Rhino Historic Tours: The Warner Brothers Music Show

Monday, January 12, 2015
Rhino Historic Tours: The Warner Brothers Music Show

40 years ago today, the so-called Warner Brothers Music Show kicked off a nine-city, 18-show tour of Europe…and, oh, what a show it was: the line-up featured – in reverse alphabetical order – Tower of Power, Montrose, Little Feat, Graham Central Station, the Doobie Brothers, and Bonaroo.

Wait, what was the name of that last group?

Yes, you read it right. Just be sure you spelled it right: there’s only just the one “n,” as opposed to the famed music festival, which has two. Unfortunately, they’re the one band in this bunch that isn’t currently part of our digital catalog. Clearly, this is something we should remedy, so maybe we can look into doing that sometime soon, because if it wasn’t for that similarity in name that’s so eye-catching, you might’ve just moved on past them, so low is their profile nowadays. Led by frontman Bill Cuomo, Bonaroo managed to record and mix the material for their self-titled debut album in just enough time to get it released to the European market in advance of the tour, and the band was so well-received on their Music Show’s first date that they earned a standing ovation, which is no small feat (or Little Feat?) when one considers how much higher the profiles of the other artists on the bill were.

By the way, just as a sidebar, Bonaroo might not have lasted beyond that initial album, but Cuomo went on to do pretty damned well for himself: you can find his songwriting credits on albums by Peter Criss, Bloodstone, Ry Cooder, Kim Carnes, Jesse Colin Young, Herb Alpert, and Don Henley, but the songs he helped write that you’d most recognize include REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling”and Steve Perry’s “Oh Sherrie.”

By all reports, Little Feat apparently got along with the European audiences like a house on fire, earning themselves a bigger audience that continued to follow their career over the intervening years. Some have said that the Feat blew away everyone else on the bill, but we wouldn’t presume to suggest that, although we will say that they always were – and doubtlessly still are – a damned tight live unit. That said, the tour proved fortuitous for Graham Central Station as well. In a 1976 interview, Larry Graham indicated that “we were regarded as a strictly R&B group, and we've been trying to tell people all along that we're not just that, (and) our European trip, when we played with other Warner groups, proved that we had universal appeal.”

We haven’t dug up any quotes from the other artists who were on the bill, unfortunately, but we can only presume that Montrose rocked, Tower of Power got the funk out, and The Doobie Brothers…well, you know the Doobies: all you have to do with those guys is just sit back and listen to the music.

Anyway, here’s a playlist featuring everyone on the bill except for Bonaroo. Seriously, we really should see what’s up with that album and if we can add it to the digital catalog. In the meantime, though, there’s still plenty of good listening to be had here.