"It's not that if you do bad audio you're an idiot,
but that if you do good audio, you're exceptional.

It's so damn technical and there's so much to know
to make live sound work, only a small percent
sound guys have the chops."

— Jerry Day

"Half the world is deaf, and wants to share
the experience with the rest of us."

— Marc Mangano

That of course, is part of the story, but by no means, the whole story.



This means that everything a sound operator does, must be in service of art, not ego.  That work may not be very glamorous most of the time.  People who don't understand this or who aspire to be stars, or who are dabbling in live sound for the wrong reasons, belong in other vocations.  While reasonable people can understand the logic, others can be star struck and driven to continually be near musical artists, despite their technical ignorance, with the unintentional result being non-optimum performance presentation that actually victimizes the artists by misrepresenting them to their audiences.

There are FOUR basic reasons when the sound at your local coffee house or small songwriter showcase sucks.  Here are the four reasons in order of priority:

1   Inadequate technical education.
2   Hostility between sound men and performers.
3   Inadequate music education.
4   Inappropriate gear, or gear being used inappropriately.

Other reasons can be trouble too, such as architectural and acoustical issues, club owner aesthetics, and of course, performers don't always have their act together—the proportion of performers who understand performance physics, acoustics and audio is in fact, far smaller than the proportion of sound operators.  Fortunately for performers, it's perfectly adequate to have or develop an innate "sense" of audio to support performance, whereas sound operators ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE a studied expertise in audio, or their chances of being able to do good and repeatable audio approaches zero.

The most ubiquitous problem is the non technical sound operator, and there are two reasons so many non technical people are trying to do live sound:  1) they're star struck or wannabees who will do whatever they can to be near performers, hoping that it will give them access or future entrée to music stars, and 2), there are so many of these folks competing for sound jobs and preying on the technical ignorance, laziness and greed of so many venue owners, that the pay is driven down by supply and demand to the point where educated technical sound people won't work for the low wages.

When I attempted to persuade the owner of the new ASH GROVE on the Santa Monica pier that he needed a proper technical sound operator to work the three channel mains THX-style sound system with six monitor mix channels that I had designed and installed, he informed me that he had called clubs all over Los Angeles and that even the House Of Blues only paid $10/hour, so that was all he was willing to pay.
  When I completed the acoustics and sound system at the Ash Grove, I set out to find the place a permanent sound person.  I put half a dozen simple core audio questions on an employment questionnaire, but the dozens of applicants could not answer any of them even though many of them had years of experience in L.A. clubs such as House of Blues, Roxy, Viper Room and other respected venues.  No one knew what stereo is (I kid you not), what a balanced line is, what a pan pot does, what a cardioid mike is or how gain behaves when mikes are opened or speakers are added.  After months of testing and interviewing I felt like it was completely hopeless to try to find a $10/hour person knowing anything about sound and the gear and practices of the profession.  The Ash Grove eventually hired a young enthusiastic hi-fi and vacuum tube fanatic, who immediately upon being left to work the club alone, went into the equipment room and changed the system's crossover frequencies two octaves away from the designed and calibrated settings, requiring $1000 worth of my driving and consulting time to put back to normal.  In addition to that lack of courtesy and common sense, he brought in his own collection of vacuum tube direct boxes and  took up to two hours to do stage setup that should have taken no more than ten minutes, and stretched sound checks right up to show time, when they should have also taken only a few minutes.

2   In turn, the insultingly low wages sound men get makes them cynical and resentful of the employer and
can eventually lead to those feelings spilling over into their relationships with performers.  While a sound operator should be part of the performance team and as such, be eager to help and even gently educate performers where possible, it's become axiomatically clear to me over 40 years, that most sound men—better than half, anyway—are failed musicians who are envious of performers.  Some just plain want revenge for being rejected from band after band.  Why these people choose to work in a field where they get insultingly low wages and regular confrontation with performers is a topic for an abnormal psychology study, or ought to be, but clearly beyond the scope of this report.

