My first concert was in 1976. My 2 best friends and I had gotten tickets to see the band Chicago . Chicago was my favorite group and I was more than a little excited. Not only was I excited to see the group, I was excited that my friends and I got to go by ourselves without any parents. Being in high school, this was a big deal for us. My friend was going to drive her car. The concert was in Greensboro , an hour or so away from where we lived. Our plan was to drive to and from the concert on the same night. That way we wouldn’t have to worry about having money to stay over at a hotel (something our parents would never have agreed to in the first place).
We arrived at the concert on time and it was incredible. The group sang all of their hits, including “Saturday in the Park” and “Color My World”. We had pretty good seats so we had a good view of the band members, including lead singer Peter Cetera, who I had a major crush on. We stood up for most of the concert, clapping and singing along. Our voices were gone by the time the concert was over due to all of the yelling and screaming we had done.
After the concert, we headed to our car, still feeling exhilarated. When we got to the car, and started to drive out of the parking lot, we knew that something was wrong. We had a flat tire. As minor of a problem as that seems to me now, back then it was a huge deal. First of all, none of us had any idea how to change a tire. Secondly, we had no money to pay anyone to change a tire. Thirdly, my friend informed me that she did not have a spare tire to put on the car.
We did not want to call our parents, because we knew it would be a long time before they would ever let us go out again if there was a problem. Our only alternative (at least in our minds) was to try and find someone to feel sorry for us. We began walking. It was around midnight and we were in a strange city, so this wasn’t the safest thing for us to be doing, but we never considered that. We stopped at the nearest hotel, and hung around in the lobby for a bit, trying to come up with a plan. As we were standing there, we heard some people checking in, and it didn’t take long for us to realize that it was the road crew for Chicago . Suddenly, we were more intent on meeting the band than we were on finding a solution to our problem. We had heard what the room numbers were, so we decided we would try and find a way to spend the night at the hotel. We told the person at the desk our problem and asked if there was any way she could let us stay there for the night for free. She said “no”.
What the clerk did, however, was call the police. A policeman came and asked us a lot of questions which we answered. He wanted us to call our parents, but we made up a story and told him that we could not get in touch with them. Feeling sorry for us, he told us we could ride in the police car with him for awhile. I hopped in the front seat. My 2 friends hopped in the back and we rode with the policeman for about 2 hours. He talked to us and made us laugh. He was really nice to us. Finally, he told us that he had to take us back to the hotel, because he could not ride us around all night long. He paid for us a room, and dropped us off. Once we were settled into our room, we decided to move forward with our plan.
The first thing we did was to call our parents and tell them what happened and that a nice policeman had helped us by getting us a room. We assured them we were fine and that they could come help us the next morning. Then we went looking for the room numbers to the roadie crew. It wasn’t long before we found them. When we knocked on one of the doosr, we were almost surprised when it actually opened. They let us in and we explained to them our situation. They said we were welcome to hang out with them. (at the time we were so innocent and naïve, we never thought they might have any kind of bad intentions toward us). The crew was having a party, drinking beer and eating corned beef sandwiches. They shared with us, and informed me that Peter Cetera had touched the Heineken bottle I was drinking from. I was giddy with excitement and took the bottle home with me as a memory. I still have the bottle in my collection of memorabilia. Whether what the roadie told me was true or not, I have no idea, but I like to think that it was true.
We spent the entire night partying with Chicago ‘s roadies. They never tried to do anything inappropriate. We just listened to music, talked, and laughed. They shared some on the road stories with us, and answered our questions about the band. We tried to get an introduction to the band, but weren’t able to. In our minds, meeting the roadies was the next best thing, and would make a story to share with our friends when we got back home. We knew they were going to be dying with envy.
The next morning, we waited on my friend’s dad to come and help us get a tire for the car. He came and gave us all a hug, happy we were still in one piece. We went to buy a tire for the car, and then he drove us to where our car was and opened the back to get the jack out. Much to our amazement, he discovered that we actually did have a spare tire. “I thought you said you didn’t have a spare,” he said to us, obviously a bit peeved. We all just looked at each other a bit dumbfounded. We didn’t know that there was a special compartment for a spare. We thought it would have just been lying in the trunk of the car.
The truth is we were all glad we didn’t know about that special compartment for the spare. If we had known, we would never have gotten to have the memorable experience that we did with Chicago ‘s roadies.