Strawberry Fields Fornever
A change of the venue for the Sept 8 & 9, 2012 Leonard Cohen concerts from Hop Farm to London’s Wembley Arena has triggered a significant brouhaha in the local press and among fans. Similarly, the cancellations of the Sept 4, 2010 Honolulu and Nov 27, 2010 Phnom Penh shows set off fusillades of critical and sometimes angry responses.
Reschedulings, postponements, venue changes, and cancellations of entertainment events are not, of course, unusual. The 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour, which was delightfully and sometimes dangerously weird in general, was no exception in this regard.
One such 1970 no-show, the August 7, 8, and 9, 1970 Strawberry Fields Festival held at Mosport, Ontario, at which Leonard Cohen was listed as an act but did not perform, is relatively well known and was featured in 1970 Strawberry Fields Festival: 3 Days Of Love, Sun, & Sound In Canada – But No Leonard Cohen.
It turns out that The Strawberry Fields Festival wasn’t the only scheduled Leonard Cohen event that didn’t take place that year.
Unknown, Unperformed 1970 Leonard Cohen Concerts
I came across this excited report of an August 3, 1970 concert to be held at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford Connecticut in “Oakdale Lines Up Stars For ’70 Rock Schedule” in the June 1, 1970 Bridgeport Sunday Post:
The article goes on to note that in 1970 the “Bobby Sherman phenomenon will blow into the Wallingford tent” as would Melanie, who “has the kind of sound that the Sirens of Greek mythology must have possessed.” That year the same theater would also host “Soul Brother No. 1, James Brown.”
While Bobby Sherman, Melanie, and James Brown apparently made it to Wallingford that year, we can safely assume that the “radically enlightened” Cohen, who on the date scheduled for the Oakdale Theater performance (Aug 3, 1970) would have been one day post-concert – in France, having completed the tumultuous show in Aix-en-Provence on Aug 2nd, did not appear.
And, there is also this report from the August 7, 1970 Bennington Banner of Bennington, Vermont:
Cohen Concert at Saratoga Canceled
Saratoga Springs, N.Y. — Illness has forced cancellation of the Aug. 10 concert by Canadian poet-singer Leonard Cohen at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Cohen’s was hospitalized in Europe after he was severely chilled during a performance at a music festival in Aix-en- Provence, France, according to his management. Those holding tickets to the concert may exchange them or obtain refunds at the S.P.A.C. main box office on Route 50.
SPAC Poet-Singer Concert Canceled Due to Illness, a short article in the August 8, 1970 Glen Falls, NY Post-Star provided the same information in almost exactly the same words, adding that “Mr Cohen’s management had sent word that the singer was currently hospitalized in Europe and would be unable to fulfill his next three weeks of scheduled engagements.”
Happily, the Canadian singer-songwriter was healthy enough by August 14, 1970 to perform on French TV. And, he was, of course, still a continent removed from these scheduled North American commitments when he appeared at the Isle of Wight Festival on August 31, 1970.
The 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour August Choice: Europe Vs North America
These three concert cancellations in August 1970, especially given that I serendipitously found news of the Wallingford and Saratoga Springs cancelled shows (concerts that are unlisted on any of the databases I’ve checked), raise the possibility that even more shows in Canada and the US were scheduled and cancelled in order to extend the European leg of Cohen’s Tour, including the now legendary Isle Of Wight appearance.
Note: Originally posted Sept 3, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric