DFW Music News

For Sale, a Very Rare Keepsake From When The Byrds Played the Forest Ballroom in June 1968

Says here the the Forest Theater was built in '47; my father, who grew up a few blocks over on Park Row, recalls how, in the mid-'50s, Shearith Israel used the movie theater for High Holiday services when they were finishing out the synagogue's present-day location on Walnut Hill. But at some point, of course, the New Forest Theater morphed into the Central Forest Ballroom and Forest Ballroom, a rock-and-roll-and venue not so different from the kind of club Erykah Badu ran when she had the place up till '08. T Bone Burnett often tells the story of how he saw B.B. King there in the mid-'60s and it changed his life.

But this is a new one: I see Heritage Auction Gallery is selling off an extremely rare Byrds tour poster from the Forest Ballroom; opening bid's set at $250, which seems like a steal. Unfair Park's 'cross-the-street neighbor says it's from June 1, 1968, which means Gram Parsons would have been in the band at the time (he left in July of that year over the band's decision to play South Africa, so he said). But trying to pin down whether that's the right date wasn't easy.

Says Heritage's Noah Fleisher, the staff over there has "reasonably deduced" from their research that '68 is the correct date. But, he adds, Heritage "can't unequivocally" say that's the right year. Then again: June 1, 1968, was indeed a Saturday.

Reason it's hard to nail down is just a few weeks earlier the band was touring Europe (which is where this boot comes from), before returning to California to finish the greatest of all Byrds records, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, which is said to have wrapped at the end of May '68. But this Byrds gigography doesn't list a Dallas date 'round that time. There were, however, shows in New York City in mid-May, then one in L.A. on May 24, then two more in L.A. on June 21 and 22. But then it was back to London in early July, where Parsons met Keith Richards for the first time. Some U.S. shows followed later that year without Parsons.

I called Roger McGuinn's people earlier this week to fact-check, and they said they'd ask but to me not to hold my breath. Because, see, after he found out that his stolen 1966 Rickenbacker went for $100,000 at a U.K. auction, McGuinn doesn't have much love for auctions, no matter how legit.

So I turned to the great Angus Wynne, figuring he'd know if such a concert occurred. And, sure enough: He says that was Concerts West's first attempt at turning the Forest into Dallas's version of The Fillmore, which didn't last long. Angus didn't go to the Byrds show, but he did attend the Spirit show at the Forest not long after that, where he was among the 30 who trekked down to South Dallas for the rock and roll. One more dismally populated show later, and that was that.

And, no, there wouldn't be many of these posters around: Angus recalls Concerts West only making a few for the Forest shows, most of which wound up tacked to phone polls or hung in record-store windows. "But, yeah," he says, "that would be the real thing."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky