Cameron Carpenter: The Great Rock’n’Roll Rewind

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Give me a couple of Jack’n’Cokes and I can spill out rock’n’roll stories with the best of them. For forty years my life has been consumed by music and I have been fortunate to meet and talk to most of my idols, and, at one point, I even got paid to do it.

Bob Cam Garden Party

For years my friends and family have been bugging me to write a book and one night a few years ago when Segarini cornered me out front of Cherry Cola’s he asked if I would contribute a weekly column for DBAWIS. I figured that spitting out 1000-1500 words a week would be a good way to get a possible book underway and so I began. I started with the ABC’s and then moved on to numbers and now, this year, I am going to rewind.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAIn the seventies and eighties I wrote for quite a few publications and had access to a lot of stars of the day. Most of these articles can not be found on-line and, as much as the writing, questions, and some of the copy now embarrass me, I would like to re-visit them. Of course I will still let you know about great new music, film and shows, and, will try to put the past articles into context. Cam back in the ’70s

Toronto-20150107-00325First up is “A Heavy-Metal Holiday – The Canadian Music Festival: Are Outdoor Concerts A Thing Of The Past”? This piece appeared in the September 1979 issue of “The New Music”. Thirty six years after the fact Greg Godovitz has moved back to Toronto, Tommy Ramone and Johnny Winter both passed away last year, Nazareth have finally called it a day, Ted Nugent is still a douche and, unlike the Steve Tyler book, I am rather enjoying Joe Perry’s new book “Rocks”. With the announcements of the 2015 Coachella Festival and a new festival north of Toronto I guess I was premature to announce the demise of the outdoor festival way back in 1979.

Here we go….

A Heavy-Metal Holiday – The Canadian Music Festival: Are Outdoor Concerts A Thing Of The Past?                                                       

September 1979 The New Music


“Let’s look at the facts. In three shows, soft-rock band Supertramp played to over 103,000 people in an acoustically perfect CNE Concert Bowl. A few weeks earlier, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Nazareth, Johnny Winter, The Ramones, Goddo and Moxy played to just under 50,000 at the same venue. Last year Canada Jam just broke even. Are outdoor festivals a thing of the past?

SupertrampThere are two things to consider about the two CNE shows. The Canadian World Music Festival, from personal observation, drew a crowd of mainly 17-19-year-old males whilst the Supertramp shows drew a crowd that split between the over-twenty and under-17 sets. The Aerosmith crowd was super rowdy while the Supertramp crowd was quiet and attentive. The other thing to consider is that the Supertramp show was basically a one-act effort, and this allowed the Supertramp ticket 1979record company more freedom in advertising and promotion. Almost every bar, clothing store and record store on the Yonge Street strip was blaring out Supertramp records; and how many Breakfast In Canada T-shirts have you seen around school today? Promotion and demographics play an enormous role in a successful production. Still, to any of the 50,000 fans at the Canadian World Music Festival, the show was a success. Let’s go backstage.

Groupies backstage

Let me dispel the misconception that backstage passes are a blessing. First of all, your pass is almost never at the gate and it takes an hour of quiet yelling to get in. Second, once you are backstage there is nowhere to sit except on hot concrete. And third, you can’t see a damn thing backstage (except groupies) unless you crawl over a dozen or so photographers and then crouch down some three inches off the ground. On top of this, you are two feet away from a massive PA which deafens on request.

Massive PA

When I finally talked my way in, Goddo was half-way through the best set of their career. After their encore, vocalist/bassist Greg Godovitz pulled me into Goddo WMFtheir limo and we headed to the dressing room. “It was a nice experience to play for so many people and to be received so well,” said Greg in the car. As we drove down the tunnel, the Toronto Argonauts were coming the other way after their work-out. Defensive star Paul Benet reached into the car, introduced himself to Greg and came back to the dressing room for a beer.A Beer

A Beer

By the time The Ramones hit the stage, the backstage area was starting to fill up with some local stars: Kim Mitchell of Max Webster, Mike Levine of Triumph, various members of Zon and most of the cast of Beatlemania. Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Tom Hamilton pulled into the backstage area at about 2.30. The groupies went nuts. Enter The Ramones.

The Ramones were misunderstood. People were under the impression they were a “punk” band, so they started throwing a barrage of debris which would have been enough to force the Japanese to flee Pearl Harbour. After their forty-minute set I reluctantly headed to their dressing room for their thoughts on the show.

