garry Wright opened with Dream Weaver. A good time was had by all. I remember the beautiful grass oval track with a foot bridge to cross over into the infield. If you had to go potty you better start for the restroom right away. It was on the outside of the track across the bridge that was jam packed with concert goers. I think about 60,000 saw the concert, not sure.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015 10:51 AM
I and my friends were all at this show. We lived 3 blocks away from Hawthorne Park and I recall the looks of disapproval from all the neighbors as we walked to and from the show.
I cannot tell you how many times I have related to friends throughout the years all of the things I saw and heard at this show. I remember it as if it were YESterday. . .
Saturday, January 17, 2015 10:21 AM
I remember Ronnie VanZandt talking about not wearing shoes because he likes to feel the stage floor burn. He also took swigs from a whiskey bottle and threw it into the crowd. Every time we stood up people moved closer behind making it next to impossible to sit back down on the field. Good times for an 18 year old.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 11:09 AM
the way to post pics is to send them to the email contact link at the lower left of this page
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 5:31 AM
Charlie ...... there is a Facebook group called Chicago Rock Concerts of the 1960's and 1970's. Recently, (jan 6th) someone started a thread about the Yes, Frampton, Skynard, Gary Wright show. You can post your pictures there. I'd really like to see them!! I can't seem to find pictures of any of the World Series of Rock or Superbowls of Rock shows in Chicago. Here's what I posted on the FB page .........
"Things I remember about this show 1) Being jammed in like cattle waiting to get in. 2) The Goodyear blimp flying behind the stage as Skynyrd played Sweet Home Alabama. 3) A couple that waited along side us to get in put down a blanket right in front of us and SLEPT through Gary Wright, Skynyrd and Frampton. After Frampton's set they woke up and watched the whole Yes set."
Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:57 PM
I was also at that concert and have many pictures. Can someone tell me how to post them. I know how to scan them into the computer and such. Anyways, we drove down from KI Sawyer Michigan, 17 miles south of Marquette,we left really really early, and saw the show. 5 of us crammed in my 68 GTO. Headed back after the show and had to pull over we were so tired, and slept for a couple of hours off the road.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 11:30 AM
i remember that day, my buddy and I took the CTA there. It was a hot sunny day and we didn't bring any water or food! Still had the most memorable experience ever! What a show!
This was my first Yes concert, and though I was disappointed that there was no light show, the music was incredible. The whole day was quite an experience. We arrived towards the end of Gary Wright's set and settled in about halfway back among the 75,000 people. I don't think it mattered where you were - the sound system was HUGE! Skynryd rocked through their set. Frampton preened through his (although over the years I have come to appreciate his music more. Well, expept "I'm in You"). Then as a lot of the crowd left, we worked our way closer to the stage to await Yes. I remember the judge who cleared the way for this concert to take place being up on stage, and after being introduced to the crowd, turned his suit jacket inside out to reveal a crazy pattern and saying he wanted to be "hip so he could boogie with the Yesses." It was hilarious. Off to the side of the stage throughout the day there was a diving pit where high divers would jump in. I guess this was supposed to be entertaining. Finally, Yes took the stage, and to this 17 year old, they appeared as gods! I still get goosebumps whenever I hear the start of the Firebird Suite introduction. There was no solo album material performed at this concert, but i don remember Jon doing an extended harp solo and Patrick's piano solo with it's boogie-woogie part. Chris and Jon had to don sunglasses as the sun was setting directly into their eyes. I was so impressed by Chris and his flowing robes (for lack of a better term) that he would open up as he turned his back to the crowd. From that concert on, I was hooked and have seen every tour since.
"Show us your boobs!"---classy.
But Gibby -- Patrick Moraz did some amazing music with Yes!! (He joined Moody Blues mid-1978).
We arrived late to this show, missing Gary Wright (and I guess Natural Gas?!?) probably because it was in unfamiliar territory. I remember a lot of this show for some reason -- considering how little I remember of the rest of the 70s. I remember that besides the people standing in front of the stage, people had about half-filled the grandstand of Hawthorne Race Track as well. The photo of the woman on her boyfriend's shoulder here reminds me that Peter Frampton and his band had developed quite a reputation for holding up signs saying, "Show us your [boobs]!" and women would happily comply. It was so prevalent during the show that we worked our way up front so we could get a better view BACK towards the crowd.
