|Dickinson’s KISS, from left: John Grandy ’80 (Peter Criss), John Argento ’80 (Ace Frehley), Paul Landry ’80 (Paul Stanley) and Steve Hoffman ’80 (Gene Simmons).
I’m with you guys. I saw Bruce in fall 1977. Big arena. Toledo, Ohio. Not as intimate as the Dickinson dining-hall gig in 1974, before Born to Run hit and the scruffy guy from Jersey became a phenom. But still an epiphany. When we put out the call last winter for alumni to send in their musical memories, the most frequently invoked artist was Bruce, and the most oft-recited campus appearance was by The Boss. Enjoy the following remembrances of musicians and tunes past. Like me, you might give a listen to some unfamiliar albums (OK, they’re called CDs now). Thanks to Don Riggs ’74 for turning me on to Liege and Lief and the haunting “Matty Groves.”
—Sherri Kimmel, editor
October 1974—an evening with Bruce and the E Street Band in the HUB Dining Hall. While Bruce kept us waiting outside for over an hour until he was satisfied with the sound check, I can remember the loud grumbling, “Just who does this guy think he is?” And then his opening number: “Incident on 57th Street,” with the spotlight framing Suki Lahav, Bruce’s female violinist. The waiting and the wondering were over. The evening turned into one of those magical concert experiences one never forgets. Thereafter, “Rosalita” became the anthem of Dickinson College, and you could always count on hearing it blasting from one of the quad windows at any hour of the day or night.
—Michael Mandaglio ’77
Bruce Springsteen came to the HUB in October 1974. He was an unknown singer with a funny name. There were no more than 1,000 people in the main dining hall. It was, without a doubt, the best concert I ever attended. His signature album, Born to Run, had not yet been released. He was wearing a Triumph motorcycle T-shirt, and Clarence Clemmons was wailing away on the sax. About a month later he was simultaneously on the cover of Newsweek and Time, and the rest is history. Following his appearance all that you heard in Morgan Hall was classic Bruce.
—Bernie Clark ’73
My musical memories from ’74-’78 are too numerous to mention: Springsteen in the dining hall, 1974; Bonnie Raitt, Billy Joel, Renaissance, Hot Tuna, Tom Waits, Steve Martin and his banjo, all performing at their creative peaks right on campus. Even Gregg Allman, performing with the legendary Nighthawks from D.C. … And the Hermitage, with an extraordinary lineup of unheralded talent, including southern rock cover wizards Appalachia (best “Freebird” north of the Mason-Dixon) and the young Chris Smither, now a folk-circuit stalwart.
—Rob Litowitz ’78
Don’t remember Chris Smither playing, but Rob left out Larry Coryell (they brought him out, he played like a madman, they collected him—he was stoned out of his mind) and Roger McGuinn and more.
—David Liu ’78
Bruce’s “Rosalita” rocked the quad, and his appearance at the HUB is legendary. Lots of Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel, Led Zeppelin and, for some unexplained reason, the soundtrack from Saturday Night Fever! We never missed the radio show hosted by Heidi Rollins Cooper ’78.
—Jo-Ann Geremia Durr ’78
I was BORN TO RUN with WEREWOLVES OF LONDON chasing me while the PIANO MAN and ROSALITA were leaving the HOTEL CALIFORNIA. THAT’S THE WAY OF THE WORLD!
—Kim Hagar ’80
Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Eagles, BRUCE, Bonnie Raitt, America, Simon and Garfunkel, Led Zeppelin and more. Long live rock ’n’ roll ...
—Erika P. Walters-Engemann ’78
A KISS IS JUST A KISS
Growing up in Philly, I came to Dickinson influenced by a diverse mix of Motown, folk and classic rock, but my taste took a strange turn when I met John Argento ’80 and Steve Hoffman ’80, who grew up in York, Pa. They introduced me to the spectacle of KISS, and by second semester freshman year, we were talked into putting on a mock KISS concert to earn some Sigma Chi pledge signatures. So we dyed some long underwear, did the makeup and put together a cardboard stage set and pulled off an air-guitar concert of six to eight songs from the band’s live albums. Surprisingly, the crowd of onlookers from the quad got swept up in the moment and enjoyed the show. Maybe they just told us that so we’d foolishly do it again the next year. Which of course, we did—all three years after that for Halloween. By senior year the show grew to include pyrotechnics, sequins, “groupies” and even an intro act of Lou Reed (played by Paul Lupinacci ’81). Not one of us could play an instrument, but as those who attended could attest, if you squinted a little and had a few beers, for one night a year, KISS was in the house.
