In December, 2009, the Rolling Stones toured the USA. Yes, the Rolling Stones, as in the Silver Rolling Stones, if you are that old. I had been a fan of the Stones since I was fourteen years old, and I had never seen them play. More so, I was a big fan of rock music, and I attended every possible concert that I could attend. But my favorite rock band, the Stones, had alluded me. On this 1969 tour, the nearest they would play to Columbus, Ohio, was Detroit. I wanted to go, but I figured it was not possible. The tickets were six dollars ($6) each. Then a college friend from Toledo managed to buy three tickets for me, and I was ecstatic! Three tickets to see the Stones! I had my Ford pick up truck, and I could drive to Detroit and see the Stones! But what gal would I take? And to whom would I give the third ticket?
I was dating a really sharp woman at the time, a redhead from Cincinnati. It was not an exclusive thing, she had a boyfriend back home, and I was seeing other gals too. Her name was Sharon Neidenbalm. We met in math class at OSU. (She did better than I did, that’s for sure.) Sharon was my first pick for the trip, and she would have been anyone else’s too. This gal had striking red hair down to her fanny, B sized boobs, a cute face and a thin body, she had long legs and a wide crotch that showed through her tight jeans. No fool, she was a straight A student who had an academic scholarship to OSU, where she lived in a dorm. But Sharon was from a poor family. She wore cast off clothes, her winter coat was old. In my eyes this made her a more interesting person. She was not only smart, she was attractive, she was hip, and she was part of the “movement” that included the rock and roll drug culture.
We were out one night at Mr. Christian’s Dilemma, a campus bar, drinking low beer. I asked Sharon if she was interested in the Stones show, if she would go to Detroit with me. She freaked! Sharon was as ready for the Stones’ trip as I was, of course she said yes, though I’m sure she realized that we would be sleeping together. Later that night, she snuck me into her dorm room and she let me fuck her while her roommate pretended to be asleep. She rode me on top for as long as I could last, which in those days, was probably not that long. Her roommate was in the next bed and watched Sharon on top of me. Of course Sharon said that I was only the second guy to have ever fucked her, I used to get that a lot.
But I still had the extra ticket. Who could I surprise with this trip? Who was the biggest Stones’ fan that I ever knew? No question about it: my old high school friend Ed Hastie. He was a brilliant guy who had fallen into drug abuse and had to drop out of college. Ed was a true Stones fan. His cat he named Mick Jagger. Years before, he had stolen my first Stones’ albums from Lazarus department store, he sold them to me for a dollar each. It was a treat to call him and to invite him along for the Detroit trip, he’d never seen the Stones either. I hadn’t been around Hastie in quite a while, he had missed out on Woodstock and the other music festival travels that I had been on. I was a student at OSU, he was working at a factory, fighting felony drug charges and busy being a drug addict. He was excited about seeing the Stones, excited about old friends getting back together. And so was I.
Word got around that I would be driving the truck to Detroit. Dick Eiseman, a guy taller than my 6’1, and his beautiful girlfriend Melinda Gordon asked if they could ride along. Eiseman was an accomplished artist working on his Masters, and a TA at OSU. He always figured that I would try to fuck his women, and I did fuck a couple of them, he’d try to ramrod me. Melinda Gordon was as pretty a woman as I’d ever want to see. Blond hair, thin with tits and ass, 5’7, just a doll, it’s a shame she was born too early for internet porn. She had two Stones tickets herself, and she claimed (probably bs) that she could get the keys to Bob Seger’s apartment in Detroit, and that we could sleep there after the show. (This was long before Bob Seger was anything like the star he is today; he was a Columbus regular and she probably did know him, hell, I knew him too.)
One logistical problem was the pick up truck. This was the sixties, when a truck was still a truck. It sat three in the front, max. Eiseman and Melinda would have to ride in the back of the truck, which had no heat. But they knew this and it didn’t seem to bother them. The truck was enclosed with a camper cap over the bed. It was covered with a cap, yes, but no heat and it was late in December, 1969. But cold didn’t effect Eiseman and Melinda. They were junkies, each getting along, quite well, on Melinda’s script for blue morphine. Corrupt doctors would stand in line to give her prescriptions for blue morphine tablets. The morphine tablets they ground to powder – the only difference was microscopic glue – and then they injected it like heroin.
