Dilapidated, miserable and drab are a few of the methods old style Spokanites describe the late, not so lamented Spokane Coliseum. Some of us, nonetheless, look again on the Boone Avenue Barn, the nickname for the 5,400-capacity area’s location, with affection.
The Spokane Coliseum was a house away from dwelling for Lorrie McLaughlin. When the concert-mad lifelong North Facet resident wasn’t attending reveals as a fan, McLaughlin labored concessions from 1973 to 1976.
“I had some superb instances on the Coliseum,” McLaughlin mentioned.
These experiences weren’t resulting from promoting popcorn and soda. McLaughlin’s mom, who labored along with her, allowed the then-teenager to catch performances whereas she held down the fort.
“It wasn’t an enormous deal that I wandered off since most individuals stayed of their seats as soon as the present started,” McLaughlin mentioned.
McLaughlin, 65, caught sound checks and had entry to the inexperienced room for each present however one. “The one time I couldn’t return was for Elvis, who had his personal safety,” McLaughlin mentioned. “However I used to be capable of get again for everybody else.”
The late John Denver was notably good to McLaughlin earlier than and after a two-show gig on the Coliseum in August 1974.
“Once I noticed John after the second present, he mentioned, “Lorrie, you modified your garments,” McLaughlin mentioned. “I used to be shocked he remembered my identify and what I used to be sporting from once we met just a few hours prior. I used to be impressed. Once I noticed him earlier, I had my Coliseum garments on and after his second present I had my road garments on. John Denver was a really good man. I bear in mind being backstage with two guys who made a drawing of him. They gave it to him and he appeared so thrilled. That was so totally different than a lot of the rock bands that performed the Coliseum again within the day. Most bands got here in, carried out and boogied proper after the present.”
McLaughlin has few images with entertainers who performed the Coliseum since she was sensible sufficient to not pester the expertise.
“If I bugged everybody then which may have been the tip for me so far as wandering into the inexperienced room,” McLaughlin mentioned. “I by no means misplaced my entry.”
The icon who shocked McLaughlin was Bob Hope. Throughout a soundcheck the versatile entertainer, who was in seven movies with Bing Crosby, made eye contact with McLoughlin and began a dialog.
“I used to be simply across the stage ready to go to work when Bob Hope out of the blue requested what my identify was and I instructed him and we had some unfastened chitchat,” McLoughlin mentioned. “He mentioned, ‘You certain have a pleasant city. You’ve some great things right here.’ He was right here through the Expo in 1974. I requested him for an autograph and he signed for me and I nonetheless have it.”
Drummer Robbie Bachman of Bachman Turner Overdrive seen McLaughlin on the aspect of the stage through the Canadian band’s August 1974 present.
“I used to be dancing on the sting of the stage throughout ‘Takin’ Care of Enterprise.’ After the present Robbie got here as much as me and mentioned he noticed me onstage. He began asking me a bunch of questions on Spokane after which somebody mentioned, ‘Hey Robbie, time to go,’ and he was off.”
McLaughlin and her mom had an encounter with Karen Carpenter, who suffered from anorexia, previous to the Carpenters’ efficiency on the Coliseum.
“My mother requested Karen why she at all times wears lengthy attire,” McLaughlin mentioned. “She mentioned, ‘As a result of my legs are ugly.’ It’s a disgrace since her legs have been most likely lovely.”
McLaughlin by no means met Presley, however the King’s efficiency on the Coliseum left an indelible reminiscence.
“Elvis was so filled with vitality, and boy, did he know the right way to play to a crowd,” McLaughlin mentioned. “He might have simply stood there and ladies would have shrieked, however he labored it. What I bear in mind most is that he would wipe the sweat from his brow with a shawl. He would toss the headband into the viewers and a catfight would begin. The ladies made like a sea of piranhas combating for the headband. It was so humorous to me, since a lot of the ladies on the Elvis present dressed like they have been going to a rustic membership. They wore lengthy attire and had their hair piled up onto their head. That cracked me up, since they regarded so good after which they have been combating over scarves within the Boone Avenue Barn, which was something however fairly. It was scorching, particularly through the summer season since there was no air-con and it was simply this fundamental pile of concrete.”
The Coliseum expertise was a household affair for McLaughlin.
“My mother and my brothers had jobs there and so did a number of aunts and cousins,” McLaughlin mentioned. “Again within the day, if you happen to knew somebody who labored there, you would get a job there, too. I had a lot enjoyable working there and I beloved seeing the concert events.”
Alice Cooper was McLaughlin’s favourite present.
“I used to be blown away by the ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’ present,” McLaughlin mentioned. “Cooper can placed on a present. It was macabre and it was like Cooper was doing magic up there.”
Chicago is also excessive on McLaughlin’s checklist.
“The reveals they placed on have been nice and what I beloved about that band is that they got here to Spokane almost yearly,” McLaughlin mentioned. “I feel they beloved Spokane a lot that they took some trip days right here. I noticed one thing on social media a short while again that I feel was posted by (late Chicago guitarist) Terry Kath’s spouse (Camelia Kath) about Spokane and the way a lot they beloved it. You possibly can’t assist however respect bands that returned to our city like Chicago did since not everybody comes right here.”
McLaughlin loved watching the Spokane Flyers, who have been a neighborhood franchise from 1949 to 1980, a lot that she realized to play hockey and was a part of a ladies’s league. McLaughlin performed for Joe’s Rainier Jets in 1976. The spotlight was taking part in on the Coliseum.
“We beat a crew from Calgary earlier than an old-timers recreation,” McLaughlin mentioned. “I had fun watching the Flyers play and we frolicked with the hockey gamers afterward. It was a lot enjoyable.”
When pressed about her most indelible reminiscence, McLaughlin famous that the tiny, dingy inexperienced room is etched into her thoughts.
“It was this little, dinky room that was 10-by-12,” McLaughlin mentioned. “It was painted inexperienced. There was sufficient room for folding tables and a few chairs. The dressing rooms, which have been about 8-by-10, have been smaller than a jail cell. They have been like closets. The Coliseum was naked bones.”
When the Coliseum, which opened in December of 1954, was razed in 1995, McLaughlin shed some tears, however she by no means stopped going to concert events.
“I’ve seen so many reveals right here in Spokane and in different cities,” McLaughlin mentioned. “There may be nothing like a live performance. I simply purchased VIP tickets for Peter Rivera’s present (Friday on the Martin Woldson Theater on the Fox) and I can’t wait. However I assume my love of going to concert events began with the Coliseum. Folks like to speak about how terrible the Coliseum was, however I’ve some nice recollections of that place.”