and before steve dahl there was disco.
there is a Lord and sometimes the good Lord puts the right people in the right places and everything works out.
the Lord in this example put Steve Dahl, the original “shock jock” in chicago at the same time that Bill Veeck was the owner of the Chicago White Sox. the white sox were the second fiddle to the cubs even 25 years ago, and Bill Veeck was an innovator even before then.
but in 1979 all the stars aligned for a double header against the detroit tigers. veeck had invited Dahl who had just been hired by the hard rock station WLUP “The Loop” to help promote an “Disco Demolition” night.
the way i remember it, if you brought in a disco album you got in for thirty three cents, and if you brought in a 45 you got in for 45 cents, but other people remember you getting in for 98 cents with a record as the Loop was 98FM.
“I was dreading the whole thing,” Dahl said later. “It seemed to me if I drew 5,000 people, I would be parading around in a helmet and blowing up records in what looked like an empty stadium.”
But the joint was filled with 50,000 rock fans who were hyped up for the festivities that were to take place inbetween games.
Comiskey Park at the time was hailed as being Chicago’s Biggest Tavern, as they served hard booze all over the park. you could get two shots, a beer, and a dog, just as easilly as you could get cotton candy.
after the first game had ended, Dahl marched out on the field and several boxes of disco records were wheeled out behind him. the crowd went nuts. the summer of 79 was the peak of disco fever, but for rock fans it was a low for what they loved.
the chant Disco Sucks echoed through the 70 year old stadium after Dahl blew up the first box of records.
the chant grew louder when he blew up the subsequent boxes.
and when he exploded the last, huge crate of records the drunken crazed crowed errupted and swarmed the field and started a near riot in the stands, setting everything they could on fire which wasnt difficult as Comiskey was built of wood.
Dahl, Harry Carry, even some of the players and managers pleaded with the crowd to calm down but disco apparently sucked and if it took a new Chicago fire to prove it then it was going to go down, and it was going to go down right there on the south side.
kids who couldnt get into the sold out event climbed the fences and there were too many people for the security to deal with, fires blazed in the seats, and the long haireds and their led zeppelin music won.
“I grew up when people were marching for civil rights, marching against the war,” said Michael Veeck, head of White Sox promotions at the time, and Bill Veeck’s son. “I didn’t think they would be marching because they hated the Bee Gees.”
the white sox had to forfeit the second game as both teams sped away in their sports cars, and rock and roll would live to see another day, while disco’s future had on that night, 25 years ago, seen its inevitable end in an evening that howard stern in all his glory has yet to eclipse.