Monday, November 10, 2008

Alexandria Roller Rink Alumni 1971

When you think of a roller rink, you think of families enjoying the pleasures of skating along to pipe organ music, cotton candy and young fledgling love affairs brought together on a dare to try on a pair of roller skates and risk falling on their ass in front of hundreds of people! In northern Virginia the place for skating was the locally famous Alexandria Roller Rink! It was a huge Quonset hut style building made of concrete that dominated the view in downtown Alexandria and only 2 blocks from the hospital where I was born!

The legendary Alexandria Roller Rink was host to some of the greatest concerts by the world's finest recording artists.

There was one thing this establishment did that other recreational centers of it's kind didn't! They put on major rock concerts! I'm not the full expert on the history of the place but I do know that they had been in the rock concert business since 1968! They had featured acts like Canned Heat, Ultimate Spinach, Big Brother & The Holding Company with vocalist Janis Joplin and The Jeff Beck Group with a very young Rod Stewart! These were all bands that I wanted to see! They put on first rate concerts with fantastic sound and lights all complemented by the perfect acoustics of the room!
Ticket Stub from 1969, Canned Heat in concert at the Alexandria Roller Rink.

I was only 11 years old and my father thought it not appropriate for me to go to these shows. He did his best to protect me from growing up too fast but I was already becoming the perfect target audience for rock & roll as my record collection was ever growing with the subversive acid rock sounds that were considered dangerous by parents and our own government!

On June 10th 1971 the man who steered me toward music and arts and gave me every opportunity in life to make my own choices suddenly died from a massive heart attack, my dad Philip Hasselvander Sr.! My mom and I were devastated! Everything our family had planned together suddenly went out the window! My mother went into shock and was seriously losing it! My Aunts and a few of the neighbors got together to watch my mom around the clock!

Just six months before his death my Dad had taken me to see Alice Cooper at the Virginia theater after much belly aching from me! He found himself enjoying their theatrical set much more than he thought he would and later told me how glad he was that I talked him in to going! I remember him telling me,"Joe, if you're really intending to pursue music , you should follow that band's example!" "Don't just be a guy playing drums, be a guy in a show!" That wasn't unusual for him to say because my father had been in theater in his youth in New York and still loved the curtains, the lights and the crowds who came out to see it in all it's spectacle! So unknown to me 2 weeks before his death he had purchased a ticket for me to again see Alice Cooper but this time at The Alexandria Roller Rink! Unfortunately the concert just so happened to fall on the day after my father's death.
My father Phillip H. Hasselvander Sr. If only he knew what he did for me by purchasing a ticket for my first concert at the Roller Rink. It set the course for the rest of my life.

The next day came and the situation with my mother had gotten worse and I needed to get away from that scene if only for a few hours because I had my own grief to deal with as well! My neighbor said to me, "Didn't your father give you a ticket to go to a concert?" I said, "Yeah, you're right!" My neighbor explained to me that maybe he would want me to go to that show as it was the last thing he ever gave you!" She said, "I know I would go if my father had done that for me!"

So after much protest from my Aunt my mother said "Let him go his father gave him that ticket!" The show was amazing and I actually felt like my Dad was right there enjoying Alice with me through "Eighteen", "Black Ju Ju" and all the rest!I was right against the stage in front of Dennis Dunnaway and Glen Buxton! When they came out wearing those outrageous silver sparkle jumpsuits, I could almost hear my Dad saying "Take a good look son and take note, this will be your future and your heritage one day also!" Well Dad was right because that moment shaped my life in music forever and directed and ultimately molded the work ethic that I possess even today!

Alice Cooper circa 1971-72. No band on the planet had ever put on such a complete show, and ultimately ushured in the era of "shock rock", which we dutifully absorbed into our psyche!! They played 2 shows at the Roller Rink, one in 1971 and again a double-header in the summer of 1972 on the "Killer" tour. They were truly amazing!!

I soon was attending every show that came through that venue and studied all the different hard rock styles that bands like Black Sabbath, Humble Pie, T.Rex, Emerson Lake & Palmer, King Crimson, Alexis Corner and Edgar Winter's White Trash were performing right before my very eyes! Those bands today are all in the history books of rock but back in 1971 they were still up and coming acts who were hungry for success and did their damnedest to entertain us!

Rare photos of Black Sabbath circa 1971 on their North American tour. They became a much better band in the years to follow, but their garage-style rawness was endearing that hot night at the Roller Rink!

T.Rex and the magnificent Marc Bolan! His appearance was stunning and inspired me to take up guitar as a second instrument!

Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer punishing his keyboard with daggers .

King Crimson - the night they played the Roller Rink they were opening for Humble Pie's raucous audience - Robert Fripp's feathers were ruffled though as a heckler was disturbed by his use of a stool to sit on! He shouted out "get off the stool and rock! At that moment Robert Fripp threatened to walk off the stage unless he sat down and shut up!! He did and the concert resumed in all it's glory!!

I saw Humble Pie twice at the Roller Rink - once opening for Black Sabbath and again headlining their own show. Humble Pie knew how to entertain an audience hands down - over any group in those days. That was evident as a disgruntled Black Sabbath had to play after them!!!

I see The Alexandria Roller Rink As my personal college of music and I am very fortunate to be part of it's alumni! That's where I got my education in music and entertainment! That's where I ultimately learned the ropes on how to become a world class drummer and musician and more important, that's where I learned to deal with my Father's death!!

I learned my craft from watching the very best rock bands the world has ever produced!
And I owe it all to promoter Barry Richards and the owners of the Alexandria Roller Rink but especially my Father for enrolling me in to the college of Rock & Roll!

From one of the Alumni of 1971 -Rock On!!!


Anonymous said...

I too attended many of the same concerts at the roller rink in 1971/72 - I think I still have the ticket stubs.
Glad to hear that you took those experiences to inspire you to pursue your dream.

SMcK said...

My first rock show was Blue Oyster Cult and Nazareth at the roller rink in '74. I'm curious about the hospital you mentioned, though. If you're refering to the old Alexandria Hospital, that was about 10 blocks away, near the interesection of Duke and Washington Street.

Vernon said...

Do you have any pictures of the ARR venue? My first concert was there. Black Sabbath and Humble Pie - 04/04/71. I had just turned 16.

Patty said...

My friend Diane and I went to several of the concerts. We saw Alice Cooper, Mitch Ryder & the Detroits Wheels, Alex Corner, King Crimson and Humble Pie. Someone threw a paper ball at Robert Fripp and he thought it was me. He threw it at me and then started to talk to me. Very strange person. I still have the drumsticks from Humble Pie that some guy jumped up on the stage and took them for me. I can still see Alice Cooper chopping up the baby doll! What a great concert! I cried when they closed the roller rink.