1971 is a BOC/SFG gig desert... they played lots of clubs all over the NE - although I don't have an awful lot in the way of venues or firm dates - and at the end of the year managed to secure their first major tour support slot with John McLaughlin & the Mahavishnu Orchestra and The Byrds.
In July, they did a successful audition for Columbia Records and in October they recorded their first LP at The Warehouse... and that's about all I know for sure...
For helping me out with some of the gigs that I do know about, I'd like to thank Paul 5 and Ian Cassetty for their assistance, but I'm always on the lookout for more info, so if you have got anything to contribute to help develop this page into one worth displaying - missing gig info, adverts, reviews, ticket stubs, posters etc etc - then please let me .
We played at Conry's East in Levittown NY from Jan 5 to Jan 10. I have the tapes. We recorded all 6 shows.
Here's the set list for Jan 5/6 Not in order. Plus lots of duplicates:
Do you know of any SFG gigs for February 1971 that I'm missing?
If you do, please let me ...
This flyer was sent to me by Sam Judd who said Eric Bloom had come across it in his basement...
My advice to Eric is to get back down into that basement and get searching for more of the same...
NB: Check out the name on the handbill: "Stalk Forest". That's interesting - most of the printed ads I've come across all say the same thing - not "Stalk-Forrest Group" (with 2 "R"s) but simply billed as "Stalk Forest"!! Can they all be wrong?
In fact - I've only seen the one reference to "Stalk-Forrest Group" in an ad for the SFG/MC5/TYA gig at SUNY on 3 July 1970, and one for "Stalk-Forest Group" (19 March 1971). All the others have been for "Stalk Forest"...
And yet if you check out the label for the Arthur Comics 45, it's the full SFG name....
OK, this ad is interesting not just because it shows that in March 1971, SFG were still doing "moods" at Stony Brook, but also because it shows that the band were still gigging as "Stalk-Forrest Group" (well, strictly speaking it was "Stalk-Forest Group".
We played a gig at a fraternity at Dartmouth College and all the students were so blasted that they were barfing all over the place - some of the Fraternity brothers were even licking the alcohol that had spilled off the floor.
Phil King - who had got us the gig - was appalled and said, "These are the future leaders of our country!"
As for the date - Joe and I have discussed this and we have narrowed it down to either April 3, 1971 or April 10, 1971. It had to be one of those days because it was around spring break, way before the first album was recorded...
OK, for now I'll pin this gig as 3rd April, and see if I can get any other info to help me work out the actual date on some future occasion...
In an ad on page 6 of the Wednesday 5 May 1971 edition of "The Daily Messenger" [Canandaigua NY] it says:
Swinging Week-end Presentations
It's here now - from New York to California -
One Night only -
Top Flight Entertainment
Lake Shore Drive
I saw them as SWU in 1971 at a bar in Mineola near where I was living for the summer at my uncle's house in Westbury, LI... damn... I can't remember the name of the bar... it was a big place... eez... too much tequila that night and too many years since.
The latest SWU gig I've ever come across was 17 Dec 1969 - after that it was SFG until... well, here's the thing, I have yet to discover the "cross-over point" - they were deffo SFG on 19 March 1971 and deffo billed as BOC on 30 Oct 1971 - my current best guess is they became BOC approx August 1971.
That's why I'm so interested in your post - if you definitely saw them in Summer 1971, and they weren't yet called BOC, then there's a good chance you saw them just before the name change-over - but like I say, they would have been called SFG at that point (if not BOC)...
If you can come up with a venue name and maybe a more focused date range (eg "July" or "August"), please let me know...
It was in June of 1971 that I know because I wasnt 18 yet... I know i got my SWU t-shirt at that show (still have it..a few holes but a classic)... but maybe they were SFG by then and I didn't know it... its all a blur... 43 years ago
So far as I can tell, the Columbia audition took place around about this time. But the band carried on playing gigs as "Stalk Forrest" for the next few months further despite becoming "Blue Oyster Cult"...