I remember Frampton rocking the crowd, I remember Lynyrd Skynyrd doing the same, but I remember Yes as more or less going through the motions. With Patrick Moraz on keyboards, maybe that was the reason why. One more thing, I think I saw Moraz on keyboards with the Moody Blues around this time, too, did I?
I was the 'lost sister' and actually, it was my brother who was lost. I was with his friends the whole time! He left us to get closer to take pictures (he was VERY into photography at the time)and that was the last we saw of him. His friends and I eventually left and took the shuttle buses to the parking lot and waited by the car. My brother in the meantime had called our Mom & Dad and told them he lost me. My Dad still says that was the angriest he ever got at my brother! This is the kind of thing that happened in the 'pre-cellphone' days.
lost my sister
boy do i remember that concert. i was 15 and brought my little sister kathleen who was, i think, 14. well, we each went to the bathroom and that was the last i saw of her. the girls bathroom was total pandemoneum as the venue was NOT designed for that many people. it was a horse racing track with the entire infield filled with stoned teenagers! i spent the rest of the day looking for her. at eight that night i finally called home. she wasn't there!
i dont recall how she finally got home but the issue was resolved and now she teases me relentlessly about the concert where i lost her!
Thanks for posting the pictures. They really bring me good memories. At the age of 14, this was my 1st concert experience. I went with my brother and 2 friends and I remember sitting in the middle of the infield. I agree with most of what everyone has posted here. The reason this show was moved from Comisky Park to Hawthorne Race Track was be cause of the Aerosmith show. During that show, a fire broke out on the roof of the old Comisky Park, where smoke engulfed the stage, forcing the show to come to a stop. Many fans thought the fire was a special effect that had gotten out of had, when in fact, due to the extreme heat on that day, the old stadium's roof caught fire. In addition to Aerosmith playing at this show was Jeff Beck with Jan Hammer (remember the album Jeff Beck Live with the Jan Hammer Group?) Anyway, this fire is what sparked the controversy and the movement of this show to Hawthorne.
Nick: Thanks for your beautifully written piece on YES and spirituality. 1976 was a truly amazing time to be a YES fan. They were much more passionate -- and serious -- about their music back then. Going for the One was pretty much the last YES album to send shivers down my spine.
I was a subscriber to your excellent 'zine "7C's" in the late 70s and early 80s and I've often wondered what you've been up to since then. Good to see you're still out there spreading the word about peace, love, and understanding -- and music.
Nick Kokoshis: 29nth Anniversary of this concert!
Surprise, surprise. I got an email from my ex-wife who had been checking out her diary, and she reminded me that it was 29 years ago that we had gone to see YES (at an all-day music festival in Illinois) and also the day we had begun our experiments in vegetarianism.
The concert was at Hawthorne Park Race Track-- I'm not even sure where that is. The lineup was Natural Gas, Gary Wright, Lynryd Skynrd, Peter Frampton, and Yes. It was actually a pretty impressive lineup. Natural Gas was a band I don't remember at all, and never heard from again. Gary Wright had an early all-synth band playing funky pop with spiritual messages. He had just had a huge hit, "Dreamweaver," which I should only have to mention and the chorus should pour through your mind. His inspiration was Paramahansa Yogananda, the same yogi whose book Autobiography of a Yogi was mandatory reading in the counterculture and which had also inspired, in the form of a footnote, Yes' double album Tales From Topographic Oceans. Lyrnrd Skynrd wins the award for the all-time-most-difficult group name to spell. They played ass-kicking southern rock which seemed kind of moronic to me, despite the occasionally melodic song and the anthemic hymn to decadence, "Free Bird." (It's become an ongoing joke in Chicago to call out "Free Bird" at literally ANY classic rock concert, much to the bewilderment of the band on stage and amusement of the audience.) Peter Frampton was one of the few "typical" pop rock acts I liked during the 1970s. I stumbled on him by accident when I went to see another band and Frampton was the headliner-- I remember being impressed by the clear mix that emphasized the vocals so strongly. Predicting the success of his live album Frampton Comes Alive was one of my rare moments of attunement to commercial tastes. Looking back at it, he had a good voice and adequate guitar playing but the songs don't interest me much anymore. Like most people, I promptly forgot about him after that album.
