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1 Show Found

03/19/71
The Syndrome - Chicago, IL

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Comments:

This show, scheduled for The Syndrome, aka Chicago Coliseum, was not held at this venue to the best of my knowledge. I am an historian with an emphasis on the Chicago Coliseum, and the last event held there was a James Taylor/Carole King concert on March 12, 1971. A few days earlier, March 8th, was the Ali-Frazier heavyweight championship fight in NY, which was televised via closed circuit television in the Chicago Coliseum. The closed circuit picture went out in the 3rd round and the technical people were unable to reinstate it. The people who paid to see the telecast got rowdy, a near riot ensued because the producers announced a refund would not be forthcoming that evening ... patrons would need to come back to the box office at a later date. Chairs were thrown around the venue, the place was basically trashed, the Chicago police and fire squads were called in to calm things down, and a Chicago Fire Captain named Quinn was hit in the back of the head with a chair and hospitalized. The next morning, March 9th, the City of Chicago slapped numerous safety and fire code violations on the owners of the Coliseum, and one event (the Taylor concert) was allowed to go on as a compromise between the Coliseum's owners and the City of Chicago. To my knowledge, the Grateful Dead concert was either cancelled or moved to another venue. The Coliseum, at 15th and Wabash in Chicago's near south side, was "renamed" The Syndrome in the late 60's, for musical concerts only. Music producer Dick Gassen was in charge of promoting most events at The Syndrome/Coliseum. After the building was closed in March 1971, it never reopened, and it was mainly used for boat storage and auto storage. When the property's caretaker tragically fell to his death while trying to repair a roof panel in 1976, the builduing was cleared and sat vacant until being demolished in April 1982. The site is now a religious cultural center, and directly across the street is a small city park, aptly called Coliseum Park. The park's site formerly served as a parking lot for the Coliseum. This author wrote a letter to the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District in 1998 suggesting the new park be named after the historic structure. Many great bands played there, including Cream, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and of course The Grateful Dead in late 1970.

Sincerely,

Jim Hofman
- (04/23/2007)


I attended the final concert at the Chicago Coliseum and it was a half and half kind of event. Half of the show was a buzz kill and the other was an excellent musical event. I don't know what was on James Taylor's mind, or better yet, what was up his butt. Before the music started, he poked his head out and said he didn't like the way things were set up. As my friend and I entered the venue, we thought it was kind of cool that there were no seats set up. everybody was just gathering in little groups on the floor and sharing blankets laid out. People were passing around wine botas and joints and the atmosphere was very mellow. Anyway, James comes out and says that he refuses to come out until everybody was sitting in a chair! This did not go over well with the otherwise mellow crowd, and after the near riot of just a few nights earlier, you would think someone would have told Mr. Taylor to just shut up and accept things as the way they were going to be. But the concert was placed on hold while someone got out some very old folding chairs and recruited members of the crowd to start setting them up. Then Mr. Buzzkill comes back out and says the chairs just can't be sitting all over the place, and they had to be lined up like a real concert! So again someone scrambles to come up with some long slats to place in the backs of the chair legs to hold them in straight lines. Finally everyone is seated in the "real concert" chairs all in a pretty line and Mr. Taylor is satisfied - all except for one thing. He's had these problems with drugs that everybody knows about if they know anything about him, but he comes out with buzzkill topic number three. He said, "If I see anything that even looks like drug use, or I smell just one whiff of pot, the concert is over." With that, the place finally receives the blessing of James Taylor and the concert can go on. Carole King comes out, makes a sideward remark about someone not being in a good mood, and commences to absolutely kick musical butt. She was great. She was energetic and electric, and her portion of the concert was excellent. I loved James Taylor up until this bullcrap of the night. I still love his music, but will always have this thought in my mind of the night he single handedly ruined concert going for me and a lot of other people. About the only thing that redeemed his part of the concert was when he hit the lyrics, "Deep greens and blues, are the colors I choose..." during "Sweet Baby James", and these deep emerald green and deep blue spotlights come popping on. The crowd roared their approval. The music was great, and if it hadn't have been for the insane behavior of James Taylor, the final concert of the history of this great old building would have been magic. The place was rather worn out though, and it could have been a result of the riot after the Ali fight fiasco taking place, but it did have the look of a tired old veteran who was ready to just lay down and finally quit. There were too many other venues in Chicago that could handle the music crowds that big concerts drew, and it was time for the Chicago Coliseum to take it's final bow. All things must come to an end.
- (05/02/2011)


I attended this concert too, with my beautiful high school sweetheart on my arm. I seem to remember a little different situation with James: it was his Birthday! He was wearing a sport coat covered in little round mirrors that reflected the stage lights in all directions. It was very impressive visually.
Due to his birthday celebration, I think stage hands brought out marshmallows to give to the audience. Some of the rum-dums threw the marshmallows back on stage, when one hit James, he said the concert would be over if it happened again.
Carole King was great, Jo (Mama?) was good too.
The officials came on mike during the concert to ask that people in the 'upper decks' didn't stomp their feet with the music too much, alluding to the fact that the old building wasn't to be trusted structurally...and I think it was the last concert at 'The Syndrome', March 12 1971. Was a great night to remember. A long time ago, maybe I'm fuzzy?
- (11/11/2011)


i still have pics of the last concert. to this day, i didn't know about the ali fiasco, but was well-aware that the city of chicago and cfd came in and condemned the place. only this one last concert was allowed. i remember chairs and seating ONLY at this show. i usually had backstage access and having given dick gassen a lot of publicity in the college paper that i ran, i pretty much roamed the place - front and back. this show was way different. i don't recall being allowed backstage at this one. but i great shots of carole king and jo mama, one kind of 'mooning' the crowd (pants up). lot of memories, but it was a strange place. gassen went on to produce the band chicago's homecoming at depaul's alumni hall, may, 1971. i was the school's coord. and did a lot of publicity. gassen was a pro, a cool guy and a friend. and btw, carole king sang her butt off - this was the heyday!

- (02/11/2015)


I remember it much as does Mr. Meyers. I got in relatively early and the floor was filled with chairs. It was his birthday, and the first act was Danny Kootch's Jo Mama, followed by Carole King and then Taylor. I thought it was a terrific concert. I wrote down a set list after the show, but don't know if it's still findable. A college friend made fun of me for going to see Taylor when he was going to see the Dean the next weekend, and then the Dead show was canceled.

- (03/30/2015)


I too was at that last Coliseum concert, I even made a very poor quality tape recording of it that I may still have somewhere. Although it was so long ago I only have good feelings from that wonderful concert, especially Carole King!
- (12/30/2016)


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Band Configuration
(02/19/71 - 08/26/71)

Lead Guitar: Jerry Garcia
Rhythm Guitar: Bob Weir
Bass: Phil Lesh
Keyboards: Ron "Pigpen" McKernan
Drums: Bill Kreutzmann

Note: Band configuration is across specified time period. Configuration for particular show may have differed.

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