Music By Turner: You never forget your first concert

Skilyr Hicks, of North Augusta, competed in early July for a spot in the eighth season of America's Got Talent. The judges did not include her in the top 60 for the live show, which starts July 23 on NBC.

There is only one first time.


Most everyone remembers their first concert. Regardless of one’s age or generation, the mystique and the excitement leading up to that very first show is unforgettable.

My initial exposure to the live rock experience was in the summer of ’71 when I was a rising senior in high school. Lee Michaels was playing in Columbia at the Carolina Coliseum. Michaels was riding high with his infectious hit single Do You Know What I Mean and I just loved that record. Still do!

Dr. John was another early one for me and words cannot describe just how impressed I was with his New Orleans-style piano playing. That night the good Doctor performed his first hit Iko Iko and I was hooked on the crazy Cajun from his first gumbo-filled arpeggio.

My next show, also in Columbia but at Township Auditorium, was Alice Cooper. Eighteen was rising fast up the charts, and everyone was very much impressed with the outrageous theatrical aspects of the event.

To this very day, Alice still holds my personal record for being the only guy to stage an execution by electric chair and a hanging during the same show. As one of six children, I thought I had seen everything, but this was just astounding beyond comprehension to my virginal 17-year-old eyes.


YOUR MOVE DEPT. The group Yes was my third concert. Their fourth album Fragile had just been released and their first major hit single Roundabout was all over the radio.

That evening, I stood perhaps just 25 feet from keyboardist Rick Wakeman. I was totally captivated by his long and white flowing robe and the way he moved adroitly from one keyboard to the next without missing a beat.

The Yes show, also at the Township where Alice had performed, was also my first encounter in smelling what I thought just had to be the strange, sweet smell of incense wafting through the auditorium.

I soon found out that that smell wasn’t that of incense. Yikes!

The only incense that night was courtesy of some very incensed Columbia cops as they quickly led the hapless offenders away in handcuffs, probably (in my mind, at least) taking them directly to that electric chair that the Cooper band had used only weeks before.


STRANGE STAGEFELLOWS DEPT. Many concerts in the ’70s boasted extremely unusual pairings of musicians that really had no business sharing the same stage. Bruce Springsteen opening for Canadian songstress Anne Murray at New York’s Central Park in 1974 was definitely one for the books.

I’m certain that concert marked the only time Blinded by the Light (the Springsteen tune later made famous by Manfred Mann) and Murray’s lightweight mega-hit Snowbird had ever been played by anyone on the same stage in just one evening.

Among other weird bills from that era included Glen Campbell opening for the Doors, Rush and Kiss, Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Moody Blues, and, in just one crazy night in Atlanta, Blondie doing the honors for both Tom Petty and the Kinks!


PURPLE HAZE IN CLARKSVILLE DEPT? But the most insane combination of musicians in the history of rock is also the most infamous. Yes, it is true that Jimi Hendrix did, in fact, actually open for the Monkees for a handful of dates in 1967. Ironically, this past July 11 marked the 46th anniversary of the night when Jimi and the Monkees played Charlotte! Who wouldn’t have liked seeing that?

Of course, Jimi playing guitar with his teeth and setting his guitar aflame was no match for the “pre-fab four” and their screaming teenybopper fans. Hendrix was dropped from the tour just a few days later, but the publicity generated by both acts remains legendary to this very day.


WHAT ABOUT YOURS? DEPT. What was your first concert? I’m sure that many of you had some of the same unusual and crazy experiences as I did, and we would like to hear about them!

I will feature some of yours in a future “Music by Turner” column so send ’em on to or post a comment with my column online at

Don’t be shy, timid or embarrassed. My band Number 9 has had only one opening artist in our 8-year history, and that was in May when 14-year-old Skilyr Hicks did the honors for us at the Augusta Convention Center at our annual benefit for the Savannah River Keeper.

Skilyr not only stole the show from our 14-piece band, but our (and just last week, America’s) hearts as well on the nationally televised show America’s Got Talent. She’s the real deal.

Gee, maybe Skilyr will allow us to open for her one day!

Teen on a musical journey: More on Skilyr Hicks