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Colonial echoes.

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How much of America’s rock n’ roll history lies closed within the pages of old yearbooks?

You might remember how, a year or two ago, a Texas high school’s circa-1970 photo of a young “Zee Zee Top” made the online rounds.

Kinda makes you wonder how much similar goodness is sitting on the shelves of college and high school libraries, waiting to be discovered.

Concerts are a big part of the annual social calendar at many schools, and when something big happens, there’s usually a staff photographer on hand. So who knows how many glimpses of musicians — famous and forgotten — get captured that way?

I had that thought the other day when I stumbled on the College of William & Mary’s 1974 yearbook, the Colonial Echoes, on archive.org (which has a remarkable stack of high school and college annuals available for browsing).

The school must have had a big budget and a lot of students eager to rock, because it hosted a run of concerts that year that wouldn’t have embarrassed a mid-market city — Chicago, James Brown, the Grateful Dead, and Crosby and Nash, if memory serves.

Browsing 20 years of the Colonial Echoes, you could see the state of collegiate entertainment evolve from well-trimmed vocal groups to big-name, chart-topping rock stars. I doubt anyone got that perspective at the time — most people only stay for four years, after all — but it made for an interesting historical view.

Here, then, are pix from various editions of the Colonial Echoes that trace the evolution of on-campus concerts, while also offering some cool, probably rarely seen views of artists in their prime.

Two caveats:
– Material printed in the Colonial Echoes is, I assume, the property of the College of William & Mary. I’m presenting it here because it’s historically interesting, and because I think my small screenshots made on an ancient PC are too low in quality to be stolen, reused or abused. That said, if I get anything resembling a copyright claim, I’ll take the post down.
– The years given correspond to the year the yearbook was issued, not the year of the performance.

The Lettermen, 1967.

The Lettermen, 1967.

Here's a contrast. Top: Ian and Sylvia. Bottom: The Swingin' Medallions, of "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)" fame. 1968.

Here’s a contrast. Top: Ian and Sylvia. Bottom: The Swingin’ Medallions, of “Double Shot (Of My Baby’s Love)” fame. 1968.

Top: Rhinoceros, described as the first rock group to play W&M. Bottom: Martha and the Vandellas. 1970.

Top: Rhinoceros, described in the yearbook as the first rock group to play W&M. (Not sure what they thought the Swingin’ Medallions were.) Bottom: Martha and the Vandellas. 1970.

1972. The concert scene explodes at W&M: Just check out the caption. The musician is not identified, but he looks a whole lot like the late Chris Squire of Yes.

1972. The concert scene explodes at W&M: Just check out the caption. The musician is not identified, but he looks a whole lot like the late Chris Squire of Yes.

weir74

Bob Weir, 1974. The Dead enjoyed their September 1973 gig at W&M so much that they booked a second one on short notice and did it again the next night.

Grace Slick of Jefferson Starship, 1975.

Grace Slick of Jefferson Starship, 1975.

Grace Slick and Starship again, '76.

Grace Slick and Starship again, ’76.

The caption says "one of Zappa's Mothers;" I'm fairly sure it's Napolean Murphy Brock. 1976.

The caption says “one of Zappa’s Mothers;” I’m fairly sure it’s Napoleon Murphy Brock. 1976.

Springsteen, 1977, riding out his lawsuit period on the road.

Springsteen, 1977, riding out his lawsuit period on the road. The caption says “Quality Not Quantity” — referring to a lean year for concerts, not to Bruce’s performance.

Smoke from a distant fire, 1978. Mike Love of the Beach Boys, left; the Sanford-Townsend Band, right; and the Little River Band's singer's torso at top left.

Smoke from a distant fire, 1978. Mike Love of the Beach Boys, left; the Sanford-Townsend Band, right; and the Little River Band’s singer’s torso at top left.

Tom Scholz of Boston, 1979, ending the decade with the sound of corporate rock.

Tom Scholz of Boston, 1979, ending the decade with the sound of corporate rock.

Two whole pages devoted to "Rust Never Sleeps"-era Neil Young and Crazy Horse. 1979.

Two whole pages devoted to “Rust Never Sleeps”-era Neil Young and Crazy Horse. They were not wrong to do so. 1979.

Billy Joel, 1980. It is, quite clearly, still rock and roll to him.

Billy Joel, 1980. It is, quite clearly, still rock and roll to him.

Sting, 1986. Yeah, this seems like a good place to get off.

Sting, 1986. Yeah, this seems like a good place to get off.

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5 responses »

  1. Have you ever watched Hair?

    Reply
  2. I’m surprised that Neil Young snuck in a few college gigs on the Rust tour amidst all of the arenas – http://sugarmtn.org/getshows.php?tour_key=117. Then again, I recall him opening for the Dave Matthews Band at their hometown Scott Stadium concert in Charlottesville, so perhaps he has some particular affinity for Virginia college venues. I find it less likely that Billy Joel played William and Mary on the Glass Houses tour.

    Reply
    • I’ve done some online searching to try to nail down Beej’s gig at W&M and I can’t find the date, only general references to it.
      I think his appearance in the photo is consistent with the Glass Houses era, though I could be wrong — he looked pretty consistently like that for a couple of years.

      Reply

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