A really unfortunate side effect of the incompetence of sound men is that the occasional competent sound professional gets a baggage load of antagonism and abuse from artists because of their bad experiences with more typical sound men.

A lot of the hostility between sound men and performers stems from miscommunication between them and is caused mainly by the difference in musical and artistic understanding between performing artist and failed would-be performer.  This is a problem of enormous proportion and will, I fear be with us, as long as there is greed, laziness and envy, and venue owners who don't get it, don't care, and keep hiring people who say they know sound but who in reality should never be allowed to touch anything with knobs, faders or audio circuits inside.

3   You're probably getting the impression by now, that I think sound operators are mostly a detriment to the presentation of live music.  For the majority of cases, I do, but only after giving each individual situation the benefit of the doubt and a chance to prove me wrong and show some sensitivity to the music.  In the vast majority of cases they do not.  This is one of the four deadly problems that keep bad audio comin' at ya.  Sound men who "only know death metal" shouldn't be mixing Bluegrass;  guys who only like Irish folk music shouldn't be mixing jazz.  As I have stated in my recording philosophy, I believe that people who work in sound for musical recording or performance MUST BE familiar to the point of fluency, with the music with which they're working.  Anything less is unacceptable.  This means that sound operators should by necessity and training, be music lovers, with wide and eclectic appreciation of their client's art.

In 1996 at the Ash Grove on the Santa Monica pier, Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys appeared.  I was still trying to hire a qualified sound operator—something that turned out to be impossible to do—and so was still mixing shows.  Before the sound check began, Ralph Stanley approached me in the sound booth and asked me "where you from?" to which I replied I was a native of Los Angeles.  He simply turned and walked away, and muttered in a deliberately audible voice "oh shit" as he walked toward the stage.  The group that night had two guitarists, fiddle, banjo, two mandolins including Stanley himself, string bass and vocals.  Bluegrass music as the Clinch Mountain Boys play it, often trades solos from one player to another, sometimes every two bars, in addition to the more conventional four bar approach like jazz.  The players do their best to make the solos pop out louder by taking a step closer to a microphone with their instrument, and then stepping back when handing off the solo—in this respect, not unlike a big band horn player standing up when soloing.  With the large three channel system with its amazing capability for subtlety, it was critical that each solo be boosted a couple of dB to clarify the mix and just barely increase the soloist's audibility.  After the show that night, Ralph Stanley once again walked to the sound booth and simply asked me "where'd you say you were from?"

I can tell you, as both an instructor of audio at UCLA and as a sound professional myself, that the situation looks pretty hopeless and will remain hopeless barring being featured prominently on TV and in the media.  I think we have a long wait ahead.

  Inappropriate gear can mess with live performance sound as well.  There are garbage barge loads of junk sound gear doing damage to performance art damn near everywhere.  Of course, technical ignorance is the reason much of such gear exists in the first place.  If consumers were knowledgeable about their purchases, there would only be good gear ranging from small to large, but far, far less garbage of the sort that victimizes performers and denigrates venue reputations about two times out of three.  Far more often, however, than the quality of gear degrading live performances, the mis-application of the gear does this nasty job instead.  The constant example I see is the sound man with extravasate testosterone and an oppressive complex about his manhood, determined to prove the latter by blustering with his kick drum microphone and his 20,000 watts of subwoofers, like the guy with the limp twig who has to buy four foot high tires for his pickup truck and ride ten feet up to be above other vehicles.  This guy should be on a blacklist in every post office in every town around the world, not victimizing performers with his insane distorted image of how he thinks music should sound.  His taste is that of rubber, like his tires.  He doesn't belong in music performance venues—probably not even as a spectator.

At a Santa Monica club named "14 Below," July 1st 1998, I was introduced by the owner, to the sound man and told how proud they were to have him, because he was the "best in town" and blah, blah, blah.  The act consisted of a female singer/songwriter, her producer, a drummer and myself.  Two acoustic guitars, Doobie Brothers drummer Chet McCracken playing tasteful brushes, and my double 15" speaker bass rig with 400 watt Walter Woods amp head.  The idiot sound man first spent 20 minutes of the 25 minute setup and sound check working on the kick drum, and then proceeded to make the entire show a kick drum solo with the huge thumping hip-hop kick sound a hundred times too loud for the type of music we were trying to do.  Even Chet complained that he couldn't hear my bass (even though without leaning, he could have rested his elbow on my amp stack) and could only hear the kick.  There are places in the world where such behavior can result in prison for the sound man.