—Paul Landry ’80
A LITTLE HELP FROM … JOE (AND PETE)
My four years at Dickinson encompassed a time of extraordinary developments in rock music. Woodstock took place freshman year, and The Beatles, Stones, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Doors, Joe Cocker and scores of other now-famous performers were either emerging then or reaching their apex. The campus band Bradley was doing a phenomenal job of aping CSN&Y; an occasional featured singer of Bradley’s, Peter Taft ’73, did the world’s best imitation of Joe Cocker. The popularity of rock music in those days is pretty much summed up in the photo [in the winter ’06 magazine] which depicts then-President Bud Rubendall in the WDCV studio. One song, “Hey Jude,” by The Beatles, sticks in my mind, because it was played during the Freshman Orientation dance.
—Esteban “Steve” Ferrer ’72
Live performances stick in my mind:
• Jeff Thompson ’73 performing “I Don’t Need No Doctor” by Humble Pie, accompanied by Bradley
• Geoff MacLaughlin ’73 performing “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis, also accompanied by Bradley
• Pete Taft ’73 and Bradley’s rendition of the Joe Cocker version of “With a Little Help from My Friends”
• The brotherhood of Theta Chi swinging and swaying (arm in arm) on the hearth at the fraternity house doing its rendition of The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”
—Guy Brunt ’73
CRANKING IT IN CARLISlE
Little Feat’s Waiting for Columbus, regarded by many audiophiles as one of the greatest live albums in rock history, was a big part of the music that helped define my Dickinson experience. I remember having it “cranked” in the waning hours of a party, in an apartment on the main drag of town. When the album side ended, I heard a plea from the street below to play it again—a Carlisle local had been hanging out with his dog on the sidewalk below, just enjoying the music pouring out of those windows.
—John Kastrinos ’83
I remember a lot of Alanis Morrisette and Spice Girls, Ace of Base, Beck and Phish playing in the dorm halls. And my girls and I would always bring out the Prince for parties.
—Camille deWalder ’97
I gave my first public performance on guitar with the Crawl Daddies (forgive us; we were young), in Beta’s basement in the winter of 1991. I botched my attempt to make Soft Cell’s excellent “Tainted Love” rawk. Words were forgotten, key was ignored, inappropriate strings were plucked. I still have the show on tape, lurking in a box, waiting to strike.
After that gig, I learned how to sing and play guitar—at the same time!—and 15 years, five critically acclaimed albums and several tours of the U.S. later (in a band that includes Greg Bennett ’91), that performance seems like a pretty good start to a rewarding, if not lucrative, side career in music.
Right now, I have an enormous amount of cred with my son, who rates my work alongside the likes of The Who, Wilco and The Flaming Lips. I just have to make sure he never hears that tape …
—Eric Tischler ’93
LINKED TO THE INVISIBLE, ALMOST IMPERCEPTIBLE SOMETHING INEXPRESSIBLE—SYNCHRONICITY
For me it was a “push me, pull you” battle between John Prine and the lesser-known L.C. “Doc” Layman of “Finger Nail Clippers” fame. The depression of reality or the reality of depression—either worked, and both were the keys to musical escape for me. Twenty years later in a drinking establishment on the rocky shores of Wales I heard the sound of locals singing along to Prine. I thought, “Maybe these souls had also experienced the constant rains of the Cumberland Valley.” Of course, I introduced myself, bought a round and sang along into the wee hours.