Yes, on the other hand, were unforgettable. Most people have a band (or two or three, or in my case countless) that runs parallel to pivotal periods in their life and exerts tremendous influence. To put is succinctly, Yes were my gospel music and the gospel music of countless hippie spiritualists. The counterculture spilled out of the cities in the late 1960s into the suburbs in the 1970s. There were two wings to it, the spiritual and the political, and I caught on to the spiritual wing in 1976, just 6 months before this Yes concert at Hawthorne Race Track in August. Of course there was a great deal of overlap between the political and spiritual counterculture, but our emphasis was different. I would say the main inspiration behind the spiritual counterculture was Allen Ginsberg-- Beat poet, early gay rights and progressive political activist, drug experimenter, and inspiration to all who delved into Eastern religions and chant as a spiritual path. Ginsberg basically mapped out the path by touring around the country doing poetry readings that served as part entertainment, part how-to-be-a-human-being be-in.
For those who wanted a better education in world religions and spirituality, there was another touring hippie guru, Ram Dass, the bisexual Harvard psychedelic researcher (and colleague of Timothy Leary) turned yoga student after discovering his guru after being led around India by another Western convert (Bhagavan Das) who patiently taught him to "be here now," the phrase that would become the title to the most popular book of the spiritual counterculture (and would crop up in YES 1977 lyrics for "AWAKEN".
I was pretty much oblivious to all of this until 1976 when a long-time passion for atheism would give way to a long-time passion for spirituality after viewing one simple TV show (Tom Snyder's Tomorrow, sometime mid February 1976) which featured a gaggle of spiritualists which were probably a brand of neo-Theosophists. That pretty much changed my whole life. Running parallel to this was the progressive rock movement with YES as one of its brightest stars. I had been listening to their double album, four song Tales From Topographic Oceans for about a year at that time, but after this revolution in my mind it would become a near obsession. Spearheaded by two of the most melodic singer-musicians ever to pass as rock and roll, Steve Howe (guitar) and Jon Anderson (vocals, percussion) brainstormed their way into rock legend by creating one long, intricate rock symphony with just four twenty minute "songs": "The Revealing Science of God", "The Remembering", "The Ancient," and "Ritual." Too complex and non-rock to be appreciated in a sitting or two, it baffled most rock critics accustomed to easier-to-digest fare. Coupling this problem, Yes performed the entire album in concert before most fans had had a chance to digest the album. I was completely out of this loop altogether, as I hadn't bought the album or seen the band until the next year, 1975, when they were touring in support of a more jazz-rock inspired album, RELAYER. They did perform one side of TALES at the show, "Ritual," but I wasn't familiar enough with it to follow what was going on except to note that they were all going berserk during a percussion movement, banging on drums, timpani, large metal triangles, and other percussive instruments.
Looking back at it now, TALES wasn't that terribly complex or that different from it's much-lauded predecessor, Close To The Edge. TALES had simply taken the elements of their style and stretched them to their maximum potential. Yes' style was a mixture of rock, folk, classical, space electronics, country, and a touch of whatever else they could throw in. Steve Howe wrote some of the most beautiful guitar passages of his career (lead guitar, slide guitar, Spanish classical, folk) and Jon Anderson responded with his stream-of-consciousness lyrics (aided by further lyrical ideas by Howe) that owed more to painting-by-words than poetry. While Steve kept the melodies constantly inventive, the lyrics wove a web of ideas that encompassed all that life is-- the beauty and cruelty of it all. Nature and evolution, the quest for enlightenment (spiritual evolution), the degradation of the earth through civilization/plundering/war, nonviolence and war, romantic love-- everything apparently lived within the "topographic oceans," and sorting through the contradictions of life was the task of wise philosophers and mystics-- or stoned hippies-- depending on how you looked at it. These were the concerns of the ethos. What was clear about the counterculture was that it broadened the range of people who took on these heady issues. It was nothing to spend endless hours discussing all these issues. Paul McCarntey would later write in a song that looked back on these times ("The Songs We Were Singing" 1997):
For a while, we could sit, smoke a pipe,
And discuss all the vast intricacies of life
We could jaw through the night
Talk about a range of subjects, anything you like
But we always came back to the song we were singing
At any particular time
Yeah, we always came back to the song we were singing
At any particular time.