The band was advertised as "Stock Forest" in the papers for this gig. I mean: come on - it's hard enough searching through all the old papers for these gigs, but give me a bloody chance!! Stock Forest my arse!!
A word about the venue: the Cabaret opened in March 1971, and was previously known as "Sturges Cabaret". Albert and Joe have referred to SFG gigs at what I thought sounded like "Serge's Cabaret" in the past - I always used to think that Serge must have been the Russian owner or something but I could never find any info or references to that in text searches. Now I know why!!
I've trawled through a years worth of adverts for this venue, and found six SFG gigs here, but obviously there may have been more that weren't advertised...
We played here in August, probably the 13, 14, 15...
If Albert's correct about this residency taking place in August, then it's currently unknown if they played it under their new "Blue Oyster Cult" name or as "SFG"...?
However, if you look at all their other gigs during this time-frame, it would have been an SFG gig.
So, at the moment, I'll go with Albert's dating estimate but class it as a "SFG" gig...
As a result of their meeting with David Lucas at Camp Swan Lake, he invited BOC to come along and record their first LP at his Warehouse 8-track jingle studio on 46th Street, New York in October 1971.
It seems to me to be an unusual occurence for Columbia to allow this external outsourcing, but maybe it was a cheaper deal for them to do it this way?
This was not a New Year's gig. It happened later in the year when we were starting to record our first album. We drove there after a night of recording, probably September or October.
Catasauqua is indeed the name of the town. It's in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania, about an hour's drive south of New York City.
Interestingly enough, the Slovak Center apparently still has bands from time to time:
I only know about this gig because Albert mentoned it in an interview in "Morning Final":
Albert: I remember recording "Before the Kiss, A Redcap" and then as soon as we finished the song, we went to Youngstown Ohio to play at The Bedroom (a club), and we played on a bed. A stage in the shape of a bed. The trip to Youngstown Ohio is about 8 or 9 hours and we didn't stay overnight.
So we must have finished the session at four in the morning and then left and got to the gig at like four in the afternoon and slept in the van, and set up on the bed.
Now I'm not sure but that could have been the same place that the marquee had "Tonight Blue Oyster Cult" and then they switched the letters around.
Even if it's not true, I mean it's true at one point, it was somewhere over there in Ohio, and it was right in the early years, it was like the first album year, it might have been The Bedroom.
When we got there it said "Tonight Blue Oyster Cult," when we left the gig at the end of the night the sign said, "To light, Blue Oyster Cunt!"
The above image (kindly sent to me by Peter Nielsen of the thinlizzyguide.com) appeared in the 29 October 1971 edition of the Uniontown PA Evening Standard. It doesn't specify any sort of date - it appears just as you see it above.
This is a bit confusing - does it indicate that BOC played at this venue on the 29th as well as the 30th October? If you examine the advert from this same publication for the next day's gig, it explicitly specifies that the show is "tonite"...
I'd have expected some sort of date to be mentioned on the 29th Oct advert if it referred to the next night's show...
Well, if you thought the band had abandoned their old name after the Uniontown gig and were now playing as BOC, think again!!
Here is a clipping from the Friday 5 Nov 1971 issue of The Times-Tribune (Scranton) newspaper:
Curiously, the same ad got printed in the following day's issue with absolutely no changes at all, which initially led me to think that maybe SFG played on the 12th as well.
However, I found out that a band named "Livin' End" was playing at the Wooden Nickel on the 12th from that day's issue of the Times.
You know, I'm starting to think that "Stalk Forest" had a decent-sized fanbase in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre... ;)
Currently, this is the last gig that I know of where they were billed as "Stalk Forest". From this point on, it was "Blue Oyster Cult" all the way...
Unless you know better...
You are missing a show. They played at Wesleyan University in Middletown CT.
It must have been in March 72 because Phil King gave me a ride back. They played in the Student Union.
