This article was just too good to pass up. It concerns trouble with the Italian police and in the middle of it all we find a guy called Don Arden, a famous manager of his time, known for his hard-ass attitude and father of the woman we all know and love as Sharon Osbourne.
THE MOVE / Electric Light Orchestra manager, Don Arden, was arrested last Tuesday during the Electric Light Orchestra’s concert at Padova.
“The trouble had started a day earlier, when wildly-excited crowds in Arezzo had created a near-riot.
“As a result of that,” Don told RM, “the police in Padova were tipped off that they should expect trouble, and the concert hall was surrounded by police both inside and out a good three hours before the start of the show.
“In the middle of the fifth number, ‘Great Balls Of Fire,’ a man in shirt sleeves asked me something in Italian. When I tried to explain that I was English and didn’t understand, he became hysterical and grabbed my shirt, so I hit him. He turned out to be the chief of police, and he’d been trying to get me to call off the concert, thinking I was the manager of the concert hall.
“I don’t think there was any justification for stopping the show — the kids were very excited but they weren’t looking for trouble.”
The concert was duly stopped. Amid riotous scenes, Don was arrested and detained for two hours questioning at the local police station. After his release, he took the 7.30 a. m. plane back to London, and stayed in Britain until Saturday night, when he flew back out to take charge of the E.L.O.’s last two concerts, at Viarregio on Saturday, and Milan on Monday.
Don Arden was not the only manager to hit out at the attitudes of the Italian police this week: Argent’s Mel Collins condemned the use of tear gas by police at the Theatre Lyrico in Milan, after they had dispersed a 2,000 crowd following Argent’s concert there.
Towards the end of the concert, which attracted a capacity audience, 50 riot police were called in in an attempt to calm down the wildly demonstrative fans. The group had played five encores, and the curtain had been brought down, but the audience still refused to go until the tear gas was used.
Said Collins, “There were absolutely no signs of impending violence. As far as I could see, it was a clear case of unwarranted police interference. The fans were noisy and enthusiastic, but using tear gas just wasn’t on.”
A riot was narrowly avoided at Dusseldorf, when Nazareth played there on Sunday night.
After the group had played a normal length set plus one encore, the promoter pulled out the plugs, enraging the audience of 10,000. After 10 minutes during which time the audience threatened to get out of hand, the promoter asked Nazareth to go back on, and they did a further 20 minutes. Peace was restored.