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Cassettes: Musical Memories of the 1970s

The 70s was a big decade for music in Madison: Jimi Hendrix and James Taylor came to town, and (at least) one alum awkwardly serenaded his future-wife with “Maggie May.”

July 22, 2015

What do JJ Watt, the UW Marching Band, and Pink Floyd have in common? They’ve all been met with resounding applause on the field at Camp Randall Stadium. That’s right: Camp Randall used to play host to rock concerts. Bands such as The Grateful Dead, U2, and Public Enemy tore up the field (figuratively and, perhaps, literally) from the early 1970s to the late 1990s. We believe that Madison has one of the greatest music scenes in the country, and your responses to our call for musical memories affirmed that belief loudly and clearly.

In this update, Badger grads of the ’70s share their musical memories of campus.

Mike Anderson ‘70

Madison

As you noted in your recent email, college is a time when certain songs begin to form the soundtrack of our lives. These are the songs that we all eventually listen to on our favorite oldies station. Here’s a favorite musical moment from my time at UW-Madison. Most of us who attended the UW in the 60s are now in our 60s. Ours was a decade when songs of love were joined by songs of protest. In the spring of 1970, my senior year, the Wisconsin Student Association chartered a “Special Theatre Train” from Madison to the Schubert Theater in Chicago to see “Hair,” the musical that captured the feelings of the times. The ride down was an amazing party on steel wheels and the show was modified a bit for the audience when cast members inserted a few familiar Madison names and places into the dialog. When the play ended the entire cast flowed out into the audience. Some of them hopped on the train and joined the return-trip party. Even though I don’t remember many of the details, which was an event that I will never forget. The best part is that my date that night is now my wife of 44 years.

Sharon Brewer Scanlan ‘70

Saddlebrooke, AZ

My greatest musical memory was for the concert that didn’t happen on Dec. 10, 1967. Like many others, I was waiting in line to see the Otis Redding concert when we were informed that his plane went down and he died. A very sad day for music and for Madison.

Ray Eisemann ‘70

Wauwatosa, WI

My favorite concert at the Union theater was the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in, I think, 1968. It was the 1st time I saw a Blues Band. It really blew me away.

Barry Temkin ‘70

Skokie, IL

I attended a Peter, Paul and Mary concert at the Dane County Coliseum on April 6, 1968, two days after Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in Memphis. The folk trio had performed at the 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, and listening to the three sing such songs as "If I Had a Hammer" and "Blowin' in the Wind" was deeply moving, unbearably sad and unforgettable.

Sue Taylor Swenson ‘71

Portland, Oregon

In the fall of 1967, I attended a Jimi Hendrix performance at The Factory. The tiny stage was next to a wall and encircled by a railing. Hendrix couldn’t have been more than 15 feet from his fans who stood around the stage. It felt like a private concert because he wasn’t a superstar in the U.S. yet. I visited Europe a couple of months earlier where Hendrix was popular. I brought home his “Are You Experienced?” album. As I look back, standing so close to Hendrix seems surreal. Just a couple of months later he would be playing in huge sold out stadiums. I had another surreal experience when my boyfriend and I bought tickets to the Otis Redding concert scheduled to take place at The Factory in December 1967. The concert never took place because Redding’s small plane crashed into Lake Monona on December 10th. I was shocked and heartbroken that a plane crash into a lake near my beloved UW campus could take Redding’s life in an instant. He was just 26. I wish I’d kept the tickets for sentimental reasons.

Susan Meyers ‘71

San Clemente, CA

Unfortunately, I am not talented musically. Of course, I listened to all the '60's music that was popular when I was at the UW from 1969-1971 — Beatles, Stones, Dylan, etc. I remember going to the "The Nitty Gritty" on my 21st birthday in December 1969. It was a little nightclub near Sellery Hall where I lived. I've heard that it was headquarters for the local anti-war movement, but I was unaware of that at the time. Though many well-known musicians played at the club (Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Luther Allison, Bonnie Raitt, Jefferson Airplane), I remember listening to local bands that also played there. However, the music I remember most fondly was played by the UW band at football games. My absolute favorite was/is: "If you want to be a Badger, just come along with me to the bright shining light of the moon. If you want to be a Badger just come along with me to the bright shining light of the moon." And, of course, "Varsity," which we sang right afterwards, waving our hands back and forth. I still sing this during football games we watch here in San Clemente, California. I'm not sure if my family and friends appreciate my tuneless singing, but I can't help it!

Mark B. Leedom ‘72

Nashville, TN

...a group called Tayles at the Memorial Union on my first full day as a student…

Robert Josephberg ‘72

Briarcliff Manor, NY

When James Taylor came to campus and he sang" Fire and Rain"
A true memory when Otis Redding's plane crashed and he was killed in Madison's Lake Monona. His hit song at that time ironically was "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay."

Gunther Than ‘72

Wind Point, WI

Being an alumni from the late 60's & early 70s Pete Seeger's concerts were the most memorable.

