the early-to-mid 1980s, when I was in high school, I was a terrible student. I
wasn’t a slow learner, and I wasn’t disruptive, I was just preoccupied with things
I thought were more fun than studying, such as basketball, video games, and the
opposite sex. My senior year I nearly flunked English, which is ironic
considering the fact that I now write for a living.
with shooting hoops, shooting alien invaders, and shooting the breeze with any
good looking girl who would talk to me, I loved rock music, an obsession that
went beyond merely listening to records in my room and blasting the radio in my
car. My friends and I were addicted to the experience of seeing and hearing
our favorite bands live and in person.
1982 and 1985, the year I graduated, we went to more than 30 big-time,
arena-based shows, including such popular acts as Elton John, Stevie Nicks,
Iron Maiden, Styx, Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, and Foreigner. We also
sat out in the boiling heat every summer at the Texxas Jam (a.k.a. the Texxas
World Music Festival). Hosted by the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, the Texxas Jam was
the type of post-Woodstock, post-Altamont, one-day event that grew out the
early ’70s, when cities began outlawing weekend-long festivals.
as merely listening to music wasn’t adequate, going to concerts didn’t quite
fulfill our rock and roll fantasies, so my friends and I started hanging around
after shows to try and meet the bands, a strategy that, surprisingly enough,
was highly effective. On one particularly memorable occasion in 1986, we
followed Ozzy Osbourne’s tour bus about half-an-hour outside of Fort Worth to a
greasy spoon called The Iron Skillet. While the roadies transferred the luggage
and other supplies to another bus, Ozzy, his band--including guitarist Jake E.
Lee, who had taken the place of the recently deceased legend, Randy Rhoads--and a couple
of security guys went inside. We stalkers followed closely behind.
Ozzy entered the restaurant, a waitress who was a dead-ringer for Florence Jean
Castleberry from the TV show Alice
exclaimed, “Ozzy Osbourne! Ozzy Osbourne! Oh my gawd! Ozzy Osbourne in my
restaurant!” She proceeded to fawn and fuss over Ozzy and his bandmates, making
a big show of getting their autographs: “Ozzy Osbourne! Ozzy Osbourne!” (This
was decades before The Osbournes TV
show, but the “Prince of Darkness” was a household name even then, thanks in
part to several infamous events, including biting the head off a dove during a
press conference and urinating on the Alamo.)
approached Ozzy as well, but we were far too nervous and too “cool” to hoot and
holler and otherwise make a big fuss, so we simply and sheepishly asked the
former Black Sabbath singer if we could have his autograph, and if we could
take a picture with him (in those days before everyone had a phone in their
pocket, we always made sure to take a loaded camera with us to concerts). Ozzy,
appearing dazed and confused—the word “sobriety” was not yet a part of his
vocabulary—complied, and we had a great story to tell at work the next week,
with photographic proof of our encounter.
of what made the story great is that I brazenly asked Ozzy as he was leaving
the restaurant if he wanted to play Pac-Man
(as with many establishments of the era, there was a mini-arcade in the lobby).
Unfortunately, the “Godfather of Heavy Metal” declined, saying in his
distinctly British accent, “I don’t play.”
that golden age of metal, my concert buddies and I also met the guys in
Metallica, W.A.S.P., Ratt, and Queensryche, along with frontman Paul Stanley
and drummer Eric Carr from KISS. This was when the band was touring without
their patented makeup for the first time. Needless to say, we got their
autographs and snapped photos.
during the late 1990s, when eBay was new and exciting, I sold all my autographs,
which were on scraps of paper we scrounged from hotels and restaurants—we rockers
apparently weren’t savvy enough to bring albums or something more substantial
to sign. I sold Ozzy Osbourne’s signature for $50, Paul Stanley’s for $35, and Eric
Carr’s for $50. (The reason Carr’s autograph brought more than the more famous Stanley
is that Carr, Peter Criss’s original replacement, had passed away.)
thing I did keep was my collection of concert ticket stubs. This was because I
wanted a record of the shows I had seen. After going through the stubs recently,
it struck me how cheap concerts were three decades ago. My first concert was
Journey on July 8, 1983, which was one month before my 16th
birthday. The price? A paltry $11.00. My next three shows were Robert Plant
(Sept. 22, 1983), $13.50; ZZ Top (Sept. 29, 1983), $13.50; and KISS (Jan. 13,
went to many more concerts throughout the 1980s and into the early ’90s, but having
kids and tending to the responsibilities of being a married man slowed my
concert-going considerably by the mid-1990s. Plus, concerts had priced me out
of the market. The first show I wanted to go to, but didn’t because of the
expense was the Eagles Hell Freezes Over Tour, which came to Texas Stadium in
Irving (where the Dallas Cowboys used to play) on July 3, 1994. Tickets were a then-shocking
$50 to $120 each.
rarely go to concerts these days (I settle for watching cover bands in
bars—pathetic, I know), and when the Rolling Stones announced a few months ago
that they were coming to the AT&T Stadium in Arlington (where the Dallas
Cowboys now play), I barely gave it a thought, despite the fact that they’re
one of my favorite bands. I knew that the price for a pair of tickets—even in
the nosebleed section—would be enough to pay my electric bill or car payment
for the month.
fate would have it, I ended up going to the show anyway, and it was awesome.
weeks before the Stones concert, I called an old friend—one I used to go to
concerts with—to come over and fix my broken garage door, which he did for the
price of lunch at a nearby restaurant. When I mentioned that the Stones were in
town, he said, “Let’s go.” When I told him it was too expensive, he said that if
I would drive and buy food, he would pay for the tickets ($150 each) and the
parking ($50). I quickly agreed, knowing this would probably be my only chance
to see the “World’s Greatest Rock Band,” and being super excited at the
prospect of once again seeing a real rock concert.
seats were near the back of the stadium, but we had a great view of the band,
thanks to giant screens behind the stage. Also, the sound was excellent,
despite the massive size of the venue. I was a little concerned that the Stones
were too old to rock—Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are 71, Ron Wood is 68, and
Charlie Watts is 74—but they are still terrific after more than a half-century
of performing. Watts kept a strong, steady beat on the drums while Richards and
absolutely Woods killed it on guitar. And Jagger was seemingly ageless,
prancing about the stage the entire show like a man in his 20s, his voice as
strong as it was during the 1970s.
short, I thoroughly enjoyed the show, so much so that if the Stones were to
come back next year, I would strongly consider going again—even if I had to buy
my own ticket.
I do indeed have another rock concert under my belt, I don’t have another ticket
stub in my collection—our tickets were printed out on computer paper. This got
me to pondering the collectability of vintage ticket stubs. The next day after
the show, I hopped on eBay and did some searching of completed auctions, only
to discover that ticket stubs from the 1980s are only worth around $3 to $10
each, depending on the band, the condition, and a few other factors.
I’ll probably just hang on to my old ticket stubs because the memories are
worth far more than the money I could make on them. I may even keep the
computer printout for the Rolling Stones concert as well. After all, it’s not
every day that I get to go to a rock concert, especially one featuring a