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When Bands Actually Show Up

Sly Stone, an amazing performer is sometimes remembered for not showing up for his shows, most notably where he was scheduled for a free concert in Chicago's Grant Park on July 27, 1970. Some had arrived as early as 7 AM, began drinking, smoking and in general having a good time. Sly refused to perform due to the large crowd which by show time numbered in the tens of thousands.

By afternoon the temperatures had soared into the 90s and attendees were non too please with the cancellation. The crowd grew unruly, fighting broke out resulting in dozens of arrest and injuries. Sly's album "There's a Riot Going On" is a reference to this event.

This photo is from a March 1974 performance at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. Probably the second time I photographed at the venue. As Sly took to the stage, peoples stood up and those in rows further back then stood on their chairs to get a better view. I recall standing on my chair about ten rows back and clicking off about 15 shots at a crazy slow shutter speed with a relatively long lens. Ektachrome color slide film was one of the only options available to me for color and I was able to push process it at home. As the crowd began dancing the chairs went every which way and I found myself laying on my back on the floor! I did walk away with no broken bones and half a dozen reasonably sharp images, including the one here. Those were interesting times!

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