By MARTY RELLES, Valley Community Newspapers columnist
The City of Sacramento constructed the Memorial Auditorium in 1926. This Sacramento cultural icon opened to much hoopla in 1927. Over time it became a center piece for entertainment in Sacramento.
My recollections of the auditorium date back to the 1950s.
My dad enjoyed professional boxing, and often took my brother Terry and me to the fights.
By the 1960s, however, the Memorial Auditorium took on new importance for me.
In addition to boxing matches, wrestling matches, circuses and theatrical productions, the auditorium began hosting rock and roll concerts.
Bands, such as the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones and Temptations performed routinely at the old hall.
We had to be there.
Our dad, a Sacramento policeman, often worked off-duty at these events to earn extra money, so we begged him to take us to the shows, and he did. We walked in the front door with him, then disappeared into the general admission seating.
The shows were great.
The Beach Boys brought the house down, with girls running up onto the stage to try to kiss Mike Love.
In 1965, Mick Jagger walked out to perform, picked up the mike, and was knocked unconscious by an electrical charge.
The show ended immediately.
Jagger was unhurt, but incident made quite a splash in the Sacramento Bee.
When James Brown brought his show to the auditorium, including a full band, dancers and backup singers, we were there, thanks to Dad.
Sometimes though, Dad had conflicts and could not work at events of great interest to us.
Then we had to use our guile to get into the shows.
We had one of the Janey Way parents drop us off downtown at the back of the auditorium.
We knocked at the back door.
Eventually, a police officer opened the door and said, “What do you boys want.”
We asked for my father’s friend and partner Herb Kunz. Herb eventually came to the door and let us in.
“Stay out of trouble,” Herb would say as we went through the double-doors, turned right and headed upstairs to the general admission seating.
We attended many Memorial Auditorium concerts this way.
I remember seeing groups like the Temptations and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.
My friends thought I must have been some sort of celebrity, getting them into concerts this way. It always seemed to work and we had a great time at the shows.
Eventually, however, we grew up and moved onto other things like college, girls and adulthood.
I will never forget the good times we had attending the shows at the Memorial Auditorium though. Sadly, now it’s just another rock and rolling Janey Way memory.