Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Mid-South Coliseum In Memphis, Tenn., Has Its Place In Rock & Roll History And It Should Be Saved

   
The 1970's in the American South was in tatters after the civil rights movement with unrest that had blazed the streets of Memphis, Tenn., and other cities across the South in the late 1960's.  With the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., at the Loraine Hotel in downtown Memphis in April of 1968, the city was struggling to get back on its feet after the riots that rocked the streets that stood next to the "Mighty Mississippi River."
     Also, the Vietnam War was still riveting the landscape with America's young soldiers being slaughtered on foreign soil and then later sent home in body bags and makeshift coffins tearing families apart as well as the drug culture seeping into mainstream of the country's veins.
     And with the "Summer of Love" in 1967 during the "Golden Age of Rock & Roll" which had come and gone in San Francisco and the massive rock concert in Woodstock, N.Y., that made history in 1969, Memphis was slowing but surely finding its way to become a world-famous city for "Arena Rock" even before the death of Elvis Presley, the "King of Rock & Roll" in 1977.  However, there was a light of hope in the form of entertainment for Memphis that shined a beacon of  light during turmoil years of the late 1960's and during the reconstruction years of the 1970's.  And that light was the "The Mid-South Coliseum" and tens of thousands of people from Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas flocked to shows, rock concerts, sporting events and graduations at this historic, iconic arena.
     Also, the Mid-South Coliseum is a place where the ghosts of the Mississippi delta blues men would meet on any given night that there was a rock concert taking place.  The roots of rock and roll all began about 60 miles south of Memphis on that famous Highway 61 in North Mississippi just outside the little shanty town of Clarksdale, Miss., where former sharecropper Robert Johnson made a pact with the devil in order for him to become a famous blues man and guitarist and singer from the Mississippi delta.  Unfortunately, Robert Johnson died at the young age of 27 years-old.  From Elvis to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin to Kiss and Van Halen to ZZ Top including hundreds of more rock bands who have performed at The Mid-South Coliseum, this former rock and roll venue has earned it's place in history and it should be saved from the wrecking ball.

                           Some Historical Facts About The Mid-South Coliseum

*The Mid-South Coliseum was also known as the "The Entertainment Capital Of The Mid-South" which is located at 996 Early Maxwell Blvd., at the former Mid-South Fairgrounds and the Liberty Bowl Stadium with a seating capacity of 11,555.  At one time, it was fully air-conditioned with a paved parking lot for 3,000 vehicles.

* The building was built as a sports and concert venue in 1963 and now listed with the United States National Register of Historic Places.

*The Mid-South Coliseum was home to the University of Memphis Tigers basketball team before they booked for the Pyramid which opened in 1991.

*The Mid-South Coliseum was one of the few stops on the Beatles' final American tour. The Aug. 19, 1966 concert is infamously known as "The firecracker Concert" in which a concertgoer set off a firecracker or "cherry bomb" while the Beatles were performing on stage.  The Beatles had flown into the city for two shows and Memphis was their eight stop along their North American tour.  John Lennon's misquoted remarks earlier in the year about the current state of Christianity had caused some problems especially in the Southern states.  There were protests, record burnings organized by Christian radio stations and even death threats including a televised death threat against the Beatles from a local Memphis Klu Klux Klansman.  While there were no problems with the afternoon concert, nerves were shattered when some someone threw the firecracker or cherry bomb on stage during the evening concert.  Apparently,  concertgoers thought the noise sounded like a gunshot during their performance.  Everyone who heard it was shocked.

*The Mid-South Coliseum was also a popular venue for professional wrestling and the home base for the United States Wrestling Association and Jerry "The King" Lawler headlining numerous sold-out shows at this historic facility.


                    Help Save The Mid-South Coliseum From The Wrecking Ball

    Currently, there are plans for the City of Memphis and Shelby County to raze the historic, iconic The-Mid Coliseum in order to build to some new developments.  In order to keep up on the latest news of what's happening with the MSC, please "Like" the "Save The Mid-South Coliseum" Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/savemidsoucol/

No comments:

Post a Comment