While researching promoter Nick Topping, I came upon a striking anecdote posted by former Milwaukeean Leo Sadorf, who now lives in Sierra Vista, Arizona, where he is a technology coordinator. It's a double anecdote in that Leo tells the tale of a tale Topping told him in 1978. His e-mail below explains how he came to hear about Topping's post-Milwaukee-concert interaction with John Lennon and a bottle of wine. Leo's story appears at Chris Newton's Pondering Pig Web site.
The e-mail is in reply to one I sent seeking permission to post a link to his remembrance. It contains other interesting notes, including one about the Dylan concert at the Oriental that is slightly different from Kathy's recollection.
"No problem, Ted. Use away. My remembering is as good as anyone's. The story is 30 years old, more when you consider it was the early '60s Nick was recounting. It's about as accurate as they get, I guess. Just make sure when you link it, you add a line for the blog I wrote it for. My friend, Chris Newton, is a Haight-Ashbury original and has stories of his own that are great. Imagine banking with Janis Joplin or hanging around with Chet Helms...but I digress.
"Nick was a local where I was living downtown in the late '70s thru early '80s, when I was a photography student at MATC (Milwaukee Area Technical College). We used to go to his shop on 2nd Street and listen to stories. Later, we followed him to his re-located emporium on 3rd Street. It was a place to meet what seemed like underworld figures in dark glasses, which maybe they were. Anyways, it was a great place for stories. Nick told me too about setting up possibly the only free Dylan concert back then. Bob came in '64 and the PA didn't work. They refunded all the ticket cash and Bob played anyways, his first unplugged show by Nick's account. A few hundred stayed for the show.
"I met Nick through my father (a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher) who was very involved in the open housing movement in Milwaukee, as well as the anti-war movement. Mike Cullen, one of the Milwaukee 14, was close to our family and still is. He came out here to Arizona to visit and minister with my dad a few years back.
"My growing up was pretty involved with the Milwaukee political scene back then. My brother was baptized by Jim Groppi, a man I thought of as an uncle and miss dearly. My story is no different from many others who hung with those folks back then. It was about community and taking care of one another. They were wild but fulfilling times.
"I am sure there are some who have better stories than mine, but I have a few...burning draft cards on the altar at the old St. Boniface Church comes to mind. Meeting Dick Gregory and seeing MLK were almost earth-shattering. I was about seven, but those times were heady and unforgettable.
"Good luck with your writing, my friend. Any thoughts or questions, drop me a line." leo