I've told this story numerous times over the years but a quick recap is this ...
My cousins had tickets to see The Beatles at Comiskey Park in August of '65 ... and had an extra ticket available for me to go.
They told us about it the day before the show as we just happened to be visiting them at their home in Deerfield, IL.
I could spend the night and then go with them to the concert the following night ... and my Dad could come pick me up the following day to bring me back to Brookfield, IL ... a distance of about a 32 miles each way ... and roughly a 45 minute drive. It was summer vacation, after all, so me being available to see the greatest band the world has ever known was a no brainer.
But my Dad said no ... he didn't want to have to drive "all the way back" there to come and get me ... and so my one and ONLY chance to ever see The Beatles perform live was squashed. (There are not enough words to describe how squashed I felt at missing this opportunity ... and that feeling has only grown larger and larger in each passing year since.)
But the concert held at Milwaukee County Stadium on June 22nd, 1969, sounds like one hell of a good time, too.
Check this out ...
It was promoted by radio station WOKY and quickly became known as M'Woky Fest ... and it was designed as a fund-raiser for The Children's Outing Association, which provides camping for handicapped and under-privileged kids and senior citizens.
The line-up consisted of (are you ready for this?!?!?) Freddie and the Freeloaders, The Classics IV, Eddie Floyd and The Bar-Kays, The Bob Seger System, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, The Cryan' Shames, Tommy James and the Shondells, The New Colony Six, Andy Kim, The Buckinghams, The Royal Guardsmen, The Guess Who and The Monkees!!! And tickets were only $1.50 - $3.50.
Oh yeah ... and it also rained all day!!!
Still, the event raised $68,198 and, believe it or not, the crowd of 29,041 was the largest audience The Monkees ever played to up to that time. (Their TV show was cancelled the year before and at this point, the band was down to just a trio, Peter Tork having left after their 33 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee television special the previous year.)
SO many great names on this bill ... and most at the peak of their respective careers. What a show this must have been!!!
Incredibly, I asked a number of the artists who were on the bill that day what it was like to play with such an elite group of contemporaries ... and, believe it or not, other than a couple of responses, I got nothing back that we could use!
I was told time and time again that there was nothing especially memorable about this show that made it stand out from any others. (Now granted, there were a LOT of "package shows" at the time ... but a line-up like this ... with over a dozen top name acts, all performing on the same bill ... and the fact that it rained all day ... you would think SOMETHING would have stood out!)
We even looked for local Milwaukee fans who might have attended ... and reached out to some of the Wisconsin disc jockeys that are on our list for assistance ... and still came up relatively empty.
[For the record, in addition to members of The New Colony Six and The Royal Guardsmen (who responded), we also asked members of The Buckinghams, Jay and the Americans, Andy Kim, The Monkees, Tommy James, Gary Lewis, Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman of The Guess Who, members of The Cryan' Shames and Bob Seger. Maybe once this piece runs and the word starts to get out, we'll hear from a few more of you who were there ... either on the stage or out in the audience! We'll gladly run a follow-up piece if this proves to be the case.]
So, with this scenario in mind, I am EXTREMELY proud to present to you these memories from those who did respond ...
Hi Kent -
Bill Balogh, original bass player for The Royal Guardsmen here.
By the time of our appearance at the Milwaukee Pop Festival on June 22, 1969, Billy Taylor (organ) and Barry Winslow (rhythm guitar and vocals) had already left the band. (They left in May of 1969 and did not play at the M'WOKY Pop Festival on June 22, 1969.)
The Guardsmen lineup for the M’Woky Pop Festival in 1969 included original members Chris Nunley on drums and vocals, Bill Balogh on bass and vocals, and Tom Richards on lead guitar and vocals. New members as of June 1969 were John Mosley on organ and Dave Shannon on lead vocals.
The Guardsmen had played Madison Square Garden for the second time in early June, 1969, and had met the Guess Who at that gig.
Several of the acts on the bill stayed at the Pfister Hotel downtown and were transported to the stadium the day of the festival.
It rained most of the day, but did ease up later in the afternoon.
When the Guardsmen were taken by limo to the stadium the day of the festival, the limo was mobbed by girls as the limo entered the outfield. They didn’t know who was in the limo, but it still felt pretty cool like something out of a Beatles film clip!