Diamond Dave Somerville is the original lead singer of the Diamonds—a Canadian doo-wop rock group that had half a dozen hits in the late 50's, including the still huge "Little Darling" and in 1957, toured the U.S. on a bus with Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, The Drifters, LaVern Baker, The Every Brothers, Paul Anka, Eddie Cochran, Clyde McPhatter, Frankie Lymon and Buddy Knox.

In an oldies show  with an audience of thousands on outdoor bleachers, I played with Diamond Dave's band.  We were the only instrumentalists, and were pressed into service to back up the other acts that day--The Coasters, The Drifters, The Champs, Tommy Sands, and Lenny Welsh.  The sound guy's first act was to put the kick drum mike up and spend three quarters of an hour getting it dialed in the way he wanted it.  He spent a total of well over an hour sound checking the drums and about 15 minutes doing the entire remainder of the performers.  I thought 'how typical,' and knew right away that the sound would be a big detriment to the music.  Even after several of us had told him that the music didn't even need the kick drum miked, he persisted.  There were two rows of big wedge monitors, at the stage lip for the singers in front, and fifteen feet back for the band, including two huge wedges flanking the drummer, George Green, who had been Frank Sinatra's last studio drummer.  The monitors were so loud that I could not hear the drum kit on a 24" riser three feet from my head, and I had to use earplugs just to avoid being damaged by the front row monitors that were even louder.  Just before the show started, the sound man left his 14 year old son in charge and drove off to another gig that was "more important," leaving us all at the mercy of chance.  After asking repeatedly to hear our backup vocals in our own monitors, the kid switched our monitors off completely and boosted the volume in the front row to over 120 dB, causing physical pain.  The kick drum was, of course, 30 dB too loud for the type of music being presented. (note: 30 dB is 1000 times more power.  (E.g., if 1 watt = 0 dB, then 1000 watts = 30 dB)

Singing four part harmony with my cowboy campfire music group The Lobo Rangers LINK was a challenge the day we performed at a small outdoor amphitheater.  The sound man that day had only a small pair of single 12" woofer + horn boxes on stands, and a small mixer at the end of a cable run into the audience area, but two things turned the performance into crap that day: the guy knew our substitute lead guitarist Howard Yearwood, by name, so of course Howard was featured in the audio mix even though we had told the sound man that Howard was only subbing and had never rehearsed with us.  That, and the sound man's busy little fingers constantly moving faders in a vain attempt to "balance" the vocal blend, made the performance a living nightmare.  For those of you who may not know how vocal blends are achieved, it's all—100%—the singers, listening to each other and adjusting on the fly, to subtle differences in volume and tone.  Needless to say, when vocal mike faders are being constantly moved, vocal blend is impossible.  As a result, the sound was bad, the performance was bad, the impression was bad, and if I ever happen on a situation like that again, I won't feel the slightest hesitation to stop the show and ask the sound man to take a seat in the audience or risk having his busy little fingers broken.

"After being involved in live sound engineering for so long I am very, very sad to see the way it has all evolved in the last few years.  When did the kick drum become the lead singer?  Show after show, regardless of the style of music, ends up being just a solid wall of badly mixed, way too loud, over the top, low-end-heavy noise.  I have tried to help and nurture so many young guys over the years to understand what mixing live shows is all about, and my often repeated sermon is to make it “sound as close as possible to the recorded material by the artist.”  If some artists ever came out front at their shows and listened, I’m sure they would be horrified at how their performance is being brutalized.  True, lately, some artists set out to use the sound system to deliberately beat up the audience, but those shows are way beyond any help."

