What was the first live concert you attended? This is a common reminiscence with people of all ages. As a recently minted member of AARP, I chuckle when I hear some, as in, “My first concert was Blues Traveler waaaay back in 2005!” My first concert story is a seemingly harmless Sonny and Cher show in 1972, but what I wouldn’t give for a photo of us at the show, and our tickets under glass.
My sister Jeanette and I were dedicated fans of the Sonny and Cher TV show in 1971. Perhaps it filled our need for counter-culture hipness. A mix of silly sight gags, skits and plenty of pop music, our mother tolerated it with us several times. (One eye-raising fact: one of the writers on the show was a young Steve Martin. Don’t know if he still uses it on his resume).
When the opportunity came to see them live and Jeanette and I freaked! We had never been to the Iowa State Fair, but in August 1972 our Mother took us to join 26,000-plus Sonny and Cher fans (one of the largest two-show crowds ever) at the famous Fair. Jeanette and I realized at the last minute that we needed a gift for Cher, so our mother bought us a small stuffed animal to grandly present to her after the performance. Even though we didn’t meet Cher, the concert had it all for us, all the hit songs and banter from the TV show. Cher joked about Sonny’s height; he joked about her nose. I still remember one joke: “Cher, if your nose was stocked with nickels we could retire!” We howled. When the familiar notes from "I Got You Babe" started, I leaned over and to my mother and quietly explained, authoritatively, that “this is the last song of the concert,” because that’s how they ended their TV show. I have been a dedicated live music fanatic since.
Sonny and Cher were no longer making hits, so their variety show saved their careers. But it was after separation that they made their greatest impact. After six years as mayor of Palm Springs, California, Sonny Bono was elected U.S. congressman from California's 44th district. His growing political career ended with an untimely death in 1998, at age 62. Cher, of course, is now a one-name icon, ranking as one of the best-selling musical artists ever with over 100 million records sold. She’s also won an Academy Award, Grammy Award, Emmy Award and three Golden Globe Awards. At 71 she’s still performing, 45 years after the summer of ‘72 in Des Moines, Iowa.
We don’t always appreciate the important moments and events in our lives. Some include important family associations while some are sign posts in our personal memory. Even “just” a concert. What was your first concert experience?