Watching American Idol this week and seeing Steven Tyler as a judge brought back a lot of old music memories for me (as I’m sure it has for many Baby Boomers and Gen Xers such as myself).

Just for fun, I started watching a couple of Aerosmith videos on YouTube, and remembered again how great some of their songs were/are. And then I started thinking about some of the other bands and music that I was into as a teen – and started watching videos from Bryan Adams and Triumph.

One of the infamous "Day on the Green" concerts in the Oakland Coliseum (Photo: Corbis Images)

And this in turn reminded me of the days of outdoor rock concerts and festivals. Those who grew up in the Bay Area when I did (during the 1970s and 80s) no doubt remember Bill Graham’s “Day on the Green” concert series. Every summer, there would be at least one (if not more) daylong concerts held in the Oakland Coliseum or some other major outdoor venue – featuring about 4-5 bands. The seating format was simple: festival/general admission seating. So thousands would sprawl out on the infield or outfield and enjoy literally, a Day on the Green (and in the sun – there was no shade). It was very much a party scene, security wasn’t very tight in those days. So liquor, pot and other libations flowed fairly freely. It was a memorable scene.

I wasn’t a huge concert-goer like some of my friends – but I did enjoy getting out to some shows and seeing some of the popular (or at the time, up-and-coming) bands. And I did get to one Day on the Green in my lifetime – July 30, 1983 (the day before I moved to Oregon with my family). The line-up included a very young Bryan Adams, who we had never heard of going into the show. His energy and passion literally stole the show – we came out of the stadium instant fans of his – and remained so for many, many years. He opened the show and got the Coliseum buzzing with excitement.

Second up was another relatively unknown band at the time – Night Ranger. Gary Moore (Who???) was originally scheduled but canceled – so Night Ranger was a last minute replacement. I think they had one hit at the time but I don’t think many expected them to have much of a career. And they really didn’t have a huge career – but they at least put out “Sister Christian” and that is known as an all-time classic power ballad.

Next up was Eddie Money – who we liked to claim as one of our own from the Bay Area. He was actually from the East Coast I think but at some point in his life relocated to California and put down roots so that was enough for us and the DJs on our favorite “Album Rock” (as they called it in the day) station KMEL (“Rockin’ the Bay”). Eddie was solid but not spectacular. But definitely much better there than he was 15 years later when I saw him performing at halftime of a 49ers-Packers playoff game. That was really bad.

The fourth act was the Canadian rockers, Triumph. While they never reached the level of popularity of similar bands (such as Rush), they were a favorite of my friends (especially Arlow) and I so we were jacked to see them live. And they put on a great set.

The headliner for the show was Journey – the Bay Area-based rock icons who have somehow made a pseudo comeback the past few years thanks to the rebirth of “Don’t Stop Believing” on various soundtracks. Journey was my favorite band (along with Genesis) at the time so I was very excited to see them as well. And again, they put on a great show (as usual).

So in honor of that sunny, sweaty day and those memories, I thought I’d include a video from each group/artist for those who also want to go back to a very different time in our lives.

Bryan Adams at Live Aid

Night Ranger

Eddie Money


Journey – “Faithfully”

9 Responses

    1. As I was reading this, that was my first memory of that day – Eddie Money sure seemed to have knocked back a few! What the hell, I was no Choirboy myself that day!!

  1. I am from southern California, staying with my father for the summer in the mother lode area (east of Lodi). i went to Day on the green ’83 with a friend. I got some spectacular pictures of Night Ranger, but had been shuffled toward the back of the crowd by the time my favorite band, Triumph came on. I had seen them earlier in the summer (US festival), and had to see them again. I still have one of the Triumph Never Surrender tour t-shirts I bought there. I was 17, and have gotten a little too, shall we say, portly to fit in it, but I will never get rid of it.

  2. I am from new zealand & I was at the festival, journey were great but was disappointed that gary moore cancelled

  3. I was thinking Nightranger went on first, then Bryan Adams, Eddie, Triumph and then Journey. Can anyone else confirm that? I remember their sound system was not good and everyone else’s sounded much better. I was there for Triumph. Fun day!

  4. I remember different things from that day. One was during the journey set, looking up and seeing eyes opening and closing on the side of a plane or blimp. The other was seeing girls throwing bras at steve perry.

    They were all good, journey was a powerhouse but triumph put on a true hard core rock concert

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