--Howard Page - FOH Magazine, Nov '06
Currently Page serves as FOH audio engineer on the Mariah Carey Adventures of Mimi tour.


In my 57 years of performing music in public, I've seen some amazing things.  Half a century of participation and fascinated observation provides some interesting tales to tell.

I'm not relating only a bunch of bad experiences here, though the good ones can be counted on my fingers and toes over a half century.  Here are some good ones for the record so we have a baseline from which to judge.

1952 — my first public performance.  A recital of students at a Los Angeles accordion student competition.  Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in England happened that year.  I was 32 inches tall with a “junior” 120-bass accordion that went from my chin to below my knees.  It was all acoustic.  The parents went wild.  By 1954 I found the guitar was more manageable for my size, and was singing for the weekend card game crowd at our househalf a dozen aunts and unclesand I sang all the big band tunes played on “Lucky Lager Dance Time” on KMPC Los Angeles.  By six, I was beginning to add some show to the songs, imitating Nat Cole, Tony Martin, Eddie Fisher, Frank Sinatra and some of the other big singers on the new fad, television.  Like a lot of kids in Los Angeles back then, there was a succession of school music offerings, choruses, madrigals and choirs, even an elementary school orchestra, then junior high school and high school bands, choirs, madrigals, and drama studies.  There were good times and good people came out of the available offerings.  In my high school alone during the three years I attended, were Rick Cunha, Mike Curb, Harry Garfield, Dennis Olivieri, Bob Corff, Mary Rings, Tom Sellick, Micky Dolenz, Tom Scott, John and Tom Morell, and Steve Bohanon.

All of the performances of school sponsored music and drama were 100% acoustic—there simply were no microphones or P.A. (Public Address) equipment or instrument amps of any kind at schools, except for the Fender or Silvertone amps we used for the sock hop bands after school in the gym.  I started playing guitar "dance combos" in 8th grade.  The P.A. for those dances was always a high-impedance microphone plugged into the second channel of a Fender guitar amp.  It sounded awful because guitar amps are anything but flat or uniform, had open backs behind the speaker, and were of course, never intended for that use.  The combination of such an inappropriate amplifier and a cheap mike usually meant that you turned up the volume until it squealed and then backed it off until it stopped—that was the “setup.”  Of course it was usually close to feedback so when you would step aside from the mike, it would sometimes howl, so the “show” at these junior high dances was usually quite unprofessional.  A few years of playing with this inappropriate gear being used for P.A., aiming speakers, mikes, and so on provided some insight into the temperamental nature of electroacoustics, but not much science.  Books had to be sought and experts consulted, but neither were abundant in 1959.

By the time I was sixteen in 1963 and started working at the local music store after school, musical instrument (M.I.) companies were starting to sell public address equipment into the consumer musician market.  There were no manuals describing the technical operation of the equipment, though Shure Bros. microphones did have specification sheets with frequency response and polar plot diagrams on them—all intended of course, for engineer readers, leaving all technical meaning unexplained to consumers.  The loudspeakers available at the time were clearly designed for the solo singers in all-acoustic big bands a decade before in the 50’s.  It was all basically garbage and all designed by guitar players with no real engineering background who worked at these M.I. companies,  The speakers had no high frequency horns in them, the cone drivers were all cheap with horrid, non flat performance (like guitar speakers!).  They couldn't keep up with an energetic drummer in a four piece rock band, and were completely inaudible under the screams of fans in stadiums at the first U.S. Beatles concerts.  There were a few speakers like these used successfully—commercially at least— in some of the Los Angeles coffeehouses I frequented in the early 60's, where there was one mike and the guitar was typically unamplified.  In 1963, amplifier power was almost fixed.  Everything was vacuum tube, and sixty watts of high quality power was a big deal.  The transistor had been invented in 1947 and first produced commercially in 1951, but would not become an amplifier mainstay until 16 years later in 1967, when the first high power audio amps began to appear.  That year I got an after school job at Vega (later to become Cerwin-Vega).  The Crown DC-300 and then the Phase Linear 700 ushered in an era of growth in concert sound, and sound levels.  Now it was possible for the vocals to be heard over the band even with guitar amps and drums, and it was possible for all of it to be projected to large outdoor audiences.

