Tom "Cool" Yolton
Storys of glory days
It was an early autumn night and I was sitting in a car outside the Free University in Richmond, VA. Having just finished our warm up set it was only natural that I was outside away from the crowd but not too far away from the sounds of the next band that we had opened up for because it was Steel Mill and the singer was Bruce Springsteen. Unherald at that time as being the savior of rock and roll he was just the lead singer and guitar player in out of town band that we lucked into opening for. But the awesome ability he had was quickly recognized by all who were present.
The sky was quickly darkening , there was a storm brewing , and just about the time Springsteen was into the middle of his powerful performance lighting broke lose from the heavens above while the strains of "hail, hail, resurrection" poured out from the upstairs concert hall of the Free University.
Rain was pounding down on the roof of the car I happened to be sitting in and I could only shake my head and wonder how someone could be that good, unknowing that I was in the midst of greatness at that time. Returning to the concert hall to take in what would be one of many Springsteen concerts, I witnessed the incredible response the crowd was giving him and then unbelievingly heard the band announce from stage that they needed a place to crash for the night.That was in the fall of 1969 and after that our band Mercy Flight, a popular Richmond band , struck up an amicable repoir with Springsteen and Steel Mill and began opening up shows for them when they were in the area.
V.C.U. an upstart east coast art school at the time was located in an eclectic area of inner Richmond and the local inhabitants were quite music aficionados so the abilities of Springsteen quickly spread around town. Mercy Flight, finding itself thrust into greater popularity, lived up to the reputation of being Springsteen’s opening act by laying down a blistering music agenda of their own each time they graced the stage.
The Springsteen concerts at that time were an unbelievable learning experience that any one would die for. His story telling and patter to the audience in itself was something which made his appeal even greater. And the music, and the words, and the subject matter, and stage presence were already way beyond anything we’d seen before.
I was lucky enough and apparently had some foresight to save a lot of the posters from that era when Mercy Flight and Steel Mill performed together and on this page they will be displayed for a while with a little story about each event. I originally began saving them for the artistic value but realized the untold history behind each one.
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