Thanks to a listing for this gig in the Tue 1 Nov 1971 edition of the Trinity Tripod [Trinity College, Hartford CT], I now know that this gig did, in fact, take place four months earlier than David's initial assessment, on 6 Nov 1971:
Wesleyan University has planned the following events for the first semester of the 1971-72 school year:
Friday, November 5 - The Delfonics
Saturday, November 6 - Blue Oyster Cult
Friday, November 12 - Dreams, John McGloughlin
Friday, November 19 - The Kinks, Glass Harp
For more information call
Social Committeee Chairman
A further mention of this gig can be found in the "Wesleyan Class of 1972 History" reunion publication on page 43:
Sha Na Na (with Carol Hall opening for them) is scheduled to perform on October 28, the Delfonics on November 5, Blue Oyster Cult on November 6, Dreams with a little-known group, The Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin as the opening act on November 13, and the Kinks on November 19.
The ticket image above has been ruthlessly cropped from a great photo I noticed on Flickr, thereby ruining a nice composition, so check out the original here:
I saw a poster for this gig on pinterest, with this accompanying text:
Original hippie era rock poster from the Fall of 1971 held at UNH. I was there and can tell you this was the most bizarre combination ever. The jazz inspired Mahavishnu John McLaughlin who later said it was his worst concert experience ever, followed by the hard rock Blue Oyster Cult leading to the head act, the Folk Rock Classic group - THE BYRDS. I still have this poster because when I said I liked it - an inebriated friend tore it off a telephone pole for me. Thanks Patty!
I saw another poster for this gig on collectorsweekly.com, with this description:
This one is special to me because of my personal history. I was there that Autumn Night in 1971 at the University of New Hampshire - sat in the back row of the bleachers with a heart throb of mine for what had to be the strangest concert line-up - ever.
Seriously... John Mclaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra followed by Blue Oyster Cult followed by the headliner - The Byrds!
In fact a decade or so later John McLaughlin said in a magazine interview it was the worst concert he ever performed at. I recall someone yelling when John was performing "GET OFF THE STAGE"! Seems the Mahavishnu Orchestra did not quite fit in with the crowd who was there for the next two groups...
Loved seeing the Byrds in their prime though... I think it was after the concert - but likely could have been before - we the freshmen college students were walking down to the bars in Durham and I saw this poster on a telephone pole and commented how much I liked it. A somewhat inebriated young lady I knew ripped it off the pole for me.
So glad she did - it sits framed on our living room as I type.
One of the oddest grouping of bands that I've seen was at a $3. concert at Cortlandt College.
Lowest billed was Blue Oyster Cult. After them, this guy we never heard of came on stage, with SHORT hair, and a double-neck guitar. It was an early appearance of The Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin. Blew us away. Revved up the orange sunshine in us.
And, headlining, very definitely anti-climactically, was The Byrds. Go figure.
According to the poster above, BOC weren't lowest on the bill - they seem to have been billed second, yet "SirKitMakr" states positively that they opened...
December 3 - Auditorium-University of Maine, Orono, Maine
Byrds, Blue Oyster Cult, and Mahavishnu Orchestra featuring John McLaughlin - 2 shows: 7 & 10:30pm
Here's a report from the Tuesday 7 December 1971 edition of the "Brown Daily Herald" that really goes into great detail about BOC's performance (yeah, right):
So Much Younger Then
"I was so much younger then, I'm younger than that now..." Those words felt real when the Byrds sang them a few years ago on "Younger than Yesterday." They were perfectly consistent with that fleeting summer of '67 conception of the world and politics that would have been quite content to see rock and roll turn into a playground for James Taylor and his little friends.
But "My Back Pages," the song from which those lines were taken, was melancholic counterpoint last Saturday night to the gathering of a small crowd of aging Aquarians in URI's Keaney Gym.
The Byrds are what John Lennon feared the Beatles would become. Shadows on stage living on the past, both their own and their fans. Well folks, here we are again, playing and singing those songs you all loved so much. They did it competently, with an occasional innovation.