Jump ahead to 1969.  I mixed and recorded the 1969 “Palm Springs Pop Festival” with headliners Ike & Tina Turner, Procol Harum, John Mayall, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Lee Michaels, Gram Parsons, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and a dozen lead-off local area bands before the 120° sun went down.  There were no monitors and the mix position was on the side of the stage on a folding table.  The “console” was a group of several six input (phone plug) Bogen club mixers with spring reverb tanks, all daisy chained together.  The two stage mains speaker stacks each consisted of four Vega (pre Cerwin-Vega) folded horn bass bins topped with four stacked and splayed JBL 2350 radial horns and 2440 drivers.  It was all bi-amplified with an Altec passive line level, 500 Hz crossover.  Phase Linear 700s powered the bass bins, Crown DC300s powered the horns.


35 years ago April 9, 1969, Ike and Tina Turner, Procul Harum, John Mayall the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Lee Michaels, Gram Parsons, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and others appear at the first, and last Palm Springs Pop Festival and San Andreas Boogie in Palm Springs, California.  The festival site holds 15,000 people but 25,000 people jammed into a drive-in theatre parking lot through a hole in the fence made by an old pickup truck, to see Ike and Tina Turner and Procul Harum.  Police helicopters arrived to disperse the crowd, but gave in and went home when they saw the size of the crowd and realized that short of calling out the National Guard, it was useless to attempt crowd control of the already settled-in crowd, now comfortable sitting on the ground enjoying the concert.

The entire head-end of the concert sound system was three of these mono mixers—hardly what anyone could even imagine calling "professional"— daisy-chained together.  They had spring reverb tanks and more than once as the stage was jostled by the movement of the artists and the crowd bumping the scaffolding, there were loud spring crashes from the sound system.  Volume, bass and treble were the only controls on each microphone input.  Inputs were unbalanced phone plug so every microphone required a transformer.  The transformers used cost more than the mixers!  The reverb (what little was used) had to be handled with great self-discipline because it was controlled by the on-off black rocker-switches per input channel, with only a master "reverb intensity" control.

Here’s a remembrance of that historic festival by attendee Clyde “AJ” Johnson:

