Tuesday, January 12, 2016

When "Whole Oats" Opened for Bowie in Memphis

Posted By on Tue, Jan 12, 2016 at 1:17 PM

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There's an old adage stating that the three hardest dates for a musician are, in order, "Christmas, Easter, and Memphis." Few things illustrate the point like this review of David Bowie's first Bluff City concert. Commercial Appeal reporter Joe M. Dove wasn't merely unimpressed by the Spiders from Mars. He described Bowie's 1972 concert at Ellis Auditorium's North Hall as, "mostly noise."

And get off my lawn!
  • And get off my lawn!

"David Bowie probably could be a talented musician," Dove wrote in a merciless review of the concert. "But his show is not selling music. He has substituted noise for music, freaky stage gimmicks for talent, and covers it all up with volume." The writer had been led to believe The Spiders were, "a ballad group," and was surprised to discover an artist capable of "out-freaking Alice Cooper on stage." His harshest lines, however, were reserved for an opening act identified as Whole Oats:

At the least, Bowie's show can objectively be called better than that of his warm-up group, "Whole Oats", a country rock quartet.

Playing all of their eight numbers in a simple four-four time, the group could not even keep the attention of the crowd which spent much time milling up and down the aisles and tossing several plastic Frisbees.

One of "Whole Oats" final numbers was titled "I'm sorry." It should have been dedicated to the audience.

So, whatever happened to this forgettable straight time-obsessed country rock quartet slammed by critics and ignored by frisbee crazed Memphians? Nothing happened to them. Because the quartet never existed. The detestable act was, in fact, Daryl Hall & John Oates who went on to become the most successful pop duo in history.

"Whole Oats" isn't a typo. Dove didn't get available facts wrong, exactly. Daryl & John were new on the scene and preparing to release their first Atlantic Records LP. 

"We'd like to dedicate this song to the audience," said Daryl Hall never. 

Before the duo signed with Atlantic they'd also named their partnership "Whole Oats." So, when the label released a promotional single for the forthcoming album,"Whole Oats" is the name the company went with. The group was identified as Daryl Hall & John Oates when their debut album Whole Oats was released in November, 1972, only two months after the Bowie concert. For the period between the promotional release and the official release, "Whole Oats" it was. 

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WHOLE OATS!
  • Ladies and gentlemen, Whole Oats!

Memphis was apparently one of H&O's first stops on the way up. Nobody noticed. Even Ron Hall's fantastic concert history Memphis Rocks doesn't clarify the listing, identifying Bowie's opening act only as Whole Oats. 

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