Monthly Archives: April 2012

Ray Charles at the Spokane Memorial Coliseum, 1962

Some notes from my research: Ray Charles, Marty Robbins, and the Limeliters: Spokane Coliseum 1962 —

On March 23, 1962 the Limeliters came to Spokane for an appearance at the Spokane Memorial Coliseum. The Limeliters, Alex Hassilev, Lou Gottlieb, and Glenn Yarbrough, began their professional career performing at San Francisco’s Hungry i. Recording for RCA Records they had a string of hits, “There’s a Meetin’ Here Tonight,” “City of New Orleans,” “A Dollar Down,” “Have Some Madeira M’Dear,” “Lonesome Traveler,” “Wabash Cannonball,” and “Whiskey in the Jar.” They also recorded the advertising jingle “Things Go Better With Coke,” and made that a national hit. Yarbrough was to leave the group the following year.
Following the Limeliters on Easter Sunday, April 22, was a country and western blowout. Tour producers created themed shows that made a circuit around the country, including the Memorial Coliseum. This one was a stage show based on the Grand Ol’ Opry, and featuring Marty Robbins this year as the main performer.
That summer on June 8, Liberace brought his popular show to the Memorial Coliseum. His career as an entertainer was slowing down, and to reenergize it he began appearing live at a number of small to medium sized venues across the country, appealing to his fan base directly. Spokane was one of these venues.
At the time, the Memorial Coliseum was a publicly owned property. Anyone with the money could sign a “use agreement” with the city to plan an event at the Coliseum. Promoters held dances throughout the year for high school and college students, often featuring local musicians in battle of the bands.
In December of 1962, a man named Leonard Russell who lived on east Alice in Spokane signed a contract to use the Coliseum to have Ray Charles perform. The first date set for the concert was Thursday December 20, but it was soon moved to Sunday December 23. Charles was huge in rhythm and blues, and growing into a pop phenomenon with his latest hit “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” in 1962, and he’d released “Modern Sounds of Country and Western Music,” an LP, that year too. His road performances by this time featured a big band growing out of his initial small combo.


“Limeliters.” Perpetual Date Book, daily diary of the Coliseum Manager. March 23, 1962: 83.
“The Limeliters” Web site. 5 August 2011.
“Grand Ol’ Opry.” Perpetual Date Book, daily diary of the Coliseum Manager. April 22, 1962: 113.
“Liberace.” Perpetual Date Book, daily diary of the Coliseum Manager. June 8, 1962: 160.
“Liberace.” 26 April 2012.
“Ray Charles.” Perpetual Date Book, daily diary of the Coliseum Manager. December 20, 1962: 355.
“Ray Charles.” Perpetual Date Book, daily diary of the Coliseum Manager. December 23, 1962: 358.
“Ray Charles.” 26 April 2012.

Copyright © Robert G. Schoenberg 2012


Spokane Teen Fair ’66 The Animals, Beau Brummels, Brian Hyland

The 1966 Spokane Teen Fair featuring bluesy pop version of The Animals from England—

Not enough has been said about the mid-’60s phenomena the teen fair. The business model evolved from teen events in California: combine a battle of the bands with the appearances of national acts, along with local businesses marketing to teenagers. Space the event out over a couple of days, and you have a weekend teen moneymaker.
In the summer of 1966, and always looking for ways to make money from teenagers, KREM radio’s George Phillips, along with KJRB’s John Novak and Gary Taylor, rented out the Memorial Coliseum for two days in August. The teen fair was held on a Friday and Saturday.
The Coliseum filled with booths rented by local retailers hawking items they marketed to teenagers: clothing fashion, shoes, bicycles, and more clothing fashion, and more shoes, guitars and amps, cars, stereos and records. Local bands were invited to play in the “continuous battle of the bands.” In some large urban areas, such as Chicago, or Santa Cruz in Southern California, over 300 local bands would apply for a chance to play, and win, at a battle of the bands. The Spokane teen fair was broken up into four separate events, each six hours long and featuring one national act on the main stage. The promoters charged $1.50 per show, or $4 for all four shows. For the first event Friday afternoon the national act was Freddy Cannon, Dick Clark’s favorite performer on American Bandstand.
Friday night the crowd saw The Animals in their first variation as a bluesy pop band from England. The Animals broke up after the final show of this tour, of which this Spokane appearance was near the end. Novak, commenting to the Spokesman-Review, said the Coliseum was filled to capacity for the evening.
The next afternoon Brian Hyland appeared on stage. Hyland first hit on the charts as a 16-year-old pop sensation in 1960 with Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Bikini. Hyland kept up in the business, but did not chart a hit like the first one ever again. That night the Beau Brummels, a San Francisco band that got together in 1964, took the stage. They came to Spokane with two hit singles, Laugh, laugh, and Just A Little, and an LP, Introducing the Beau Brummels.

SEACAB reports, Spokane Coliseum, 1966

Hall, Claude. “Record Hops in Spin as Band Play Steals Play.” Billboard Magazine. Oct 1 1966: 1+. 11 March 2012,

“Mom & Dad.” Advertisement. Spokesman-Review. 7 August, 1966: II: 20.

“Teen Fair Attracts Large Crowd.” Spokesman-Review. 14 August, 1966: 20.

Copyright © Robert G. Schoenberg 2012

Bob Gallagher, and the almighty vinyl record

Early Spokane bands, dances at the Memorial Coliseum, The Wailers’ sound system, country rock, Slab dances, Jimi sings the blues, and what really happened at the 1967 Jefferson Airplane concert —

Interviewed Bob Gallagher last evening in his record store, 4000 Holes, on Monroe St. We talked about his interest in music from the time he was in grade school, his first guitar and the inspiration that drove him into wanting to be a guitar player in a rock ‘n’ roll band. He told me stories about collecting thousands of vinyl records that became his passion and his business, booking bands for Expo 74, and the differences between bands that covered top 40 songs, bands that played more obscure songs, Wilson McKinley’s country and western influence, and writing songs in Spokane. It was a great interview lasting nearly two hours. Lots of work for me ahead transcribing the recording.