Warren Knight came walking down the aisle, almost like he was floating, looking for all the world like somebody had just given him a million dollars. He'd been on his feet for hours, despite having gone through a knee replacement earlier this year. But that didn't matter.
It was well past midnight, turning Saturday night into Sunday morning, and most of the full-house crowd of 1,000 or so music aficionados had left the Boulder Theater after an evening they would never forget.
Neither would Knight and the rest of Flash Cadillac, the legendary rock band from the Colorado Springs area, who simply didn't want the long night to end after being inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.
Knight, the only original member who has remained with the group since 1969, had a lot of friends and family waiting to share in some final emotional hugs. For all of them, this occasion had been practically a religious experience, as the program took everyone on a five-hour journey through the early history of rock music in Colorado.
"This whole thing was just unbelievable, every bit of it," Knight said, shaking his head in wonder.
Flash Cadillac was part of that, but certainly not the only part.
The night began with a nostalgic tribute to KIMN-AM, the iconic Denver radio station that dominated the Mile High City market like no other, especially in the 1960s but even thereafter. KIMN's deejays were huge celebrities, and the station's prominence was unparalleled with as much as a 50 share in the Denver radio ratings. (These days, it doesn't take a 10 share to be No. 1 there.) The music lives on today with Cruisin' Oldies 950, actually on the same frequency KIMN owned for more than a quarter-century.
Then came the Astronauts, a Boulder-based band who ruled in the early 1960s. Their clean-cut image, harmonies and showmanship magnetized crowds in Boulder and Denver, leading to the group going to California and being marketed as surfers to compete against the Beach Boys. But the Astronauts' biggest following outside of Colorado was in Japan, where they were so highly regarded that they twice went there for extensive tours. They broke up in the mid-1960s and two members later died, but singer/guitarist Jon "Stormy" Patterson and drummer Jim Gallagher made the induction and played a handful of songs, including their instrumental hit "Baja," joined by several members of Big Head Todd and the Monsters.
Up next was Sugarloaf, known as Chocolate Hair until recording its first album and learning that the original name might have racial overtones. The band, a collection of standouts from other Denver groups, felt that album needed one more song, which turned out to be "Green-Eyed Lady," one of the biggest national hits of 1970. Five years later, Sugarloaf added another Top 10 single, "Don't Call Us, We'll Call You," before going separate ways. So it was highly unusual that all seven of the group's stalwarts came to the induction, and most of them (with help from some friends) pounded out those two most famously successful songs once again.
Flash Cadillac came last, but not as the headliner. It was more about the 2012 version being able to provide a full show of its own instead of a few songs. First, original members Harold Fielden (percussion) and Mick Manresa (singer) took the stage with Knight and current bandmates Pete Santilli (keyboards) and Rocky Mitchell (guitar), playing classics from the band's formative years in Boulder. That's when they were widely known, as former Gov. Dick Lamm said in the induction speech, "for being lewd and crude."
But the final set, especially for those who have followed Flash Cadillac for years (and its hugely popular local sideshow rendition, Sammy and the Sarcastics), was pure heaven. Today's group, also including saxophonist Dwight Bement, drummer Dave "Thumper" Henry and singer Timothy P. Irvin, played much of Flash's own original (and top-notch) material from the 1970s, paying special tributes to longtime frontman Sam McFadin along with Kris Moe and Linn Phillips III, all deceased.
Like the old days, they could have kept going into the wee hours, and the diehards would have never left. But it had to end, leaving everyone with just one hope: Surely, soon we might see a video to preserve the night forever.
Only a thousand lucky folks got to see it in person. And we definitely wouldn't mind sharing the memory while reliving every bit of it again.
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