This time "Tambourine Man" was acoustic, a little faster, and slightly country. Banjo and mandolin were more visible than when they performed at Meehanlast fall, and purified the country tendencies the band has been pursuing for a long time. But even they didn't succeed lifting the concert from the realm of the commonplace.
McGinn tried hard to hide the deja vue, but he didn't quite succeed. His band played with all the spontaneity of Nixon discarding his prepared speech in front of the AFL-CIO. "Eight Miles High," intended to be the climax of their set, was virtually indistinguishable from the same song played over a year earlier at Meehan. It made one wonder what they've been doing in between.
Somehow the Byrds seem to have lost their audience. Not that all the happy young hippies present Saturday night are particularly out in front of themmusically or conceptually. Or vice versa. The band and the people have just drifted slowly apart.
The Rolling Stones, and while they were with us, the Beatles, rarely broke cultural stride with their audience. Even if one of their new records was disappointing, it was never embarrassing, or worse, boring. The Byrds concert was like a visit from someone you used to know when you were in grade school. It's unpleasantly clear that the basis of relationship rests somewhere other than in the present.
Apparently Columbia Records, too, has recognized the problem. They booked the Byrds on a package tour with two other of their artists, Mahavishnu Orchestra (featuring John McLaughlin), and Blue Oyster Cult, who couldn't help but make McGuinn and friends better than good.
I also saw the following account on the stevehoffman.tv forum in a thread regarding whether or not BOC were the "Most Underrated Live Act of the 70s?":
I'm not here to rain on the parade, just to add perspective. Though I was never a big fan, I enjoy their timeless hits, and I respect Buck Dharma as an excellent guitarist.
On December 4th 1971 at the University of RI, BOC were the middle act of a Columbia Records package tour. It was an odd lineup. The headliners were the Byrds; a favorite of mine featuring the outstanding Clarence White on guitar, and Roger McGuinn as the only remaining original Byrd.
The opening act were the incredible, mind-boggling Mahavishnu Orchestra. I was ready for them (so I thought.) Inner Mounting Flame had been released the month before and I was immersed in it.
Well, Mahavishnu came on first, and if anyone ever "blew the doors off," they did. Simply amazing. Everyone seemed to sense that they'd witnessed something special.
After a lengthy delay, BOC took the stage. They appeared to be completely demoralized. Who wouldn't be, following the mighty MO in their first year? Buck Dharma played a ten minute solo that heavily featured an Echoplex, but his heart didn't seem to be in it.
Even the best bands can have an off night given difficult circumstances. I expect that this trial by fire helped the young BOC to up their game and turn into the formidable band that you guys so fondly remember.
Location:Tiverton, RI USA
Apr 27, 2022
Just an update on the show at Clarkson. I was there as it was my freshman year;-). I wish I could remember more about the setlist but it was 45 years ago.
The Byrds did not appear on the bill. Edgar Winter's White Trash was on the bill in their place. This was a tour put on by Columbia Records to promote three of the new acts.
I do recall that all three bands were excellent.
Blue Oyster Cult did come back to play the college on the Agents of Fortune tour.
Here's a review of this gig from The Burlington Free Press (13 Dec 1971):
Byrds Superb Musicianship Thrills Concert Audience by Andrew Leader
Glory to the Byrds, but it's too bad they had to wait until 11.15pm to take the stage in a concert that was supposed to begin at 8pm.
Saturday night's cosmic dance music thing at Patrick Gymnasium did, it is true, include two other bands, Blue Oyster Cult and Mahavishnu Orchestra, the latter featuring guitarist John McLaughlin, a real jazz-rock heavy.
From where we were sitting, though, a lot of the rock, muddied as it was by the cavernous gymnasium acoustics, came across as merely heavy-handed and Oyster, in particular was rhythmic and clamorous as the BMT local picking up speed subaqueous and subterranean beneath the East River after its last exit to Brooklyn.
"This is off our album called "Screams in the Night" announced the Blue Oyster Cult man who was as short-haired as Rockaday Johnnie, that mythical 50s electro-bopper.