Remembering Procol Harum at the Palm Springs pop festival
     It was Easter week and like lemmings to the sea all the college and high school students came forth from LA and San Diego and as far north as the Ventura County line headed for Palm Springs and beyond to the Colorado river for the week of fun in the sun.  They still do to this day, only now they come from all over the planet to the sunny shores of the Colorado River but always stop off in Palm Springs for the weekends coming and going.
     This weekend in 1969 was different in that the underground FM stations and in particular KPPC in Pasadena (which was the second underground FM station to emerge in early 1967 along with its sister station in San Francisco) were announcing a Pop Festival which was to take place on the first Friday ,Saturday and Sunday of the first weekend of vacation if memory serves me right and after 30 years.  By the way 'rock festival ' wasn't in use at the time and it was advertised as a Pop festival.
     Anyway the word was that groups such as the Doors, Canned Heat, The Jeff Beck Group, Lee Micheals and many others were to attend. The scene was set and tickets would be available at the door for each day of the concert festivities.  It sounded good to a young barely 17 year old who was itching to see his hero's of rock'n'roll, maybe too good too be true since I had missed Monterey Pop in 1967 and Monterey Pop in 1968 (which wasn't even held in Monterey but southern California).
     I did not attend the Friday show but by Saturday morning my good pal and fellow band-mate Stork (he played bass in our little blues band) were off on the three and a half-hour drive to see what we would see.  Stork had been to the Monterey 68 thing and had said it was great so I was really glad to be finally going to a real outdoor event.  My family had a cabin out in the desert near Twenty Nine Palms so we had a place to crash for the weekend and enough money for gas and tickets to get in but that's about all.
     The concert the night before on Friday had featured the Doors and Canned heat and all we really knew about Saturdays line-up was that Jeff Beck was gonna be there!!  We were excited to say the least.  We arrived at a drive-in theater on the outskirts of Palm Springs about mid afternoon and bought our tickets at the front of the drive-in for a few bucks and I bought a concert poster which had a picture of Jeff Beck taken from the picture on the back of the Truth album.  It was the usual psychedelic looking thing with lettering swirling round Beck's face advertising his group and under that Procol Harum, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, John Mayall and Lee Micheals.  We went in and found a place to sit.
     As we walked in a band was already playing on stage.  We laid back and stretched out since there was lots of room being it was outdoors and folks just came in with sleeping bags pillows and blankets.  The sweet smell of incense and Mexican pot filled the air as loud blues came from the stage.  It was an unknown group which looked to be locals that were doing a bunch of cover tunes that kept the early afternoon going.  Things were very mellow.  There were no refreshment stands (not that we had any money anyway) since the location had been thrown together overnight as the Friday night concert that took place somewhere downtown had been moved to this location because of complaints from some local citizens.  So be it.  At least we had the drive-in's screen for the light show.
     Finally the first 'real' group of the evening came on in the late afternoon.  It was Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman's new group, the Flying Burrito Brothers complete with their new 'Nudie' suits and looking like they had crawled off the cover of their first album The Guilded Palace of Sin.  I thought Sneaky Pete looked cool in his black jump suit with the flying dinosaur on it.  By this time the sun was sinking low and we had been wined and dined by the folks around us.  It seems every few minutes a gallon of Red Mountain wine would pass by or a smouldering joint.  It went that way all afternoon and the gals there made sure everyone got a sandwich or two along with the always friendly offer to stick out your tongue just in case you wanted to sample Owsley's latest batch of purple acid.  Bikers, young hippies and kids like us made up most of the people there and though I had seen cops on the outside I never saw a badge inside the concert.
     As the sun set on the sage the Burritos left the stage and the stars came out.  There was definitely magic in the air and soon Lee Micheals took the stage.  He had his faithful drummer Frosty with him along with his Hammond B3 organ and a stage full of 100 watt Vox Super Beatle amps.  It was during his set that I really noticed just how good the sound system was!  He was loud and proud and turned in a set that had everyone standing up doing a great version of Stormy Monday and selections off his first two albums.  Frosty also turned in a solo that was intense.  After they left the stage it was announced that Procol Harum would be up next!
     Now in between Lee Micheals and Procol there were some announcements from the stage since it was going to take awhile to get them in and set up.  There were no announcements about bad acid or people freaking out or anything like Woodstock which just confirmed how good it was going inside the drive-in, now filled with about 20,000 people at most.  Maybe it was the size of the crowd.  Unfortunately it wasn't as calm on the outside, as it was announced that some bikers had got into a fight at the entrance and someone was stabbed or something.
     Soon the roadies began filling the stage with another organ and what looked like a full-sized upright grand piano!!??  WOW!  And what looked to me like the biggest Marshall Amp I'd ever seen, and I hadn't seen very many.  Looking back I realize it was Robin Trower's 8 by 12 speaker case topped by a Marshall 100 watt super lead.  This amp configuration is still called the Robin Trower model by amp collectors.  At this point a figure was hit with a spotlight stage right and a man draped in white robes flowing in the breeze walked up to the mike as the M.C. shouted 'Here's Tim Leary!'