Take a sip, see the world through a glass
And speculate about the cosmic solution
To the sound, blue guitars
caught up in a philosophical discussion...
Paul would know-- he was at ground zero of the counterculture explosion in London in the mid 1960s, supporting everything from the underground press to the legalization of marijuana movement to the avant garde arts scene with the megabucks pouring in from international Beatlemania. The Beatles internationalized psychedelia and counterculture spirituality with the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. With the cat out of the bag, every band in rockdom followed suit.
YES grew right out of the psychedelic rock movement of the late 1960s (Howe was in Tomorrow, Squire in The Syn), which was one of the first attempts of pop and rock to move out of its tightly controlled contrivances of verse/chorus/verse/chorus (and maybe a tad of a solo). The band members' backgrounds and early influences were church choral music, early rock, classical, jazz, and of course, The Beatles. Their first album bore a resemblance to psychedelia and British invasion styles (including a cover of the Beatles "Every Little Thing" with souped up instrumental passages) but they soon showed classical and jazz leanings on their second and third albums. They broke in America with their third album, The Yes Album, then established themselves as the head of the heap of what was being called "progressive rock" for its progress in battering down the walls between musical styles: folk, rock, classical, space electronic, country, and jazz all sat comfortably next to one another in a new meta-style. Their audience hardly cared which genre was being referenced at any given time as long as the epic story lyrics and extended musical ideas unfolded seamlessly. Only the most talented and flexible musicians could tread this path. After Rick Wakeman, a legitimately classically trained musician, joined them in 1971 for the Fragile album, there was almost no stopping their glee in fulfilling this musical task. Guitarist Steve Howe in particular could absorb musical styles as easily as drinking water, and this gave Yes a complete departure from the blues-rock or folk-rock style of most pop bands (including the later punk bands). Yes' musical arrangements amazed virtually everyone, especially other musicians, and they became dubbed "the musicians' musicians," "the thinking man's up with people," while simultaneously being greeting with skepticism by more traditional rock critics. Well, screw em. "Mainstream" was not what we wanted in the counterculture. We wanted no boundaries, or expanding boundaries, in religion, art, culture, peace, science, ecology, sex, and technology. And oh yes, love.
Yes reached it's pinnacle of artistic freedom with 1974's release of Tales From Topographic Oceans. Steve Howe was so obsessed with melody, including avant garde ones, that it pours from every guitar line on the album. Jon Anderson was so obsessed with the divinity in all things that he wanted to record the album in a forest! This convergence of talents produced a work that still to this day can test the patience of your average pop fan. Side one is too reverential, side two is too mellow, side three is too weird, side four is too bombastic, and so go the usual complaints against TALES. But actually, Yes was from the word go was reverential, mellow, experimental, and bombastic. TALES simply took all those styles and tested their limits. It's up to the listening to decide if they have the stamina for it.
1976 was the last time for two decades that YES would perform a complete side from TALES, and this was the tour I saw at the Hawthorne Race Track when they performed Ritual. Performing at an outdoor event meant that Yes did not have their usual elaborate stage show, and indeed performed its final song, Ritual, while facing a beautiful Midwestern sunset-- how perfect for Anderson's lyrical imagery as he sang "nous sommes du soleil," "we are of the sun."
Trying to remember or review this concert from 1976 would be impossible, but in the early 1990s an audience tape surfaced of the event which, though running out shortly after "Ritual" began, shows that the concert was as stormingly good as we remembered. In fact, the tape runs out just after Jon let out with his opening lyrics, "Nous sommes du soleil/ We love when we play." OK, let our minds fill in the last 20 minutes of the song.
