Notable tour sponsorships in U.S. history
Unless you're U2 or the Stones and can afford to puddle-jump between gigs in your private jet, touring is expensive. More and more bands are opting to let willing sponsors underwrite their tours; in fact, even the Stones let RadioShack and online stock-trading firm TD Ameritrade kick in some money for their recent Bigger Bang caravan.
One such tour hits Houston this week: the steam-spewing Hatebreed/Type O Negative/3 Inches of Blood/Destro metal deathmatch Sunday at Verizon, brought to you by German herbal liqueur/notorious judgment-clouder Jägermeister. Sponsorship is becoming more and more common in these days of skyrocketing gas prices, but as the following examples illustrate, it's hardly a new idea.
April 1775, the "Sons of Liberty" tour, sponsored by the Dutch East India Tea Company: Soon to become lead singer of the Raiders, Paul Revere's solo trek through the Boston metro area isn't nearly as effective as the silversmith hopes, barely reaching the nearby suburbs of Lexington and Concord. Some Harvard scholars believe he may have been assisted by an anonymous (and almost certainly underage) young girl. After he insists he begged her several times to get out of his life, Revere's name is cleared by the Second Continental Congress in 1777. Several years later, Revere's tour of the Southeast U.S. inspires his comeback hit "Cherokee People."
March-April 1836, the "Runaway Scrape" tour, sponsored by the Come and Take It Cannon Foundry: After Santa Anna's army successfully employs ZZ Top's Degüello album and an early version of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter" to defeat the garrison at the Alamo, Sam Houston decides turnabout is fair play. He hires a female singer-songwriter known as "Yellow Rose" to play a private concert in Santa Anna's tent the morning of April 21, and her ministrations prove so successful she is soon immortalized in song herself.
November-December 1864, the "March to the Sea" tour, sponsored by Scarlett O'Hara's Finishing School for Proper Southern Belles: Noted for his previous sold-out engagements in Vicksburg and Atlanta, General William T. Sherman introduces the controversial practice of "total touring" to eastern Georgia. His hard-partying entourage members consume all the food and liquor they can get their hands on, which leads to their frequently setting fire to their lodgings and wrapping railroad rails around trees, a calling card that becomes known as "Sherman's neckties." Halfway to Savannah, Josiah K. Allman, a longhaired minstrel famous for his lengthy banjo solos, deserts the tour and settles in the remnants of Macon.
c. 1930-1936, the "Dirty Thirties" tour, sponsored by the California Fruit and Vegetable Pickers' Union: After their farms literally dry up and blow away, several thousand farmers strap everything they own onto their rickety flatbed trucks and migrate from the Great Plains to California's Central Valley. However, the vast oversupply of labor forces those not persuaded to unionize by organizers such as Tom Joad to pass the time singing hymns and folk songs, leading directly to the careers of Woody Guthrie, Merle Haggard and Bruce Springsteen.
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