While I know and appreciate that Morrissey has made some great solo records, I remain much more a fan of The Smiths than of the Mozzer himself. That said, I'm still going to see old Stevie tonight when he returns to The Rave.
It'll be the first time we've been in the same room since the one time I saw The Smiths, at The Aragon in Chicago in 1985. The following August, The Smiths -- by then a quintet -- played at the Performing Arts Center (now The Marcus Center for the performing Arts) and everyone in Milwaukee was there.
Everyone, that is, except me. That's because I was helping out some friends visiting from Scotland, for whom I'd booked a gig at The Underground - which was, by then, above ground -- with Die Kreuzen. The double bill was hardly a musical match made in heaven, but the schedule was what it was and club owner Tony Selig and the good guys in D.K. were gracious enough to accommodate us, and the gig went pretty well.
Of course, I don't regret missing The Smiths because a direct result of that weekend has been a friendship that has endured decades and thousands of miles.
But I have always been curious about the show, because I wasn't there.
Last week, a friend of mine took me as his guest to the Marcus Center to see Chazz Palminteri perform "A Bronx Tale," with the tickets he got for his birthday, and conversation turned to The Smiths gig in that room.
He recalled how a band member got him and another friend of ours into the show and was friendly and chatty. Little did they know at the time that it was this very band member's struggles with substance abuse that would help bring the Manchester band to its demise.
After the show, my friend recalled, the scene outside the backstage door on State Street was "pure Beatlemania," complete with screaming fans and the band running -- literally -- for the idling tour bus.
Morrissey's allure to his fans has only grown over the intervening 23 years -- although the Mozzer has since returned three times for gigs at the Riverside in 1992 on 2007 and in the Eagles Ballroom in 2004 -- so unless those fans have aged too much to run and scream, I suspect Mozz will have to make haste to the coach once again after tonight's show or risk losing his shirt (assuming he replaces the one he's almost certain to tear off himself onstage) to rabid devotees.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.