Goin’ to A-Go-Go

whisky-a-go-go

This post was inspired by my friend Roger Wright. I say friend, though we’ve never met. We made acquaintance through the now defunct blogsite Open Salon, which we both contributed to for several years. Roger is one of many interesting people and talented writers I met there, and I regret its demise. But as they say, all things must pass – and they seem to pass all the more quickly on the Net.

Roger resides in Chicago, so I suppose it was only natural that in a recent post, he linked a YouTube video of a song called “Dialogue” by the group Chicago. I confess, I had forgotten that particular song, but I certainly had not forgotten that group, since I had a close encounter with the band half-a-century ago – hard to believe it’s been that long!

My recollection is that it happened in 1966, but I can’t be certain, since I’ve now arrived at what I call the “Three-Minute Jeopardy” stage in life. Once I knew answers to questions on that quiz program almost instantly, but now answers arrive – if at all – only after three minutes of intense concentration. But I digress – which is another sign of getting old.

A cursory search of the Internet hasn’t helped pin down the date – with one source citing April of 1966 and another August of 1968. Be that as it may, I am certain of a few details. It was on a Monday night at the Whisky A-Go-Go in Hollywood. The marquee boasted that Otis Redding was headlining later in the week, and it also noted that the featured attraction on this Monday night was a band called CTA.

I’d never heard of CTA, and neither had much of anyone else outside of the LA music scene. In any case, I wasn’t especially interested in hearing a band; I was there to have a few drinks – and maybe get lucky. To that end, I bought several drinks for a sweet young thing sitting alone at a table. But again, I digress …

The opening act was a decent blues trio, but nothing to write home – or a review – about. Next came a big band, at least by Sixties standards, complete with a three-piece horn section, a real rarity back then. They started playing, and I immediately stopped paying attention to the sweet young thing and sat there entranced, as this band absolutely blew my mind. Who the hell are these guys, I thought, and why the hell have I never heard of them?

As it turned out, the band had already signed with Columbia Records, and they were playing songs like ”Does Anybody Know What Time It Is”, “Beginnings”, and “South California Purples”, all cuts from their forthcoming double album – unprecedented for a debut album.

I was particularly blown away by their guitar player, the late Terry Kath. Legend has it that when Jimi Hendrix was asked how it felt to be the world’s greatest rock guitarist, he said, “I don’t know; you’ll have to ask Terry Kath.”

Later on, I learned CTA was Chicago Transit Authority. Eventually, they had to change their name when the real Chicago Transit Authority objected. So they simply called themselves Chicago. The rest, as they say, is history.

As for me, I never made history, and I never made it with that sweet young thing at the Whisky-A-Go-Go. Much later that night, she left with a bartender, and I was left with a big bar bill I could ill-afford. But looking back, it was worth every penny to have been there that night and had the great good pleasure of watching and listening to history being made and played.

Happy 50th Birthday, Chicago Transit Authority!

©2017 Tom Cordle

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11 Responses to Goin’ to A-Go-Go

  1. chicagoguy14 says:

    Beautiful!

    Like

  2. chicagoguy14 says:

    The answer to that is “Yes.”

    Like

  3. padraigcolman says:

    Lovely piece, Tom. Like you, I find the synapses are not snapping to attention like they used to. I used to be a star on general knowledge teams but now it would take me too long to dredge up the answer from the sludge of memory.

    I bought that CTA double album when it came out and would have loved to hear them live. I got rid of the album but wish I hadn’t. ”Does Anybody Know What Time It Is?” still goes around in my mind.

    I get nostalgic about OS. There were many annoying things about it and I flounced a few times. I left for good before the ship sank. What eventually drove me away was being stalked by a mad Indian woman called appropriately Nabina Nag (Rolling). I recall that she pestered you too.I have saved some of her rantings for posterity.

    The great thing about OS was that I was able to make the acquzintance of good people like you, Roger, Gary Justis and Sandra Stephens. I am still in touch with the fellow from Glossop who called himself timemedbiol. He was Paul Agutter but has changed his name by deed poll to Mark Henderson. He blogs under that name.

    Facebook has its drawbacks but again I have had the privilege of enjoying the affection and respect of talented people like Anthea Redmond, Michael White, Francis Wheen and George Szirtes.

    Like

    • Tom Cordle says:

      Interesting that you chose many of the same people from OS that I’d have chosen

      Liked by 1 person

      • padraigcolman says:

        There are more, Tom. I am still in contact with many OSers on Facebook.

        Like

        • Tom Cordle says:

          I have no enthusiasm for Facebook – from what little I’ve seen of it, it seems to be inhabited by too many of the same sort of people I’m surrounded by here in the real world. Ditto for Twitter; I have a hard enough time making my thoughts and positions clear in 700 words or so. 144 characters? Not a chance. That’s only fit for sloganeering, trolling, or insult flinging.

          Like

  4. mph26 says:

    What a pleasure to read this dialogue between two admirable commentators on world affairs who share my aversion to Facebook and Twitter (for much the same reasons) – and my nostalgic recollections of both CTA and OS.

    Tom, it seems your President doesn’t hold the opinion of Twitter that you and I do, but I suppose the difference is that neither you nor I can fit everything we know about a topic into 144 characters.

    Like

    • Tom Cordle says:

      Hi mph26. thanks for the kind words. As for Trump, he’ll never be my President, and he’s a perfect example of what’s wrong with Twitter. On a lighter note, since you’re familiar with OS, might I know you by another name?

      Like

  5. Sandra Bernard says:

    Had a simular experience with Stevie Ray Vaughn in Toronto….There wasn’t an ounce of me that wasn’t possitive that this guy was “star” all the way…It was a dinky little bar (sat maybe 100).
    From the moment he stepped on the stage he began floating across it as though his feet weren’t
    touching the ground. What a show!!!!

    Like

    • Tom Cordle says:

      They’ve been running a bio on Stevie on the tube. Interesting cat, and he sure as hell paid his dues. The theatrics – playing behind his back and all that – helped make him star, but he was a helluva player who really didn’t need all that. Shame we lost him so soon. They say only the good die young, so I guess that makes me pretty bad 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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