The Green Room was in one of the baseball players dressing rooms.
In the stadium, the stage was setup on second base and faced home plate. The actual stage was a large circular disc with a curtain wall as a backdrop that divided the circular stage in to two halves. While a band was performing on the lighted side of the stage facing the audience, the next act up was setting up on the back or ‘dark’ side of the stage. When it was time for the next act to play, the entire circular disc was rotated and was ‘lighted’, facing the audience.
I remember walking out of the Green Room and watching some of the other acts such as the Bob Seger System, The Monkees and Gary Lewis and the Playboys.
That night after the festival I remember we partied with The Guess Who in the Hotel lounge while Micky Dolenz played the piano … Davy Jones was there for a while, too.
- The M’Woky Pop Festival was the second largest audience the Royal Guardsmen had played for at 29,000. On December 10, 1967, the Guardsmen played at the US Marine Corp Toys for Tots concert in Louisville, Kentucky, to a crowd of 44,000.-- Bill Balogh
It could be a wrong recall on my part relative to the popularity of Things I'd Like To Say north of the Cheese Curtain back then, but I believe we may have been chart-topping or nearly so at the time of this concert. We had a great deal of admiration for / jealousy of The Monkees and let our appreciation take precedent the day of the show, reaching out to them prior to our set.
This must have been the event where The Monkees were quite aloof until after we played Things I'd Like To Say, which was at or near the top of the charts in Milwaukee at the time so following our set, they became a bit more open to talking with us. (Aloof non-responsive would have been a vast understatement, Kent.)
Hence, because the stage was out around 2nd base and rotated so that the next act could set up in the outfield while attendees were essentially crammed into the space between 1st & 3rd bases, we changed our set list to open with Things ...
The crowd went crazy as we began while the stage was still moving into place and following the completion of our set, there was a new and far more open attitude from Peter, David, Micky and Michael, as they probably hadn't a clue regarding our popularity and successes here in the Midwest.
Not surprising, I guess, but the initial snub surely provided a story that I have shared numerous times over the many decades since and made me feel pretty good in so doing yet again this morning!
This may also have been the show where I was wearing my lime green leisure suit and took a whipped cream pie in the face for comedic effect near/at the end of our set but cannot state that with as much certainty as the prior story ... but pretty sure it was that concert, too.
I remember that it was raining pretty hard that day so we left after our set, rather than hang around to watch some of the other acts on the bill.
Goose bumps still pop up from thinking about and/or repeating in writing the simply incredible crowd reaction at that performance every time I share it, like today.
Not the only event that makes me giddy ... we had a few more of those huge attendance figure gigs over the initial success time of the Colony and, of course, felt similarly every time we appeared on television or were part of major autograph signings, etc.
While numbers may never again match what we had at County Stadium and some of the other outdoor concerts where tens of thousands were supposedly present "in the day," even 300 at a small venue today, or repeatedly enjoying ~ 950 & SRO at the Arcada or selling out other venues as part of Cornerstones or NC6 solo, there is still always a breathtaking level of excitement and an extraordinary feeling of having done a good job when applauded for our efforts today --- 55 years this summer after forming New Colony Six!
Whether as a part of Cornerstones or Colony or, in my case, when recently given the chance to represent the band at Caravan of Stars 36 down in Jackson, TN, and perform for Kool103.1 FM's concert at the Carl Perkins Civic Center, along with other voices sans their band mates, it still makes me teary-eyed over the appreciation received for what we did in the distant past and still are privileged to be able to share today.
Shoot, to be perfectly candid, I have shed a tear or six simply reading a nice note on Facebook or a sweet comment accompanying a video on YouTube. What a blessing it was and still is to be thought of fondly for accomplishments over a half century ago.
Enough already, right?
Signing off for now, Kent, but if you need more or want to hear about my initial departure from the band 50 years ago this coming August, let me know ... but I shall close in perfect candor sharing that I need a wipe of my right eye over this sentimental journey back into the days of my youth right now.
Thanks for asking ---
Peace & blessings,
P.S. I sure do know you extend your support beyond belief through Forgotten Hits and trust you also know my own will always be coming back atcha, kk ...
Ray Graffia, Jr.
Thanks, Guys! I really appreciate you sharing your memories of this very special event with our readers! (kk)