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Beer Sponsorship Isn’t on Tap for Neil Young

At the start of this year, San Diego concert promoter Bill Silva reminded booking agents, in a letter, of his annual sponsorship agreement with the Miller Genuine Draft division of the Miller Brewing Co.

The agreement calls for Silva to let Miller sponsor at least 50 local pop concerts a year and to spend a minimum of $730,000 on advertising these shows. Miller Genuine Draft must be mentioned as official sponsor in all print and broadcast ads, and its logo must be prominently displayed at each concert.

In return, Silva said, “Miller gives us a six-figure sponsorship consideration in advance, as well as retail support throughout the year, like putting flyers and handbills in stores, via their distributors.

“So, in addition to the dollars, which help us defray our advertising expenses, they help us gain additional exposure for each show.”

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Thursday night, Silva is bringing Neil Young to San Diego for a concert at downtown’s Golden Hall. But, when the show was announced two weeks ago in an ad in the Reader, a free weekly newspaper, there was no mention of Miller Genuine Draft. Instead, at the top of the ad was the line “Sponsored by Nobody.”

“I’d say we come across three or four artists a year who are very strongly against having Miller sponsor their shows,” Silva said. “Some are attempting to get their own tour sponsors, which might conflict with our sponsor.

“Others, like Aerosmith, are opposed to beer-company sponsorships because they are reformed alcoholics. And others still are against sponsorships in general because they’re opposed to the concept of the commercialization of art.

“That’s basically what Neil Young’s situation is. His agent made it clear, up front, that Neil wouldn’t allow his concert to be sponsored by anyone.”

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Not that Silva was surprised. “In his latest MTV video,” the promoter said, “Neil slams just about every commercial concert sponsor there is by singing lines like, “Budweiser, music doesn’t need you.”

Not that Silva wasn’t disappointed. “Our commitment to Miller,” he said, “is measured on the number of shows, and on the amount of advertising dollars.

“And neither the Neil Young concert nor the $15,000 we’re spending on advertising applies toward that total.”

One of the sillier sideshows at last weekend’s Camel Grand Prix of Southern California was the Dodge International Star Challenge (DISC) 1988 Championship Race.

A dozen pop stars, most of them heavy metal hellions like Ted Nugent, Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee and Vince Neil, and Stephen Pearcy and Bobby Blotzer of Ratt, whizzed around the 1.62-mile race course at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in Dodge Shelby Daytona sports cars.

The purpose of the 20-minute race, which took place Saturday afternoon, was “to increase the awareness of young people about the dangers of drinking and driving,” according to a press release.

Huh? One of the participants, Vince Neil, was involved in a fatal drunk-driving accident several years ago. He received a suspended sentence and was ordered to pay a $2-million-plus settlement to the victims’ survivors.

Two of the cars, driven by country singer Juice Newton and Lee Curreri of television’s “Fame,” crashed shortly before the race was over.

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And, when the race was over, what pearls of wisdom did second-place finisher Nugent impart to the crowd? “We’re renting some cars and racing in the lot tonight,” he said, beaming, “because we’re so disappointed we couldn’t race more.”

Before leaving the Victory Circle, all 12 drivers posed for a group photo, each taking a hearty swig from a carton of Lipton iced tea.

OH, WHAT A NIGHT: Roy Orbison’s concert last Friday night at the Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park was pure magic. The audience sat spellbound as the rock ‘n’ roll legend sang his immense treasury of late ‘50s and early ‘60s hits. Orbison’s performance of “Crying,” in particular, was so moving that, halfway through the song, he received a standing ovation.

The roar of the low-flying planes overhead, which regularly interrupts summer musicals presented by the San Diego Civic Light Opera Assn., was all but drowned out by Orbison’s majestic three-octave tenor and his stellar seven-piece backup band.

Among the local celebs in attendance were Chris Sullivan of the Jacks and Jerry Raney of the Beat Farmers. After the show, Raney remarked: “I got the chills so many times I thought I was catching the flu.”

BITS AND PIECES: Hard-core punk-rockers the Cramps will be appearing Friday night at the California Theater downtown. . . . Tickets go on sale Saturday for Van Halen’s Nov. 19 concert at the San Diego Sports Arena. The show is one of several dates across the country that will be recorded for the band’s upcoming live album.


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