Pete rumor at festival

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Thu Sep 25 06:22:17 CDT 2008

>From The News & Observer (North Carolina):

Cary show more 'guess who?' than The Who
By David Menconi, Staff Writer 
Comment on this story

Five days after the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert in Cary, it's still either a question or an answer: Who was backstage as the unannounced big-name "special guest" Saturday night?

Whoever it was never appeared onstage. Jack Bruce's set ended about 11:45 p.m. Saturday, well past the 11 p.m. curfew at Cary's city-owned Koka BoothAmphitheatre. But the scheduled closing "tribute to The Who" didn't happen.

When asked, concert chairman Rick French declined to identify the mystery guest.

"Who was or was not there is a moot point," French said. "What we had planned is no longer relevant. People can speculate all they want, and it doesn't matter."

Before the show, rumors were flying around that the closing guest would be Pete Townshend, guitarist for The Who.

Lending credence to the rumors, the two-day festival was a benefit for the John Entwistle Foundation. Named for the late Who bassist, the foundation provides music education for needy children.

Townshend would have upped the concert's celebrity quotient considerably. Cary resident French, a trustee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, announced the show in April with a Web site likening it to Woodstock, Monterey and Isle of Wight -- historic and legendary rock festivals all.

"This will be one of the bigger music events in the country without a doubt," French told the Cary News.

Instead of big names, however, the lineup largely consisted of lesser-known acts, including former members of Styx, Deep Purple and Grand Funk.

In the wake of the show, some posts appeared on the forum complaining about the show being cut short. Saying the forum had been hacked, French shut it down Monday.

In the forum's absence, a couple of online groups started up, and

Two of the hot topics this week have been whose fault it was that the show was cut short, with various posters blaming the venue, the town of Cary and the promoter; and whether Townshend was actually in Cary. One poster even claimed to have seen Townshend get out of a limousine at the venue.

But it does not appear that Townshend was in Cary last weekend, or even the Western hemisphere. Contacted by e-mail, Townshend's personal assistant Nicola Joss responded: "Pete was enjoying a quiet family weekend here in Richmond [England]. There was never any question of Pete appearing anywhere."

Lyman Collins, cultural arts manager for the town of Cary, said there was no sign of Townshend at Booth Amphitheatre on Saturday night.

"I never saw Pete Townshend there, and I was backstage the entire time," Collins said. "No staff member saw him or interacted with him."

'Rumor has it ...'

As Saturday's show wore on, there were conversations between Collins, French and Booth general manager Becky Schmidt about allowing the show to go past curfew -- which it did, with the approval of Cary mayor Harold Weinbrecht.

Schmidt says that French himself implied that Townshend was going to play.

"It was mentioned that he may or not be at the venue, and he may or may not perform," Schmidt said. "Rick phrased it, 'Rumor has it that he may or may not be here.' I consulted with my production staff, but we could not confirm that he was there."

French denied Schmidt's version of the conversation.

"I didn't say, 'Rumor has it,'" French said. "That's not exactly what I said. But it was a private conversation about where we were at the time."

As to where the Townshend rumors came from, French said he was not the source.

"We put it on sale and announced the lineup," French said. "Whatever people believed or imagined about who the guests might be, that didn't come from me. It was a fabulous show, people got their money's worth. We hope to do it again somewhere next year. Maybe Cary, or Raleigh, orsome other part of the country." 

 -Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!


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