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. http://www.limeliters.com/about.html. 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. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberace.
“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. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Charles.
Copyright © Robert G. Schoenberg 2012