—Joseph Walsh ’77
Arriving on campus in late summer 1981, I was an urban kid with an urban upbringing, whose musical tastes focused solely on funk, R&B and rap. I was a young black kid who listened to young black artists. My Dickinson experience changed that, creating the eclectic musical tastes I enjoy today. I had a roommate who insisted on playing The Police’s Synchronicity album over and over and over. It stuck. Sting and The Police, Phil Collins and Genesis, The Dead, The Who, The Cars and, saving the best for last, Bruce. These experiences taught me that I didn’t have to turn away from a genre because the artist didn’t look like me or because the music was unfamiliar. Now, as a middle-aged husband, dad, coach, etc., I love R&B, funk, rap (the older stuff—nothing too gangsta), classic rock (empha-sis on classic), jazz, metal, classical—almost anything. I count my very diverse musical tastes a virtue, as do my kids. Thanks, Dickinson.
—Gregory Wright ’85
Dickinson’s student-life concert committee had an uncanny ability during the early 1970s to book live some of the most important acts of that unusually rich musical era. This was before arena rock, so we experienced up close and personal such artists as B.B. King, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Blues Project, Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco, Nils Lofgren (before he joined Bruce), even Cheech and Chong. But for me, the absolute high point was a pre-album-release performance of Close to the Edge by Yes in the intimacy of ATS. We lucky few heard and saw the queen mother of “prog rock” before anyone else heard it. It was a jaw-dropping experience. My son the musician tells me that a bootleg of that very concert still circulates.
—David Horn ’74
Bill Yates ’75 and I played chess all afternoon every afternoon of spring semester 1974, listening to just one album, Fairport Convention’s Liege & Lief. We’d put the record on “eternal return” mode so we wouldn’t have to interrupt our games to flip it over or start it again. That rescued me 23 years later when, in my written comprehensive exams at Temple University, I had an unexpected question on the ballad. It was a two-hour question, and I hadn’t prepared for that genre. Suddenly, I recalled whole verses, whole sequences of verses, from “Matty Groves” and “Tam Lin,” one from each side of the album. I blew away my professors (and myself!) with my erudition, and that sparked a lot of reflection, as well as memories of other ballads.
—Don Riggs ’74
THE SMOKER YOU DRINK, THE PLAYER YOU GET
This is dreadfully embarrassing, but it really happened. One night in my senior spring, I already was terminally afflicted with senioritis. Truman Bullard had planned a concert with the Chamber Choir. I sang in the choir, co-accompanied and was student conductor. The problem? That day was “Imported Beer” day at our fraternity (yes, we did such naughty things as drink beer, copiously, back then). I managed to get (stagger and weave) through the concert, but Truman, our fraternity’s nominal adviser, warned me I “had better not ever do that again!” Believe me, I had no desire to.
—Kevin Smith ’82
Nineteen hundred and ninety-three was the year of Whitney Houston’s huge-selling remake of Chaka Khan’s “Every Woman.” It was insipid and omnipresent, and in a musical Stockholm Effect, even those who, like me, at first hated it came eventually to feel a certain attachment to it. It must have been the giddy rush brought on by impending graduation that led us to overrate the song and probably a lot of other stuff that was going on that spring.
Nightly at Fast Eddie’s (a pool hall then) many of the class’s leading female figures could be heard shouting the song out, louder and louder as the evening wore on and sisterly bonding grew more intense.
But no one sang Whitney like Phil Keidel ’93. And to me, Olde Dickinsonia will always mean Phil’s grinning, red-nosed mug as the boys sang, “Phil is every woman,” and he called back, “It’s all in meeeeee ...”
—Joe Fiorill ’93
The year was 1973. The place was the old lower quad, back when the seven fraternity houses were nestled together—truly the golden days of frat life. Almost daily, my fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, would blast out Mott The Hoople’s All The Young Dudes album. This LP included a cover of Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane.” Invariably, the neighboring Phi Delta Theta would follow this with Mr. Reed’s live version of “Sweet Jane” from his Rock ’N’ Roll Animal release. Hey man, I don’t care what anyone else thought, but Mott’s track featuring the vocals of Ian Hunter blew Lou’s away.
—Birney K. Brown ’73
DANCE HALL DAYS
In the ’80s, we danced the night away with rock ’n’ roll classics like “I Love Rock ’N Roll” (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts), “She’s So Cold” (Rolling Stones) and the unforgettable “Rosalita” by Bruce Springsteen (the first few notes of which would cause an avalanche onto the dance floor). Just as great a memory but “mellow” is hanging with my roommate, listening to Dire Straits’ Making Movies—still one of my all-time favorite albums!
