I never thought I would be mentioning the musical group the Beach Boys and the Brookfield Zoo in the same column or sentence, but there it is.
Noticing the surviving Beach Boys and a few new added musicians were celebrating 50 years of their music by going on tour this year, it brought to mind the 1980s, when the Beach Boys were part of a concert series put on by the Brookfield Zoo and held at Riverside-Brookfield High School’s Shuey Stadium.
The zoo’s media relations manager, Sondra Katzen, helped fill in some of the blanks about the concert series.
In 1984, the zoo was celebrating its 50th year anniversary with “Zoofest.” Headliners for the series included Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, along with the Gatlin Brothers. Another night featured the Osmond Brothers and Three Dog Night. And then there was Beach Boys night.
Shuey Stadium was packed as the Beach Boys belted out their hits and beach balls floated over the crowds. They were at their best!
I can remember being at the field with then-Superintendent James Trost, watching as the Johnny Cash bus pulled up, followed by trailers with the crews to set up the stages, do sound checks and lighting. Dr. Trost and I said we were sitting there to make sure everything was OK at the field. Truthfully, we were hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the Cash family or their entourage – to no avail.
The concerts were such a success that the following year there was another series with such notables as Dionne Warwick, the Spinners, Bobby Vinton, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Sawyer Brown, Ronnie Milsap and Kenny Rogers.
Kenny Rogers “The Gambler” knew when to hold ’em and knew when to fold ’em. He also threw autographed tambourines to select people in the audience and my daughter, Tina, was a recipient. She still has the prized tambourine (never plays it).
I doubt whether Brookfield Zoo would do a concert series again at Shuey Stadium but if they do I will be in line for tickets.
I don’t think the Beach Boys would make it if they do. They are going on tour to celebrate their 50th year of entertaining and Brookfield Zoo is not on their schedule. Darn!