     Ummm, ya so what?  We want Procol Harum.  We laughed and he laughed and someone behind me said 'God, I hope he doesn't give a speech.'  He didn't, but leaned forward slowly and said 'Have fun, smoke it' and with that he walked off the stage with his hands in the air giving the peace sign to laughter and applause like some kind of strange Lawrence of Arabia.  Our own personal cosmic clown jester had given his blessings, it was too funny.
     After what seemed like an eternity (actually it was about another forty minutes according to Stork's watch as I remember) Procol Harum took the stage.  The first notes of Quite Rightly So burst forth in a swell of volume and tone.  Even though we both had their second album at home I really wasn't ready for the real thing.  If Frosty had been a loud concentration of pure 4/4 drumming BJ Wilson was beyond the beyond, weaving in and out with timing and a sound that the desert had never heard before.
     This was followed directly by Shine On Brightly.  At this point the organ and piano were up in the mix and the counterpoint was awesome and much more pronounced than the album version.  It was quite obvious that these guys were going to give it all they had!  Robin's guitar lines roared out of that Marshall and literally shook the whole drive in.  Next came what else but Skip Softly (My Moonbeams) which gave us all a moment to take a breath and stare into the starry sky.  Safe to say everyone had been on their feet from the first chords of their set.
     They proceeded to do the rest of side two of their second album with what I remember as a very good version of Wish Me Well (which I still feel is one of the best songs on the album) and then into the strangely comic Rambling On.  I remember Gary Brooker announcing the next number as ' ... something you'll recognize' and the first chords of Matthew's organ groaned as they played a perfect version of Whiter Shade Of Pale followed by Homburg which felt like AWSoP part 2 to me since I had worn out the single at home and still to this day think it may be my all time favorite song by them.  At least at that time it was and even though it wasn't a commercial hit the FM radio stations played it in LA along with both their albums.
     Gary announced the next song as She Wandered Through The Garden Gate [sic] played.  Now I'm not sure but it seems to me they may have played Something Following Me too but I'm not really sure and it's the only song I'm not sure about... it was a long time ago.  There was what we thought to be a very good jam number that happened next, as I recall, where Robin Trower took off on some amazing soloing of sorts.  No words, just a long piece where he could stretch out and blow smoke out of his Marshall.  I now believe that number to have been Repent Walpurgis or perhaps it was Stokes Poges which was their son of Walpurgis, as it were, at the time.  It may be wise to go with the assumption that what we heard was Stokes Poges considering it was longer and more drawn-out, as Robin's guitar-playing seemed to catch fire and go on for eight or nine minutes.  It was the real stopper of the show and got the most applause of the evening in my opinion.  After it ended they could do no wrong... the evening was theirs and theirs alone after that.
     There is one thing for sure: they did Cerdes or as I remember Gary Brooker announced '... here is (Outside The Gates Of) Cerdes'.  There was a pause and whistling and yelps of approval along with applause which arose from the crowd since this one song had been played too a lot, also on Radio and everyone's stereos at parties.  The bass shook the ground and lurched forward and we were off!
     Next it was back to the second album and Magdalene and In Held 'Twas In I!!  Procol was giving us what we wanted and more at this point.  After it was all over we wondered what more could they possibly give us?  We were in for a surprise as the first notes of what seemed to be the most Classical sounding bit of music of the night started.  I remember turning to Stork after a minute or so and asking 'what number is that ... seems I've heard it before?'.  He turned to me and yelled 'That's the song from 2001: A Space Odyssey!'.  And so it was ... Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra!  Only this was much, much longer than just the intro.  It seemed to go on forever as they stretched it out for 6 – 7 minutes or more by changing keys and repeating the intro passage over and over it seemed.
     Suddenly it was over and the intensity of their set would not be approached by any of the following groups which played.  Paul Butterfield and John Mayall with Mick Taylor doing honors on lead guitar came on in succession after Procol.  And to top it off it was announced after Butterfield's set that the headliners the Jeff Beck Group wasn't going to play.  Seems Jeff and a then unknown Rod Stewart had got into a knock-down drag out back at the hotel and the group was breaking up.  Sheeesh!
     We finally went off into the night toward the end of Mayall's set since we had seen a lot of him in LA.  As we left through a hole in the fence we looked back to see that some people had torn it apart and started a huge bonfire which they were dancing around.  Not to be outdone I saw another figure set the back of the drive-in fence on fire.  It was a shame but it was time to leave the mellow 60's behind, Altamont dead ahead.  It was time to get out of Dodge.
     Still wondering about the exact date of the Saturday concert I attended: I'll just say that the next day was palm Sunday and the Sunday after that was Easter Sunday 1969.  Of this I'm sure so get out your slide rules or find an old calendar.

