This Week in Music History: August 27 to September 2

Aug 28, 2012

By David Ball

Listen up drum circlers (and fans of Joni Mitchell), this is for you…

On Day Four of the third and final edition of the Isle of Wight Festival (August 26-30, 1970) in Godshille, UK, a delusional hippy by the name of Yogi Joe jumped on stage and proceeded to “accompany” Joni Mitchell on congas, ruining her otherwise soothing piano-based solo performance of “Woodstock.” News to all amateur percussive enthusiasts, specifically bongo and conga players and grating drum circle revellers, but you’ve been ruining songs for generations with your flaky and randomly-placed non-syncopated beats. But I digress…

Already having to deal with an increasingly unruly and hostile crowd of approximately 600,000 during most of her Saturday set (including 50,000 suckers that actually paid for tickets), a frustrated Mitchell asked Mr. Joe to leave (initially, the folk sensation allowed him to stay since they were old yoga acquaintances). But in very un-yoga-like fashion, Yogi refused, grabbed Mitchell’s microphone, and began to rant about the injustices concerning his fellow hippies who wanted a free festival and resented being kept off the grounds by huge fences and armed guards with trained dogs.

Stagehands eventually grabbed Mr. Joe and dragged him from the stage, whereupon he proclaimed, “I believe this is my festival!” Indeed it was not, Yogi – although, unable to control the steady stream of gatecrashers, exacerbated promoters eventually announced that the event was indeed “free.”

"Desolation Row" - hippies' view from the hill outside the gates of the Isle of Wight Festival, 1970

The unfortunate Yogi Joe incident left the Saskatchewan folk sensation close to tears; Mitchell’s hour-long set wasn’t going over too well to begin with as she had to deal with a huge and mostly rowdy audience along with being rattled by a case of the nerves.

Joni Mitchell at the Isle of Wight Festival August 29, 1970

Amidst a chorus of boos, Mitchell manned-up and finished-off the remainder of her gig, but not before famously admonishing the disruptive throng for “acting like a bunch of tourists.” She had a point – though I’d say they were behaving more like “moronic boorish cheapskate tourists,” because not only did they jeer Joni, but they weren’t overly enamoured with some of the other big-name Isle of Wight acts either, including Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, The Doors, Chicago, Sly & the Family Stone, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix. To their credit, however, as Kris Kristofferson noted (after being booed mercilessly off the stage on the festival’s opening day), the crowd really loved Leonard Cohen’s overnight set of Sunday, August 30.

The Isle of Wight Festival was resurrected in 2002 and celebrated its 10 year anniversary on June 22 when 55,000 fans rocked to headliners Tom Petty, Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen.


On August 30, 1957, Paul Anka’s “Diana” reached No. 1 in the UK, where it remained for nine straight weeks. Shockingly, the Ottawa-born teen idol’s ‘45 was his only No. 1 pop hit in the UK; it also claimed the top of the US and Canadian singles charts.

“Diana” brought Anka immediate stardom and is recognized as one of the most successful singles ever produced by a Canadian artist. The legendary performer and prolific songwriter of over 900 songs was inducted into the CMHF in 1980 and received a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2005.


More chart news….

Bryan Adams’ seasonal classic, “Summer of 69,” peaked at No. 5 on Billboard on August 31, 1985. Looking back, I’m quite surprised that it didn’t grab top the spot on the noted US singles chart, given that it’s infinitely superior to the one that did, Huey Lewis’ “Power of Love.”

But hey, at least the 18-time Juno winner’s single made a dent in the Top 5, seeing as it stalled at only No. 11 in Canada. What’s up with that, hosers? Written by the CMHF inductee and frequent partner Jim Valance, “Summer of 69” was the fourth of six singles to reach Billboard’s Top 15 from Adam’s 12-time-platinum album, “Reckless.”


Add Canada’s Keanu Reeves’ to the list of Hollywood actors turned unsuccessful musicians. He joins such notables as the Bacon Brothers, Lt. Dan Band’s Gary Sinese, Bruce Willis, Gwyneth Paltrow, and CBC Radio’s respected Q pitchman, Billy Bob Thornton. (For the record, I didn’t forget put-on bad-boy actor Jared Leto, but I’d rather go to a concert featuring would-be bluesman Steven Segal than endure 30 seconds of the former’s obnoxious faux metal band, 30 Seconds to Mars).

The Toronto-raised A-list actor was born in Lebanon on September 2, 1964 and went on to star in such blockbusters as “Speed,” “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and “The Matrix.” But Reeves belongs on the above list because of his work with Dogstar, a pretty decent grungy rock trio that was active from 1991-2002.

Bass-playing Reeves formed the band after a chance encounter in an LA supermarket with fellow-actor and avid drummer Robert Mailhouse (the Canadian thespian and hockey enthusiast first noticed his future drummer because he was wearing a Detroit Red Wings jersey). The two strangers hit it off immediately and eventually began jamming together. After several changes, Dogstar added guitarist/singer Bret Domrose to the lineup in 1994. During their 9-year career, the trio released just two under-the-radar albums and one EP – but, thanks to Reeves’ impressive star-power, Dogstar were still able to get noticed: they toured with Bon Jovi in 1995, shared concert bills with David Bowie, and appeared at several big festivals including Glastonbury in 1999. And I must say that Dogstar’s performance on The Tonight Show some 12-years ago wasn’t too bad, in an emo-meets-Goo Goo (as in Dolls) kind of way.

By the way, if you are looking for some examples of actors-turned-musicians that do not suck, check out Canadian superstar Ryan Gosling and the work he’s produced with Dead Man’s Bones. Or better yet, Sarah Polley’s haunting take on The Tragically Hip’s “Courage” from the Sweet Hereafter film soundtrack.


Next week: Alan Thicke and Heart


“Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell from August 29, 1970, Isle of Wight