—Lynne Roca Shapiro ’84
Unfortunately, there weren’t as many social opportunities on campus in the early 1980s, just functions offered by fraternities and sororities. The fraternities had a different appeal on any given night, depending upon the kind of music you wanted to listen to: Phi Psi—“Amie” by Pure Prairie League; Phi Delt—anything by Michael Jackson from Off the Wall; Kap Sig—anything by The Rolling Stones; Sigma Chi—“Katmandu” by Bob Seger and, of course, Phi Kap—“Rosalita” by Bruce Springsteen and any early Jackson 5 late at night, when the dance floor was really sticky.
—Melanie Marchant ’83
My lasting memory of freshman year will be disco dancing with the “Beta Boys” to Saturday Night Fever songs.
—Linda Bessette VandeVrede ’81
A KINDER, GENTLER ERA
The Kappa Sig house had lots of music, but the record heard most was an album by The Four Freshmen—definitely music to dance to!
—George M. Gill ’54
Four Phi Mu members of the class of 1954 were inspired by The Chordettes to form a quartet which we named the Dischordettes. We sang at local Rotary meetings, college talent shows and community functions. Since Louise Hauer Greenberg was our deep voice, we keyed down our songs, which put Liz Swaim, who had a true tone talent, at a disadvantage. But Bobbi Brennfleck Overly and Alice Hamer Schmidt were harmonious at any level! “Listen to the Mockingbird” was one of our favorites. What a great time we had!
—Alice Hamer Schmidt ’54
Fraternity serenades at Metzger Hall when we were freshmen ... a few school dances in the gym with BIG NAME bands (wish I could remember the names).
—Grace Eva Katz Wolf ’55
For me, the clean, crisp folk songs of The Kingston Trio with original members Dave Guard, Bob Shane and Nick Reynolds are synonymous with the spring zephyrs wafting across the Benjamin Rush campus and through the open windows of a non-air-conditioned fraternity house on College Avenue.
—Dick Hepner ’60
I remember (somewhat fondly) the Dickinson Follies, the original musical held annually. I was on the costume committee one year, because in a moment of weakness I said I could sew. Little did I know that I would be expected to produce costumes made without the assistance of paper patterns. I’m glad I didn’t have to wear the products of my endeavors! I can’t remember the name of the production, but I think it included a parody of the popular TV show Surfside Six and an original song, “Cookie, Cookie, Lend Me Your Comb.”
—Barbara Carroll ’63
Two-hundred and fifty words? Two will do: The Beatles. It was the academic year 1963-64. I feel that no group before or since has had more of an impact on pop music. Not only did The Beatles define an era, they also established a hallmark for creativity that will last beyond my lifetime. There were other groups whose music I enjoyed too: The Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Yardbirds, The Mamas & the Papas ... But at Dickinson, The Beatles for me will always be number one. By the way, it was nice to see [in the winter ’06 magazine] President Rubendall behind the mike at station WDCV—that Wonderful Dickinson College Venture!
—Jim Smith ’67
Progressive rock was in during my time as a WDCV radio DJ. Talking Heads’ “Burning Down The House,” The B-52’s’ “Love Shack,” The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”, anything by R.E.M., were the most popular songs played at the frat-house parties. Good memories!
—Susan Colilla Hollenberg ’90
I had the pleasure of the 8 a.m., Saturday slot on WDCV, which I shared with Matt
DiOrio ’92: I played rap, he played urban music (Smashing Pumpkins, They Might Be Giants, etc.). I hated his music, he hated mine. We were barely speaking by the end of the semester. But my best memories were the calls from the local prison requesting more rap music. I win.
—Susan Lindner ’92
My freshman year started with AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night,” Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” but ended with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Blood Sugar Sex Magic” and U2’s Achtung Baby. Sophomore year, I played everything from Arrested Development to Zuzu’s Petals during my Friday-night slot on WDCV. Junior year had me rocking out to Rusted Root and Prince’s Greatest Hits in the little room. Senior year, I (re)found Phish, Led Zeppelin and Frank Sinatra. My ears remember it well ...