Many thanks to Clyde 'AJ' Johnson and his superb 30-year memory!

Even given the times and the fact that no one locally had ever heard large P.A. systems like this before (the system was absolutely microscopic in terms of acoustic power compared to today’s systems), I thought it sounded pretty bad, but that was based on my experience with hi-fi which was the passion that had guided me to Vega in 1967.

Several personal recollections: we miked kick drums, but the power we had available dictated that I had to be careful not to get the music mix out of balance and risk system overload or amplifiers popping fuses.  There were at least two times I remember Gene replacing fuses in the Phase Linear 700s after a big kick drum thump took them out.

Paul Butterfield’s incredible bass player used a Fender Twin Reverb open-back guitar amp set on a chair behind him, with an EV RE55 mike on it.

My recollection of stage volume is that it was quite comfortable, maybe 90 dB, and I doubt that the audience sound level at 100 feet was much more than maybe 80-90 dB based on modern calculation of the components being used.  Certainly nothing like the wide-band 110-120 dB sound in a modern rock concert, or even the 95-105 levels at a James Taylor concert.

Jump ahead to the early 70’s.  I won an audition over Jimmy Buffett and joined The New Christy Minstrels who’d had a dozen gold albums in the 60’s and who still commanded $20,000 a performance
($85,459 in year 2002 dollars) a decade later with no original members.  The New Christy Minstrels were chosen over the very hot 5th Dimension with their #1 record on the charts, to perform for the President at the White House and the Returning Viet Nam war prisoners on a national NBC special, with John Wayne, Sammy Davis, Edgar Bergen, Joey Heatherton and Roy Acuff.  I traveled the world for three years with the group, and played 261 different towns in 1972 alone.  During that period I sang through over 600 sound systems, and only four times, were there monitors (hint, there were no monitors at the White House).  We sang for Bob Hope in Vegas.  No monitors.  We sang the National Anthem at a World Series game in Oakland.  No monitors AND a 0.4 second delay from the scoreboard.  That’s a quarter-note at 150 beats/minute.

In the mid 70’s I was working with big recording stars at the Sound Factory recording studios while playing studio sessions and the occasional live gig, and starting to notice monitors but mostly installed overhead as part of better club sound systems, such as a system at The Basement in Marina Del Rey, California where I played for a year with a cover band.  Hannon Engineering had installed a pair of Altec A7 speakers
with the revolutionary new Altec “Acousta-Voicette” 1/3-octave equalizer system and an additional 90-degree multicell horn up in the light bars, facing the stage because the room’s back wall was a concrete reflector, and musicians needed the immediacy of the stage.  That sound system in today's dollars would have cost 30 grand--ten times more than modern equipment capable of better performance.

Monitors were here to stay by the mid 70's, but as time went on, musicians responded to their ubiquity by starting to insist that monitors be loud, and thus began the downward spiral of performance sound quality as sound systems got more and more complex and sound system operators got less and less qualified.

In the mid 70’s, power amplifiers were getting huge.  It was common to find amps delivering 600 watts per channel, and serious power could be trucked around and delivered to huge stacks of loudspeakers for outdoor rock concerts like Cal Jam II for 250,000 people.

About this time, audio equipment manufacturers began looking at the rock concert market with a critical eye, and started turning their attention to market shares.  Some of the best minds and experience were put to work creating cookie-cutter loudspeaker boxes and systems based on what a few of the larger touring sound companies were using, and what they were asking for in order to maximize costs by squeezing more acoustic power into a truck trailer, which it turns out, is one of the major costs involved in tour sound.  At the same time, bigger and bigger power amps were being developed onward toward where we are today with 6000-watt amplifiers.  Now, huge amounts of acoustic power can be fitted into truck trailers, and used to create impressive and sometimes great sound with all the power, subtlety and nuance performers may be able to bring to a performance.

If only all this history and technology were passed down instead of having to be re-learned by each musical generation.  (sigh)