"Ritual" is based on Tantra, an approach to enlightenment that is more associated with indulging the senses rather than the typical ascetic approach to mysticism. Jon Anderson's closing lyrics of "Ritual" give Tantra a Western romantic twist-- seeing the sexual aspects of tantric practices through the prism of the Western romantic tradition of love: "hold me my love, hold me today, call me 'round/ Travel we say, wander we choose, love tune/ Lay upon me, hold me around lasting hours/ We love when we play." If you want to look at this in Biblical terms, it's like a hippie version of The Song of Songs with an Eastern religious twist.
That's the last part of Ritual-- the mellow closing portion, the folkish ditty, typical of many Yes epics. The middle portion is also a favorite style of Yes, the manic instrumental. In this case, we have a percussion movement which the liner notes say "present and relay the struggle (between evil and love) out of which comes a positive source." If you watch the video of Yes performing Ritual in 1975 in Queen's Park, you can see just how ferocious that struggle can be. Drummer Alan White appears to be a man posessed-- or is it Patrick Moraz' crazed synthesizers-- or is the Anderson and Howe and Squire pounding on those damned iron triangles-- or is it Chris Squire on the timpani. It's probably the combination of all of it. It climaxes into a simple, stunning lead guitar line from Steve Howe-- the guitarist who won Best Overall Guitarist five years in a row from Guitar Player magazine, the guitarist sourced as inspirational by punk rocker Keith Levene. Yeah, that Steve Howe, whose talents and melodicism represent so much that punk supposedly rebelled against.
One last thing. On that audience tape of the Hawthorne Park concert, a rather stoned young woman plaintively calls out her requests to the band: "To Be Over," "The Revealing Science of God," two of Yes' most devotional pieces. And in so doing, sums up what the band stood for to a certain percentage of their fans. Probably most listeners just heard the exquisitely crafted music, but a significant minority tuned into the heart of Yes. "To Be Over" ends with the lines, "After all, your soul will still surrender/ After all, don't doubt your part-- be ready to be loved" which climaxes into a flourish of lead guitar that can send shivers down your spine. It speaks to the implications of what it means to be "loved" -- what does it mean to love our spouse, each other, the animals, and the earth. This is an ongoing dialogue between theology and the reality of the way we live our lives. Yes represents one such link in that dialogue, a free-form artistic exploration of the contradictions of living a life and having high ideals.
I think Yes' approach to spirituality and art at this time still holds up. They were spiritually eclectic, musically diverse and passionate, concerned with broad ethical issues regarding the environment, war and peace, and tenderly romantic. They offered no easy solutions, but an abstract prayer that was positive and hopeful. ==-=-=- om=-=--= Nick
I agree that the website should change the date of this show to Sunday, August 15, 1976. After reading the controversy about the date, I went and dug out an old newspaper review of the concert and it said "Hawthorne Park Race Track, Sunday, Noon."
Yep, You're right WURM.I checked it out.Unfotunately,maybe because of the multiple acts before YES, they just didn't have time to set the Monster up. They just had the gold streamers for the backdrop,as you can see in the Cicero pics.Thanks for pointing that out for me.YES!!!!
They used the 3 headed monster at many outdoor shows. Look at the picture of them on 6/19/76 at Colt Park in Hartfort, CT you can see it.
Woops!forget something... this concert was actually Sunday August 15th, not Saturday.Sorry FORGOTTEN YESTERDAYS,I just wanted to clear that up, That's all!I Really love this website!Really!Thanks.
YES!The first concert I'd ever been to.And a lucky break as well, because I lived in Cicero at the time,And the CTA train station down the block from my house had shuttle buses taking people to Hawthorne Race Track for the event.I still have the program from that, but it hasn't held up too well over time.
A neighborhood friend came with me, and it took only 15 minutes to get to the racetrack.Gary Wright was fist to play(about 45 minutes),Then Lynyrd Skynyrd got the place rocking(for about 90 minutes). Peter Frampton was next and basically played his "Comes Alive" album,which was Huge at the time.Then,After the longest set-up time between the bands that day,YES hit the stage!Being outdoors,we didn't get to see the metallic Ghidrah the 3-headed monster thingy that they used for the indoor shows that tour,but oh well,I still was happy to finally see my favorite band play live.GATES and RITUAL were AWESOME!!! I can still remember seeing Jon jumping up to hit various cymbols on the small platform he was on just behind Steve Howe, during the percussive middle section of RITUAL. Correct me if I'm wrong,But didn't Chris Squire play "Lucky Seven" from His FISH OUT OF WATER solo album at This concert? Can anyone verify this for me?
