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, http://www.billboard.com/archive#/archive.
“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