Ramones flippin' the bird Toronto '79

The ‘Mones Flip Le Bird from the Stage Toronto 1979

Dee Dee“This is really infuriating,” said bassist Dee Dee Ramone. “I’m pretty much in shock but this isn’t the first time it’s happened. I don’t think these festivals are for us. We usually turn them down but we said yes to this one because Toronto has always been very good to us and each time we’ve played here it’s been in a bar. We thought if we played today a lot of our fans who can’t get into the bars could see us live. I just hope they didn’t do what they did because they thought we were a punk band, ‘cause all we Joeyare is an honest rock’n’roll band.”

Joey Ramone was a bit more rebellious. “I just wanted to stay onstage to defy them.” Two weeks later The Ramones blew the El Mocambo away for two sold-out nights. Also, keep an eye out for their new Phil Spector-produced album and smash movie, Rock’n’Roll Highschool.

My most nerve-wracking encounter came after Johnny Winter’s set of rockin’ blues that totally won over the young audience. I had to interview Winter but I didn’t know what to say to the rock legend. I asked him what he thought of the festival and that was enough to break the ice.

Johnny Winter

“I loved it! Toronto has always been one of those cities that has been very pro-Johnny Winter. I love Toronto, and that’s not just a bunch of crap ‘cause The Johnny Winter StoryI’m sitting here. I don’t know what it is, but when you cross that line between Canada and the U.S. the people just become, uh, nicer. I really didn’t want to do the show because I would have to get up early, then play in the blazing sun, and generally people couldn’t see me under worse conditions. But I wanted to play for my friends in Toronto and the show turned out a million times better than I expected. We really put out and so did the audience. We had a great time.” Would he do it again? “Anytime,” he laughed.


Nazareth was the next band on-stage and they had a new line-up this trip. The band recently acquired the services of a second guitarist, Zal Cleminson, formerly of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. The new addition has given Nazareth’s resident guitarist Manny Charlton a lot more freedom on-stage.

Manny CharltonI grabbed Manny as he rushed to his limo after receiving gold and platinum albums for producing Canada’s Streetheart’s latest record. How’d it go today? “Good, we were very happy.” Zal make it easier for you? “Yeah, it’s much cooler. I can sit back a bit and take my time now.” Congratulations on Streetheart. “Thanks very much, they’re a great band and should be huge one day.” Are you going to do a live album? “No, not yet. We don’t feel we are ready yet.” When are you starting the next album? “We’ll start writing and stuff in August and begin work in the fall.” In Quebec again? “No, I think we’ll try somewhere else.” Off to the limo.


Ready Teddy

Evening was starting to settle in as the rumours were running hot and heavy backstage that Nugent wanted to play after Aerosmith so that he could take full advantage of the lighting. The rumour looked like it might come true but Nugent arrived a couple of minutes before he was to go on. The crowd went wild as he went through his heavy-metal hijinx. We talked afterwards.

“I thought the show was all right, man. We were hot!” said Ted sucking on a Vernor’s ginger ale after the show. Whadda think of Canadian women, Ted? Nuge Backstage“It’s like dinner on the hoof. Some of the finest I ever did see.” What about that story in the New Musical Express where you dropped the façade and really opened up to the interviewer? “ I never, never…wait a minute, let me tell you something, there is no façade. What I feel, I spit out. I got nothing to hide. It’s the interpretation and gross misinterpretation by certain individuals in the field of journalism. People still can’t cope with my frankness. There is a gross misinterpretation of my implied intensity, and I have no qualms about that. I’m not here to enlighten anyone. I do the —-what I want and let them not take notice. I couldn’t give a flyin —-.” Back to Detroit.

Tyler Points

The stars popped out of the sky as Aerosmith hit the stage, and visible signs of fatigue started to show on the faces of many of the fans still remaining. About three-quarters of the way through their set some huge guy went gonzo backstage and started punching cars, pulling down fences, throwing bottles and anything else that got in his way. When a duffle bag landed two feet in front of me with the thrower in pursuit, I decided to call it a day.

Hulk Smash

Some Huge Guy

A CPI spokesman said the show was a success and that he didn’t think there would be a Canada Jam this year. So the Canadian World Music Festival was this year’s equivalent to Canada Jam. But don’t be surprised if you don’t see one next year”.


Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59.

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DBAWIS ButtonCameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener, The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY, New Canadian Music

2 Responses to “Cameron Carpenter: The Great Rock’n’Roll Rewind”

  1. Warren Cosford Says:

    Great memories Cam. My favourite is….with so many acts there was a lot of time between sets… we got Larry Wilson a microphone and he interviewed someone from the upcoming band both on CHUM-FM and in the stadium. It got great reaction from the crowd, and I’m told, sold a lot of tickets through the day.

  2. Would that Canadian World Music Pass be for sale

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