"Gee" responded my (constant) companion "I wonder if it will be loud".
Really, it may have just been the hall's fault. Rock music should either be listened and danced to in the sweaty intimacy of a beer palace whose natural echoes have been muffled by the press of bodies, or should be listened to, recycled, on a good stereo system. High-ceilinged gymnasiums are just not the optimum environment.
Mahavishnu used electric violin a lot, and McLaughlin did some flamingo-like picking. The group obviously has the musicians, but there's more to good rock than pyrotechnics, and like I said, the sound, however it got that way, was muddy.
By the way, I was in a lousy mood the first couple of hours, anyway, because the strutting ticket-takers at the gate had at first refused to let me in. I had to go through the various echelons of Student Association power before anyone even deigned to look at my press card. The second guy I talked to said he couldn't let me in but not to blame him because he was only following orders.
The Byrds, however, were beautiful. They are basically an electrically eclectic folk group with a repertoire that ranges from pure acid rock i.e "Eight Miles High," to pre bluegrass i.e. "Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms". All four of them are superb musicians and they have the galvanic stage presence of the true superstar. The audience was on its feet for most of their part of the concert from the time the Byrds, breezing in from California or wherever, welcomed themselves to snow country to the time they exited. The gold and deep blue spotlights gave an ethereal glow to the serenely long-haired group some with metal studs on their clothing randomly flashing back blue-orange flames, singing Dylan's "My Back Pages": "Ah - but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."
The Byrds also did some Chuck Berry style rock n'roll "Anything You Want Me To Do," Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man", a bluegrass instrumental "Black Mountain Rag," a bluegrass version of Woody Guthrie's ballad "Pretty Boy Floyd" There were also a few songs with that sweet country-style guitar picking which the Byrds began doing a few years ago in their album "Sweetheart of the Rodeo."
And, of course, there were the Byrds most recent hits "Down in the Easy Chair" and the gospel-style "Jesus Is Just Alright" and a bit more too.
The Byrds forte has always been in bringing to inherently good, complex material the gift of their musicianship and harmonic power. Saturday's concert was a fair sampling of Byrds with the considerable added dimension of the group's physical presence.
The above review sort of hints that BOC opened this particular gig, but unfortunately it doesn't say definitively.
Well, the adverts says there were two shows - however, the review above only seems to refer to the late show - apparently the Byrds took the stage at 3am!! - it doesn't mention an early show...
Great report of BOC's performance by Ken Simon: "But what about Blue Oyster Cult? I refuse to waste the space."
I also found the following account on the stevehoffman.tv forum in a thread regarding whether or not BOC were the "Most Underrated Live Act of the 70s?":
I saw this tour (Dec. 11) but fortunately BOC was on it's home turf - State University of New York at STONY BROOK.
It's where they formed as Soft White Underbelly in '67. Mahavishnu opened and a big yawn from my friends and me.
We were students and were treated to some great shows over the past few years - the Who, Jefferson Airplane,
Delaney & Bonnie, Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers - several times, J. Geils Band, etc. So maybe a little spoiled.
When BOC came on, they asked, "What should we call ourselves?" ( since they formed as SWU and previously recorded and gigged as the Stalk Forest Group). But having just recorded that "debut" album, they announced that they were now to be known as BLUE OYSTER CULT and proceeded to rock that gymnasium to the core. Don't ask me for details but clearly remember "Stairway to the Stars" as my pick hit!!
Location: Walnut Creek CA USA
Apr 28, 2022
We went in a caravan of vehicles to Stony Brook from Dix Hills. I thought that Don, Sandra, Allen, and Patti were with us, but I'm not certain.
I think also that these date(s) were played in 1971 - if you have any info, please let me know:
My 1st BOC show was June 21st 1973 the venue: The Palisades, Mckeesport PA. Albert and Buck both said to me they played The Palisades in Mckeesport PA before in 1971 as SFG.
I don't have any info about those shows...