The first concert you ever attend will inevitably be a monumental milestone regardless of who you are. From casual music fans to musicians themselves, and music journalists like all of us here at Far Out, everyone knows how going to concerts can make memories that last a lifetime.
Chad Smith of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers can attest to this, as his very first concert was one for the books. In an interview, he told SiriusXM about it, “I was 13 at the time, and I was a huge KISS fan. I bought into the whole fire-breathing, blood-spitting, pyro, drums that go 30 feet in the air…Musically, you know, it was okay, which I probably will stick to till this day. I had an older brother who was like ‘Zeppelin is way better. KISS sucks!’ But then I was like, ‘Yeah, but Jimmy Page doesn’t fucking spit fucking blood! They don’t blow shit up…'”
He continues his story, “Anyway, so that really appealed to a 13-year-old Chad, so I really wanted to see them, and they were supposed to play with Blue Oyster Cult at a venue called Pine Knob. And KISS cancelled.”
We can see already where his story is going. The drummer explained: “And so I had to wait until they played Cobo Hall, May 16th, 1975. It was $7.50 for the ticket, so my brother’s like, ‘You know, two weeks ago, or whenever it was, I wrote the check and I put a little note in, and it was that Queen was coming, and so I put a note in that said Queen is my favourite band and I love Freddy Mercury, blah blah blah…can I have 10th row on the aisle?’ I go, ‘Did you get tickets?’ and [he said] ‘No, but I think you should do that’.”
Smith would not be deterred: “And so, I wrote, ‘Please Mrs. Box Office Lady, KISS is my favourite band and I love Peter Criss and I’m a drummer.’ I laid it on thick. I said, ‘Can I have 10th row on the aisle?’ and I got 12th row, on the aisle, centre. And I, you know, I’m hoping some lady took pity on poor young Chad… ‘My first concert!’, you know?”
He also colours in a few more of the details, “One of the guys I went with was an older guy in the neighbourhood, with a car. Jackie Davidson. Me and Jackie and my brother and Brian Piffer, we go, and he’s like, ‘I know where the backstage is, I know where to go. I really want to meet KISS.’ And this was a time when you never saw them without their makeup on or anything. And he goes to the door and he knocks on the door and he comes back out, and he goes, ‘They’re not here, but I got these stickers!'”
And what were those stickers in question? Actual backstage passes. “I still have [them] to this day. KISS, spring, 1975.” But the story doesn’t end there. He continues, “But he goes, ‘I know they’re still here’, so we drive around Cobo Hall, and we wait, and we see two big, long, black limousines, and we’re like, ‘They’ve got to be coming out.'”
He concludes, “And, sure enough, three guys come out, and no one else is there except us, and we run up there and I got my little sticker. Ace Frehley signs it. Peter Criss was there, and Gene Simmons. And so we got to meet KISS without their makeup on. My first concert ever—life-changing, mind-blowing experience.”
There are few moments in one’s life you could call “life-changing” but your first rock and roll show is certainly one of them.