First, let me apologize for a slightly misleading headline. Hugh Moore has actually attended closer to two thousand concerts. That just sounded snazzier to me.
Hugh is a Chattanooga attorney who graduated from the McCallie School, Vanderbilt University, and Yale Law School. He has practiced law for almost 50 years. He is 75, has been married to Jean for 47 years, and they have raised two adult daughters.
Even with that impressive resume, Hugh’s crowning achievement is his devotion to live entertainment.
As Johnny Cash would say, “He’s been everywhere man, he’s been everywhere.” Including several Cash concerts.
Growing up in Chattanooga, Hugh’s mom would take him to community symphony concerts at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium.
That began a lifetime love affair with musical performances of every genre. You name it, he’s seen it.
He finally began keeping a list of shows he attended in 1984, so he can only estimate the number he attended in the quarter-century prior to that.
His best guess is around fifteen-hundred total, and many of those were at festivals with multiple acts and stages, like Riverbend.
He remembers the 1950s, when black and white artists could not perform together on the same stage in southern cities like Chattanooga, Birmingham, and Memphis. On September 24, 1957 he was at Chattanooga’s auditorium when Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and the Drifters were allowed to appear, while Paul Anka, Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers had to sit It out.
In the 1960s, he spent summers and school breaks as a reporter for the Chattanooga News Free Press. He was assigned to cover and review several concerts for the paper, including an appearance by the Beatles at the new Atlanta Stadium on Aug. 18, 1965. He attended the press conference that afternoon, even managing to squeeze into a photo with the Fab Four and Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen. (Longtime WTVC Chattanooga news anchor Bob Johnson was also there, reporting for the University of Georgia school newspaper. Decades later, he gave Hugh an audio tape of the event. “You can hear me asking them questions!” he said.)
Speaking of the Beatles, he still considers Paul McCartney the best performer he has ever seen.
“I’ve seen five or six of his shows,” Hugh said, “and he never disappoints. He plays for about three hours, with no intermission, and the entire audience knows every single song.”
In recent decades, he and his wife have traveled thousands of miles to attend concerts, checking almost every big name off his list.
Leonard Bernstein? Yep.
The Rolling Stones? “Several times.”
Elvis? “Sure did, in Murfreesboro. We left about the time they announced Elvis has left the building. We were heading to our car, and we see this big limousine, and there’s Elvis, in the back seat, waving at us.”
There are so many indelible memories, of music stars at their best, and worst.
He saw the Mamas and the Papas at the north Georgia amusement park Lake Winnepesaukah. “They had this look on their face, like, who booked us here?” he said with a laugh.
There was Eddie Money, who refused to perform his big hit, “Baby Hold On.” Hugh recalls, “That was about the only one of his songs anyone knew, so that was weird.”
The same thing happened with the O’Jays in Chattanooga. “Everybody came to hear Love Train, and they didn’t sing it.”
He remembers Waylon Jennings performing with his back to the audience.
There was the night fellow “outlaw” singer Jerry Jeff Walker was supposed to open for Willie Nelson, but didn’t show. Willie’s band came out early to fill the time, and Walker finally wandered on stage in the middle of Willie’s set.
“He was obviously drunk, waving his backpack around, getting on Willie’s nerves. A few minutes later, two big guys dragged him off the stage. Willie was not pleased.”
He has seen “both” Bob Dylans.
“You never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes he just hangs his head and mumbles, but other times, he puts on a great show. That’s just Bob.”
But, most of his concert experiences have been well worth the price of admission.
“I saw Peter Frampton a few weeks ago at the Tivoli in Chattanooga,” Hugh said. “He played like there was no place in the world he would rather be.”
“I’ve seen the Beach Boys, in their various incarnations, about 14 times from 1965 to last year,” he said. “I would happily go again.”
“I just love live music, all kinds of it, from concerts to plays,” Hugh said. “I admire the creativity, and the energy.”
He concluded, “Sometimes younger people look at my wife and I, like aren’t y’all too old to be here?
“We don’t mind. We’re still on the lookout for more great shows. It has been time well spent.”