I arrived (as a backstage volunteer) at the Columbus Riverwalk Amphitheater at 2:30 Saturday afternoon. Other volunteers had been there since early morning making preparations for the 2nd annual concert.
The first band later that evening, regional fave The Flames, hit the stage at about 5:45 p.m. and kicked off what would later be a memorable night for hundreds of music lovers. Columbus-Lowndes Recreational Authority Director Roger Short said I was to be his “right-hand man” for the evening. I gladly accepted.
After The Flames boogied the crowd with hit after hit of pleasing favorites, former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle, a member of the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame (inducted with the group in 06′. RW) and his band was next up. Pyle is a personable guy. Before hitting the stage with his band, Pyle could be seen next to the stage jamming with The Flames. He also hob-knobed with locals in the VIP tent before and after his performance. When Pyle took the stage, he acknowledged The Flames’ performance to the delight of the crowd.
“How about The Flames?” Pyle said over the microphone to the Legends 2 concert-goers. Pyle and his band went on to play many Skynyrd hits, finishing up with two rock anthems, ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and ‘Freebird’!
The 3rd performer of the night was a legendary motown band in their own right, Rare Earth. The soulful rockers performed many of their own hits, such as ‘I Just Want To Celebrate’ and ‘Hey, Big Brother’. They also performed ‘Get Ready’, a nearly 20 minute version when first released by the band around 1970 (previously made popular by The Temptations, who were next to come. RW). Rare Earth’s version of ‘Get Ready’ was the longest (runtime) single to ever make the Billboard charts.
As I began to assist in getting ready to make the stage transition from Artimus Pyle’s band to Rare Earth, Columbus Police Captain Fred Shelton told me that Columbus Mayor Robert Smith wanted me to come to City Hall to take a photo of The Temptations. I started heading that way. As I got to my vehicle (which was parked just west of Harvey’s Restaurant) I noticed I was blocked in. I started walking up the hill toward downtown, hoping to catch a ride with either a police officer heading that way, or one of the many golf cart vehicles being used to assist in the concert. I found neither and walked the entire distance.
Arriving in front of City Hall, I was greeted by Mayor Smith who said, “Ron…I didn’t mean for you to have to walk up here”. No problem, Mayor…I was going to see ‘The Temptations’!
I walked in and was introduced to each Temptations member individually. I took photos of the mayor with The Temptations, as well as photos of Rhonda Sanders with them and also Pam Short. Before leaving, I told them I also wanted a photo made with them, and they happily obliged.
It was time to make an entrance at The Legends concert, and what a grand entrance it was. The mayor and The Temptations were then escorted by way of Carter Limo’s to the Riverwalk Amphitheater. The big crowd applauded as the limo’s pulled up on the new pavement leading to the Riverwalk Amphitheater stage. The Temptations, dressed in their sharp, black stage outfits, got out of the Limo’s to the delight of the crowd. Several handshakes, fist-bumps and autograph signatures later, they wer escorted behind the stage. They mingled inside the VIP tent and mingled with the locals till showtime. After an extended sound-check delay, The Temptations finally hit the stage at 11:10 p.m. to the roar and approval of the crowd.
And from that point…it was on!