Well, anyway,They finished RITUAL and left the stage. My friend started to walk towards the gates to leave and I said,"Where the heck are you going,They're not done yet?" He insisted that they were, Then SUDDENLY, we heard the unmistakable sounds of Alan White's Drum rolls as he led the rest of the band into a Rippin'Hot version of ROUNDABOUT. I turned to my Friend and said "SCREW YOU!"and I ran back towards the stage.Needless to say my friend finally caught up with me to watch the encore.As night settled in,we caught the Shuttle bus home and on the bus,this(at the time)14 yr. old couldn't believe the experience he had just witnessed.Sorry if this was a bit long-winded.Not really a review, but more of a wonderful REMEMBERING!!!
A Final Wish/Plea to other die-hard YES FANS out there:If anyone has pictures/photos of this or any other CHICAGO yes concerts from 76-79,Please try to post them.Thanks!LONG LIVE YES!!!!ROCK ON!
On a Sunday in August, Yes played @ Hawthorne Park race track in Cicero, Illinois. It was an afternoon show. The concert was part of "The World Series of Rock." Named that because the series of concerts were scheduled at the old Comiskey Park in Chicago. The first in the series was Aerosmith. I don't remember who also shared the bill with that show (maybe Foghat was one act). The bill had usually 3 or 4 groups on it. For the first concert in the series (Aerosmith, et al) the crowd tour apart the Comiskey Park stands and after that canceled the remaining shows in the series. When it came time for the next concert, the YES show with Gary Wright as 1st act, Lynyrd Skynyrd as 2nd, Peter Frampton as third and Yes, the only place that would take them was Hawthorne Park, a horse racing track in suburban Chicago. The big stipulation was that it had to be in the daytime and done by sundown. There must have been 30,000+ fans that day on a hot August afternoon. Most of the crowd left after Peter Frampton. I don't know how much of their solo stuff they played buy the did Sound Chaser, Gates of Delirium, And You and I, Ritual, Roundabout, Heart of the Sunrise, All Good People. Since they played during the day, there was no laser show, no light show and no cool looking stage - just the guys on a bare stage playing great music. I believe the ticket was only $10.
At the time Frampton was really big and half of the people left after he finished his (endless) set which seemed to consist of 11 different versions of "Do You Feel Like I Do?" Gary Wright was fluff. Lynard Skynard really rocked. I love that shit-kicking southern rock. The band members chugged on bottles of Jack Daniels and threw the half-empty bottles into the crowd. Then Yes came out and kicked ass and the sun set and Yes was cranking away and it was awesome. I can still hear Steve's pedal steel guitar solo ringing in my ears. The authorities tried to stop the show but a local judge issued an injunction and on it went. The judge addressed the crowd during the show as "very nice young people." Ha ha! If only he knew! He must have smelled all that reefer....
I saw the YES concert on 8/14/76 at Hawthorne Racetrack. A reviewer, Cynthia Dagnal, made the following brief comment about Yes' performance: "Yes ended the show with its highly literate and inventive flights to the cosmos. Jon Anderson's clean, sparkling vocals never had such a fine showcase. And what Yes remembers that others of their genre don't is to keep it rocking, no matter how extraterrestrial it gets. It was excellent sunset music, mellow for the mind, soothing to the soul."
I have to agree with her entirely. In fact, I even wrote her a letter thanking her for her comments. For me, this show still stands out as one of the most exciting concerts I ever saw, and it was a marker during a pivotal time in my life as I got more immersed in the study of the mysticism. (My first Yes show was in Chicago in 1975, the Relayer tour.) "Sound Chaser" was such a devasting piece of music, watching the band perform it was astounding.
