In 1986 - when I was in 3rd grade - I went to my first rock concert. I remember this and a couple surrounding events pretty well, though not perfectly. The fact that I remember them at all is kind of telling since the memory I have of my childhood is spotty at best. But I remember this concert because this concert was special. It was at the Rosemont Theater in Rosemont Illinois and we had seats in the balcony. I think the seats were close to the front but I could be remembering it wrong. Up until this concert I had seen music videos where people jump up and down and scream as the musicians play the music. This is something that I certainly wanted to do but I remember how strange it felt to do it the first time, I remember how self conscious I was about it, and that my sister had to essentially teach me how to have fun at a concert. But before that happened, before the music started, we were led in prayer by a Roman Catholic Cardinal, Cardinal Bernardin. I remembered he prayed, but what I really remember was the thin red rope that I was given to tie around my wrist. I couldn't tell you why we were given this red string, maybe it was for world peace, maybe it was to end hunger, maybe it was a reminder that we are mortal...I don't know and it isn't really important. What is important is that I loved that bracelet and I wore it until it frayed and fell off months later. After the Cardinal prayed, the opening acts started. The only one I remember was Herman's Hermits, I was told later that they and the other opening acts were really bad, but at the time I didn't think so, at the time it was just a band who was trying really hard and deserved to be clapped and cheered for if only because they had the guts to get up before thousands of people and sing their hearts out.
But we weren't there for them, we were there for the main act. We were there to see The Monkees.
By 1986 I had seen most, if not all, of The Monkees television show. I loved it. It was weird and absurd and colorful, and I may not have understood half the jokes that were being made but it was filled with dream logic and it made sense to me. As a side note my tastes have changed very little in this regard.
Now I know that everyone's favorite Monkee was either Davy Jones or Micky Dolenz, and while I loved both of them dearly, my favorite was without a doubt Peter Tork. I know of course that his character was a bit of a dummy, but there was something kind and sweet about him.
So, the concert. When The Monkees theme started playing I had no trouble screaming and dancing to the music. What I remember most about the concert is, of course, Peter talking about being the quiet one, and then singing an awesome song and playing the guitar (I think he took the lead on 'For Pete's Sake', but I can't be certain). It was an amazing experience and a great first concert for a 9 year old.
I wish I could say it was all great. The next day I went to school tired and wearing a Monkees t-shirt. This led to me being tormented and made to feel guilty by Mrs. Eegan for having had fun. To be fair, she hated me and it was, I believe, her mission as an emissary from hell to make my life as unbearable as possible. She was certainly good at her job, but still, she cannot take away the awesomeness of that evening. And I only wish my highly selective memory did not in fact include her.
So there it is, The Monkees. It is sad that Davy Jones has passed, but I feel so blessed that I got to be influenced by that band and their show. The more I think about it, the more I think they are the reason I like such strange stuff, them and 'The Electric Company.' But that is a different memory all together.