—Carin Fox-Hennessey ’95
When I first got my own show on WDCV, I used to bring my crate of classic-rock albums with me. I soon discovered that I preferred to play primarily from the heavy rotation list, which consisted of all the latest in alternative music. I discovered groups like Jane’s Addiction, Hüsker Dü, The Mighty Lemon Drops and The Smiths (although they were winding down at that point). Changing my playlist also earned me a prime-time slot. Thursday at 8 p.m. was a big improvement over 8 a.m. Saturday, when I had to have Security unlock the station for me.
—Hilary Fox ’89
NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS
During the late ’80s and early ’90s I served as music director and station manager at WDCV. I enjoyed the radio station so much that I (perhaps foolishly) passed up the opportunity to study abroad during my junior year to continue running the station. Quite simply I was too in love with the mystery and romance of the medium, its simultaneously ephemeral and enduring nature, to tear myself away. Everything I broadcast was instantly lost in the ether, yet it might provide a memory that could last a listener’s lifetime. I loved knowing that I might brighten the evening of someone pulling the late-night shift at a gas station, connect with someone spending time in jail (I got a lot of collect calls from the prison) or provide the soundtrack to someone’s first adventures in the back seat of a car. Of course it was possible that no one at all was listening, but I took pleasure in imagining the possibilities.
During this time WDCV typically broadcast “alternative” rock on weekday mornings and evenings. If you tuned into 88.3 FM in Carlisle you might have heard the mopey splendor of The Smiths, the neurotic buzz of the Throwing Muses, the high-octane bubblegum punk of the Descendents or the soon-to-be-popular “grunge rock” of Nirvana. Afternoons were given over to the music of the ascendant hip-hop culture—the pioneering rap music of Public Enemy, Salt-n-Pepa, Ice-T, Boogie Down Productions and others. Weekends were reserved for the more eclectic jazz, blues, classical, Christian rock and gospel.
Early in the spring 1990 semester, a young woman (whose name I no longer recall) approached me about a Broadway show tunes program. I felt it would be a perfect match for our Sunday-evening programming and gave her a show immediately, bypassing the usual semesterlong apprenticeship. Though my own enthusiasm for show tunes would not blossom until later in life, I was very impressed by her large collection of original cast recordings, as well as her passion for the music. I didn’t know how someone in her late teens had acquired such an encyclopedic knowledge of show tunes, but I imagined that she came from an archetypical American family that retired to the parlor after dinner to sing show tunes around the family piano. I gave her a two-week crash course in radio programming, introduced her to the world of cueing and mixing and explained how to best project her voice over the air. She struck me as very shy and reserved, but by the end of the second week I felt she had gained enough confidence to handle the show on her own.
I checked in with her the fourth week of her program. She told me in a voice that betrayed her distress that things had not gone well. After she announced the station’s phone number for requests, she was instantly bombarded with hundreds of ranting, obscene phone calls demanding that she get off the air immediately. Apparently some wires had gotten crossed at the local cable TV company and, that particular Sunday, viewers who had tuned in to hear Pat Summerall and John Madden comment on Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers’ 55-10 dismantling of John Elway and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV were instead treated to show tunes direct from the basement of the HUB.
This must have been a frightening experience for this young woman, but I must confess to a certain perverse pleasure in knowing that the most macho of all-American holidays had been disrupted by show tunes. Imagine the most extreme contrapuntal juxtapositions of sound and image, say Carol Lawrence singing “I Feel Pretty” as Elway gets sacked for the fifth time or Barbara Streisand offering the musical opinion that “people who need people are the luckiest people in the world” as Bobby Humphrey gets stuffed by Matt Millen for a three-yard loss.
Perhaps the incident was more prosaic than what I envisioned and viewers were treated to something more appropriate to the occasion such as the musical pugilism of Ethel Merman and Ray Middleton singing “Anything You Can Do.” No doubt the overwhelming majority of the audience would have preferred to hear from Summerall and Madden, and they weren’t shy about letting her know this. Despite the misery this young woman endured that day, I have to confess a small degree of jealousy, as she reached a larger audience that day than I ever did.
—Willis Peter Bilderback ’91