The day we left started with a round up. I went first to Sharon’s dorm and I picked her up, and then we drove to Eiseman’s apartment on Summit Street. Hastie was there, waiting with Eiseman and Melinda. My plan was to leave Columbus at 3:00 in the afternoon, I wanted to be early for the show in Detroit. By the time of the trip, Eiseman and Melinda felt no pain. They brought along down filled sleeping bags, in which they laid on the cold slab bed of the truck. They huddled all the way to Detroit. In the front of the truck, Sharon, Ed and I cruised along, smoking pot, flirting, and getting up for the Stones. Sharon looked great in her tight jeans, tight sweater and suede jacket. She was so cute, so smart and so hip and I was showing her off for my old friend. It didn’t take much to prod her intellectually, and Ed had more than enough. She engaged Ed, and he was challenged by her intelligence. It was a great drive, and Ed was happy for me, happy that I met such an attractive and smart companion.
Melinda struck out on getting Bob Seger’s apartment keys. (I’d wondered since what Bob Seger’s apartment would have looked like, wondered when I met him again on tour when he was a major star, when my spouse’s brother Mark was his guitar player for the Silver Bullet Band.) So, there my friends and I were, along way from home and we had no place to stay.
In the parking lot before the show, I stopped the people parking next to us. I explained our predicament. There I was, a stranger, asking for a place for myself and for four others to spend the night, and these folks said OK. They would help us. We planned to meet after the show.
The Stones were playing in the basketball arena where the Detroit Pistons played for years, The Detroit Forum. We found our seats, they were in the upper balcony level, but they were centered and we had an excellent view of the stage. B.B. King was the opening act, he was smooth and exceptional. I can close my eyes and see him playing Leon Russell’s song “Hummingbird” now.
The Stones didn’t play Woodstock, but they learned from what they missed, which was to cash in on the entire Woodstock feeling. This was a time when the entire direction of a rock and roll show was changing, the switch started with the Monterey Pop Festival. Immediately after Woodstock, the Stones toured the USA, and they rode the Woodstock spirit, they worked the emotions of the Woodstock generation. Whatever energy there was, energy that drove the counterculture, energy of the revolution, was epitomized in the Rolling Stones. And that zenith of energy was what I witnessed that night in Detroit.
Basically, the Stones played the same show that can be seen in the “Gimme Shelter” movie. That was quite different than the shows they play today. First off, they had the finest blues guitar player in England at the time – Mick Taylor – on lead guitar. Taylor was an advanced graduate of John Mayal’s Bluesbreakers, as was Eric Clapton. Technically, he was better than Alvin Lee, and in melody and style he was superior to Clapton.
The Detroit show was a circus. Fans smoked pot openly, women bared their breasts. The show included some aspects of their demonic imagery, but their theme dealt more with the Stones’ roll as spokesmen for the revolution. We were on our feet, all of the crowd, screaming, the show played like a scene from the “Tale of Two Cities” movie, with fans leaning over balcony rails yelling for vengeance. When the Stones played “Sympathy for the Devil” the balcony exploded. Two guys next to us were in a violent slug fest, one nearly knocked the other over the balcony’s edge. Other people were fighting too, real violence. People were pushing each other, yelling, grabbing, I grabbed the crotch of a strange woman next to me, and she grabbed mine. Sharon had her fists clenched in the air, defiant to the mayhem around her.
Ed leaned over to me. “I gotta go down” he said, “I’ve gotta rush the stage”. And off he went. As the crowd swelled, the barriers went down, but fans allowed the Stones enough room to finish the show. As the Stones played “Street Fighting Man” to thousands, to each of us with our hands clenched in the air, the house lights came on and the show ended. Sharon and I found Ed, we found Eiseman and Melinda, and we headed back to the parking area.
The good samaritan strangers were there. And they remembered their promise. They suggested that we follow them to where they lived. We did. It was an old Victorian brick home, huge, in a run down part of Detroit that had been reclaimed by hippies. We settled in, we figured we’d sleep on the floor, we smoked hash and partied. Sharon and Melinda danced for our hosts as we wound down from the show. Luckily, for us, a friend of theirs’ worked the night shift at a local Travel Lodge. If we could find the place, he could sneak us into a room, for free. The only hitch was that we would have to be out of the room by 6:30 A.M., that’s when the manager arrived.
