A Matter Of Perspective – The 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour Through The Eyes Of Aileen and Elkin Fowler
Cohencentric posts about the 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour have described Leonard Cohen & The Horse He Rode In On-Stage at and the Maoists, Music, Mud, Money, & Mayhem of the Aix-en-Provence Festival, the legendary concert at the Isle of Wight Festival, the Forest Hills appearance (“Nervous, Uncomfortable, Oppressive, Lifeless” & In A Tiff With Dylan), the 1970 Leonard Cohen Champagne & Crazy Guy Concert At UCLA, and the University Of Wisconsin anti-war rally disguised as homecoming show.
While there will be further posts about the 1970 Tour, perhaps the most insightful perspective on that year’s concerts is that of Susan Musmanno, one of the backup singers for Leonard Cohen that year, and Elkin “Bubba” Fowler, guitarist in the Tour band.1
Note: The text printed in red below is taken directly from email correspondence with Susan aka Aileen Fowler and Elkin Fowler.
The Leonard Cohen Hayride
It turns out that the horseback ride to the Aix concert was not the only unconventional mode of transport utilized by by Leonard Cohen and his musicians in 1970.
Susan: So Hartford was my first Leonard Cohen concert. I don’t remember it as vividly as the next concert, which was in Austin. Since we didn’t have a road manager for the first couple of concerts, Bubba was asked by Bob to take on certain responsibilities, such as limos, transportation, etc. Bob, being a Texan, wanted to give Leonard a big, Texas-style welcome. So, through a friend at University of Texas in Austin, Bubba lined up a flatbed truck with hay, cornstalks, etc., and that’s how we all rode from the airport to the hotel, all of us sitting on bales of hay.
Leonard Cohen, Superstar
Susan: That night, I stood next to Leonard as he cast a spell, and eventually got used to watching him hypnotize and enthrall audience after audience. At the end of the evening in Austin, he invited the audience to join him ‘down at the river’ to continue the magic, and many did.
Those dates in Europe in May of 1970 were milestones. Leonard created a sensation everywhere we went. The response was overwhelming. I remember being whisked from the stage to waiting limousines after the shows. I had no idea when I signed on for the tour that I was accompanying a superstar to Europe, but he became one by the time we finished in London.
Those were turbulent times — the Kent State killings happened the first week in May, while we were in Germany. When we arrived in Munich, there were demonstrations all over the city. It became increasingly clear that Leonard was being recognized as a great poet, and his legend was beginning to grow. We went from triumph to triumph, and, when the tour culminated in Paris and London (both the Olympia and Albert Hall were sold out; they each requested that we add additional shows, but Leonard didn’t want to), the shows were sensational, memorable.
- The story of Susan and Elkin falling in love during the 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour will be featured in a future post. [↩]