No Business Like No-Show Business Cancellation Of Arena’s Opening Act Is Nothing New In Spokane
Singer John Michael Montgomery earned a tiny spot in Spokane’s entertainment history this weekend.
The fast-rising country singer’s canceled performance was both the first concert slated in the new Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, and its first no-show.
Montgomery, who performed last week at the Puyallup Fair, canceled his performance here because of a recurring sore throat.
Instead, tonight’s National Hockey League exhibition game will formally launch the $62 million Arena.
Future star or not, Montgomery would have a hard time making Spokane’s all-time list of notorious no-shows. For now, he’s simply the first person not to play the Arena.
That no-show list - based on a review of newspaper files and interviews with promoters - is loaded with country performers.
It’s also full of cancellations due to “sore throat” and vocal cord problems.
“Sore throats pop up all the time in this business, and it has a lot to do with poor ticket sales,” said Seattle promoter Dan Fiala.
Fiala, who was not promoting the Montgomery show, said he has heard that the young singer’s throat truly needs immediate health care.
Ticket sales also were not the problem and were approaching a sellout, said Arena Manager Kevin Twohig.
The no-show list here only includes major acts who bailed out of a concert date with little advance warning.
That eliminates minor acts, like REO Speedwagon or Toto, and groups like Nirvana, which canceled its 1993 Coliseum concert 30 days ahead of time. The list:
1. 1966: Bob Dylan at the Coliseum. Spokane music reviewer Don Adair went to the show as a teenager, only to discover at the door that the folk rocker never made it to town.
Several hundred fans were at the Coliseum, prepared to sit on folding metal chairs (this was still early in Dylan’s career).
The reason given was a truck breakdown en route to Spokane. Adair said he believes the real reason was “Dylan had gotten as far West as Denver and then began blowing off the rest of the tour.”
2. 1975: rock group Chicago at the Coliseum. Three days before the performance, the band’s agent announces that a musician’s broken leg means no Spokane performance.
3. 1976: singer Dionne Warwick at the Opera House. The singer comes down with bronchial illness four days before two Spokane shows.
4. 1981: George Jones at the Coliseum. Country star “No Show” Jones lives up to his name, dropping out of action several days before the show because of problems he was having during his hard-drinking days.
At the start of the show, co-performer Tammy Wynette tells Spokane fans: “I don’t know where George is, and he probably don’t either.”
5. 1985: George Jones, again at the Coliseum. This time Jones makes it to Spokane, then cannot get himself to the performance hall.
Later tracked down at the Sheraton-Spokane Hotel by a newspaper reviewer, Jones is lying in bed, watching wrestling on TV.
“It was the German sausage I ate at the Seattle airport,” he explains.
6. 1987: The Doobie Brothers at the Opera House. The California rockers bail out four days before the show because of a flu attack among band members.
7. 1988: rock band AC/DC at the Coliseum. The popular metal band cancels its date here six days before the concert.
Reason given: the Coliseum’s inability to handle the lights and staging equipment the band carries on tour. Real reason? “They probably couldn’t do their show in the Coliseum, because it (the show) was complicated,” Fiala figures.
8. 1988: pop singer Rod Stewart in the Coliseum. No reason is given when Stewart’s promoter announces the no-show four days before the concert. Probable reason: poor ticket sales.
9. 1990: country singer Merle Haggard at the Coliseum. Haggard is due to perform with Conway Twitty and George Jones. But it’s Haggard who never makes it on stage, with no reason given.
After the show, fans buy $15 T-shirts that proclaim: “I saw No-Show Jones.”
10. 1990: pop star M.C. Hammer cancels at Pullman’s Beasley Coliseum five days before the sold-out show.
To Hammer’s credit, he doesn’t hide his reason: winter weather would have made the trip across state difficult during a busy tour.
Fiala said country entertainers dominate such lists because they work harder on tour than other entertainers.
“In the country industry, a guy with a hit suddenly gets $25,000 per show. Pretty soon he’s working 200 to 300 nights a year and that takes a toll,” he said.
Performers are human, too. Seeing modest ticket sales in Spokane and needing a night off to recover, “that’s when those cases of sore throats happen.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo