Saturday, June 04, 2005

St. Louis Blues

This also comes from Scott (see previous post), but it's on a different topic (and it's not a correction):

I was at the Costello show in St. Louis that Mr. Bruno references on page 47. My ticket stub says March 6th, 1979 and calls it “The Armed Funk Tour.” The ticket also references “K-SHE” as the sponsor. K-SHE at the time was the largest FM radio station broadcasting rock music to the St. Louis area. I remember the show as being very brief, and very angry. Elvis let us know he was pretty pissed with everyone, even though the crowd seemed very happy to see him. He said nothing throughout the set, but ended it by saying, “This is for K-SHE,” and then launched into “Radio, Radio.” I remember him saying this with particular venom as if the radio station had personally done something to him that he was disturbed about. This was only about three weeks after the infamous Columbus incident, so maybe he was still fuming over Bonnie and Stephen. Whatever the cause, he clearly registered his disdain with and on all of us.

That's the St. Louis date, all right -- thanks for the eyewitness report. But note that it's nine days before Columbus! (We all make mistakes -- some of us just get paid for them.) I wouldn't bring that up except it's a good indication that the tone of the tour was already going sour. I mentioned these pre-Columbus incidents briefly, but this concert is significant (in Fred Scheurs' RS piece and later bios) as the one which opened with EC dedicating the first song to rival rock station KADI, and proceeding as per above. As Krista Reese's book (much-maligned but still useful for capturing the lurid atmosphere surrounding EC's early career) has it:

"The result was an audible thud as Armed Forces was dropped from KSHE's playlist. The album returned to its 'heavy rotation' schedule on the station after tour manager Alan Frey called to straighten things out."

Update: Here's the version from the Fred Scheurs' RS piece that's probably the source for later biographies (though, no, I haven't looked for St. Louis papers of the time). Thanks to "Ryan" for reminding me:

Apparently somebody had told Elvis that KSHE had been ignoring his albums on their playlist, while the rival KADI was playing his tunes. "But we'd been playing the key cuts of all three albums in heavy rotation to support the show," complained a KSHE spokesman later. Little matter -- Elvis plowed on, introducing "Radio Radio" with: "Now I want to dedicate this song to all the local bastard radio stations that don't play our songs...and to KSHE!"