For me, and I was driving, it was a very difficult drive over to the Travel Lodge. Detroit and I have never been friends. I was ready to sleep. The driving, the Rolling Stones show, the partying and the pot had taken its toll. Then I found a second wind, as we were let into the room. There were two double beds. I joined Sharon in one and Ed joined Eiseman and Melinda in the other. The lights were left on. Melinda lay between Ed and Eiseman, but before she laid down, she slowly undressed, putting on of a show for all of us. She walked around the room nude, and did she like to show her body off! Wow. Then she got on the bed. Hastie and Eiseman were feeling her from both sides, and Hastie entered her first from behind. Eiseman was nodding off from the morphine, and Melinda was so stoned, she probably never felt a thing. Then Sharon peeled off her clothes, with the lights still on, in front of the others. We stood nude together, holding each other, watching Ed fuck Melinda from behind as she tried to rub some life into Eiseman’s cock. It was a fun scene, and a very complex day. Watching Melinda strip, while a wild eyed Sharon watched too, then all of us getting naked for sex, was the perfect ending to the bizarre day. It was a thrill to be with Sharon in the same room with three others, we spoon fucked for an hour with the lights on. Whether they were asleep, stoned out, aware of us or not, it was fun.
My happiness with the situation ended as quickly as the alarm rang. Before I knew it, the alarm said 6:15, and we had to scoot. I was wrapped around Sharon, and the last thing I wanted to do was leave. Eiseman yelled at me “Come on, lover boy, we’ve got to go!”, and I got up and going.
As I drove the freeway at that early hour, I watched the sunrise over the factory filth known as Detroit. On the outskirts of it, we stopped for breakfast at a dingy truck stop. The trucker crowd gave us the hippie hate stares. “Fuck these people!” Eiseman said, and he went to the juke box and played the Beatles’ “Revolution”. He played the fast 45 version, the really noisy version, getting it in the face of everyone. We stood up, we were proud, no one gave us any shit. The tide had turned in America. After Woodstock, people across the country saw, and the people were ready to accept, the changes. All in all, this trip was one of the best times that I ever had with Ed Hastie, or for that matter, with anyone. This was December, 1969. It ended the sixties, it was the end of an era, but I didn’t know it at the time.
Winter turned to spring and spring turned to summer. I was watching TV one summer evening, watching the 6 o’clock news. It was a sharp summer day, almost cloudless, mid eighties weather. The news showed color film of a gold Gremlin automobile, as the commentator recited the details of the story. The TV film showed the Gremlin being pulled from the water. It was a coincidence that I was watching the news that evening, it was an accident of fate.
A woman went to the Scioto River Park, the newscaster reported, just south of the Fishinger Road bridge. The Scioto River winds into Columbus from the Northwest side, it is where the most expensive homes in Columbus are located. The river basin is a park that runs for miles. Griggs Dam – it’s called Griggs Dam – creates a water reservoir, power boating is permitted, people water ski there.
A couple of guys, who were fishing along the river bank, were interviewed by the news crew. They said to the TV cameras that there was nothing that they could do, they tried, they were crying. Grown men crying about their inability to help.
They had seen the lady earlier, as they were fishing. She was parked in her car near the river bank. She got out of her car and walked around. They noticed her because she was attractive and very pretty, they told the TV cameras. Then she left.
The news reporter questioned the guys fishing about what happened next. They said they saw her drive to the McDonalds at the corner. Another witness was from McDonalds, who said that the lady was at the McDonalds only a few minutes. Inside the McDonalds, she went into the women’s restroom. There she took off all her clothes, everything, and walked out of McDonalds nude. She got into her car, and drove back to the river bank. There was a long blacktop drive that sloped down to the water, where she stopped the car. The fishermen saw her stop, they watched her wait. After a short deliberation, she accelerated the car, and she drove down the drive like a skier on a ramp. The guys fishing jumped out of the way as the car sped by near them, and it catapulted into the water. Once in the river, the Gremlin floated for a few minutes, slowly sinking beneath the surface. The woman turned around, and as the fishermen waded into the water to help, she waved at them. She waved goodbye as the car sank into the river.
As I watched the news, I didn’t know who it was. I didn’t recognize the car, although I had been in it, I didn’t realize that I knew this person well. I walked away from the TV. But the next day the bizarre suicide of Melinda Gordon was front page news. The Columbus Dispatch followed the story with detail – high school cheerleader, homecoming queen, good girl goes bad and gets into drugs – everything people in Columbus, Ohio, want to read. Melinda Gordon took her own life, it was her choice to die. Me, I’ll never know why.
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