Charles Parker: Beach Boys Concert Unforgettable

By  //  January 7, 2015

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'I know it was the best concert I ever went to'

The Beach Boys circa 1970s. (Image for

‘We sweated and hung on tight to our girlfriends as – at times – the crowd swayed as one.’

I think it was in the summer. And I think it was in the early 1970s. And I think it was at the Hampton Roads Coliseum in southeast Virginia. However, I know it was the best concert I ever went to.

It was The Beach Boys.

We drove two hours to get there and, all the way, we listened to a sampling of their eight-track tapes as loud as they would go. We knew all the words (most of us still know most of the words).

We showed up at the venue at 3 p.m. for an 8 p.m. show. We were the first ones there.

You see, it was “festival seating” – first-come, first-served. There were no seats on the floor level. Fire codes be damned in the 70’s. All that could pack in were to be packed in. Not only were there no floor seats, you could take in coolers…with beer. We had plenty. And we were ready to party.

We waited outside until 6:00 pm when they opened the doors. By then there were hundreds of us. My group situated ourselves about 20 yards from the stage.

By the time the show started, we were about 50 yards away as many had wedged in front of us. We were close enough to see the great show, but far enough back to avoid getting crushed. The perfect spot.

There was no opening act. The Beach Boys were it. They came out on stage on time –the Wilson brothers (Brian, Dennis and Carl), Mike Love and Al Jardine. One of them was on crutches.

Charles Parker
Charles Parker, circa 1970s

They played and sang. We sang and danced. Every once in a while, a funky smell wafted by. Incense…right…

We sweated and hung on tight to our girlfriends as – at times – the crowd swayed as one. We were thirsty and hoarse and had to pee. We had run out of beer hours before. But we didn’t dare leave. We didn’t want to miss a moment…or a song.

I don’t remember how long they played. I think there were a couple of encores. I’m sure we held lighters in the air. And then, it was over. They didn’t come back on from the wings.

An arena with 10,000 screaming fans fell oddly silent. We were spent.

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We didn’t leave immediately because one of our group had nearly fainted somewhere in the middle of the show and had left to seek refuge in a place where she could breathe. She was not my girlfriend – so I had shown little concern at the time. I mean, there was a Beach Boys concert going on for goodness sakes.

I remember feeling a little guilty she was not a priority for me, but also feeling a little relieved at the same time. I mean, there was a Beach Boys concert going on…

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We found her – she was fine – so we headed to the parking garage. We didn’t really say much.

On the two-hour ride home, we plugged a Beach Boys double eight-track tape back in the player. We wedged a pad of matches in with the tape so it wouldn’t skip. We picked up where we left off – singing all of the words to all of the songs.

I still love singing to the Beach Boys – most of the words to all of the songs.


Charles Parker is a longtime resident of Brevard County and has been writing for various publications for the last 40 years – both print and digital. Parker covers space, politics, religion, and other news and special events for Space Coast Daily.

Charles Parker
Charles Parker

Currently, he is an aerospace engineering teacher at Merritt Island High School. He is also the director of both the da Vinci Academy of Aerospace Technology and the Academy of Hospitality, Entrepreneurship, and Tourism at MIHS. He is a professor of Humanities and World Religions at Eastern Florida State College and Valencia College.

Parker has worked extensively in the tourism and aerospace industries in Brevard. He has also been a United Methodist pastor and director of a non-profit to help young adults aging out of foster care. He was formerly a board member at Brevard Achievement Center and the Childcare Association of Brevard. He was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to the Children’s Services Council from 1999-2003.

Parker earned a BA in Organizational Management from Warner University and a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. He is married, has four children and one grandchild.

AUTHOR NOTE: These views are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Brevard Public Schools, Eastern Florida State College, or Valencia College.

You can follow Parker on Twitter @cparker_scd

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