Mahogany Rush and Lone Star Newcastle City Hall 1977

Mahogany Rush and Lone Star Newcastle City Hall 1977
mahoganyrushticketThis was a pretty hot double bill by any standards. Lone Star were an up and coming UK band who had only recently headlined the City Hall themselves and Mahogany Rush, featuring Frank Marino, were the new US power trio cum Hendrix-style guitar sensation. Legend is that when Marino was a teen he was “visited by an apparition of Jimi Hendrix after a bad LSD trip, which led to the spirit of Hendrix entering Marino’s body and bestowing his ability to play the guitar.” Marino denies this today, but its a pretty good story. There’s no denying that Frank Marino plays guitar like Hendrix, although in interviews at the time he would always try and downplay this. The programme talks about his drug fueled dream and how he picked up guitar after coming out of hospital, suffering from the effects of a drug overdose, aged only 14!: “the guitar became a kind of therapy, some way to express and perhaps exorcise his recurring dreams, which sometimes consisted of a rock music soundtrack accompanying a visual image of each instrument personified in an everyday object. mahoganyrichposter ‘Picture the vocals’ says Frank ‘coming out of a little plastic clothespin, with choruses of them coming out of the corner, thistles and reeds coming up with the bass. Legs turning into bicycle pedals, going around so they make percussive noises” and it goes on to refer to the Hendrix “experience”: “Particularly when you have the distinct idea that the spirit of the late Jimi Hendrix has become much more than an influence, and sometimes seems to have become permanently embedded in you to the extent where you seem to be his living personification….” Now come on Frank. Unless you had no input into the tour programme and no control over it, it would be difficult for you to deny that you had a hand in the crazy Hendrix stories and comparisons.
mahoganyruchprog Putting aside the question around whether Frank Marino is the “living personification” of Jimi Hendrix; Mahogany Rush were a hot live rock trio. Their set included at least one Hendrix cover maybe more, I don’t entirely remember, and was a showcase for Franks’ astonishing guitar wizardry. Lone Star also performed well, and went down a storm with the Newcastle crowd, although I seem to recall that the Hall was only around half full for this gig.
I would imagine that the set I saw at the City Hall in 1977 will have been something like this: The Answer, Dragonfly,I’m a King Bee, Excerpt form Back Door Man, A New Rock and Roll, Johnnie Be Goode, Talkin Bout a Feelin, Excerpt Who Do Ya Love, Electric Reflections of War, The World Anthem, Look at me, Strange universe, Voodoo Chile, Purple Haze. This is from the official live album recorded on a US tour in late 77 and released in 78, and an update from Damian. mahoganyrushcd This was the only time that I’ve seen Mahogany Rush. They continue to play to this day, but their visits to the UK are few and far between now. My friend John has seen them in the States a few times and tells me how good they still are. He sent me a signed CD (pictured here). Thanks also to John for the scan of the poster from this gig.
That early acid experience clearly had a profound effect on Frank Marino. He still talks of it today, and says on his official website: “This experience became the basis of everything that I was to do in music, including the name Mahogany Rush, which was a description I would use to describe a certain sensation that I was having on the trip. The artwork on the albums, Child of the Novelty and Strange Universe are an artist’s rendition of my trip as told by me to the artist, Ivan Schwartz, who has since passed away”. John saw Frank Marino four times between 2006 and 2011. His views on those recent shows: “I thought he was just absolutely fantastic and he had the same effect on me as the first time I saw Robin Trower in 1975. An exceptional player with a good voice, he plays a lot of covers which is fine with me and has some exceptional songs in He’s Calling and Hometown Hero. Electric Reflections of War is too much for me but other than that song; its all just great.” Frank Marino last toured the UK in 2005 and he played the City Hall in 2002 as part of a package called Legends of Rock; featuring him as the opening act, followed by Uli John Roth, then Glenn Hughes and with Jack Bruce headlining. Now there’s a gig I shouldn’t have missed.

9 responses to this post.

  1. Marino did a brief English tour in July 2005. (I think you should revise some spellings here; I wager this was the loudest show you ever attended, going by NME’s review of the trio’s first London appearance in 12/77.)

    The set also included LOOK AT ME, STRANGE UNIVERSE and VOODOO CHILE.
    (There exist some bootlegs.)


    • Posted by vintagerock on October 24, 2013 at 5:46 pm

      Many thanks. To be honest I don’t recall the show in 77 being exceptionally loud, but my memory is not so good these days 🙂 . Will revise accordingly best wishes Peter


    • Posted by vintagerock on October 24, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      HI Damian Thanks again. You are right; there are lots of typos. I’ve corrected those I spotted. I tend to type these up quickly each day; I need to check them before I post them. Best wishes Peter


  2. Posted by Michael Hopkinson on June 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Hi Peter, another fantastic blog. I went to the Manchester gig in ’77 and we were so impressed we went to Leeds Poly’ the week after. Both Lone Star and Mahogany Rush were fantastic, a double bill really. I remember Frank’s finale was the title track from Strange Universe ending in a cresscendo of feedback and Frank ‘floating’ off the stage under a carefully timed strobe light. The Legends of Rock tour was good too in 2002 but Frank only got about 45 minutes early on the bill. The 2005 tour was the best I’ve seen him in the Picturedrome at Holmfirth. He did a mesmeric 3hr plus set (similar to the live album that came out then)and we got our 1977 program signed by him after the show. A really sweet gentle guy and one of the best guitarists I have even seen, cheers, Mike


    • Posted by vintagerock on June 3, 2014 at 5:46 pm

      Thanks Mike I’d love to see Frank Marino again. It’s been too long since I saw him. He is one of several artists that I foolishly missed a couple of times. I’m trying to catch up on people again now….before I’m too old and knackered to so so 🙂 Cheers Peter


    • Posted by Derek Towers on May 8, 2017 at 9:49 pm

      That Frank show at the Picturedrome was some event, all 3 hours 40 mins of it! Longest show I’ve seen by anybody. He’s done completely off the radar since then which is a shame


  3. Posted by Egmond on March 9, 2019 at 9:42 am

    I was at this gig. City Hall wasn’t full. Lone Star were OK. They’d recently had some press attention but you couldn’t help feeling they just ticked all the right sub-Zepp boxes but didn’t ultimately deliver. In any case their career timing couldn’t have been worse – music journalists were totally turning their backs on heavy rock, it would get almost zero coverage until the specialist magazines emerged a few years later. Mahogany Rush were in the same boat.. Marino’s knee length platforms and long hair were a big no-no by then, for the then all-powerful press at least. He was a fine guitarist, always underrated with a lot of technique in there among the blues rock licks (he could obviously play over changes) but man did he like to take long, long solos and for a few years, starting about then, that put you instantly in a dated backwater. A bit of a throwback gig really, it would have been hailed as a classic five years earlier.


  4. Posted by Paul on November 20, 2022 at 10:28 pm

    Why would you refer to Mahogany Rush as a US band? They were from Montreal Canada! Wow…bonehead


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