Patricia Moran ‘72

Bend, OR

I guess the song that most defines my time at the UW would be "Do What You Like" from Blind Faith's 1969 album. I heard the album and this song at a friend's house and immediately went out and bought my own copy. I must've played that song a thousand times!!

John '73 and Peggy '73 Zimdars

Madison

Our favorite UW musical memory was the UW Band's concert on April 3, 1976. It was our first date and we were the last two allowed into what was the last concert in Mills Hall. We have been married for 38 years and during those years we have enjoyed many of the Band concerts in the Field House and the Kohl Center.

Jim ’73 and Nancy ’73 Reck

Green Bay, WI

Of the many musical memories from our UW-Madison days, two always seem to stand out. A young, new force with the Wisconsin Marching Band was making his mark and in 1970 we saw for the first time Mike Leckrone introduce the pre-game run-on, followed by, “On, Wisconsin.” To this day, the total game experience means our family of Badgers must be in the stands for run-on. The next year brought another lasting musical memory. Rod Stewart had released, “Maggie May.” We loved the song and so did certain other students living on N. Orchard. Walking back from class on N. Orchard one day, the song boomed out of a student’s window. Hearing that song today, and loving it more because of the memories, we are always taken back to that moment on campus. And, of course, like thousands of other students, I struggled to play guitar. I awkwardly serenaded my wife-to-be. Forty-five years later she still listens to me banging away on guitar; though I never did learn to play Maggie May.

Randy Herman '73, MS '74

Irvine, California

The Nitty Gritty on Frances Street was one of my favorite places to hear Blues. One night when Luther Allison was performing, several members of Jefferson Airplane, who had earlier that evening performed at the Coliseum, came by and jammed with Allison for several hours. My friends and I were sitting directly in front of the stage. Just an incredible evening.

Steve Hunsader ‘74

Park Ridge, IL

I saw the late/great horn band from Chicago called “Chase” at the Memorial Union in the Winter/Spring of 1974. It was a special evening and the band truly “rocked the house.” At the time they were as good if not better than Chicago and BS&T, with bit more of a jazz slant to their version of jazz-rock. Chase's best-known song is "Get It On.” Unfortunately, Bill Chase the bandleader and creator died in a plane crash in the summer of 1974, resulting in the bands demise.

Bruce Ravid ‘74

Sherman Oaks, CA

My experience at WSRM, one of the student radio stations in the 70’s, changed my life as it seeded my career. There was so much great live music in Madison but I’d have to say the most memorable live music probably came from the UW Marching Band. I never was in the band but as a student I’d often head to their practice field to watch Mike Leckrone put their shows together. I later became a band member sponsor and continue to visit Mike’s Band rehearsals when I’m back in Madison. I'm often asked if I was in Band. Never even considered it but I couldn’t get enough of them and still can’t.

Jim Bigwood '75

Atlanta, GA

Without a doubt, my greatest Madison musical memory is the 1974 creation of the New Hyperion Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra (what a great name!), under the direction of Karlos Moser. I "danced" at a performance they gave on the Union Terrace (it would be more appropriate to say that I bobbed in time with the music) and I had the privilege of being in the audience for their WHA-TV special, taped at the Mitchell Theatre in Vilas Hall. I especially recall a knockout version of Aggravatin' Papa (Don't You Try To Two-Time Me). Is there a DVD of that TV special? I would buy it in a second!

Katherine Conley '76

Edina, MN

As a sophomore music major I was a volunteer usher at the Memorial Union Theater. I saved the program that Beverly Sills autographed for me for decades.

Bob Graham ‘76

Albert Lea, MN

I was very blessed to be in the UW band and we had wonderful concerts on Palm Sunday in the Union Theater. Also played in the 1960 Rose Bowl. I also heard George Shearing quintet and the Student Prince in the Union Theater. On Friday afternoon I had a class with the Pro Arte Quartet playing the quartets of Mozart and Haydn.

William Rauwerdink ‘76

Grabill, IN

I attended a James Taylor concert in the Field House in about 1971-72. He was at his early peak of popularity with his "Sweet Baby James" album. He reluctantly played "Fire and Rain" as an encore after stomping off the stage as the crowd continually requested that he play it. Only later did I understand his emotional state when he wrote the song, which likely caused his reluctance. Huge concert at the time. I had the pleasure of seeing James Taylor (with Carol King) in Detroit a few years back. He was in fine shape and did "Fire and Rain" with no visible issues. Time heals wounds.

Mark Spaeth ’79

Milwaukee

One of the more memorable concerts (for both the unique artist and venue) I attended in my 4 wonderful years on campus was John Prine … in the Stock Pavilion. We were still using the Stock Pavilion for class registration at the time, so I was familiar with it. It was also close to my Sullivan Hall dorm. I have seen John Prine since and always wondered what he thought about giving a concert in a stock pavilion.

Rita Schacherer ‘79

Knoxville, IA

I always loved the Wisconsin Marching Band.

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