Moraz' work here destroyed any apprehension about him replacing Wakeman, although he seemed better at being intense and bizarre than at being melodic (which was Rick's strength). And Jon's vocal interlude was a brief eye in the hurricane of Steve and Patrick's solos. Because of time constraints, the set was shorter than we are used to from Yes. But I still remember the improvised harp and synthesizer solo by Moraz and Jon. And of course, who could forget that performance of "Ritual." There was a beautiful Midwestern sunset happening as Jon sang "Nous Sommes Du Soleil," "we are of the sun." For anyone who was a romantic or mystic, the concert was just one big affirmation of life.
The concert program was excellent as well. Jon's page contained some excellent photos, as well as a bit of poetry and a quote-- "Energy is Eternal Delight"-- by poet/visionary William Blake. The centerfold photograph showed all of Yes looking up to a scenic photo of sun-drenched clouds, with there heads fading into the sky, a sort of photographic depiction of the ascension/expansion of consiousness. This was also at the time of Yes' solo albums, and although nothing was played from them, the amazing works that each member had come up with on their own was still fresh in everyone's minds and featured in the program. It was definately a day of high vibrations!!!
The 08/14/76 Chicago date was at Hawthorne Race Track in Cicero, Illinois, which is a suburb bordering Chicago. The 11X11 program for the tour erroneously mentions the Chicago date as being at "Kaminsky Park, Chicago". I think they meant "Comisky Park", former home of the White Sox. Originally, the concert was to take place there, but a big court battle ensued right up to a few days before the concert about where the concert would take place. Hawthorne Park in Cicero was finally given the nod. Yes was the mainliner. Backing them up was Peter Frampton, at the height of his popularity, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Gary Wright. The show started at noon, and ended at about 7 pm, at dusk. Jon joked during the show, "Let's hear it for the lighting man!", as this was a rare outdoor daytime performance with no lights. Many people left after Frampton. Another sidebar of the day -- the judge who allowed the concert to happen in Cicero showed up, went up on stage after Skynyrd and talked about how proud he was of the 75,000 kids in the audience that this was a peaceful event. It was a real weird day!
Tuesday, September 20, 2022 6:04 PM
I was 17 and brought 2 friends in from Indiana, on the South Shore Railroad. Didn't know about free buses: We took the "pink" el train, and walked southwest. Police were checking for alcohol, but were "cool" about the cannabis (guess they thought it keeps crowds mellow.) Ronnie Van Zandt (of Lynyrd Skynyrd) came out for the encore ("Freebird") swilling whiskey from a bottle: He then threw it gently, underhandedly, into the audience. At the end of the song, during the long guitar solo, the band would jump into the air, after every stanza. When the came down to the stage again, the amps were turned up higher, about ten decibels or so. We were on the infield, about 20 rows back: The sound was so loud, we temporarily lost our hearing, and had to shout to one another. Then Frampton came on. His set dragged on, and on! (We were anxious to see Yes: I saw them 2 years later, with Wakeman on keyboards, at the ACC on the campus in South Bend.) Frampton was about !/2 hour into playing "Do You Feel" when we had to leave, to take the last train to Michiana.
before 'I've Seen All Good People'
transcribed by: Pete WhippleJon Anderson:
Thank you very much. It's really nice to be with you today. Nice the way the sun comes out. Oh, it's there. There it is now. Lookie there. Look. There's the sun. This one is for you from Chicago and all [???] and whereabouts Chicago.
before 'Gates Of Delirium, The'
transcribed by: Pete WhippleJon Anderson:
We put this next song on record about two years ago. I think it's about the [???] and the words seem to jump out and tell you. It'll paint some pictures for you. A long desert. A high mountain. To go forth to enter into the gates of delirium.
before 'Heart Of The Sunrise'
transcribed by: Pete WhippleJon Anderson:
We'd like to carry on with a song which we recorded on an album called 'Fragile'. There seems to be a kinda concession of opinion to some people [???]. So I don't know what to say. Stand up or sit down? [???] for some things [???] for a while. Here's a song called 'Heart Of The Sunrise'.
transcribed by: Pete WhippleJon Anderson:
Thank you so much. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the people who helped us so much with the show. On sound the Clair Sound Systems. The Clair Brothers, Sean and Neil over there. The light, the lighting, c'mon let's here it for the lighting today. Here's a song which we put together on 'Tales From Topographic Oceans'. We'd like to perform. It's called 'Ritual'.