Roger McGuinn Newcastle City Hall 28th August 1974
Roger McGuinn finally put the Byrds to rest in the early 70s and embarked on a solo career. He released an eponymous solo album in 1973, and in 1974 he released the album “Peace on You” and went out on tour to promote it across the USA and Europe. I saw him twice in 1974, at this show at Newcastle City Hall and three days later at a free concert in Hyde Park, where he shared the bill with Roy Harper and Julie Felix. His set consisted of tracks from his first two solo albums, smattered with a few Byrds classics. Pretty sure he played classic tracks like “Wasn’t Born to Follow”, “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”, “Mr. Spaceman”, “Chestnut Mare” and “Eight Miles High”. I recall Roger was playing a cool plexiglass guitar which had lights in it. Support came from “A Band Called O”.
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Roger McGuinn Newcastle City Hall 28th August 1974
Hyde Park free concert August 31st 1974
Line-up: Roger McGuinn, Roy Harper and Friends, Julie Felix, Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers, Kokomo, Toots and The Maytals.
I’d just got back from the Reading festival, which was headlined by Traffic and Alex Harvey, a few days earlier, and quite fancied going to another open air event. My mate Will was up for going to this free Hyde Park concert on Saturday, so we decided to hitch down to London after going to the local Mecca ballroom on Friday night. Around midnight we hitched a lift to the A1 at Durham and started to make our way down south. It took us all night to get down to London, but we made it by early morning. We had some crazy lifts along the way, including one in the back of an army jeep driven by a couple of squaddies who took a dislike to us (we jumped out of the jeep at a service station and started to hitch again), and another with a guy who was totally spaced out of his brain (he told us he had been taking acid) and was speeding through the centre of some strange town (I think it may have been Nottingham) driving through red lights and singing at the top of his voice. Our last lift was from a kind old couple who gave us something to eat and took us into London. When we arrived we took the tube out to Wembley so that I could buy tickets for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young who were appearing at Wembley Stadium a couple of weeks later. We then went to Hyde Park for the concert, where we ran into a few other boys we knew from the town. I don’t remember much about the first few acts, but do remember being impressed by Julie Felix. Her set featured the excellent Ollie Halsall from Patto on guitar, and we all sang along to Going to the Zoo. There was much anticipation for Roy Harper’s set that day, and much speculation about exactly who might be guesting with him. Roy came on stage late on the afternoon and introduced his friends for the day: Dave Gilmour on guitar, John Paul Jones on bass, and Steve Broughton on drums. A recording of the epic Harper song The Game exists from the concert, with some great guitar work from Gilmour. My memory is a little hazy (it is almost 40 years….) and I don’t recall exactly what else was played, although I think Roy performed I Hate the White Man, but I do remember it being a great set. Roger McGuinn was headlining and played a set of classic Byrds songs. We left before the end of his set to get to the motorway before the rest of the crowds, and took the tube to Hendon to pick up the M1 junction and hitch back up north. Our journey back home took ages. We managed to get back to the A1(M) Bishop Auckland turn-off by Sunday afternoon and stood for hours without so much as a sniff of a lift. So we walked into Bishop Auckland to see if we could get a bus home. Sadly we’d missed the last bus and had hardly any money anyway so we decided to try to walk home. We popped into a pub somewhere near Spennymoor for a glass of water (as we didn’t have enough for a drink) only to find a group of guys from Sunderland in the back room. I have never been happier to see some familiar faces; they gave us a lift home at closing time! So we arrived back home some 48 hours after we set off, having had no sleep at all, and very hungry. The crazy things you do when you are young. Still I’m pleased I went to this event; it was good to see Roy. I have a copy of the recording of the Game from that day. Its pretty rough, but brings back some great memories when I play it. Happy days.
Roger McGuinn The Sage Gateshead June 21 2009
Roger tells a good story. We get treated to the story of his life, wrapped around those great songs. And what a life he’s had. From working in folk bands to backing Bobby Darin, to song writing, through the Byrds and beyond. He explained how the Byrds concept was putting a “Beatle beat” to Dylan and folk songs. He played us Mr Tambourine Man, Turn Turn Turn, My Back Pages, All I really want to do, Chestnut Mare (Laura finds this amusing). Just him on his guitar, swapping between acoustic guitar and his 12 string Rickenbacker, telling his stories and singing his songs to us. He finished with Eight Miles High, explaining that it was a mix of the Beatle beat, John Coltrane and Ravi Shankar. It was good to see him again. The last time I had the pleasure was in Hyde Park on a free show with Roy Harper and Julie Felix.