Joe Birch confesses to owing Bruce Springsteen $294 - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Joe Birch confesses to owing Bruce Springsteen $294

(SOURCE: Bruce Springsteen Facebook) (SOURCE: Bruce Springsteen Facebook)

Happy Birthday to you Bruce Springsteen from Graceland  in Memphis, Tennessee! You’re 67 today and looked great on Anthony Mason’s report on Sunday. We both have many blessings to count!

You’ve had an unmatched career that so many of us have savored. I grew up in Bergen County, NJ (Teaneck) and came to Memphis in 1974 to attend college, met the 1976 Homecoming Queen and married her. We had two beautiful boys and sent our sons to the same school. It’s worked out well. I’ve been reporting the news here on WMC Action News 5 for 38 years! 

Now that we’re both in our 60s (I turned 61 on Wednesday this week), it’s about time for a little confession. It’s about time to make you an amends, which might give you a birthday giggle. It was March 29, 1976. You were a rising 26-year-old troubadour and I was a 20-year-old broke college kid. You and the mighty E Street Band blew the roof off Ellis Auditorium (which doesn’t exist anymore) right here in Memphis, Tennessee.

I couldn’t afford the (ahem) $6.50 (six dollars, fifty cents) ticket for your March 1976 show. We played your LPs all the time in the dorms at Christian Brothers College (now University) here in Memphis. My college pals and I were excited about your concert but we were all so broke, we couldn’t afford the $6.50 tickets. Apparently we spent our last dollars on the weekend keg party and were flat broke. Then an enterprising, artistically talented upperclassman with just enough of a safe cracker mentality had an idea. Kevin D. scrounged up $6.50 and purchased one ticket for your March 29th Memphis gig.

Then Kevin (last name withheld as this is my confession not his) went to work counterfeiting tickets for your performance. He was an excellent graphic artist and found just the right cut of paper on which to do this scandalous transgression of illegality so his tickets looked and felt pretty close to perfect. In order to obtain one of Kevin’s counterfeit Bruce Springsteen tickets, you had to do part of his homework. 

So I wrote him a four page paper about a subject lost now in the mists time. In 20/20 hindsight, it took Kevin longer to create each ticket masterpiece one by one than it would have taken to do his assignments…but anyway…March 29,1976 finally came and if memory serves, about 15 of us had these counterfeit tickets. We got to Ellis Auditorium and together went one after another to the oldest/blindest looking ticket taker we could find.

It worked! We were in. We sat up in the balcony in “somebody’s” empty seats. Problem was, you sold out the joint so we had to move like 50 times until it didn’t matter anymore because the E Street Band had the auditorium jumping and we were dancing in the aisles. You might remember this gig because it was the one where you brought out Eddie Floyd of “Knock on Wood” fame. It was a great show…that I didn’t pay to attend.

So if my calculations are correct, I owe you $6.50 with 40 years interest. If we apply a generous interest rate over 40 years, say 10%, my $6.50 transgression adds up to an amends of $294. Let’s round that up to $300. You’ve been a super generous supporter of Food Banks across our country, so if it’s alright with you, I’ll send the check to the Mid-South Food Bank in your honor.

But if you want me to send you the check, just say the word! Correct me if I’m wrong Bruce but after this Memphis show, you, Miami Steve, and Glen Brunman hopped in a cab and went to Graceland. Legend has it that you guys hoped to jam with Elvis and party in the Jungle Room but instead you ended up jumping the wall and spent a few fleeting moments on the King’s lawn before security sent you away. Who could’ve guessed 40 years ago that your E Street satellite music channel would be right next to Elvis’? Wow. Another blessing. I listen to you on E Street Radio all the time. 

One more thing. You and my good pal Jon Hornyak were born on the very same day: September 23, 1949. You both saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and it changed both your lives. You both devoted your lives to music. Jon had garage bands (Night Raiders, Interstate 55). Jon became a session musician (guitar/ piano). He played with Larry Raspberry and the Highsteppers, and Keith Sykes Band, became a booking agent, then a band manager: Drive by Truckers, Jimmy Davis, and Gunbunnies.

Then he went on national tours as a lighting and sound expert: Billy Joel, the Commodores with Lionel Ritchie, Journey, and Ray Charles, the list goes on and on. Then he owned a recording studio called Sounds Unreel here in Memphis and helped a lot of musicians.

Jon started a Memphis music festival here in 1992 called Crossroads and was eventually hired by the Recording Academy as Memphis' first chapter executive director in 1994 and has been the go-to guy in Memphis music ever since. When Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast, Jon’s office was inundated by displaced musicians traveling north to Memphis. He helped many players who lost everything hit the re-start button on their lives and careers. Jon was honored by the University of Memphis last Friday, September 16, 2016, for his long service to the music industry.

It’s an award in Elvis’ memory that’s been won by a who’s who of Memphis Music: Sam Phillips, Jerry Lee Lewis, and a distinguished line of musicians. Jon is the steady Memphis hand at the Recording Academy but he also has a new band that’s all about fun.

Check it out!  I’m truly blessed to know two great musicians (you and Jon) who’ve made a difference in my life--both born on September 23, 1949.
Now you’re both 67 and once my Food Bank check is delivered, I hope we’re all square, all good and all that jazz.

                                                                       Your Jersey Born and Raised Fan in Memphis,

                                                                                                              Joe Birch 

Copyright 2016 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly