Enough to Be Dangerous – Mort Meisner’s Adventures in Rock and Roll

In 1969, Mort Meisner started living the rock and roll life.

KISS Alive platinum record as reward for Mort’s relationship with the group.

No, he wasn’t in a band. But his meteoric rise in the industry as a top music promoter would expose him to unparalleled superstar talent.

He would come to work with huge names such as Elton John, Sly and the Family Stone, David Bowie, Chuck Berry, KISS, and, of course, Bruce Springsteen. And that’s the short list.

Of course, the genesis of his adventures in rock and roll was not quite so glamorous.

In the Beginning…

In fact, he started out selling pop and chips at the age of 16 at a well-known and now defunct and non-existent venue in Detroit. The venue was owned by the father of a high school classmate who had aspirations of promoting music himself.

In his memoir Enough to Be Dangerous, Mort recalls how he experienced this once magical place:

The Grande Ballroom [had] three or four sets of metal doors. When you pried them open – and you had to pry them open – you were greeted with an extraordinarily wide set of stairs. At the top of the stairs, there was a once gorgeous ballroom that was a place where people came to dance in the 1930s and 1940s. Opposite the stage was a man who sold incense. At stage right, there was the pop and chips bar. It was cavernous. And every time I was there, it was special. Even at age 16, I knew who had come through those doors and had been on that stage.

Yep. Even though the Grande was already falling into disrepair by that time, Mort was in deep. And it didn’t take him long to graduate from selling soda to selling tickets there – all the time getting seriously schooled on how eccentric musicians could be:

I remember Iggy Pop getting naked, covering himself in peanut butter, then rolling around in the audience…

It was definitely a very different world from the one he’d come to know in his abusive childhood home.

Eventually, the Grande would close shop and Mort and his classmate would move onto promoting music at the Eastown, where they’d partner with another promoter and start their own production company.

And that’s where things got really bizarre.

Adventures in Rock and Roll at the Eastown

The Eastown got equally as big names as the Grande. But at The Eastown, drugs of all kinds were everywhere. Overtly so. There was nothing clandestine about it.

Mort was now in college at the University of Detroit – a student by day, and music promoter by night. And the musicians continued to provide great stories:

I remember virtually every show at the Eastown. But one that sticks with me in particular was Leslie West. What made West so memorable was that he was an obese 350-pound Jewish rock star with flowing curly hair and a black leather jacket. And he embraced the rock star persona. After the show, around 2 or 3 a.m., we went to the Clock restaurant on Harper. The locals, whod presumably never seen an obese Jewish rock star, began mocking him and making fun of him – asking him what the hell he was doing there. His response was straightforward, and far from eloquent.

He stood up on the table, pulled down his pants, and mooned the entire restaurant. I wasnt sure wed get out of there alive. But suffice it to say we did.

Just as the Grande met its demise, so too did the Eastown. But that didn’t stop Mort. The next stop? The Michigan Palace.

Rock Royalty at the Michigan Palace

When Mort speaks of the Michigan Palace during the week of October 15th – 20th in 1973, he does so with vigorous enthusiasm. For that was the week he met David Bowie, as well as the members of KISS.

Coming face to face with Bowie brought so many thoughts to mind. He was unapproachable – both figuratively and literally. On top of being told by his manager not to make direct eye contact with the rock star, I was instructed to definitely not strike up a conversation with him unless he initiated it. Hell, I didnt need to be told that! If I were ever intimidated and smitten with true rock royalty, this was the occasion.

While Bowie was at The Michigan Palace, a little-known (at the time) group called KISS was playing over in Windsor. Mort went to check them out. He was taken by their regalia.

When they found out that he was with the Michigan Palace, they asked if he could get them into the theater to see Bowie. Bowie’s management contract stated explicitly that there would be no comps and no guest list, but Mort wanted to cut these guys a break. So he snuck them up the fire escape to see Bowie.

That was their first time at The Michigan Palace. They would make their debut there six months later, and eventually perform KISS Alive! at the Cobo – where Mort would be the emcee who brought them on stage.

Want More on Mort’s Adventures in Rock and Roll?

We don’t want to give everything away here.

Fortunately, Enough to Be Dangerous is packed to the hilt with Mort’s wild adventures in rock and roll – not to mention the sometimes even stranger than fiction stories of the news industry that would follow.

So if this taste left you hungry for more, then click here to pre-order your autographed copy of Enough to Be Dangerous  – due out on October 1st from Two Sisters Writing and Publishing.

And don’t forget to keep checking back with our blog to stay up to date on all of the happenings and events around the book’s launch.

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