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Opening Acts | Rockers Reminisce About Seeing Their First Concerts

Twiggy, Dierks, Nick Diamonds, Randy Blythe & more share musical memories.


Back when I used to interview major-label musicians all the time, I had a list of random semi-personal questions I would ask after discussing whatever album or tour was on the agenda. Once I accumulated enough answers from performers, I would put together features from the responses. I recently came across a whole slew of quotes that never ended up being turned into stories for some reason. Here’s a good one. The question was: What was the first concert you attended as a kid? Check out what the artists had to say below:


Photo courtesy Facebook/Instagram.


“It was The Beatles. I was 14 and a half years old. It was at the Finsbury Park Astoria in London. I couldn’t hear a word. All I could hear was screaming girls — including myself. It was the most exciting thing to be 14 and see The Beatles. I went with my best friends. I had to beg my mom and dad to let me go because I was quite young and it wasn’t near us. And my dad said, ‘I’ll let you go as long as I come and pick you up.’ So we went on the train, but my dear old dad, bless him, came out with the car to bring us home. And now Paul McCartney is one of my best friends. He’s been one of my best friends since we met when we were about 18. I’ve told him that story and we laugh about it.”

Photo by Keith Hinkle.

Dierks Bentley

“The first concert I wanted to go to was Billy Idol. And my parents wouldn’t let me go. But for some reason, they let me go see Bon Jovi with Skid Row opening up when I was 13 years old. That changed my life. I’ve become friends with Jon Bon Jovi, and told him my first concert was his concert. But if I’m going to be honest, I don’t remember any of the show. I just spent the whole time looking at the girl next to me wearing this very short leather dress. I was just staring at her going, ‘This is exactly what I want to do with my life.’ I was 13. Another big show was seeing Garth Brooks when I was 17. I took my brother who’s 10 years younger. We went down to the arena; Garth was playing three nights in a row. I remember everyone pouring into the arena. Our seats were so high up I could practically touch the arena roof. We ended up sneaking down to the floor and watched this huge show. It was the way Garth always does it, like he’s singing right to you. No video screens or nothing like that. Just great music. Really, every band that came to town, I saw — Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, anybody who played that arena. But that Garth concert was pretty pivotal.”

Photo by KJPM.

Bif Naked

“At that time or my life, I had probably just discovered DRI and was fully into Iron Maiden of course. My first concert was Iron Maiden with Twisted Sister at the Winnipeg Arena. We were in the fourth row and Dee Snider from Twisted Sister spat on us. My younger sister wanted to leave and as a 14-year-old girl, I could not imagine that. I recall getting very upset with her.”

Photo by Matthias ‘Mattness’ Bauer.

D. Randall Blythe | Lamb of God

“The first concert I ever went to was at Hampton Coliseum and it was ZZ Top. it was with my friend Tom and his mom. That was the first time I ever smelled pot too. There was a bunch of dudes down in the front smoking weed and I was like, ‘What’s that?’ She said, ‘That’s pot.’ It’s all been downhill from there.”

Photo by Ralph Arvesen.

Dave Ellefson | Megadeth

“My mom took me to go see KISS on the Rock And Roll Over tour. I remember it was February 1977 at the Met Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. I was 13. I remember tickets were like $5 in advance and $6 at the door. That’s how cheap tickets were. I think the concert T-shirt I bought outside — which I now know was from a bootlegger — cost about $6. I was a big KISS fan at that age. And to go see them play — Uriah Heep was the opening act — was huge. I remember the guys in front of me turned around and offered my buddy and me a joint and we looked at him in horror. Like, oh my God, of course we wouldn’t do that, you know. But eventually the whole place filled up with pot smoke. By the end of the show, you couldn’t even see the arena. I just remember it was so loud, you couldn’t even understand the music. But the presentation was just magnetic. It drew you in, everything about it. And it made me realize that rock ’n’ roll is about a lot more than just the song. It’s about the culture. It’s the people. It’s the event. It’s something that basically you just live for. And as an entertainer and one of the players within the cast now, it’s something we try to do when we do our tours. We try to create something that will be memorable for the fans and make sure that no two concerts are exactly alike.”

Photo by MjauMjauMjauMjau.

Nick Thorburn | Islands

“It was Lollapalooza in 1994 outside of Vancouver. I was 12 years old. It was A Tribe Called Quest, Beastie Boys, Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, Flaming Lips and The Pharcyde. That was a pretty intense show. I think i paid like $20. I didn’t look at that and think, ‘I want to do that (for a living).’ That didn’t happen until I started going to all-ages shows near my small town — you know, those $5 shows with punk bands you didn’t necessarily know, but you just went to them because it was something going on. That was when I started to say, ‘This is what i want to do.’ ”

Photo by Patrick Huss.

Michael Timmins | Cowboy Junkies

“It was Johnny Cash and The Carter Family at the Montreal Forum. I was very young. My mom took me. It was the era of A Boy Named Sue, so it was probably about 1970 or so. I was probably 10 or 11. I have a visual of it. I remember he was in the middle of the Forum ice. The stage was a big square so he and the band could play to each side of the room, so their backs were to you sometimes. I was sort of at the centre-ice area, about halfway up. I can’t remember any of the music, but I have this real visual of the whole gang of them up there onstage and the stage being just full of equipment. There was no big show, but there were a lot of players. That’s what i remember. Back then, (being a musician) was my fantasy. But until the punk era of the late ’70s and the first wave of those bands from New York and London and Toronto, it didn’t seem real to me. To me, being a musician was being Mick Jagger or David Bowie or something. It was otherworldly. There was no possibility to do it. But when the punk scene came along, with the whole ethos of ‘Anybody can do this; just pick up a guitar,’ that’s when I really got involved. That’s when I thought, ‘Yeah, I can do that.’ That’s what really spurred me on. Before that, it was all just fantasy to me.”

Photo by Stumlbleman.

Liam Cormier | Cancer Bats

“I remember the first concert I went to by myself. I was 11 and my parents dropped me off to see 54•40. I remember being really excited that I bought the tickets myself. I was in this really weird loophole when I was 11; I looked like I was 8. I looked so young that I could actually get into bars in my hometown, because everybody thought I was somebody’s younger brother or like some kid who was randomly at the show. Obviously I wasn’t going to get served beer, but I got to see Sloan and Thrush Hermit and Change of Heart and The Monoxides and Salmon Blaster and all these awesome indie-rock bands that were going when I was 11 and 12. It was cool. I never abused it. I never got drunk. I was just this little kid who always showed up at the bar. My parents would drop me off and pick me up. It was awesome.”