Operating The Meadow ballroom presented challenges on many different fronts. Crowd control, security, traffic management and parking all required hiring off-duty police officers and other individuals to keep the peace. Financial issues such as leasing terms and insurance premiums, among other factors, created more challenges . On top of that, many of the performers demanded to be paid in cash and their managers were sometimes on hand to make certain gate receipts were counted and distributed according to contractual agreements. In an article published on July 27, 1968 in the Janesville Daily Gazette, an interview with co-owners John Marling and Steve Fugate revealed that the Meadow was teetering on the brink of financial collapse. The operation was being run day-to-day on the previous night's deposits. Trouble with booking agents and bands compounded the financial issues.
On Wednesday night, June 19, bubblegum rockers
the Ohio Express hit the Meadow. It's now well-known
that the Ohio Express who recorded the song Yummy, Yummy, Yummy,
I've Got Love In My Tummy was just a group of New York studio
musicians who were assembled specifically to market a hit song. The song
reached #4 on the Billboard chart. A touring group was formed that
had no members from the original recording session. According
to Meadow co-owner Steve Fugate, the band was terrible. "They
didn't even know their own song." he said in Janesville Gazette
article dated July 27, 1968. "They didn't bring their own
equipment -- they just
to play with the break band's equipment."
Not to be confused with the California group People! who had the 1968 hit song I Love You, this band was The People from Green Bay. They released a single on the local Tee Pee label later that year with cover versions of I Can't Stand It b/w Ode To Billy Joe. Thanks again to Gary Myers for clearing up the confusion. According to Fugate, Tiny Tim (Tiptoe Through the Tulips) had been scheduled for this date but he cancelled, deciding to perform concerts in larger venues and raising his price from $1,000 to $6,000.
The Music Explosion hailed from Ohio and had a hit record, Little Bit Of Soul, in 1967. The song peaked at #2 on the Billboard chart. In a feature article about the band, Gary Rettgen of the Capital Times reported that the Music Explosion made Madison their home while touring around the Midwest. Band members talked with Rettgen about their rise to fame and how the military draft affected their personnel. But their gig at the Meadow almost didn't happen. In the July 27 Gazette article, Fugate and Marling said the band was two hours late after their bus had been sent by mistake to Turner Hall in Watertown where they had been since three o'clock that afternoon. By the time the Music Explosion bus finally arrived at the Meadow, it was ten o'clock. They didn't have time to set up their equipment, opting instead to use the break band's gear. Sound quality suffered, resulting in a disappointing show.
The Ohio Express, the Music Explosion, and the Messengers, each of whom performed at the Meadow separately, were also part of a tour package appearing together in dance halls and county fairs around the Midwest that summer.
Mentioned previously, the Music Explosion was late for their Wednesday night gig on June 26. The Meadow began a regular schedule of shows on Wednesday and Saturday nights for the summer.
I have no information about the Regiment other than being among the bands represented by Ken Adamany.
Unless the misspelling (Deciples) was intentional, this "Special Dance" probably featured the popular Disciples from Oklahoma who performed regularly around the Midwest. The Disciples featured a guitarist named John "Moon" Martin, who in 1968 took the band to California where they became Southwind and released a couple of decent albums. Martin went on to write the song Bad Case of Loving You which became a hit for England's Robert Palmer.
Hailing from Chicago, the Trolls released five singles between 1966 and 1968. Every Day and Every Night charted at #98 on Billboard in 1966. After changing their name to Troll, they released one album and another single before breaking up.
The Third Booth was a four-piece band from Peoria who had a regional hit in 1968 with their original song I Need Love. The record was on the WLS top-forty chart for ten weeks and in the top ten for six weeks. The Iron Gate (formerly the Cavemen) from Rockford had a local hit with their remake of the song Get Ready. Both Illinois bands performed at the Meadow on Wednesday, July 10.
The weekend show on Saturday would feature Chicago's Cryan Shames who had charted nationally with songs like Sugar and Spice and It Could Be We're In Love. The band cost the Meadow $1,700 and Marling had to sell his car for the $1,200 down payment. Reported attendance was a disappointing 300. Opening act, the Prodigal Sons, were a popular Janesville band that included Marling's brother Doug on guitar. (I attended the Cryan Shames show and met a girl there named Jeanene who became a friend and community theater colleague some years later.)
On at least one occasion, unauthorized
use of the name "The Meadow" caused a minor PR problem as described
here. Because the Meadow presented shows in a rented
facility, there were sometimes other events scheduled there when
dances weren't being held. In mid-July some confusion arose
over a couple of newspaper items using "the Meadow ballroom" in
connection with an unusual wrestling event scheduled in the
facility. The two items are displayed here.
Janesville Daily Gazette
Janesville Daily Gazette
Wednesday, July 17 saw Madison's Crucible at the Meadow. Their Night Owl recording, Salem Witch Trial, was locally popular. I saw these guys at the Janesville YMCA the previous year and was impressed.
The biggest attraction for July was the appearance of New York's Blues Magoos. Their song, (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet, was a national hit. Their first two albums, Psychedelic Lollipop and Electric Comic Book were critical successes, but neither sold well. The Blues Magoos, with their electric suits and giant, onstage lava lamps, were a classic example of the psychedelic music scene.
The last week of July featured the return of
Chicago's popular rhythm and blues band, The Mauds, for a
Wednesday night show that included a record giveaway of their hit
single Hold On, I'm Comin' along with a dance contest.
Korner, a band from the city of Waupun, was booked for a Saturday night dance at the Meadow.
Scheduled to close the month on Wednesday, July 31 were The Esquires from Belvidere.
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© Joe J. Accardi, 2010